It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept. ~Bill Watterson
My parent’s 47th anniversary was yesterday, as was my birthday. While the old people are adding to their years (not me), my Dad doesn’t seem to notice his age, at least not mentally. Sure he knows he’s getting older. He moves a little slower each year, and his endurance has dwindled. Yet, it doesn’t stop Dad from going outside, firing up the chainsaw and chopping firewood, which he never complains. He still goes traipsing through the woods during hunting season, even though his traipsing requires less walking and more riding the quad. Regardless, he stays active. Don’t get me wrong, Dad’s no athlete, but he enjoys life and living it.
What really cracks me up is his perception of his age. I’ve lost track of how many times we were going somewhere and I heard him say, “Come old man, get out of the way.” or “Look it’s an old lady. She needs to get off the road.” Okay, that’s not really funny, in fact it’s kind of annoying, but the real humor lies in the fact that the “old” people Dad is referring to are his age! One would think he’s talking about crypt keepers or those on the verge of death, nope. Everyone one slightly younger than him and up, are old people in his eyes. You should hear him in the grocery store! He’ll comment about the old people getting in his way with their shopping carts, or taking forever in the checkout line because they can’t see the screen. Isn’t that a hoot? He has a hard time reading the credit card machine too.
Every time I hear Dad spout out about an “old” person, first I laugh, usually out loud, then I reply, “Dad! You’re probably the same age!” Sometimes he snickers and other times he ignores me, truly irritated with the person in question. He means no harm. He’s simply impatient, but it’s hilarious. The pot calling the kettle black always comes to mind.
Now my own revelation. I just noticed it this past year while chaperoning one of Kyle’s band competitions. I don’t really pay attention to “old” people but I do have a skewed sense of age reality. When speaking to someone, there’s never an age differentiation, for the most part. If I’m conversing with someone in their twenties, there’s no age gap in my mind. If I’m speaking to someone in their teens, my mind only registers that I’m slightly older. Does it go the opposite for older people? Depends. When I’m at the gym talking with someone a decade older, then nope, we’re the same age. But if the person shows or acts their age, and they’re older, then in my mind, I’m simply younger. However, no matter the age in the room, it’s usually a guarantee I still act the youngest.
Dad and I are the same! In our minds, we really don’t have a clue to our own age or it doesn’t register. I mean we’re not delusional, we’re well aware of how old we are, it just doesn’t change our thinking or perspective. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, this is a good way to be. I’m sure it could be considered a mental defect, but I like to think of it as a fresh approach to life. After all, the mind is very powerful.
When I was in San Diego a few months ago, I shared my age related story in Adventures in San Diego on a Dog Scavenger Hunt. Let me rehash. While walking along the boardwalk I kept seeing people riding bikes and skateboards, unusual for the Latrobe scene but not for San Diego. As a youth, I loved skateboarding, particularly the skateboarders. Between the sound of the crashing waves and people milling around, I’d hear skateboard wheels and the clapping of the skateboard decks on the cement boardwalk. I truly enjoyed revisiting this sound from my youth. Eventually, I paid attention to the actual person riding the skateboard. It occurred to me they were older people, for the most part. Honestly, in my mind I kept thinking, Wow, they’re older. This thought kept up until reality smacked me in the face. I’m their age!
You know, I think Kyle shares the same perspective on age? He adapts to the ages of people around him. I’ve seen it. Whether or not he has a grasp on his own age, even though he’s only fifteen, I have no idea, but he has the ability to blend with older and younger persons. Plus, let’s not forget, he’s a Piper and we tend to mature late. I’m guessing, Kyle will always remain young at heart, at least I hope so.
In fact, the more I think about it, I bet my Pappy was the same way. He never really treated his disability as an issue and I bet his age was never one either.
On a side note, I’ve never wanted to get older. Ever. Most teens can’t wait to turn sixteen to drive or turn 21 to drink. Not me. I’ve never said the words, “I can’t wait till I’m…” Nope. In fact, I remember the summer before I went into sixth grade. I was depressed knowing it was my last year at Sacred Heart and I had to go to junior high school. I wasn’t thrilled at all. In my mind, it meant I was getting older and there would be added responsibility and expectations. Did I want to get out of high school? Not in the slightest. I loved my high school days and I didn’t want them to end. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad for all the milestones in my life but I never had an urge to rush time.
God has blessed me and is keeping me young, at least at heart. Cheers to all those young at heart!