View from the hill

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN PAUL PENNER
I am approaching another birthday. It is not as significant as the one I just had a few months back.


OK, make that 11 months ago. I suppose calendars do not lie, it is now late October-meaning November and my birthday are just around the corner.


One consolation I have is that Thanksgiving always comes around the same time, give or take a few days.


I also take courage in a recent conversation I had with a friend who works at a local business in Marion. Terri had turned the big 3-0 that week. We conducted our business as usual. But during the conversation, she let on that the arrival of the big day was somewhat depressing.


That is, until I responded: “Oh, you’re really young yet. I’m approaching 51.”


“Thanks! You just made my day,” was her grateful reply.


Would it be great if all our troubles could be solved with a few simple, encouraging words?


And maybe we should look at age from another angle. If we cannot beat the aging rap, maybe we should have a little fun with it.


Lori, my nephew’s spouse, forwarded a piece written by an anonymous author who had an interesting perspective on life. It was titled “Discussing Age.” Here’s how it went:


“Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions.


“‘How old are you?’


“”I’m four and a half.’


“You’re never 36 and a half….You’re four and a half going on five.


“You get into your teens; now they can’t hold you back.


“You jump to the next number.


“‘How old are you?’


“‘I’m gonna be 16.”


“You could be 12, but you’re gonna be 16…. Eventually.


“Then the great day of your life: you become 21.


“Even the words sound like a ceremony. You become 21….Yes!


“Then you turn 30. What happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk. He turned…we had to throw him out.


“What’s wrong? What changed? You become 21; you turn 30.


“Then you’re pushing 40…. Stay over there.


“You reach 50.


“You become 21; you turn 30; You’re pushing 40; you reach 50; then you make it to 60.


“By then you’ve built up so much speed, you hit 70. After that, it’s a day-by-day thing. You hit Wednesday….


“You get into your 80s; you hit lunch, you hit 4:30. My Grandmother won’t even buy green bananas. ‘Well, it’s an investment, you know, and maybe a bad one.”


“And it doesn’t end there….


“Into the 90s, you start going backwards. ‘I was just 92.’


“Then a strange thing happens; if you make it over 100, you become a little kid again.


“‘I’m 100 and a half.'”


* * *


I can only wonder if comedian Jerry Seinfeld or one of his writers wrote “Discussing Age.” I can imagine him standing on the stage, saying, “Stay over there.”


But I have one problem with the piece. It says “you reach 50.” You make it-no more, no less. No fanfare about having made the half-century mark in life. No “Yippee!” to celebrate the milestone. It’s just a point of reference on the road to an older, even less important age.


There are no footnotes to show for the kids who turned out great, no testimonials to highlight the important accomplishments. No mention of the grandkids who are always welcome in the home.


I guess it would be a plus if there were any grandkids to talk about in our case, but since none as yet are about to come along at this stage in my life…. Like it says, “you reach 50.”


Maybe grandkids will come in the future, when I make it to 60 or hit 70. But will I like them or will I discover there is too much difference in our ages to overcome generational differences?


A gentleman, who shall remain anonymous-and whom I suspect has probably made it to 60 and is working on hitting 70-commented, “It’s always great to see the headlights of the cars come onto the yard and see the grandkids for a while, but it is just as great to see the tail lights of the cars as they leave.”


Who knows, I may resemble that remark when the time comes. I have no clue what life will be like when I hit 70 or beyond. I would like to think I would be “neat,” “hip,” “cool” or whatever term of admiration the grandkids may use at the time.


How will I relate to a grandchild who is at the very important age of 4 and a half, going on 5? Maybe I can make a deal with him or her.


“Hey kid, you wanna trade numbers? I’ll give you 21 for the 4 and a half. I’ll keep the change.”


You think a deal can be struck? Not likely.


For now, like Terri, I must be content being the age I am. But it would be nice to have someone older come by and offer a few words of encouragement, like: “Oh, your very young yet. I hit 70 last week.”


It is either that or wait until fractions become attractive again.

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