She grew 3.5 inches between her 10 and 11-year-old physicals and now the girl who used to fit in the nook of my arm is far too big to hold that way.
And the boy who made me a father, well I don’t have the exact measurements of how much he has grown but I know at the start of this year his mother and grandmothers were taller and now they aren’t.
I look at his hands and feet and tell him he reminds me of a giant puppy and he glares at me. He doesn’t understand that they are a bit oversized for his body now or that once was how I was.
Doesn’t understand that I remember my own growth spurts and that I see his in full bloom. Chances are I have a few years left of being taller than he is, but my days of towering over him are about done.
It makes me smile and feel a bit goofy so I do what men do when they feel this way…I tackle him.
We roll on the ground and grapple with each other, laughing as he realizes I can’t just throw him around and as I recognize that even if I can’t I will still win.
And when we finish I sit on the couch and think I understand things about my father better than I ever did.
I Am Not Ready For Some Things
Dad will be 72 in April and though the docs have given him specific instructions about being cautious about his exercise he’ll still move furniture around the house.
Mom calls Friday night to ask me to come by because they need more help getting ready for the move. I tell her I’ll be there tomorrow and she tells me earlier is better because ‘your father won’t wait to move things for you.”
I tell her not to worry because he won’t climb on ladders anymore because he knows his balance is suspect. She says that is true but tells me it is the lifting that concerns her.
“Mom, you know he may not be as strong as he used to be, but he is still stronger than most men his age and a ton who are younger. He won’t forget that.”
“Sometimes men need to set their egos aside and be smart.”
“Mom, I guess some ego might be involved, but I don’t think that is entirely it. Sometimes you don’t think about it because you just know you can lift/move things the same way you know you can walk.”
I don’t have to see her to know the face she is making so I say goodbye. We hang up and I make a mental not to let this add to myÂ cluttered mind syndromeÂ which is mostly under control.
Compartmentalization is one of the benefits that comes with being male.
Saturday afternoon comes and goes and after we finish working dad and I are sitting on the couch in his living room.
And then from out of nowhere the man attacks me. I start laughing, ask him if he has thought about what he is doing because “you can’t handle me anymore.”
He laughs and tells me he is using his left hand and says if I am having that much trouble I should start lifting again.
My son wanders in and says he can’t decide if dad or grandpa is winning and then wanders out. Something about this feels like a bad sitcom.
I hold back a little because I know dad isn’t supposed to over exert himself and he needs to feel like he can still win. I understand it better than I ever have because I am not ready for this.
Rolling With The Changes
It is reassuring to feel the strength in my father’s grip and his arms. He is not who he once was but neither am I but the difference is he truly has entered the winter of his life and I am still a long way off from mine.
Neither of us are really ready to make some of the adjustments that are coming but neither of us will pretend they aren’t having either.
We might fight to hold on to certain aspects of youth a bit for a while we shall win. Win because force of will and genetics will take us a bit farther along the road than we’d get without them but that old bastard time will beat us in the end.
The only question is how we roll with the changes.
Sometimes when I play ball I get frustrated because the kid that beats me to the basket isn’t fast or good enough to have done so, or at least a few years ago they couldn’t.
It hurts a bit to accept those changes and to admit that we can’t do all that we once could.
As I see my son coming into his own and my dad moving towards a place where he doesn’t have complete independence in all things anymore I can’t help but think.
Snapshots In Time
Snapshots in time, that is what I see.
A parade of images, sounds and experiences flows through my head.
I see the boy I was and the teen. I see the man I have become too. My parents. siblings, kids and friends are all there too.
We are all growing and aging at different rates and places.
There are moments in time that jump out at me, images that fight for my attention and reminders that though I am not 19 or 25 anymore I am still not old.
That is not just me shouting at the wind either.
We won’t go quietly into the night because that is not how things work in this family. It is part of why I hurt myself today to see if I still feel.
Sometimes the best wrestling is physical and sometimes it is mental, but it is part of how we grow and change.
A Final Thought
I like EmmyLou’s version of Pancho and Lefty. When I went looking for it on YouTube I came across two different clips and thought I’d use them both here.
Her hair jumped out at me in both clips and I got to thinking about all of the life she must have lived between them and how sometimes we don’t spend enough time appreciating all of the experiences we have.
You don’t get to a place where people notice your aging without having lived a little. My goal is to keep on living in a way that will let me always say I have LIVED a LIFE.