I had a telephone conversation the other day that showed me the upside to aging. The call was somewhat out of the blue from one of my favorite high school teachers. Still, it was one of those relationships where we picked up immediately where we left off those many years ago. I even went to the same college he did because of his influence.
Our early bond was one of necessity. Out in western Connecticut, I had both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald delivered by mail, and this man would raid my dorm room to steal the sports pages to get his fix. He also had the annoying habit of not folding the sports section back to the front page when he had finished defiling it. This at least gave me an indication he’d been in my room, however.
The man also coached me in football and hockey. The fact that he nicknamed me “The JV stud” ought to provide you with an indication of my athletic prowess. Any athletic talents acquired by my children clearly have come from my wife’s side of the family. All I really had going for me in sports endeavors was an incredibly high pain tolerance.
And, as this man once said to me, “Pain is temporary; fame is forever.”
I am here right now to tell that man in this column that it is a lie. No one remembers my precious few sports exploits, but I now have an arthritic knee thanks in part to following his advice. Thanks a lot.
During my phone conversation, I asked him how his father was doing. I remember his father as a classic, crusty Mainer. He was a burly man of few words and an incredible wit. While his son is a runt, he did inherit his father’s humor. He had to have. How else could he have coached me?
The son told me that, at 90, his dad had had a health scare recently. It seems he began tiring when he was chopping firewood. Hell, I tire chopping firewood, so this does not seem like a terribly bad affliction at 90. Perhaps his son ought to visit more often and take care of that for him.
The other thing the son conveyed, however, was that his father was enjoying television so much more. His father claims he can’t remember a damn thing anymore, so there is no such thing as a rerun. Law and Order is one of his favorites. Apparently he can sit through the entire show with his wife until the grand verdict finale. At this point he turns to his wife saying with utter amazement, “I think we have seen this one before.”
And it does not seem to bother this man, according to his son. With cable, you can watch about seven episodes of Law and Order per night. For this man, each show is a new experience. What better way to spend your evenings than to be able to watch a couple of new episodes of your favorite TV show?
From this vantage point it does, indeed, appear as though aging can result in thinking every day is May Sweeps, as even the little things in one’s daily life become something new and unique to explore. No wonder so many elderly gents have smiles on their faces. They found the park again, and they are pretty sure they know the way home. Maybe even the woman at the door stops lacking a certain, shall we say, familiarity? We all know what excessive familiarity with the person with whom you have bred can breed.
So here’s hoping I age in as agreeable a fashion. It sounds as though every day could become a geriatric version of the Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day.”
Then again, this man’s father doesn’t have an arthritic knee to annoy him thanks, in part, to an overbearing high school coach, either.
Mr. Woollacott is president and founder of Renaissance Group International Inc., a market research and consulting firm focusing on the information technology market. Contact him directly at email@example.com.