by Gordon Kinghorn
I was most saddening to read the lines from “Depressed in Maryland”, I do feel most deeply for both he and his family during these somewhat ambiguous and worrying times.
There is little that I can significantly contribute or meaningfully add to ease ‘Maryland’s’ suffering – however, I thought it fitting to respond in order to clarify the importance of self-worth – irrespective of the fact that we are now retired…or indeed, because of enduring health difficulties, we entertain tawdry notions pertaining to our standing in the community…or, dare I say, within the domestic infrastructure.
It must be remembered that despite the handicaps that so blight us, particularly during these years of antiquity, that we do not consign ourselves to the bin-of-no-importance, solely because we are retired.
In my relatively short experience on the retirement front, I have realised that no matter the collateral or personal wealth that we may have accumulated, this in readiness for our respective retirement years, the most precious commodity we actually possess is time.
We are each allocated a certain amount of time at birth; of this I remain both convinced and certain. When the clock ultimately runs out, we die…end of story. No one can buy more time…unless of course we depend on another human being to elongate our life-cycle by providing a substitute for our failing organs…whose life in turn too - would possibly be shortened from such a generous donation.
God may have the clock but it is we who have the time – it is then a question of what we do with it? Increasingly over the years, we have seen a distressing trend develop where those who have strived for a meaningful retirement, accumulating wealth, or even meagre savings, coupled with pensions – have little or no idea to cope with the inertia they so feel at this latter stage of life.
Whilst in South Africa during the Apartheid years, I worked for a publishing company whose owner I came to know well, a fine employer, a refugee from Berlin during 1938, one who emerged from the pre-war atrocities of Nazi Germany as an eleven-year old orphan, only to arrive in Cape Town and eventually head one of the foremost publishing organisations throughout the entire African continent.
Come 1974, I learnt that Mr Shapiro had long-suffered from a disorder known as Fatal Familial Insomnia, a condition where one’s brain has loses the ability to function sleep and eventually that victim dies of exhaustion, sometimes prematurely, such was the case with Zolli Shapiro.
Soon after this revelation, I was privileged to enjoy dinner at his exquisite penthouse in Durban, this occasion only three months before his premature passing and shortly before his forty-seventh birthday.
Come the conclusion of the meal that special night, Mt S. tapped on his wine glass at the top of the table and announced to the sixteen of his assembled employees, this with brevity and succulent candour, that through his lifetime, he always understood how to speculate, earn and save money, but knew little of how exactly to save time – he had understood for many years that the clock was against him but the “Mighty Buck” always took precedence over his prognosis – come the end, he belatedly came to terms with the fact that no one beats the dealer – he concluded on that unforgettable evening by saying, “No matter the circumstances, when real time becomes available to you, grab it by the balls and squeeze it tight”.
His last wish was to see that some of his ashes were placed in a large egg timer and given to his heir, an only daughter by the name of Helen.
Some two years following her father’s untimely death, she sold the company and married an Afrikaans farmer in the Orange Free State, richer by far for marriage, motherhood and family – a priceless commodity that not even the ‘Mighty Buck’ can buy.
“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet” – Emily Dickinson.
© Gordon Kinghorn-2012
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