This site is about our front engine water cooled transaxle Porsches, but we also touch on the people, the Porsche life and our daily pleasures and challenges that shape who we are and how we live. We joke about our cars and how we use them, we talk about what goes wrong with them and how to fix them, and we dream about upgrades and updates with plans on when, where, how and why we will do them.
This article today is more personal, though. I have been playing with these cars since the early eighties and maintaining this blog since 2016. Many know me though this site and the various events that I have attended over the years along with retirement from my “real job” in 2018. It’s been a great time. And no, I am not dropping out of sight and retiring from this vocation – far from it.
I did, though, recently go to an actual movie theater to see A Man Named Otto, Tom Hanks most recent gig. This is not a movie review, but suffice to say that it was a great story told through a great actor. Otto lost his wife, his lifelong partner, and he is having trouble coping. The story then centers around his efforts to end his life and join her in death while his neighbors and friends try to help him move on.
It touched me in way that I was not expecting.
I am going to turn 69 years old in a couple of months. In my family in the past several generations, no male has ever lived this long. Of course smoking, hazardous lifetime working environments and other conditions contributed to their early demise, but I know that I have my own set of risk factors that won’t help me live to 107. As a young cop in the 70’s, I didn’t know whether I would live to see 30. My mom passed at 81 – I am not sure that I will get to that milestone.
Watching “Otto” try to cope with being alone after a lifetime of caring for his wife made me consider, for the first time ever, what is really going to happen to either of us when the other is gone. She constantly tells me that she cannot continue without me and I know that is also true for me. While we have made plans for one to live on when the other is gone, the prospect is still pretty scary – not from a financial aspect, but an emotional perspective. Life as we each know it will change drastically.
Despite his best efforts, Otto cannot join her in death because his neighbors and friends keep inadvertently interrupting his attempts. As a deputy sheriff in Volusia County (FL), I have seen that scenario play its way out many times. At a call to investigate a natural death at a home, the elderly husband passed away from terminal cancer. When I was done, the funeral home had come an gone, all my reports were completed, I asked his wheelchair-bound wife if there was anything else that the Sheriff’s Department could do for her. Her reply? “Take your gun and shoot me. I want to go with him.” And she was serious. Two months later, I went back to her house to find that she had joined him in her sleep.
So what is the take-away from all this? For me, this little experience in reflection has cemented my decision to stop doing repair work on our cars for customers and instead concentrate on rescuing and restoring some great cars that will then be for sale. I will do my best to de-stress by taking those stressors away – especially deadlines. Work at my own pace, and if I want to go out to lunch one day or spend an afternoon in the Florida Sunshine by the pool, that is what I will do. If today seems like a good day to get up very early and watch the sunrise at the beach, so be it.
In January I spent the night in the hospital after an incident of A-Fib that, to be honest, was pretty scary. A one-off event, we determined that it was most probably brought on by stress. I thought, “I am retired – why should I have any stress?” I shouldn’t. But being a one-man-shop working on cars where one broken bolt can turn a one-hour job into a three-week job doesn’t do much to keep the stress levels down.
Barbara and I are a great team. We have been together for almost fifty years, married over forty-seven, and I know that our time together is limited, at least by this comparison. So I will do my best to make our remaining time together, no matter how long or how short, the best ever. We have some trips coming up this year, and we are looking forward to them. And a “day off” once in a while.
Take heed from the wise old guy here. Simplify. De-stress. Go smell the roses. And go see Tom Hanks as Otto.