During my weekend errands, I found myself behind a car with the tag "39 HLDNG" or "thirty-nine and holding."
My first reaction was to congratulate myself for decoding the message. My second, as one who recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his 39th birthday, was to wonder, "Were it possible to hold at a particular age, which one would I choose?"
Seventeen was a very good year. I met the love of my life that fall, but I would not want to hold at seventeen.
Twenty-one was a very good year. I married the girl of my dreams that fall -- the same girl I met at seventeen -- and we began our life together, but I would not want to hold at twenty-one.
Twenty-six and twenty-seven get mixed reviews. At twenty-six, I graduated from college, went into the Army, learned to fly, and went to war. At twenty-seven, I did deeds of daring during a major battle, got shot up, and began nine months of recovery. I also greeted my first son. The times were exciting. I made some life-long friends. My life would be incomplete without my son. Nevertheless, I would not like to hold at twenty-six or twenty-seven.
I have no particular memory of being 39. I'm sure it was a good year, but I do not wish to hold onto it. Were I to hold at 39, I would miss too much. I would miss my children growing up. I would miss a great many soccer games, baseball games, school dramas and talent shows. I would miss being part of their school, church, and social activities. I would miss their graduations from High School and college. I would miss their weddings and the births of my grand children. I would miss going to Alaska. I would miss many of the greatest experiences of my life.
Thirty-nine and holding? Not me!
Last year I learned the joy of being 63. This year, I'm doing a good job learning to be 64. After all, I only get one chance to be every age. And, whatever age I am, my plan is to live it well.