Approaching the ‘age of never’

I read a book a while ago in which the main character learns about the “age of never.” That age where, “It never used to hurt to do this,” or “I never used to have trouble seeing that,” or even “It never took THIS long to finish something before.”

That character reached that age at about 50, and I’m noticing some tendencies in that direction even at my tender young age of 40-something. Until I fully achieve the “age of never,” though, I’m practicing on “I never thought I’d do that before.”

Several truly momentous things occurred this week. For the first time since both children entered school, only one of them had to make a valentine box and dutifully address valentines to every member of his class.

I’m getting nearer to finishing the first ever (and only) Charlie Brown sweater I’ve ever made for darling hubby. And, wonder of wonders, I actually wore through a pair of work gloves.

If you would have asked my parents if such a feat would be possible for their youngest offspring, I’m pretty sure both of them would have nearly choked on laughter.

Let’s just say I wasn’t known for either physical prowess or affinity for labor in my younger years. I was one of those city kids who never had to do more than mow the lawn and clean my room occasionally. Hard farm labor wasn’t something I thought was part of my lot in life.

Fast forward to the present, or more accurately, last week. I’d been noticing how battered my trusty buckskin work gloves were getting. There was a hole in the stitching of the right thumb, but that was a factory defect. The leather was darkening and peeling on the palms, and one day a hole appeared in one of the fingers.

It began as just a small hole, but several loads of firewood later, it was much bigger. Suddenly, my gloves were letting in just as much bark and dirt as they were keeping out. Upon closer inspection, another hole had appeared in a finger on the other glove.

Now, my parents raised me to take care of things, to be careful with them so they lasted longer. I had been trying to grasp and toss the logs as carefully and deliberately as possible, so as to extend the lifespan of my gloves, with a vague sense of making them last until doomsday.

And here I stood with holes in my gloves and bark dust on my hands inside the gloves, feeling an odd mix of guilt at not making them last longer, and a sense of blossoming pride that I had actually worked through a pair of work gloves. I never thought I’d do THAT before.

I ended up picking up a new pair while stocking up on chicken feed. Laying the new pair next to the old pair, I thought back to when the old pair was new. I got them back then to keep my hands from getting roughened by baling twine, pitchfork handles and firewood.

Fine merino or silk lace doesn’t knit well if you’re sporting calluses and splinters. Of course, those things never bothered me before, but I never thought I’d be knitting before. Back then, my dad was still with us. Somehow I never thought I’d have to say goodbye to him either.

When those gloves were new, I dressed up as Elsa for my granddaughter’s Frozen birthday party. A whole lot of “nevers” in that last sentence!

And now, with new gloves, I’m getting closer to a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I’m competing in tournaments and actually placing in events. I never thought I’d do TKD, because I never thought I could get a kick above my waist. It turns out that I was wrong.

With new gloves, I realize that I’ve been making socks on my sock machine for a year now. Just over a year ago, I’d have told you “I don’t do socks,” so that’s definitely something I never thought I’d be doing on a regular basis.

I look at these new gloves and know that this is the year I’m going to learn to weave. I definitely never thought I’d be doing that or spinning before either.

Sure, there are some things that hurt more than they used to, or are harder to see than they used to be, or take longer than they probably should.

I’m not quite willing to concede to the “age of never” yet, especially since there are so many things I haven’t done yet that I never thought I’d do before. I can’t wait to keep learning.

Shana Thornhill lives on farm near Marion. She can be reached at

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