I SAW A photograph recently of some older people and as I scanned over the picture, my eyes stopped on this one particular, gray-haired, slightly-balding man. A second later, I realized that the guy was me.

The experience made me reflect. Was this just a very bad picture or is that the way people I meet on the street see me? Do they see me as just another aging senior citizen, as a member of the community who is heading into or has already entered the winter of his life?

I’ve also noticed that many friends I’ve known for decades are having serious medical problems, and more and more of them are dying. Shocking! They are dying at the unbelievably youthful age of 65 to 72 years.

Just in the last few weeks, I saw old friends at the hardware store, at the post office and at the grocery store, and I was surprised at how much they had aged the past few years. I almost didn’t recognize one of them.

Now that I look into the mirror, my guess is they probably thought the same thing about me. I think we’re the last to notice our own mortality.

Reality check: June 2 will mark the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation. I just received an invitation saying our 50th class reunion has been set for July 21.

Time has a way of moving quickly and catching us unaware of the passing years. One of my old friends recently sent me a short essay by an unknown author titled “And Then, It Is Winter.” Here is an edited version of it.

For many of us, we’re entering this new season (winter) unprepared for all of the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things we wish we had done, but never did. More and more of our best friends are doctors and physical therapists.

When we go to local cafes for breakfast or lunch, there are tables filled with people we have grown up with. We now notice that their hair is white, their skin is sagging, they’ve gained a few pounds and they don’t have any pressing chores to get done. 

The good news is we know people live longer now than they did 40 years ago. While winter has arrived for us, the adventure isn’t over, but we’re now aware that the end is closer than we’d like to believe.

It seems just yesterday we were young, poor and embarking on a new life. We didn’t have much, but we made do. All we needed was a job, a good work ethic, a dream and the common sense to not spend more than we could afford.

The years came and went. We lived them all, and we have the memories and the scars to prove it. We have glimpses of how it was back then and we wonder how today’s new generations will survive in this crazy world.

We worked and sacrificed to achieve our hopes and dreams. There are still things we have yet to experience and we now face the realization that our children are parents of teenagers and young adults of their own.

Many of us are retired. Some are in great shape, others are not. Their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be. We all believe going out is good, coming home is better.

I remember well, seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it, but here it is.

Television documentaries tell about historical events that we lived through. We love telling the youngsters about those events and how we lived in the pre-technology world without powerful computers and social media.

Yes, we have regrets. There are things we wish we hadn’t done, things we should have done, but there are many things we’re happy to have done. It made us who we are. They must remember, we invented today’s modern marvels.

Be warned, winter comes faster than you may think. If you have goals and dreams and things to accomplish in your life, do them quickly. Don’t put things off too long.

Life goes by quickly. You are not promised all seasons of a life. Live for today. Say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember. Hope they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them.

Life is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.

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HAVE YOU ever mistakenly used the phrase “I could care less” or “I couldn’t care less.” If so, you should be aware of the caring continuum.

It goes “If one cares to any degree at all, it is possible to care less. Those who care a great deal could care less.”

When someone says “I couldn’t care less,” it means “It is impossible to care less.”