If you are older than 75 and play Bingo, you immediately caught, and perhaps relate to, the “O row” reference.
As we begin the fourth quarter of our lives, we apologize to our kids and grandkids for leaving this world in such a mess (I’m sure that all generations have felt this way).
There is a haunting sense of frustration concerning how little we may have done as individuals to shape their future. Hopefully, we have at least voted in every election, taken every opportunity to help friends, neighbors and strangers in need, and treated others as we would have them treat us.
This reflection calls us to review our lives and to begin the journey through the Bingo card of life, launching us well into the “I row.”
We start out by messing in our “old-school cotton diapers” — the kind that your mom or dad rinsed out, then soaked in an unknown liquid in the diaper pail, washed in the wringer washer and dried on the clothesline. This was the learning quarter of our lives. Moms and dads taught us what “no” meant as they set boundaries, verbal and physical.
They gradually allowed us more freedom that expanded our world from the playpen to the house, yard, neighborhood, town, state and world. Two events that propelled this progression was getting our driver’s license and the responsibility that came with legal drinking. Learning defined this quarter century as parents, teachers, preachers, friends and, of course, mistakes and bad decisions added to our education, both formal and informal.
In the second quarter-century portion of our life adventure, we navigated through life’s Bingo I, N and G rows. We might call this our “defining quarter.” With our education completed, we established our careers — or not. We fought in America’s wars — or not. We got married — or not. We got divorced — or not. We kept ourselves busy with life — or not.
We made decisions that changed our lives and the lives of people that we touched along the way. Others may have scrutinized or criticized us for what we did or didn’t do, but even if we have regrets, we don’t get a “do-over.”
The next quarter, in which we finish the G row and get to the end of our Bingo card, might be called the “enjoy the fruits of your labor” quarter. If you chose to get married and have children, the nest is empty. You may be blessed with grandchildren with the perk of being able to send them home at the end of a fun-filled, but exhausting day. You have time to take them on long walks, educational outings — what the heck, you might even take them to Bingo with you.
You have worked hard to make your “Golden Years” comfortable. Now you have time to relax, enjoy life and realize that getting old ain’t for sissies.
Please realize that life beyond the O row is a blessing. We enjoy and are thankful for every day. We may be old, but we ain’t dead yet. We look forward to loving and being loved. Please just give us a smile, share a kind word, ask for our advice and enjoy our childlike, carefree approach to each minute of every day.
We are happy that every day is Saturday. But one final end note: since we are out of the O row, we must start over in the B row. This time we are not in cloth diapers — it’s “Depends” for us!
Kenneth J. Bicha is a longtime Port Orchard resident, Eagles organization member and a past Port Orchard “Man of the Year” recipient.