Jack R. Noel
December 7, 20203
Time of death: somewhere around 2029 or 2030
Cause of death: Probably one of the following: Emphysema / COPD or heart failure.
How do I know these things about myself? By taking a life expectancy test. (You can take one at any age) and by talking with my doctor.
But the hard part is taking it for the reality we all inhabit. It’s natural to defer thinking about this until “something tells me I’d better do this.”
That’s what happened about a year ago when talking with a close friend about our respective ages, he’s 2 years older than I am and has some medical conditions that indicate he doesn’t have all that long before he dies. Don’t get me wrong, we are both alert and fully engaged with life, even more so now that we’ve both retired from our “regular jobs.”
Ron and I have also reminisced about our partially shared past. It’s as if those younger versions of us were someone else. I hardly recognize myself in photos and each photo reminds me of both the good and bad of those times. Mostly, I regret the things I did without suspecting the consequences — things I’ve never repeated out of embarrassment and remorse. But I do pause to dwell on those priceless days when I couldn’t have felt more happy.
One of those times was in June of 1968 when I was visiting Ron and his wife Mary. I had been on a few canoe/camping trips and was recounting them when I realized that I had never gone on one with Ron. He and I had always been outdoor men. But somehow, we’d reached our twenties but had never been camping buddies. Impulsively I blurted, “Hey, why not let me make a canoe reservation and plan for a week on the Pine River (Michigan)? Ron picked it up immediately and Mary said she had our blessing, she is not an outdoor woman.
We had no idea what an amazing experience awaited us. We planned to do 3 days on the Pierre Marquet River as a warm-up for the more difficult Pine River. The Pierre Marquet has no waterfalls but one hazard is quick sand. A slower current can lull a canoeist into a false sense of ease. Building better paddler coordination and conditioning our paddling muscles would prove valuable on the Pine River.
We’d traveled most of the 75 miles to the pickup point upstream from the mouth of the river south of Ludington when we got stuck on a sand bar where the river wasn’t more than two…