Filed Under:  Columns

Four score and three and counting

4th March 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

“Thank God for four score and three” should be the same as “Thank God for today as I live and breathe at the beginning of each day.” Although it may escape our attention in our youth, one day at a time is still the only way to live, to be efficient and content. But that, as so many other things, goes with the adage, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

The more I age, the more I smile, the more I chuckle, laugh, joke and enter deeper into the storytelling phase of life, sharing bits of serious or humorous incidents and stories about everything, but especially about family history and heritage. This history, heritage, our shared faith in God, our mutual respect and love for each other are our treasures.

I do not want to see any sibling, any relative or any friend deteriorate before my eyes. Likewise, they do not want to see me fall prey to the ravages of time. Therefore, it behooves each of us to give God a little hand, eating and drinking as healthily as we can and avoiding the poisons of nicotine, bathroom drugs and any other harmful substances.

In light of that, veganism as a way of life has served me very well. Of course, a vegan shuns any food product that had a mother —plus salt, sugar and caffeine. So, all meats, seafood and dairy products are contraband, together with all processed foods. It all started some 16 years and 10 months ago on April 30, 1996, when I heard a health tape.

Up to that point, I had been a somewhat careful eater, dropping boudin and hog cracklings at the age of 22 in 1952. I dropped pork chops about 40 years ago, then stopped using salt in 1981. By 1984, I was down to three steaks a year, and down to zero in 1990. Stiffly-fried bacon was the last meat holdout until April 30, 1996, when everything went.

Taken during dental appointments, my blood pressure averages about 125/78. All other readings such as cholesterol, sugar and red blood platelets fall down the middle. As I could when I was 40, I can read print of any size and outdoor signs as well. So, my vision has backed up some 40 years. Except for excess wax now and then, my hearing is normal.

My life continues to be pain-free and medication-free as a result of eschewing animal products. The 81 mg. aspirin is all I use, as doctors advise those 60 or older to do.

Another bright spot is that my leg power is slightly up from a year ago, measured by my enhanced ability to walk up stairs and to bounce in and out of a car. Leg power is crucial to many things such as balance, stamina and even putting one’s pants on with ease. I am resolved to maintain myself as an ever-170-pound lean, mean service machine.

As the years slip by, some small items trigger mini-summit conferences with the man in the mirror. For instance, the half-spent, 67.6-fluid-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer sitting on the washbowl counter of my bathroom beckons to me as I use it daily. Since six years and nine months were needed to use half of it, will I be here to finish the other half?

When various organizations or companies speak of their five-year, even 10-year plan, where does that leave me? It leaves me with the reasonable choice of not letting it trouble me, but of looking upon that reality as a convenient springboard to deeper understanding and meditation. God willing, I will slot my?self into everyone’s plans wherever possible.

Each day brings a modicum of greater maturity, patience, tolerance and joy, so that every day is a vacation, a time of celebration, no matter what work or trials await me. As a result, I am relaxed in whatever I say or do, even in situations where I must be fired up. I have a great desire to share this relaxed, happy way of living with all who are interested.

Sure, it is a paradox to be fired up for our vocation and life, yet relaxed beyond all measure in whatever we do in everyday living. In any case, we commit ourselves to God’s mercy and tender care, ever aware that the length of our days is not ours to decide.

Rather, it is Jesus, the Master of life and death, who makes all the calls, as he tells us so clearly in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Together with encroaching twilight years has come a consuming desire to secure my eternal salvation through the grace of God, and to bring along with me as many souls as possible to our Father’s kingdom in heaven. When I look at my dear ones and others as well, I see them with the eyes of a soul hunter who seeks God’s best for each of them.

This article originally published in the March 4, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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