I meet a lot of people who complain about getting older. That’s their right, I suppose. You’ll not hear me whine about aging. When a person stops aging, they don’t get much else done. I’ve got too much on my plate right now to stop aging.
Getting older has meant a lot of change for me. My solar sex panel is expanding. A lot of people call me sir. That used to happen at work because of my rank, now it’s because I’m an antique. A kid is now defined as someone under 28. I’m starting to get senior discounts. The ads that are targeted toward me are changing too.
Lots of people say it. They’ll say it to my face. I’ve gotten it at work, I’ve heard it at home. My friends have told me.
I’ve denied it. Without exception, every time they’ve said it, I have said it isn’t true. Perhaps I knew it was so. Maybe I just didn’t want to believe it could be true. I denied it. I ignored the pressure within; the pressure that told me it was true.
Perhaps it’s just that it sounds harsh. Even when people laugh while they’re saying it, even when the context is friendly, it sounds harsh. I didn’t want that. It’d be awful if it were true, so it couldn’t be. Read the rest of this entry »
The Wolf was a block and a half away when I turned toward the coffee shop. There’s a sunny spot on the street where I see him on cool mornings. That’s where he was, sitting on his walker, soaking up a little extra warmth.
I make a point of not driving up to him in a police car when I spot him. Back in the day, me pulling up in a police car was often the start of a bad evening for at least one of us. It just works out better now to let him come around on his own.
When I walked out of the shop with my hot chocolate (with blackberry syrup, trust me on this one) he was out near the driveway. “Good morning, Sarge, God bless you.” I returned the blessing and he turned back toward the street.
I walked toward him. As I got close I spoke quietly – “coming up behind you.” He laughed and asked why I didn’t warn him like that twenty years ago. “You know damned well why I didn’t” I said. He grinned and admitted that he did. Read the rest of this entry »
The fans were streaming toward the exit after another loss by the home team. I wasn’t paying attention to anyone in particular, just watching the wave of disappointed humanity go by. Then, without warning, it happened.
A man came out of the crowd. He yelled over all the other voices around us…
I haven’t seen you in forever, what’s up man? Read the rest of this entry »
So, I’m getting older. I’m older, but I’m not ninety-one. Not yet. I’m just practicing being ninety-one.
My day-to-day job involves working with a partner. Together, we supervise a shift. I’ve been fortunate to have my two best partners as I approach the end of my first career.
Seeing The Line
My old partner retired at the end of 2011. He earned the reputation of being a no-nonsense guy, but the great secret that so many missed about him was that he cared about our work, those who did it, and the good folks in the neighborhoods we worked. Somehow, those he worked for never saw those qualities in him. The people who worked for him are wiser, they miss Curt. I do too.
Bill took Curt’s place on the job, but brought his own style. He is smart. Smart enough to be himself. He will earn the same respect his predecessor did.
Like I said, Curt had a no-nonsense reputation. He didn’t mind disagreeing with management when he decided it was important that they hear from him. But in his last year, something changed.
Back in 2011, I wrote a piece called The Sheep Dog And The Wolf Go For Coffee. It is about old rivals crossing paths a few decades and miles from where they once tormented each other. You might want to read that one before you go on to this post.
Yesterday, the old men met again. The Wolf is still with us. Though his body is starting to fail, his spirit has grown healthier.
The Wolf was outside the coffee shop when I drove up. He’d been kind of scarce. The word was that he’d been hospitalized.
The old wolf started roaming the neighborhood again a few weeks ago. I’d see him now and again, pushing the walker he’d been using about a year. I wanted to check on him, but I kept to my practice of not stopping to engage him. I’d stopped to engage him quite a bit in our past and I know he’s still wary when a police car pulls up near him.
There he was, sitting in the sun on his walker. He was talking to a young woman and her child. Their innocence made me smile. They had no idea who The Wolf was. He spoke gently with them; they laughed, accepted his blessing and moved on. While I held the door for the mom and her son, The Wolf called out to me.
“Happy New Year, Sarge. Nice day, ain’t it?” I took that as my sign it was OK to go over to him. “Happy New Year to you, I’m glad to see you out again” I said. “Heard you haven’t been feeling good.”
He told me he was better now. The stents they’d put in his heart were good and the stroke “…ain’t gonna kill me if that dope never did.” Read the rest of this entry »
I stopped by my Credit Union today. I left a richer man.
I didn’t rob them, and I didn’t clean out my account. They just decided to give me stuff because I am alive. I didn’t even ask. This is a business model I can get behind.
“You’re over fifty, right?” When the teller asked me, I admitted she was right. How could I fib about my age to someone who had the guts to ask the way she did? I would never ask someone if they were over fifty because I would instinctively pick a person who would answer with an insulted “no”. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been more than a year since I wrote my post The Sheepdog And The Wolf. I still hear from readers who want to know how The Wolf is.
I put a few updates on Twitter and answered a few emails about him, but recently I have avoided the topic because I really did not know what to say. I haven’t seen the old guy for a while. Sometimes when you don’t see someone, that isn’t a good sign.
Fortunately that is not the case here. Read the rest of this entry »