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Robert L. Sharp: Farewell, sayonara, goodbye

Those of you who follow Executive Editor Mike Tharp's skilled writing may recall his August 2008 overwrought paean to my virtues in the face of dealing with cancer.

Now it's dealing its last strokes with me, so time to express appreciation to all:

For my parents, who instilled a love of music and literature; the rewards of community involvement; teachers, friends male and female who helped along the way; a stimulating Navy experience adding to opportunities to feed my travel bug; a supportive wife and children; a rewarding international banking career; and having lived long enough to see grandchildren.

Mike's invitation to write a column for the Sun-Star was an especially satisfying opportunity to express myself in my dotage (which included not least, discovering the wonders of my new best friend Mr. Google).

More than 40 years ago, I found a dusty old volume in a rumpled used bookstore off Wall Street in New York.

I bought it for its foreword, which I now find relevant, and a good perspective:

There was a man once who lived to a good old age.

All his life he had lived in expectation. He looked forward, day after day, to the time when he would see and hear Great Things. He felt there was something thrilling and vivid which all men experience.

So he went his ways, busy in his daily affairs, with his eyes and ears open.

But it seemed to him that nothing much ever happened. He loved women, and made money, and fell into vices, and reformed, and raised a family, and traveled a little and read a little.

One day the Angel of Death touched him on the shoulder.

"I don't want to go with you," the man said. "It's too early."

"You're a bent old man," said the Angel of Death, "Your time has come."

"But I've never seen Life," the old man complained. "I haven't begun to live ... I am still waiting ..."

"Waiting for what?"

"For Life ... the years have passed so quickly. They were like a dream, and nothing has ever happened."

"What have you been doing all this time?"

"I've worked ... talked a lot ... loved ... hated ... laughed a good deal ... built some houses ... brought up my children ... thought a little ... and -- "

"That was Life," said the Angel of Death, as he led the old man away.

-- Bread & Circuses,

by W. E. Woodward,

Harper & Brothers,

New York and London 1925

Houdini promised to report from beyond the grave. We're still waiting. Don't wait for me to report; it's not going to happen.

And DON'T use that hackneyed term "battle" or "courageous" to describe what happened. It was neither -- just a disease they haven't figured out ... yet.

Looking back, I've been a very lucky boy.

Robert L. Sharp grew up in Linden and spent most of the following 30 years as an international banker in Asia including four years as a Naval officer in that part of the world.