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Thursday January 6, 2022
I’m turning into a sentimental old fool. I find myself unexpectedly moved to tears, or at least to sniffles, by some act of kindness or caring.
It could be anything. A video clip about a group of people working together to extricate a moose from a mudhole. An anonymous donation to my church’s Thrift Shop that prepays purchases for a dozen or more shoppers.
The very best present I received this past Christmas was a letter from my granddaughter Katherine. “Is it okay?” Katherine asked, when I looked up from reading her letter. I couldn’t answer; I was too choked up.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: aging, Tears. sentiment
Sunday October 31, 2021
When did I grow old? I knew aging had to happen, but I thought it would take longer.
When I was young, the inevitability of growing old never occurred to me. I was Peter Pan; aging was never-never.
Even into my seventies, I didn’t think of myself as old. Sure, my hair developed what an internet wit called “wisdom highlights.” But I still had employable skills. My mind and my muscles still worked. I still had a future stretching ahead of me.
And then one day, I realized that things had changed.
I didn’t think of myself as old. But I couldn’t think of myself as young either.
And the future contained more of the same. Or, more likely, less of the same.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: aging, Ralph Milton, platinum years
Sunday September 5, 2021
I had my 85th birthday this last week. It’s a new experience for me. I’ve never had an 85th birthday before; I’ll know I’ll never have one again. Obviously.
My 85th birthday made me feel I have crossed some kind of threshold, some invisible Rubicon. I have entered a new phase of my life.
My almost-brother Ralph Milton defines it as the division between the young-old and the old-old.
The young-old are the newly retired. Without employment to tie them down, they’re free to do all those things they always wanted to do.
Almost all books and magazines about aging deal with the young-old, assuring people they can still enjoy life to the fullest.
But that doesn’t apply to the old-old. Their backs hurt too much to play golf. Their fishing buddies have died. They can’t drive. Their children want them to live where someone will look after them.
Tags: birthdays, aging, young-old, old-old
Sunday August 15, 2021
Another school classmate died last week. David Scott died in Washington DC August 5.
David and I went through our first six grades together at a school in the foothills of the Himalayas. Then we lost touch.
I left India with my parents, and have only been back briefly. David, on the other hand, spent most of his working life in India -- four decades with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. He was professor of history of religions in theological colleges, a chaplain, and a study-center director.
I didn’t get to know David again until I attended a school reunion some 40 years later.
Other classmates were much closer to him. So I don’t write this column deep in grief. I write it because David’s death brings into sharp focus the harsh reality of growing older. We lose friends.
Tags: aging, David Scott, friends, loss
Thursday July 29, 2021
Long long ago, I had a Baby Brownie camera. It had no settings at all – just point and click. But it let me take grainy black and white pictures.
As time went on, I graduated to a 35mm camera that would do almost everything for me except choose my subject. It would set the aperture. Choose the shutter speed. Auto-focus on whatever I had on the screen.
Except that one of its dials sets “picture mode,” in which the camera automatically amends its settings to suit special circumstances -- portraits, landscapes, close-ups, etc.
Not long ago, I took a series of photos of our Rotary club picking up litter along a popular walking route. Somehow, I bumped that dial from “Auto” to “Art.”
I got grainy black and white photos that I might have taken with my old Baby Brownie.
Tags: aging, letting go