Yes, that is me in the middle of those two beautiful girls.
I don’t remember when or where it was taken although it appears to be at a wedding. I’m guessing that I’m around ten years old which would make the other two girls the same age because they were in the same grade I was.
The girl on the right (on my left in the picture) is Mary. Mary and I attended the same school for first and second grade and then I transferred to a different school. My Mom was friends with her parents and they had known each other for years. I can remember going over to Mary’s house and playing as a kid. She lived in a large white house on a farm.
Tragically, Mary died in a horseback riding accident around age 11.
Elizabeth is the girl on the left (my right) in the picture. I can remember running around my grandmother’s front yard with Elizabeth and playing as kids do. Elizabeth stopped coming around and I later found out that she had some health issues. It turns out that Elizabeth had been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. We ended up going to the same high school together, and by this time, she was confined to a wheel chair and had difficulty with her speech. I went off to college and quickly jumped into the corporate world and lost track of Elizabeth.
One day I got word that she passed away in her 20’s.
This picture has been on my desk for years just to remind me of my own mortality. Two beautiful young women who never had a chance to grow up, get married, have their own family or even just live their lives to a ripe old age.
Over the years I’ve lost family, friends, and co-workers to suicide, motorcycle accidents, cancer, heart attacks and natural causes. One of my high school classmates died at age 41 after he dropped dead of a heart attack. It shocked everyone because he was extremely healthy with no prior health issues. I had a neighbor, two doors down from me, lose his ten year old daughter to cancer. I could go on and on.
My time is running out. The men in my family don’t have long track records. So to borrow a quote from Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption “It’s time for me to get busy living”.
I recently turned 49 years old and I refuse to die at some job that I’m not 100% happy with, so I retired last year and redesigned my life.
For my entire career, I helped people get to and through their retirement. I still want to help people but the landscape has changed. I want to help people realize their dream of retiring early and grab their freedom as soon as they can. I can still do this on my own terms and working when I want to, which brings me happiness.
These days I enjoy not going to an office. There are books to be written, people to coach on retiring early, and a podcast to get going. (Yes, a Podcast!) I often sit on my back porch smoking a cigar and let my thoughts drift away.
Every once in a while I’ll think about Mary and Elizabeth and wonder what kind of life they would be living today if they had the chance.
It’s easy for the words “Life is Short” to roll off our tongue but do we know how short life really is? You do if you’ve had a near death experience, lost a friend in war, have been by a friend or family member’s side when they passed away at a young age or losing a fight with cancer. There are many ways that your perspective on life can change in an instant.
Don’t wait for something to happen in order to change your perspective on life.
You have the power to change the narrative of your life right now.
Stop making excuses and do it.
Live free my friends.