One unexpected way in which getting well into middle age has affected me is that when I learn that some artifact of my youth--a person, a building, a store; nearly anything--is no longer here with us, even when it's someone or something that wasn't that important to me when I was growing up, I find myself unaccountably nostalgic and pensive.
I grew wistful a few years ago when I found out that Doug Henning had been dead for more than a decade, though I hadn't been especially attached to Henning in my youth (other than, I will admit, a certain amount of hair envy, but that's a whole other story). Though this fact shouldn't really have moved me at all, I felt sadness and disappointment when I learned that, many years ago, Shields and Yarnell had gotten divorced. It's more understandable that one day eight or ten years ago, when I drove by the site of the Ingleside Presbyterian Church building I went to every Sunday when I was growing up and saw that it had been razed, I was very saddened indeed. Should it make me melancholy when I realize that I'll never again shop at Treasure Island or Richway, or never again eat at the Wendy's Superbar? Probably not...but sometimes it does. These are all people and places that I don't think about every day, but when I do remember any one of them, I get sentimental and stop whatever I'm doing to stare off into space for a while.
It's silly, I know. The world we live in today is filled with wonderful people and buildings and stores that contribute to the richness of our lives, even if they weren't around when I was eight or ten or twelve. There's nothing magical about having been on TV, or on Lawrenceville Highway, in the 1970s when I was a kid.
But yesterday both Helen Reddy and Mac Davis died. I haven't thought much about either of them in years, but I'm sorry they're gone.