We came to California to visit, but also take a brief vacation from the craziness of the past few months. Sometimes you just need to turn off the news, and forget about it for a little while. The recession, the flu, the war(s), the murder and mayhem will still be there when you sign back on. 

Mendocino County looked like a good bet for peace and quiet. We found plenty of it in a town of 400, about 20 miles east of the coast. Near the intersection of vineyards, redwood forest and cattle ranches, we discovered a cute little inn with guest cabins, each containing one bed, two chairs, a table and absolutely nothing else. Nothing like austerity to cleanse the soul.

There we were, curled up in our rustic cabin nestled under a down comforter when Dave’s phone went off. I didn't lie about the lack of cell service. It was weak at best, when you could get it.  

The caller was one of the tenants renting our condo back home. Dave could hardly make out what he was saying, between uncontrollable sobs. 

The night before, when he returned home, he found his wife of 50 years dead in a pool of blood. It was even worse than that. She had died in a particularly violent and ugly manner. The police believed it was a natural death, but they would wait for the ME’s report. 

Naturally, we swung into action and spent the rest of the day trying to help from afar. We  hired one of those crime scene clean-up companies and looked for other ways to assist the poor man. Mostly, we mourned the death of a delightful woman who was only a few years older than we were.

Last night, on House, the ghost of Autumn sang a particularly eerie version of “It’s later than you think.” At that, it all came together. The yin and yang of life. Just when you ‘re dazzled by the age and beauty of the world around you – as we were, in a redwood forest – death walks in to remind you of its omnipresence. Anytime, anywhere. Even when you’re on vacation.

You're not going to last as long as those trees. Your days are numbered and your number can come up at any time. And don’t expect it to be pretty or fun. 

So, like Autumn sang, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think. Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink.  The years go by quicker than a wink, so enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.

And, make sure you use your time wisely. It's so precious. Don't waste a second.

On a related note, Ann Sentilles has a superb post about a woman she met who is making good use of the last third of her life. Ann calls her a poster child for her site, which is all about late women growing older. Don't miss it on The Third Third. Click on the link on the right. I loooove The Third Third!