The Layers Of Life

Sometimes I listen to this video and I think about the layers of life. Yeah, I know it is just the vocals from Abbey Road but when you strip away the music and leave the vocals I can’t help but think about layers.

I think about my children out on the soccer field and how much they have grown. I stare at them and watch as they run and remember how not so long ago they crawled on the floor unaware that legs could be used to stand upon.

And then one day they realized that whatever they saw others do could be done by them too and so they stood.

Age Is A One Way Stream

My father calls to tell me about his meeting with the doctors. “My kidneys aren’t bad enough yet for them to consider a transplant.”

It is good news and I am pleased to hear it, but then I realize I forgot to ask what this means for dialysis. My guess is that he is still teetering on the edge, that place between needing help and not quite needing it.

I think back forty years and remember discovering my neighbor’s dogs were wandering the neighborhood. I know these dogs because they belong to Tom. We go to kindergarten together and since we live a few doors away from each other we are in and out of each other’s houses.

Mom hears me yelling at the dogs to go home so she and dad come outside to help round them up.

“Rocky, go home,” I scream.

Rocky isn’t having it, he barks at me and I run for my mother’s arms. I am not up for a stand off between a German Shepherd who suddenly looks huge.

Dad grabs him by the collar and starts dragging him back towards Tom’s house. I relax, safe in mom’s arms and confident that no dog is going to beat my dad.

“Jack, I need you to come by the house and take care of a few things, your mother will kill me if I get on the ladder or move that stuff myself.”

I tell him I’ll be by later today or tomorrow and think about the guy who took out Rocky. Dad isn’t who we was any more. He is older and his health is best described as being similar to a house of cards.

He doesn’t look frail or weak. The muscle is still there, he can still pick up and move the heavy stuff but it is not a smart idea and his balance isn’t good enough for a ladder.

My kids know him like this but they don’t remember the man I still can see. Age is a one way stream.

Aging and Ego

People talk about aging gracefully but I wonder how many of us do it. I can live with the hair loss and some extra cushioning here and there but I hate not being able to do what I once could.

Don’t care about wrinkles or lines in my face that were never there but not being able to play ball every day without feeling the pounding hurts.

The mysterious aches and pains, waking up wondering why my back hurts when I didn’t do anything or trying to be careful about how I sneeze grinds on my nerves.

My kids ask me about the guy that yelled at mom. “Dad, you told him you would kick his ass if he kept talking to her that way. What would you have done?”

They don’t wait for an answer. They tell each other that dad would have killed him and that dad won’t let anyone mess with the family.

I listen and think about Rocky again. Was he really as big as I remember? Maybe he was a little dog and he just seemed big. Forty years is a long time, memory fades and time colors it.

“Dad, if you beat him up would you go to jail?”

I nod my head, “I might have, that is why I made a point not to touch him. I am not proud of responding that way but I won’t let people talk to any of us like that. Still, there are better ways. I could have phrased things differently.”

My son nods his head.

“Remember when we watched you play basketball? You threw people out of the way to get the rebound.”

I nod my head but I don’t tell him that I remember a few years back when I was faster and more agile and could slip in between the players to grab some of those boards.

The kids don’t know that version of me. They will never know that guy. They have seen the pictures, daughter likes to tease me and ask what happened to my hair and point out that I used to have a six pack.

I could get it back. It is of interest and not just because of ego but because it would mean my kids old man was healthier.

Transitions

My son is wrestling with me. I still have the upper hand and will for a while, but I feel his strength. He is slowly filling out, the muscle is coming and I am proud of him but it is not easy realizing that my time in the sun is changing.

I wonder if my father had similar thoughts and feelings.

Mom is on the phone, “I need you to come over tonight. Your dad isn’t supposed to do this stuff. I already told him to stop so he waits until I am in the other room and then does it anyway.”

Something tells me dad understands.

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