There were a lot of things leading up to the moment.
This summer as we watched the Olympic games, Heidi and I would snuggle up on the couch almost every night. Since we are both early risers, it meant that we had been awake all day, usually working and playing hard. So naturally, at around 11 we started to snooze. Of course, our nightowl boys and their friends would come in after we had fallen asleep and see us on the couch with the TV on. Just as I had seen my dad asleep in his old easy chair when I would sneak in from my late night prowls when I was a kid.
Then there was this nasty muscle spasm that has had me in its grip for weeks now. I can’t pick up heavy objects, can’t really run, can’t water ski. There have been doctor visits, prescriptions, etc. Just old guy stuff.
Then there is the fact that our dog, Sasha, is getting old. I mean really old. She’s still happy. She still likes to go out for walks, but the young, spry, energetic dog, who used to pull me for our five-mile runs is long since gone. Now we walk her to the corner and back so she thinks she’s been on a real walk. And I sure don’t run five miles any more since I’ve had arthroscopic surgery on both my knees.
Of course, both of my parents have passed on now leaving me an orphan.
We are thinking a lot about retirement, have our financial plan all outlined. While that is still years away, Heidi talks about it all the time.
Many of my third-grade students can outrun me on the playground field – no more races in my future with eight and nine year olds.
Both of the boys will be in college this year… making us… wait for it… empty nesters.
So we were at the movies the other night, taking Devin and his girlfriend, Shae, out for a night on the town. We get up to the window and I tell the pretty young woman taking the money that we would like tickets for, “Four adults, please.” Devin reminds me that he and Shae are students. “Make that two adults and two students.”
Then the young woman at the ticket counter says, “Are those adults senior tickets?”
Not one to take offense at anything to do with age, I replied that, “No, we’re not seniors yet.” Then I remembered getting all of that AARP stuff in the mail. And that my mom insisted that I could get a senior coffee at MacDonalds last summer when we stopped there for her beloved soft-serve cone.
Cautiously, I asked, “What is the age considered senior?” knowing full well that we had a long time ahead of us before we could officially be referred to by that label.
She smiled. Maybe she was a little embarrassed at having asked the question. “Fifty five, sir.”
WAIT… WHAT!? 55?!
“Wow, sure. We’ll take two student tickets, and two s-s-s-senior tickets. We’re both fifty five.”
I guess it makes sense. I’d only be middle aged if I lived to be one-hundred-ten. Not much chance of that. And while we won’t be collecting social security for a long time, yeah, the signs have all converged.
My beard is turning white, my bones are getting creaky, I am a little scared getting on the roof to blow the leaves off. Sometimes when I hear myself sing, I sound like an old man.
At school, every once in a while, in the middle of a conversation, my students would slip and call me “Dad.” A couple times last year, one of my students mistakenly referred to me as “Grampa.” At the time it was endearing.
There’s no sense in not owning it. I’m what my brother Pat (an automotive repair guy and 15 months my senior) calls a “high mileage vehicle.” Still, there was that moment, the first time I paid for senior tickets to a movie that I will always remember. It’s not sad exactly. It is what it is. But it was just sort of momentous for me. You know, just another stage.
OK, maybe not quite this high mileage.
And just so you know? We saved twelve bucks on the movie.