I am 44,676,000 minutes of age. Many were spent in WAITING. The first 7,458,400 were spent WAITING for one of the most important dates in my life. Would I ever reach sixteen? After that, the only age I was concerned about was whether I would attain 44,676,000. But, I made it!

WAITING is kinda like worrying; there's not a thing you can do about it.

When I was a little fellow, I spent useless minutes WAITING. The old fellow who led the prayer. He petitioned the Lord for everything while I squirmed, scratched, worried and WAITED for that cheer- bringing word -- AMEN!

Accompanying that, there was a bellowing behemoth who had no stopping place. He had the people in burning torment and now he had to extricate them. They didn't want to be extricated. So I WAITED for him to give up or give out. It was over.

The old man who prayed and the fire-eating parson were invited for dinner. I knew what was in store: the white meat would be gone and the taters would be cold while I WAITED.

WAITING for school to end; WAITING to see if I failed; WAITING for the little brunette to come along; fearfully WAITING after school to see if the bully would show up.

As I went through life, WAITING played a major role. I WAITED at the grocery check-out; WAITED for my prescription to be filled; WAITED at the doctor's office. Where? The WAITING room, of course. I WAITED in the examining room; I WAITED, fearfully, for the news of some dread disease. I WAITED in the movie ticket line. At the bank -- the sign said, "WAIT for the next available teller."

The computer age began so I WAITED while it booted up. I WAITED for the menu. I WAITED for the files to show. An exasperating message appeared at the bottom of the screen. It said "please WAIT."

WAITING time is often filled with anger, resentment and stress.

I WAITED at the gasoline pump while someone pondered the automatic pumping instructions. I WAITED for the red lights to turn so I could WAIT to get on the freeway. Now the stress, the anger and resentment would be dispelled. But I WAITED on the freeway for a work crew to move a piece of equipment; I WAITED for a slow-moving line of cars to view a wreck scene. The car stalled. I WAITED for a good Samaritan. Finally, some good soul used his cellular and I WAITED for the tow to come. I WAITED for a diagnosis of the trouble and then I WAITED for someone to take me home where I could WAIT in comfort for my car to be repaired.

I have WAITED in suspense for a child to be born and then I have spent many anxious, stomach- wrenching minutes, WAITING for that child, who had missed curfew, to come home. So I WAITED, helplessly, because I could do nothing more than WAIT and worry.

Along the road to forty-four million, six hundred and seventy-six thousand, I learned something about WAITING -- be patient. WAITING minutes are inevitable; there's nothing we can do to change it. Remember the "Prayer of Serenity." "Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." These WAITING times are unchangeable.

Some of WAITING time can be used profitably. I wrote a poem while WAITING for a doctor. I outlined an article while I WAITED for sleep to come. I solved a problem while I WAITED for someone who missed an appointment. I stretched and relaxed while I WAITED for the light to change.

Some WAITING is needed. I have WAITED beside the sick bed of a loved one just as a loved one has WAITED on me. I have patiently WAITED, watched and witnessed the drawing of a last breath of at least three that were dear to me. The hardest of all, the end of a life that had hardly begun, my grandson. A WAITING like that will cause a person to reach a maturity that is sadly needed by all but experienced by few. A young friend, who WAITED and watched while his grandfather died, said, "Today, I feel like I became a man."

And now, at forty-four million, six hundred and seventy-six thousand, WAITING time is almost over. WAITING for time, which is made up of minutes, hours, days and years, to run its course and for my entrance into that which is called eternity. Some of my WAITING time has been well spent, some wasted. But now, each minute I WAIT, just gets me a little closer home.

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