It should have been a wonderful time. It was Easter Sunday. My family, including grandsons and fiance had arrived and we all settled in for an afternoon of love and familiarity. But it did not turn out that way for me.
I had run into the immobile wall of reality present and pending.
I am getting old.
In a way, no revelation had unfolded. Yet, I felt strongly as though I had entered the cosmos named by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman of the ‘Old and in the Way’.
Understand this. I do see my ugly old kisser in the mirror every morning. I am bald. My remaining hair is gray. Certain skin patches of mine are wrinkled and dangling. Every day there are new and equally unwelcome aches and pains reminding me of my encroaching end. Yet, I have been able to laugh in the face of old man winter’s insistence. My work outs, my generally careful dieting and my consistent exploration of my unknowns have maintained a strong body and a curious mind. Interpret that as you wish.
During yesterday’s festivities in our kitchen, our son and daughter were discussing something and I did not hear the more prominent aspects of their repartee. And with that, I decided to interject myself into their proceedings.
“What was that?” was my clever means of intrusion.
Instead of an immediate response, I received a lecture.
“Dad!” My beautiful engaged middle daughter looked me level eyed and announced in a matter of fact conversational volume . “You know something? You should have your hearing examined. People say something to you. You don’t listen and then you get pissed when you don’t understand and you start blaming them!”
My son looked at me and smiled. Nodding at me, he offered his profound epilogue, “Yeah!”
Two minutes later my wife decided that the contents of the stove beckoned. In a rush to heed its call, my 5’2” bride wordlessly shoved aside her 6 foot husband as though he were so many hanging beaded door curtains.
Rather than voice my consternation, I decided it would best to crawl into the family room and keep track of the Rangers’ progress in the NHL playoffs. I found out later that Philly took New York 4-2, by the way. Crap.
Later that evening, after reading an interesting article in The Economist and taking a well earned Sunday late afternoon nap, my wife turned on PBS and we subjected ourselves to a quasi documentary entitled ‘Moving with Grace’. This documentary detailed the day to day machinations revolving around moving an elderly couple from a retirement village in St. Louis to an assisted living facility closer to family in Greensboro, North Carolina.
While this elderly couple consistently demonstrated all appearances of dignity and intelligence, the entire ambience of the documentary was deeply saddening. The wife of the couple was slowly succumbing to her own form of dementia, relying on her own sense of humor in combatting her encroaching inability to recall her living situation or names of loved ones. Although the husband would stay afloat by utilizing the community gym facility, and he still retained his mental, and a good deal of his physical faculties, it was saddening to witness his resigned shuffling and non committal embrace of what represented his own status quo.
And with this, all the while watching the moron box while assuming a horizontal couch inspired position, I quickly sat up and pronounced, literally, out loud.
“I will not turn into my father. Yes! I am getting old! But no! I will not go quietly!”
My wife actually took the few seconds involved to glance up momentarily from her Kindle. “What’s the matter babe?”
I flatly told her of my feelings. How I allowed myself to feel old when the kids poked fun at me. I allowed myself to feel as though I were in the way when my wife brusquely shoved me aside.
She apologized. “I’m sorry for being so insensitive.” She implored.
My response was simple. “No No. It wasn’t you or the kids. I allowed myself to feel this way. But I need to stop this.
I must admit, prior to my physical self confrontation, I allowed myself the luxury of dissolving into a trench of despair bemoaning the worthless state of my has-been carcass.
And again, you say to yourself, “Look. Ya got two choices here. You can either lay down and rot or you can re-set your sights and explore further.”
I am resolved, as opposed to resigned, to the fact that I will continue to explore as long as the combination of my body and my mind will allow.