A few days ago I found out from my middle son, Sean, that I am soon to be a grandfather.
This will be my fifth grandchild. Or, put another way, I will soon boast to all my friends that, “I have five grandchildren!”
Just how, in the name of all that is good and holy, did that happen?
I simply cannot be old enough to have five grandchildren. When this column is published, I will be just a couple of days from turning 57. That isn’t really considered old anymore, is it? Isn’t today’s 50 yesterday’s 30? Or something to that effect? And, since I plan to live to at least 100, I actually consider myself barely into middle-age.
To be honest, though, there are signs that unmistakably support my kid’s insistence that I am, truly, an “old man.”
What hair that I have left on my head is mostly gray. My goatee is gray. I often find myself returning to consciousness some six blocks past the left turn I meant to make.
When I see one of Bartlett’s finest in place ready to pull me over for speeding I normally discover that I am under the speed limit.
I occasionally walk into a room with, at one time, a very specific reason to be there. Unable to remember, I look around, hoping to find something, anything, that will enable me to recall the reason for my trip. Failing at that, I turn around and then try to remember where I was.
My youngest son is the only child still left at home. I continue to call him all my other kid’s names before I get to his. I imagine it will be that way from now on.
I get more sleep in my recliner than I do in my bed.
Along with mortgage, utilities, phone, groceries and gas, I now include “doctor” as a reoccurring monthly payment.
The vitamins that I take say “senior” on them.
I could go on. The list is long.
I find myself quite often looking back at my life, remembering, reflecting and wondering what might be different had I not done this or that. Some things I would change; most I would do the same. I love hearing people say that “Youth is wasted on the young.”
Not me. I had a ball.
Still, as I gently slide into the best years of my life, I am reminded of another old adage: “Time flies.”
For instance, come November my wife and I will have been married 33 years. That’s incredible. And not because we have managed to stay together that long. It’s just the fact that so much time has passed.
Even more compelling is the journey we have been on together seems almost instantaneous, as if we boarded a time machine in November of 1980 and then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, ended up here.
Time doesn’t fly. It rockets. One of my most vivid memories of our early married life occurred one summer afternoon in 1985. Susie and I were on vacation in Gatlinburg and were swimming in the pool at the hotel where we were staying. I was 29; Susie was 24 and pregnant with our second child. My daughter, Lisa, was only a couple of years old and was jumping off the side of the pool and into my arms, laughing and having a ball.
There was a lady watching us. She was probably in her 40’s or 50’s. After a while she looked at me and said, simply, “Enjoy this time.” That was it. I was like, “Okay.” and then barely gave it another thought.
I really didn’t understand what she meant until I was much older. In fact, about the age she was then. What she was trying to tell me was, “She’s two today. She’ll be 30 tomorrow.”
Turns out she was right.
Yesterday I was at my sister’s home and in her pool with my 5-month-old granddaughter. She was smiling and we were both having a ball. The little girl who was jumping off that pool in Gatlinburg was watching us and taking pictures. She’s 30 now.
What I would like to tell young parents today is this: Don’t send your kids to bed. They always wake up a day older.
That said, I believe with all my heart that the best advice I can give are the three words a stranger in a pool in Gatlinburg gave me: Enjoy this time. No matter what your age may be.
So I’m almost 57. Big deal. I have no complaints.
Although I would like to have my hair back. And I wish I could hear better. And I have no idea why AARP keeps sending me all that junk mail. And lately the Viagra spam has been off the charts. And I’m not going to even mention that ridiculous colonoscopy. And…
Okay. Maybe a couple of complaints.