At the age of 17 while driving home from baseball practice, my father’s best friend pulled me over in my Chevy clunker.
“Frosty,” he said. “I’ve got some bad news for you…your father died while umpiring the Albany-Valdosta game today. He called ‘Strike Three’ on the batter before falling over the catcher and collapsing on home plate.”
At that moment, my life changed. My 15-year-old brother started crying in the seat next to me. I drove home in shock to see my mother and neighbors gathered around the living room.
In the months ahead, I staggered into each day. I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. Thankfully, my mother held a steady keel in that emotional storm. I forged ahead with a heavy heart. But no matter what, life forced me toward the future. It waits for no one. You either get down the path of your own life or you sulk on the side. If you choose to sulk for very long, you pay a price in remaining in the past.
The one thing you discover: Life never tarries in the past.
It feels sorry for no one. Life celebrates the living. Therefore, you choose to move with life and it will move with you. In college, my roommate faced the military draft. When he left for the war zone, he gifted me a peace ring. He said, “If I get back, let’s drink a beer and laugh about it…if I don’t return, wear this ring and be a man of peace.” He never returned. I wear this ring on my pinky finger every day of my life. I stand for peace. I work for peace. I support peace.
But as I’ve gotten older, the vagaries of life attach themselves to me whether I like it or not. One day I am riding my bicycle with my brother John and the next, I am speaking a eulogy at his funeral. In fact, last year, seven of my long-term friends died of cancer and heart attacks. Yet, I feel like a kid in my twenties. I race in the “Leadville 100 Mountain Bike” contest in Colorado. I run triathlons. I backpack into the mountains and I mountaineer ski into the High Country. All the while death hides in the bushes. I don’t know when it will jump out at me.
One my friends, only 52, died of a heart attack skiing down Vail last spring. Ironically, I spoke at Golden High School about living a spectacular life two weeks before. His son arranged for me to speak at the school. I told everyone, “Cherish your mothers and fathers…they are doing the best they can to prepare you for your lives in this world.”
One week later, his father died.
I attended the memorial service. Later in the summer, his son Scott asked me to take him on a backpack trip into the Rocky Mountains to climb a 14,000-foot peak. He wanted to spread his father’s ashes to the four winds of the universe. We chose Chicago Basin in the San Juan Mountains with four 14ers. Early in the morning, we broke camp. We climbed for five hours to reach North Eolus at 14,100 feet. As we stood there, Scott opened the urn with his father’s ashes.
“Will you help me?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
I began spreading his father’s ashes to the four winds of the universe. I gave a eulogy to my friend, his son, his daughter and his wife. I thanked him for his friendship. I blessed his new journey. I wept uncontrollably for 10 minutes. After gathering myself, I told Scott how proud his father was of him. I hugged him at the summit of that great mountain. If anyone appreciates a better way to leave this planet, I don’t know how you can beat being spread to the four winds of the universe by your son and a friend.
When death happens to your family or friends, cry a lot, care a lot and mourn for your loved ones for the time you need. Once past the mourning, bless their transition into the greater dimensions of the universe and bless their part in your life. From that point, thank your lucky stars that they touched your life and helped you along the way. Celebrate them, love them and choose to move forward knowing that life celebrates your journey.
Make your passage one that merits your ashes being spread to the four winds of the universe on top of a 14,000-foot peak.
Read more posts by Frosty Wooldridge here. Frosty is a blogger for JenningsWire Online Magazine.
The online feature magazine, JenningsWire.com, is created by National PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR that specializes in providing book promotion services to self-published and traditionally published authors. Annie Jennings PR books authors, speakers and experts on major high impact radio talk interview shows, on local, regionally syndicated and national TV shows and on influential online media outlets and in prestigious print magazines and newspapers across the country.