Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Turning 60 (#240)

Earlier this summer, to my mild surprise, I turned 60. (When you have a Stupid Heart Attack at 53, every birthday afterwards is something of a surprise.) Every brand-new decade is significant of course, and a good place to pause and reflect. Fortunately, pausing is one of the things that’s easier to do when you’re 60. In fact, from a standing start, I can pause right into a semi-coma without hardly trying.

I reflected some and concluded there’s not gonna be too many more new decades to pause and reflect from, so maybe I’d best get started.

Yes, I know what people are saying: 60 is the new 50. (42 if you had surgery.) Tell that to my knees when I’m heading uphill. Which reminds me. Why the heck is nearly everything uphill nowadays? Bad enough when one’s body starts going bad on him. Don’t need the earth tilting on its axis to aggravate the situation.

Anyway, as can happen when dotage sneaks up on you, sometimes reflecting turns into remembering when...

...I rode my bike really fast. It only had one gear but that was all I needed. It was red and white and I’d turned the handlebars around to face forward, like a Texas Longhorn steer. Look out world - Frankie’s coming! I stood up on the pedals and pumped, rocking side to side, in order to climb the hills. When crested, I’d sit back down, take my hands off the handlebars and hold them high overhead, catching the breeze as bikeandi, conjoined, flew downhill.

...During summer holidays, I’d sneak out of the house at 3:00 a.m., hop on my bike, call on my buddy, and we’d ride upwards of 10 miles out of town to go fishing. Every time a car’s headlights appeared, we’d pull over and hide in the ditches or tall grass that lined the road, lest it be one of our parents discovering we’d left four hours earlier than we said we would.

...I could lope the mile and a half from school to home without breathing hard.

...I stood, trembly-legged, at Laurie Simmons’ back door and kissed her full on the lips after an evening of holding hands while ice skating.

...I sat on a porch on a summer night with friends, playing guitar, singing songs, sipping brew, passing joints and living forever.

And then...somehow I was a father of two boys and working six or seven days a week. Things got blurry and darned if I don’t wake up one day and find out I’m 60 and reflecting all over heck’s half-acre.

Anyway, it’s not too bad. There are pluses to being an old fart. You get discounts on stuff at some stores. It’s fun watching cashiers feign surprise when I confidentially inform them (in a loud stage whisper) that I’m a Senior.

Now, I no longer need an excuse to be cranky. Age suffices. I can glower and mutter with impunity. It’s darn liberating.

Mostly though, my reflections run toward feelings of gratitude. I’m extremely blessed that my boys have grown into such fine young men. I’ve been lucky enough to have loved and been loved by good women. (And love, and am loved by another!)

All things considered, my health is pretty good. I’m very grateful for that. I can still heave a 50 lb. bag of birdseed over my shoulder and carry it to the car. (If the car isn’t parked too darn far from the store’s door.)

I’m fortunate to have close-knit brothers and sisters, and friends who go back 40-50 years. It’s good to have people in your life you can be quiet with.

Near the front of my book that I hardly ever mention anymore even though it’s still in print and a darn good read, there’s a picture of me when I was about six years old. It’s black and white (duh!) and shows me proudly showing off a foot-long smallmouth bass. I found myself staring at that picture recently and trying to remember what it felt like to be that boy - to see the world through his eyes. I tried to recall that day in some form - a sight, sound or smell - and could not. I knew I was looking at me but I couldn’t re-experience what it felt like to be me.

But there’s no denying I was a happy guy that day.

And I’m a happy guy today.


ohdawno said...

Happy belated 60th. Wonderful post, got me reminiscing, too. Almost forgot to leave a comment I was woolgathering for so long.

Hilary said...

Nicely written, dear. I just took a look at that photo. You sure were a cutie. See?... not all that much has changed.

Bruce Robinson said...

Sixty! I am still 23, thank you. I'll let you know when I finish the research on how we can share a birth year and you got to be so much older.

By the way, every time I go into a library, I check the shelf for "your book that is hardly mentioned anymore." It is alive and well, if not getting more and more wear on the boards, in Baltimore County, MD.

Leah J. Utas said...

Excellent post, Frank. You've got me thinking now, too. Dang it.

Charlie said...

I can't breath from the gathered wool burying me right now....

Some folks you know longer than others, some you feel honoured to know regardless of the number of rings the relationship sports.

Happy Birthday, Frank my friend. I am deeply honoured to know you, and here's to the growth of a good many more rings on the relationship.

Tabor said...

Darn I do miss 60 and I try to pause every year...but I need to be doing stuff, so my pauses are not as long as I would like. Life is so full and rich and we miss so darn much! Thanks for reminding me that I put my feet on the handle bars when I went down hill...I had forgotten that!

Ava said...

Happy Birthday, Frank! I would say what a shame you're so old, but I'm glad you made it. :) I will be 62 this year but please tell no one. I can empathize with all you said. My 11 year old granddaughter said to me today "Wouldn't it be cool to look through someone else's eyes?" and I thought how wonderful it would be to see through the eyes of a child again. Take care!
Hugs, Ava

Pat said...

Happy birthday, a little late and definitely long distance. :)
Pat C.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

Very well written, Frank. I enjoyed your reminiscences. I've been looking at 60 in my rear view mirror for better than six years now. It seems that the only thing that changes is the condition of the body that we live in. We're still youthful and vibrant in our souls. :)

ellen abbott said...

Good post, put a smile on my face. I crossed that threshold last year. 50s I could visualize, 60s venture into the unknown. Well, here we go into the wild blue yonder, rightq?

Sally said...

Thank you, Frank, for another great post, and happy birthday.

Zia said...

Happy Belated Birthday Buggerlugzzz! Next time I see you, you can buy me a "senior's cuppa" and I'll try to look more mature so they don't tumble that I'm soooo much younger! xx

Anvilcloud said...

A very thoughtful and nice piece. By the way, it's seniors day at Shoppers tomorrow -- 20% plus points on your card. :)

TexWisGirl said...

what a wonderful post. i came over from hilary's to congratulate you on your POTW. nicely done, sir.

Kat said...

What a beautiful post. Just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing it with us.
And Happy Birthday! :)

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Congratulations on your POTW. Loved all your memories (especially the first kiss!).

Reena said...

Congrats on your POTW! I love this post. So well written and expressed. Exactly how I feel as I'm approaching 60!
Where did the darn time go!

Linda said...

A most excellent look back, and healthy outlook for the future. Congratulations on 60 years of life.

Here from Hilary's blog.

Frank Baron said...

- Thanks, Dawno. Good to see you. I've missed you. :)

- Hil, you're very kind. What do you want? ;)

- Bruce, that's a puzzler all right. Might have something to do with the wisdom I first heard expressed by that great Canadian philosopher, Red Green: If you can't stay young, you can at least stay immature.

- Thanks, Leah. Sorry about the thinking....

- Dang it, Charlie. Your fine word-wielding kick-started that weird allergy that makes my eyes water.

Thank you, friend. Here's to many more rings. :)

- Tabor, I don't recall ever trying the feet-on-handlebars thing. Hmmm...maybe to celebrate my 70th....

- Thanks Ava. Glad to hear from you. I've missed you too. :)

- Thanks, Pat. Have some gumbo and REAL barbeque for me, willya'? :)

- Thank you, Linda. It's good to know there's a few folks in the blogosphere who are a tad older. You're like an advance scout. You can advise me of the terrain that lies ahead. :)

- ellen, attitude is everything, right? Here's to the adventurous 60s!

- Thank you, Sally. I dunno how you do it, but you don't look a day older than the first time you commented. ;)

- Zia, if my 40s had suited me as well as yours suit you, I would've stayed there too. Bless you, girl. :)

- Thanks, Anvilcloud. And thanks for the shopping tip!

- Thank you, TWG. :)

- Thank you, Kat. You're very kind.

- Thanks Elizabeth.

- Thank you, mm. I think we all ask that question somewhere along the way, don't we?

- Thank you, Linda.

Thanks all. I appreciate your time. :)

Reb said...

What a great post Frank. Happy Birthday and I hope you continue to be a happy guy. (just not every day, after all that cranky thing is liberating ;))

messymimi said...

And i'm cranky that i didn't know about this blog until today!

Thanks for sharing the memories, and i wish you many happy returns of the day.

Hilary said...

Well written, well said, and I think your present luck in women is lovely.

Mental P Mama said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Frank! And what Hilary said....

Wendy said...

Happy Birthday! And congrats on the POW award!!

I will be turning 60 in a couple of months too. Time sure does fly, doesn't it?

I remember fishing with my brothers way back in the 50's. Once I grabbed for my brothers string of fish and got a fishhook embedded in my thumb. Ouch!

Riding bicycles all summer. Yeah, that was fun (even for a girl like me. We all know boys ride better. At least that's what my brothers used to tell me).

Great post. I enjoyed reading your reminiscing, and you are lucky to have such a lovely lady in your life.
p.s. - it's fun being an old fart too!

King of New York Hacks said...

Sending good luck honks for your bday from the NYC...60 is a great number...when my father turned 60 he mooned my entire family, he said for his 70th he's doin the full monty !! lol maybe 60 is the new 12 lol !! I hope so !!

Grayquill said...

I’d say you’re just a kid but then that would just be a great big fat lie because I won’t be sixty for a good two years – make that 22 months. I would say I will remember to pull up this post and read it on my sixtieth but that would just be deceiving myself because by tomorrow this time I probably won’t remember I even made a comment on your blog. Hang in there…

Dianne said...

60 is such a good sexy number
it's easy to say (if you don't lisp) and looks good in writing

I love the way you write - straight from your wonderfully working heart :)

Happy Belated Birthday Kid

holdingmoments said...

What a great post Frank, and so much I can relate to here; 61, and had my heart attack 18 months ago lol

I came over from Hilary's blog and congratulations on your POTW.
Well done sir.

Frank Baron said...

- Thanks, Reb. And never fear. I'll get grumbly now and then. ;)

- Thank you, messymimi. :)

- Thanks, Hilary. You wouldn't, by any chance, be biased for some reason? ;)

- Thank you, MPM. :)

- Thanks, Wendy. Well, you've never REALLY been fishing until you've pierced some part of your person with a hook or two. And, as you learned, quite a few fish stories don't involve fish much at all. ;)

- King Cabbie, I'd like to meet your Dad. Sounds like my kind of guy. :)

- That's about all we can do, eh GQ, you soon-to-be-old-fart? ;)

- Thanks, Dianne. You're a peach. :)

- Thanks, holdingmoments. And congrats on surviving yours. Let's try not to have another, shall we?

Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy lives to visit my little nook of the net.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"and friends who go back 40-50 years. It’s good to have people in your life you can be quiet with."

I couldn't decide between this quote and the one about pausing right into a semi-coma. Laughed on that one. But the friend quote - yes. So fortunate to have those who have known us for so long.

Congrats on turning 60. I turned 55 last week. Just can't believe it.

MagnoliaGirl said...

Frank, you're one of the best people I've never met! Course, I probably shouldn't believe everything I read on the net:)

Happy belated birthday, and many more!!!

Shrinky said...

What a tenderly reflective post, I love how you write. The years sure do seem to snowball faster with each given birthday, don't they? It scares me, sometimes..

Pauline said...

This was a great look back from the crest of the Hill. Interesting that you could not remember your feelings that day when you were six but glad you are happy now! Speaking from 6 years beyond you, the view from here is pretty good, too.

Barb said...

Well, Frank, I'm late coming to wish you a Happy 60. You're a spring chicken by my standards. I believe you have a new Macro lens which Hilary is using, and I'm now coveting... I have one of those ancient photos, too, of me in a starched dress with white ankle socks and dimpled knees. Who was that girl? I think maybe she's still a part of me, but a bit more time-worn. Good Health to you in the coming year. (I had a freak heart attack, too - tore my artery skiing - it does make you thankful for extra time, doesn't it?)

Skunkfeathers said...

I hit for what passes for official 'senior' status next year, and am relishing practice for my official lurch into curmudgeondom.

I can even say that word about a third of the time...

Frank Baron said...

- Congrats on hitting 55, Midlife. You're nickname suits you now. 110 isn't a bad time to go. ;)

- MG, thanks for being an enthusiastic supporter since the early days. It's meant a lot. :)

- Thank you, Shrinky. The whole blurriness of time streaming by certainly can be worrisome. But I think that's why the Creator lets most of us hang around until we're old enough to be forced to slow down. When we slow, so does time. You'll see -- in about 30 years -- judging by that cute pic. :)

- Pauline, it's comforting to know there's a few trailblazers out there ahead of me, warning of lurking pitfalls. As long as we stay immature, it'll be fine. ;)

- Hi Barb. Yep, bumping into The Guy With The Scythe can help one reevaluate the important things in life, that's for darn sure. Glad you survived your brush. :)

- Skunky, something tells me you'll be a fine curmudgeon. Some folks are just naturals. I suspect you'll be one. :)

Thanks all, for taking the time. Sorry for the delay in responding. I was away from my keyboard for a few days.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Heartfelt and funny...I love this post. Happy belated birthday!
Now, I'm off to find this book...

Frank Baron said...

Thanks, ethelmae. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy happy birthday! I wish you many more full of love and above all, good health and good knees!

Barbara said...

How did I miss this POTW? Very well deserved. So much I can identify with even though I'm a relative spring chicken at just 52 :) I'm especially grateful for you putting me back on my bike... "I stood up on the pedals and pumped, rocking side to side, in order to climb the hills. When crested, I’d sit back down, take my hands off the handlebars and hold them high overhead, catching the breeze as bikeandi, conjoined, flew downhill."

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Found you tonight from Grayquills writings and I enjoyed both of your blogs.
I am looking forward to reading more of your writings and your book.
Off now to find out more about it.
Congrats on turning the big 60 and being a writer. Life is good

Haggis Chihuahua said...



Is that all?

*freakin' kids*

Happy belated, Frank. And many, many more.

Frank Baron said...

Thank you, ladyfi. You're very kind. :)

Thanks, Barbara. You kid, you. ;)

Thank you, Maggie. (And GQ too.) Life is good, indeed. :)

Is that a flicker of green I see within those red, demented eyes, Steve? ;)

I hope you four will accept my apologies for the delayed response. Your comments got stuck in my moderation thingie which I'm forever forgetting to check.

Thanks for the kind words. :)

Barbara Martin said...

Belated Happy Birthday, Frank. You'll have many more to celebrate and enjoy.

Reflectiing always brings great memories. Life can be great if one steps back a little to take a look at the beautiful areas of nature.