Mr. H was born in the year 1950 in the American state of NJ. He was born to a family of five children that expended to seven. Mr. H's earliest memory of growing up was a noisy hearth, and sibling rivalry and support in equal measure. As the youngest boy child to the family of four female and three male children, H remembers being used as an errands boy more frequently than anyone else in the family. It was his responsibility to collect the letters from the mailbox, put the milk containers out, feed the cat, walk the dog, and perform numerous other trivial tasks around the house.
Being born to a family of so many children, Mr. H learned competition from a young age. He had to compete for the best position in front of the television, his parents' affection, new gifts, trips to relatives, even food. The competitive home environment taught him to be tough, stand his ground, and refuse to be bullied. Mr. H recalls with nostalgic longing the many scuffles his mother had had to rescue him from, and he laughs as he remembers that he was rebuked to act his young age among his older siblings more often than his two sisters that came after him.
At school, Mr. H excelled and was constantly first in his class, despite having started school early. The result was that Mr. H was consistently the youngest student in his class, right up to university, graduation, and joining the job market. Unlike the current competitive job market, Mr. H recalls that he had a dozen job offers upon graduation. Finding none among the offers that he wanted, he was just as easily accepted as a junior litigation attorney into the firm he had always wanted to work for.
Mr. H's fondest memories are during his early years as an attorney, when he finally had the money to party and visit all the places he had been unable to visit on his college stipend. "Life is short. It flashes by in a whirl of memories." Mr. H advices. Between his employment and starting a family, he admits that his middle years passed remarkably quickly. The little of his time that was not taken up by his responsibilities as an ambitious associate in a law firm was taken up by parenting responsibilities. Mr. H admits that his retirement at the age of fifty-five, while normal by universal standards, fell way out of his personal target of retirement in his early forties.
With all his children past in college and some in employment, Mr. H has occupied his time post retirement with some community development efforts, some mentorship programs, and lots of fishing. Mr. H is also in the midst of writing an autobiography of his life. While he doesn't expect it to become a New York Times Bestseller, he feels that it will be a good legacy to leave his grandchildren (when they start coming). Mr. H admits to being a little anxious to seeing his children's children although he is careful not to put too much pressure on them.
In comparing his life growing up in the mid twentieth century and his children who grew up much later, Mr. H considers his childhood more challenging but also exciting because there was more room for mistakes and adventure. Inventions such as the television were just picking up then, people drove much less, and technology was novel and touched people's lives in less conspicuous ways. According to Mr. H, growing up today is challenging because one is always trying to keep up to the latest technology, and gadgets are increasingly replacing human touch. H refers to his childhood, spent outdoors climbing trees and playing games with his friends, to his children's childhood split between indoor leisure activities such as watching television and playing video games and outdoor games like visiting the park, going to the zoo, and supervised sporting activities. Mr. H is of the opinion that parents are interfering more in the lives of their children than they did during his time. As a result, children experience less exposure. Given a choice, Mr. H laughingly states that he would take the middle spot between the old ways of growing up and the current ones, but would retain more of the ancient adventure-filled ways of life.
Mr. H admits that growing up through the technological revolution that brought the computer and the internet has been exciting, because he has a before and after view of the world, unlike we who were born to handheld computers and home internet. According to Mr. H, the world he now lives in is remarkably different to the one in which he was born and raised in. In a notable show of self-awareness, Mr. H says that he expects the world to have changed significantly in, to use his words, 'the short time I have left to live.'
Asked how he feels about growing old, Mr. H laughingly states; "old" before pensively embarking on a short philosophical soliloquy on age. According to him, the fact that the bigger part of his life is behind him means that his legacy is the most important thing to him right now. He states that he has no regrets about the way his life turned out, nor is he concerned about the future of his children and their children. His parenting is one of the things he is proud of himself for because all his children are healthy, and their education fully catered for. Mr. H speculates that he would not be feeling as satisfied about his past as he does now if his children had turned to drugs or other vices.
Even with a highly successful career in law (Mr. H was one of the youngest associates to be promoted to partner at his law firm) and substantial wealth accumulated along the way, Mr. H maintains that his family is his most treasured achievement in his life. "At the end of it all," Mr. H advises, "family is all I will be remembered through. How well are the children doing? How strong is the family he leaves behind? Hey, how is that son of his doing?" This dedication to family is the reason why Mr. H's current project is writing the history of the family, creating the family tree, and building the family holiday home. Mr. H discloses that he hopes to inspire his children to do even better than him in their chosen careers, acting as their stepping-stone to greater heights.
On the effects of aging on his day-to-day living, Mr. H answers; "The biggest challenge is filling up that time with meaningful activities." He proceeds to dispel that myth of retiring to the fishing pier as, to use his words, "utter hooey." Mr. H then recounts the dismay of his colleagues who tried the pastime and were so thoroughly fed up with the monotony that they considered jumping into the water themselves. "They couldn't swim to save their lives." He finishes pointedly. The secret, according to him, is to find a life that is just a few gears below the active life then gradually bring that down to the old timers' hobbies. Mr. H assures me that he intends to live a full life in his old age, doing the things he did not have time for in his prime like raising a few cattle and keeping a pet or two.
Mr. H laughingly dismisses my question whether growing old has made him wiser, informing me that even when old, one is only as wise as they were before age crept up on them. "Sure, one has more experiences to draw from, but if you don't learn from the old mistakes and correct the blunders that hurt you as a twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty year old, you will just be an old lady or gentleman. No wisdom." According to Mr. H, little of our character changes with age and barring cases of old age conditions such as Alzheimer's, our personality remains the same. For example, Mr. H still prefers to have his coffee strong, with little sugar and a small amount of cream, enjoys the spring better than all other times of the year, likes to watch the sun set, and supports the same football team and enjoys watching the game just as much. Mr. H modestly admits to enjoying the privileges such as not standing in line and good seats at the stadium that are granted to him because of his senior citizen status. While people treat him with respect for his age, Mr. H replies that the greatest responsibly lies with the older person to direct the young people on how to live with each other. With the benefit of long life behind them, Mr. H believes that older people should concentrate as much as possible on nurturing and mentoring.
The greatest challenge of aging, Mr. H believes, is losing the strength and agility one has lived with for so long. Being unable to take the same amount of physical exertion and having to do things with increasing slowness frustrates him to no end. Although Mr. H has not experienced it, he mentions that fear of death is also a big challenge for many of his peers who are in their twilight years. The double misfortune of their bodies increasingly falling to old age diseases and attending funerals of so many friends is that the old get a more intimate relationship with death. "Not everyone is comfortable with the thought of dying." Mr. H says. "For those who are not, it is a real nightmare."
Mr. H brightens up when I ask him to tell me his greatest life lesson at the end of our cozy interview. After assuring me that it is the question he is most eager to answer and not the interview he wants over with, Mr. H answers that his greatest lesson is that we only live once, and we make the sort of life we live. "It is very important to discover your purpose in life and even more important to give everything you have to realize that purpose." With that, my interview with Mr. H comes to an end.
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