I recently listened to the critically acclaimed Serial podcast S-Town which was made by This American Life producer Brian Reed. Recorded in 2017, it is the raw, painful and complex story of John B. McLemore who lived and died in a small, poor county in Alabama.
I listened to the first two episodes when it first came out, got distracted and never finished the series. Yesterday the link mysteriously appeared on my phone and I found myself totally immersed in the program. I listened to all seven episodes in less than two days.
There were so many subplots in the podcast I could not begin to summarize the story in one column. In fact, this column is not about the podcast at all, but rather about a very small segment which dealt with the mottos found on sundials.
Although Mary Lou and I had a sundial in our yard for most of our married life, I do not know if I ever noticed a saying engraved on the dial. However, I now know that most sundials have a motto that almost always deals with time.
Several quotes were stated on the podcast. I found myself researching other mottos commonly found on sundials. Some were clever, others sad, but all dealt in some aspect with the never-ending passage of time.
Use the hours, don’t count them. An hour passes slowly but the years fly by quickly. Our last hour is hidden from us, so that we will watch them all. One of these hours will be your last. While we have time, let us do good.
I only count the sunny hours. If the sun is gone, nobody looks at me. Now is the time to drink. Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow.
Then there is my favorite, Carpe Diem, which when translated means seize the day.
However, of the thousands of mottos on sundials that have been recorded over time, it was the words from Robert Browning’s poem Rabbi ben Ezra that most profoundly struck me. Come along and grow old with me; the best is yet to be.
Mary Lou and I were married 42 years ago on March 4th. This anniversary is the first year that we have truly been retired. We are discovering each other again without children, work, or even old ingrained habits. We live in new house after 37 years in our wonderful old home.
We have a bucket list that grows even as we methodically check items off. We are making new friends, exploring the world, and expanding our horizons. Each step away from the familiar reminds us how fortunate we have been in the past.
For over four decades we have been lucky to be part of Donalsonville, Seminole County and Southwest Georgia. We have made lifelong friends that have loved and supported us along the way. We have been part of a church family that blessed us beyond measure.
Yet in the unlikely words of an edgy podcast I was reminded of the words that best describe my own stage of this life that is as fleeting as the moving shadow on the sundial.
To the love of my life and my lifelong best friend, I share the words of Robert Browning when I ask you to come along and continue our walk, savoring life as we grow old together. The best is indeed yet to come. Happy Anniversary.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.