What Is The Most Painful Thing You Have Experienced?


Grandma and grandpa were married for 76 years, but best friends for 85. They met when they were both 11 years-old and by the time they died if you asked questions about grandma’s family sometimes she would laugh and tell us to ask grandpa because he remembered better than she did.

A few years back grandpa told me that grandma had the best ass of any woman he knew that was over 90 and then with a serious look on his face told me he never saw an old lady, he only saw the girl he fell in love with.

I nodded my head and he told me that he didn’t like being older than 90 because most of his friends had died and then got choked up and said he was scared because if grandma fell he didn’t think he could pick her up any more.

“Jack, do you know she used to climb on my back and I would run. I would run and she would laugh and I never thought twice about it.”

When he started to cry we both pretended not to notice but I squeezed his hand and sat with him. He lived for a full 18 months after grandma died and would have made it far longer had she still been with him.

He didn’t die of old age, he died of a broken heart.


I played basketball for almost 2.5 hours last night and then I left because I could feel my body giving up on me. By the time I had finished showering I hobbled around the house for a while, grabbed some dinner and decided against taking some Ibuprofen.

Instead I poured myself a small glass of  The Balvenie DoubleWood, the 12 year old edition and wished my body recovered as fast as it did when I was 12.

There is a guy that plays ball with us that is about 10 years older than I am. He is in pretty good shape, definitely has a bit more stamina than I do but isn’t any better of a player.

He is relatively new to the game, showed up shortly after I left for Texas so when I came back he had no clue I have been playing with most of the guys for about five years so I was tolerant of his trying to give me the scouting report on each guy, even those I have known all my life.

But last night he tweaked my ego a bit because when he suggested teams he tried to stack them in his favor and then I was given the task of guarding him.

What bothered me was his attitude and how he acted like his skill is so far superior to mine. I took my normal approach to quietly shut him down and send him home wondering how many trucks ran him over but it didn’t work out as I wanted it to.

The Toll Time Takes

Last night my legs were wooden and my hands were stone, good tools for a statue but not for someone who is trying to play basketball.

He didn’t dominate but I didn’t entirely shut him down either and I spent a good part of the night silently seething with frustration because my body just wouldn’t respond.

I don’t want to talk about what I used to be able to do because we all can say that. It doesn’t matter that I used to be able to play for hours each day and not feel the pounding.

Doesn’t matter how fast or strong I used to be because we are talking about today and today sucks.

Sucks because when I got out of bed I looked like a question mark and it took a while for me to work the kinks out. Took a while for me to feel like a person and my ego is suffering.

I am not crippled. I can do everything that I need to do and given a bit more time and some stretching I will feel mostly normal. If I wanted to I could play again tonight and I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a much better game.

Some nights you just don’t have it.

But there is a little whisper inside my head that says I need to wake up and start thinking more seriously about giving up the game. It says I need to start looking for something else, a different sort of competition.

Mind Versus Body

I was a swimmer in high school and I could go back to it. There is no better work out and there are swim meets I can compete in.

But I can’t stomach the idea of giving up playing ball. It might sound silly but the idea is painful in so many ways. It feels like I would be losing something that I don’t have to lose…not yet.

So I wonder if I can adjust my workout and rebuild my body. Wonder if I can make some adjustments so that I can still play. I have played with a lot of men who are much older than I am and who kept playing for years.

Except they played a very different game than I do. I love the physical aspect, the fight underneath the rim and I don’t want to be the old guy who won’t go inside because he can’t deal with that physical part.

Maybe I can make some adjustments.

Grandma and Grandpa

The last time I saw them dance together was at their 75th wedding anniversary party. Grandpa put out his hand, grandma took it, stood up and they kissed.

For a moment they both stood up a bit straighter and they started to move across the floor. My aunt looked at me and said “dad was always a good dancer, but mom didn’t get enough credit for doing it all backwards.”

A short while later they sat back down and I noticed they were holding hands again. They were always touching, reaching out for each other.

Grandma died many months later, the night of my 14th wedding anniversary but grandpa never stopped talking to her. He told me that every night before he would go to sleep he would talk to her.

And then he told me about strange it was to be sleeping in a single bed and how he never thought he would out live her. Told me that he used to worry about what would happen to her if he wasn’t around to help take care of her.

But he never could have imagined he would be the one who was left behind.

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  1. neal January 31, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    This was a seriously moving post. I’m a comparatively young guy, but there’s something about having kids that makes you feel the weight of your own mortality. I never had a bad back before the last few years of reaching down to lift my daughter. Now it’s just part of who I am.

    Really, it seems to me that we spend most of our lives breaking down, adjusting our limits to be a little closer, a little sooner, a little less ambitious. That moment early on where I felt invincible, the master of the universe – that was an anomaly. It’s a hard thing to accept, but accept we must, it seems to me. And somehow find fulfillment despite that ever-present element of entropy.

    • Jack February 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Hi Neal,

      I know what you mean. I remember my grandfather and dad telling me to enjoy that sense of endless opportunity and invincibility because it wouldn’t last.

      They never said it in a way that made me feel like they were angry, jealous or trying to hurt me, just a “you’ll see” kind of manner.

      I suppose it just reinforces the need to try and enjoy/appreciate each day.

  2. Stan Faryna January 28, 2014 at 9:55 am

    You knocked this one out of the ball park.

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