Tag Archives: aging

Old Faces Book

The new world of social media gives those of us who want it the opportunity to keep in touch, or get back in touch with people from earlier stages in our lives.  Locating people is fairly simple these days, compared to 30 years ago, when private investigators would be needed.

Some people use these new tools, like Facebook, to get together with old flames, which turns out not to be such a good idea much of the time, as Facebook was mentioned in 42% divorce proceedings a few years ago.

For me, it’s just interesting to see what old friends are up to.  I mostly find that I exchange one email with childhood or college buddies, and then just follow them on Facebook.

Monday was an interesting day in that regard.  Early in the day I learned that a college friend is about to move to a place in the country.  I think she lives in Washington State with her husband.  Her mother just died this year – she was in her mid-90’s.

Later in the day I learned that another college friend who had just one month ago moved to a new job in Washington, DC had resigned, and was returning to his previous job in Florida.   Tough month.

Then that night, I saw a shocking post from a woman I knew in college.  She had married a great guy who was in a lot of classes with me.  His name was Ted.  They were a really nice couple.  She wrote to report that he died of a massive heart attack at age 62.  My age.  I remember going to a Marx Brothers’ double feature with the two of them.  I was a third wheel, but didn’t feel like one.

I haven’t seen Ted since 1976, so I can’t claim to have been his friend.  I still feel sorrow for his death, and for his wife’s loss.   A loss I wouldn’t have known about without Facebook.

Three college classmates: one moving to the country, one moving back to Florida, one moving to the afterlife.  There is probably a conclusion to be drawn, or a moral to the story, but I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe this: be sure to spend time and energy with your real-world friends in case they move along sometime soon.

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Filed under 2016

Green and Gold and Old

Two weeks ago we had events to attend in Appleton and Oshkosh, separated by one day, so we had a brief get-away in Green Bay. We visited the Heritage Hill State Historical Park, which is a collection of buildings from Wisconsin’s early days. And, since French explorers and fur traders frequented the Great Lakes and nearby waterways in the 1600’s, some of the buildings were quite old.

Speaking of “quite old,” our trip to Green Bay was rich with Packer history, going back to and way prior to our years of fandom in the 1960’s.

First, there are a dozen or more granite markers with photos and historical information etched on them. They are from the Oneida Nation, and line Lombardi Avenue for many blocks near the stadium.

Second, we took the advice of a woman we met for dinner at a restaurant outside of Green Bay. Every wall had photos or signed jerseys from Packer greats. Willy Davis, Fuzzy Thurston, Boyd Dowler… and many more Packers of our youth. And the fish was very good as well.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, which was only a block or so from Lambeau Field. Because it was a Friday before a Sunday game, there was some energy in the air. We walked over to the stadium, but just missed getting into the pro shop before it closed. However, the atrium area was still open to the public, though there was a very large gala dinner going on.

We walked up to the second level to look down on the gathering. What we realized was that almost every table had a former Packer player, each wearing a jersey with his name on it. Here are a few of the players we saw: Bart Starr, Lynn Dickey, Willie Davis, Carroll Dale, Boyd Dowler, Jim Grabowski, Donny Anderson, Willie Wood and Frank Winters. If you aren’t of a certain age, most of those names mean nothing to you, but it was kind of a big deal to us.

From our vantage point we could see plenty of other players, but it wasn’t possible to read their names, and besides, it felt kind of rude to be staring down on the gala goers, though we weren’t alone.

The players I followed in the 60’s are, not surprisingly, in their 70’s now, and some have died since those glory days. Being a sports hero doesn’t forestall the aging process, and the rigors of football take their toll on those who play it. So, some of the old players struggle with aches, pains, and the effects of too many hits to the head.

The game has changed, and Lambeau Field has really changed, having become a year-round tourist destination for old fogeys like us, and the legions of Packer fans from around the world.

I like watching the Packers all these years later, and while I try to put the games in perspective (the key word there is “game”), I have to admit that my Sunday nights are better when the green and gold has won that afternoon.

Having been to Green Bay so recently it was fun to watch the game on TV Sunday. Maybe we’ll get to a game again someday. By then, we’ll surely be green and gold and old.

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Filed under 2013

Young and Old

A comedian – I’m afraid I don’t remember who, but I think it was Jerry Seinfeld  – pointed out that for many people their first birthday party and their last are very similar.  You have to be told that the people at your party are friends, and you need help blowing out the candles.

A while back we had the good fortune to be able to see our oldest and youngest family members on consecutive days, and both visits were really nice and, in their own way, moving.

My in-laws aren’t the people Seinfeld was talking about.  They have full control of their faculties, and while the number of candles on their birthday cakes is very large, they can still blow them out without a problem.

Our visit with them was great, with the opportunity to share a couple of meals – my father-in-law is the master of homemade soup.  My mother-in-law always has a dessert of some sort.

We also had the chance to help-out with some yard and garden chores.  A few acres to manage wasn’t a problem with nine children to help.  And, the aging process doesn’t help a person bend and lift and push and dig very well.

We had some good talks with lots of laughter, and some serious talks too.  I don’t think I’ll ever feel an equal to them, but it’s nice that they treat me as one.

The next day we traveled south to visit our granddaughter.  Oh, and also our daughter and her husband.  They don’t get top billing any longer.

It is astounding to see the growth and development of a one year-old.  A few steps, a running commentary on what’s on her mind, though much of it is indecipherable to us adults.  Her increasing ability and desire to control her environment is such a contrast from her helplessness at birth.  She is approaching the stage when her parents might wish she had less of a desire to do things herself.

It’s interesting, but she looks to her parents for assurance and support the same way, after a fashion, as we look to my in-laws.  We move from childhood to parenthood and now grand-parenthood, but somewhere inside there is still a child that seeks validation.

This is a good time of life, when we can play a role in our grandchild’s development, and at the same time helping the older generation as more help is needed.

In both cases, helping someone else removes the temptation to think too much about ourselves.  As we age, it’s easy to obsess over what has passed us by, and the awareness of the diminishing days we have left.  Helping someone else makes our lives so much more meaningful.

I look forward to the day when our children and grandchildren are there to help us out, and to receive what surely will be our respect and validation for the people they have become, because that will mean our lives will have been well lived.

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Filed under 2012

The Tipping Point

When I was a kid I was very involved in sports.  Rarely a summer day went by without a baseball game (or at least games of catch), tennis, or basketball.  The football season lasted into January, which obviously meant playing in the snow.

Running around and riding my bike were activities I didn’t even think about.  Being told not to run in the house, or in social situations, was evidence that running came more naturally than walking. 

Now, in my second half-century, it’s hard to remember how that felt.  Sitting with my feet up seems like a much better idea than running.  Watching boys playing around makes me tired by proxy, if that’s possible.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to remain somewhat athletic.  Up until a year ago I went to a gym to work out a few times a week, except in the summer where yard work took up that time.  I’ve played basketball with other older guys at least a few times each winter for the past dozen years.  I also try to get out to the high school track to run several times a week during the summer, though in past years there’s been more walking than running.

Normally, when I see someone running along the side of a country road, I think that it looks like fun and something I’d like to do.  The other day, though, I think I sensed my mind and body had hit a tipping point.  I saw a guy going for a run, and I thought to myself, “that looks like a horrible idea!”  At that point I realized that I had officially tipped over from being athletic to being sedentary.

Fortunately for me, a couple of days later I saw an acquaintance in town.  In the past year he has lost a lot of weight, and in fact was energetically riding a bicycle, looking ten years younger.  Seeing him made me realize that the tipping point away from being athletic has as much to do with our brains as it does our bodies. 

I have no expectation of running a marathon or climbing a mountain, but I sure can dust off my  bike, and get over to the track for some spirited walking, and maybe some running.  I have some dumbbells (no comments please), so I can work on my incredible shrinking arm muscles. 

I’m not so naïve as to think a person can somehow stave off old age.   But, a little effort can make me feel more physically capable of enjoying life.  They say that cardio vascular exercise helps brain function too.  Heaven knows I could use the help in that department.

I guess I’ve come to that tipping point towards giving up on being athletic, and I’ve decided to tip back the other way.  I’m sure the time will come that vigorous sports will be too much for my joints and such, but if the only thing making me feel old is laziness, that’s something I can deal with.

So, if you see me, and I smell like “Icy Hot,” you’ll know why.

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Filed under 2010

Feeling It

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Filed under 2009