Most of us who have reached the October Years understand the subtle and often hard-won maturity we've gained over time. That is a reality I try to convey in my Tanner Chronicles stories. And I like to think that maturity is part of the person I've become.
The truth is, mature or not, at age 77 I can’t do some of the things I once did. I generally deal with that sad fact by telling myself that I must accept my limitations and concentrate instead on what I’m still able to do. Perhaps it’s a guy thing---coming to terms with the sad fact that self-esteem is no longer won by doing what I do better than you or someone else does it. Ego satisfaction has ceased to be a competitive exercise.
After all, you and I have been around the block a time or two, and hopefully we’ve learned a few things along the way. Though our culture may not value the “wisdom of the elders” the way some societies do, I know that I’ve gained a lot of know-how over the years. I’ll bet you have too.
So, why don’t I pay more attention to what I’ve learned?
My son’s request was simple enough. He needed an extra pair of hands taking down a storm window. He’d seen his dad do that a time or two. So when he ran into a two-man job he asked for my help. After all, I knew what to do and how to do it safely.
True, the window was large---six feet by six feet, and heavy too. But it was my son asking. He needed help. Was I supposed to tell him his old man couldn’t handle that?
Long story short---when I tripped over the limb I should have seen lying there, Terry managed to hold that heavy sheet of glass, wrapped only in a flimsy metal frame, upright. While I grumbled about a bruised hip and scraped knee he gave me time to get back to my feet and do my part. Had he not been able to do that I would have been wearing a sheet of broken glass around my neck.
In the face of that graphic evidence, I am reminded again that our October Years are not about giving up or admitting defeat---but they are a time for being realistic, for having the courage not to attempt what may have been doable once upon a time, but no longer is.