Benoît Comeau

January 15, 2016

When I turned 65 a while back, I couldn't help but marvel privately (and publicly to anyone who would listen) at the fact that I was still of the living. So far as I know, most if not all of the eight male siblings in my father's family were dead before they reached age 65. My own father died at age 55 after a long illness spanning some 13 years.

His death when I was only nineteen years old came as a shock, even though his looming demise had long been an overarching source of worry in our home. It felt as if an anchor had been lost and the family ship set adrift on uncharted waters. It follows that our family's outlook to the future during my father's long illness came to be shaped within a framework of expectations defined by a relatively short life expectancy.

Generally, my behaviour and habits as an adult have been geared at addressing both possibilities. The elemental question all along being "What do I do with the time I have available to me?", quickly followed by the quandary related to making plans in the context of an uncertain future lifespan ahead.

Throughout my adult life my worldview has been shaped by the idea that I would be unlikely to live to a ripe old age. So, imagine my bemused delight in surviving long enough to celebrate my 65th birthday. I really never expected to live as long as I have, though I always hoped that somehow I would.

And here I am, still. And the question is: What do I do with the time I have left?

Although the same thoughts of uncertainty populate my thinking, I am now left to wondering and deciding what it is that I want to do and accomplish in the 18 years* or so of life that I have left to live?

I live in an environment that one friend on a recent visit described as a paradise: A forested parkland set in an accessible corner of Canadian bush. One of my main missions in whatever time I do have left is to tend to the parkland that surrounds me and to make it as accessible and inviting as possible to friends and family. I'm calling it my (or the) "18-year Plan".

Time permitting, I will share my thoughts, plans and experiences with anyone who may be interested in reading me about the progress on the plan and other thoughts that may pop into my head from time-to-time. I will do so in all candour and would be pleased to receive any feedback. I look forward to hearing from you.

*According to data gleaned on a Statistics Canada web page, a male of my age and health can realistically expect to live to age 83 (or thereabouts).