Monday, February 13, 2012

Grass Stains and Grey Hair

I turned 58 last November. I teach math. 58 rounds to 60. Yikes!

Now I'm an optimist, but I've got to say that I'm thinking that I'm getting toward the end of middle-aged.

But the echoes of my youthfulness are still evident: I occasionally get grass stains!

Over Christmas, my son was in town, along with my son-in-law's brother. Both of these guys are in their very early 30's. (Wow. Don't tell them, but that could be a boundary of the beginning of middle-aged.)

From my view point, they're young men, so when we set up a volleyball net on the park lawn across the street from my house, I was all in. I love volleyball. I own a nice grass court net, complete with lines. But my volleyball is old and cracked. Aged. (Not to worry. They had one.)

We played 3 against 2. Luckily, or by design, I was on the team of 3. We lost most, if not all the games, but we were competitive, and my son-in-law's brother commented when it was all over, "Wow, Don. You've still got a lot of play." It was a compliment, even if the implication was, "You've got a lot of play (for an old guy)." But this "old guy" had blocked several of his spikes, and dug a few balls via diving plays complete with rolls. (That's how I got the grass stains: my badge of lingering athleticism.)

I was feeling good about ageing. Older but wiser. Cagey. Still able to hold my own on a court of some sort.

A week or so later, while I was musing on a piece I'd call "I've got grass stains on my shorts!" I spent some time with my five-year-old grand-daughter. At one point in the afternoon, she pulled out some old photo albums of her mom, my daughter. As we're seeing the pictures of her "younger" mom, Rachel says to me, "Gee, Grand-pa, you used to have brown hair."

I thought, "Now I don't?"

I remember reading on my dad's driver's licence, "Hair color: Dark Brown."

I remember saying, "Gee, Dad, when did you have dark brown hair? It's really more salt and pepper, heavy on the salt." (Or words to that effect.)

Now, the shoe was on the other foot. (And is he laughing in his urn?)

"Yes, Rachel. I used to have brown hair."

And later I mused, a bit on the depressive side, "I'm going to get old and die." (A bit melodramatic, but actually, quite accurate. It's the way things work.

It took a while to get back to balance: "I may be getting older, but I'm enjoying the journey."

A week or two ago, I played "jump-the-ditch." Last week, I played jump rope. I got some new grass stains, but I quit before I hurt myself.

And my driver's licence says: Hair: Brown. and Weight: 195 and Height: 6' 0". One of those three descriptions are still accurate. The shrinking hasn't started yet... or has it?

Well, at least I can still mow my own lawn. And play a little jump rope. And get an occasional grass stain.

Look out lawn: here I come!


  1. Last time I measured myself, I seemed to have misplaced about half an inch, but I have some arthritis in my spine and that is proably where it went. One of my church elders (that is someone on my congregation's governing board, if you don't speak Presbyterian) called while I was reading this and she thought she might be interupting something important, and I told her I was just reading your blog, and told her what it was about, and she told me to tell you that you are entering the best part of your life. She is approximately our parents' age.

  2. @Dennis: Yes, you've always been just a bit ahead of me on the road called life.(Keep it up!)

    My guess is that if I measured accurately, I too may have lost a bit of height, though I blame it more on diminished posture rather than arthritis.

    I agree with your church elder. I've always thought that the best of life lay just ahead, and so I've found it. One of the worst feelings was once upon a time, during a time of loss, much of my vision was pulled toward looking back. It was a strange feeling. Normal. But strange. So now, I continue to work towards balance: informed by my past, inspired by my future, but enjoying the here-and-now. Savoring the golden moments against the backdrop of what has been and what lies ahead.

  3. You're still young, Don. Age is about how you feel. I'm 62 with a brain that most of the time tells me I'm 26 but occasionally I wake up and think I'm 126. I remember the day I realsied my Dad was getting 'old'. He was working on the car engine while I sat inside and occasionally started it up for him. I suddenly thought "Gosh, he's 62 and I'm 22 - I should be under the bonnet (hood) and he should be sitting in the seat". Now I suspect my son looks at me and thinks something very similar. "Get down off that ladder, Dad. I'll change the light bulb for you..." But my brain still tells me I'm 26.....

    1. @Scriptor: Age is a paradox. I remember talking to an octogenarian when I was in my late 20's. She said, "Don, I feel like a school girl inside." And then she giggled. (And leaned against a wall for balance. She was a school girl in her 80's. I liked it then. I like it now. So... I agree with you. It is about how you feel, and luckily, it's mostly in our heads.)

  4. When I talk with "young people" who seem to feel closed in by life and running out of options, I tell them that they are younger than they think they are and they will look back at this time and see all the possibilities that were open to them.

    1. @Dennis: Options is so much about looking out and looking up. My favorite book for options in life (or at least vocation) is "What Color is Your Parchute," a timeless tome by an "older" Christian man. He outlines how to discover the options that appeal to you and are a good fit for you.