Thursday, May 30, 2013

October dreamin' -- don't stop now

Hey, it’s okay. It’s allowed. If you’ve given up on the idea, it’s time to try again. Go ahead and dream your dreams. It’s good for you and fun too.

In my Family Matters story I find myself in the dream business. It follows three generations of the Padgett family as they seek the elusive common ground where their individual, often conflicting visions of the future can come together in a way that works for everyone. In the course of their search there will be discord and compromise. Not everyone will get what they want. Sounds like real life, doesn’t it?

For two hundred seventy pages, while the frustrated grandparents are dealing with radically different visions of retirement and what it ought to be, their daughter is trying to save a relationship torn apart by conflicting dreams. Meanwhile the granddaughter, longing for the laissez faire freedom of her Los Angeles roots, struggles to imagine a future in small-town Tanner. At every turn it seems that someone’s dream is in danger of being overwhelmed.

I call them “dreams”---those enticing visions of a future we long for. If we allow it, those idealized notions can grow into motivating images of the person we think we want to be and the life we think we would like to have. I suppose I’ve alway understood how important they were, especially in the beginning, when we were setting out to find our place in the world. But do they still have a role in our October Years? You bet they do.

Perhaps like you, I have had those intriguing, ill-fined notions bouncing around in my head for as long as I can remember. But only in the last few years did it dawn on me that I was doubling down on that “dream thing.” I was pursuing my dream of writing a book that everyone wanted to read by telling stories of my Tanner friends and their pwn October dreams.

We grow up with visions of what-could-be---sometimes they're hazy, sometimes as clear as daylight. In a real sense we have shaped those images as much as they have shaped us. Are they the cause or the result of whom we have become? Perhaps some of both. We spend a lifetime painting our own mind picture of the person we are. Though we rarely allow others see the whole of that personal portrait, our dreams, the ones that remind us “who we want to be,” are constantly at work on it---refining and clarifying the “me” we see in our thoughts.

Meshing that mental image with the untidy facts of real life is difficult at any age. Perhaps you remember how hard it was as a teenager. I do. How could I have entertained those silly pie-in-the-sky fantasies. And here I am, late in life, still playing those mind games, still dreaming dreams of what might be waiting for me out there. And I’m not alone. In the face of October's unique challenges many of us are in that space. We tell ourselves we ought to know better, but still we nurse our dreams.

Of course there are moments of disappointment, times when we pause to consider who we have become, perhaps asking ourselves why we are not the person we had hoped to be. Yet we keep dreaming, because we must. That was true in our formative years, in adulthood, and now in our October Years. As always, we are a work in process---driven in part by what I call dreams. 

It was my job to see that the Padgett family faced their dreams head on, the ones that threatened to pull them in very different directions. There were times when that common ground they were seeking appeared to be out of reach. But they were a family first. That meant they had to keep looking, even if it meant reshaping their motivating visions. Just as it is for you and me, it was all about dreams. 

As always, if you’re so inclined I’d appreciate your comments, posted below. Beyond that, if there are folks with whom you’d like to share this October Years post I hope you’ll pass it on. It’s an easy thing to do. Just click on the “M” at the bottom of this page to email the post, with the video, to any addresses you choose.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Want to join the club? No dues and no meetings.

So what brings you here to October Years? Is this a first-time thing, or do you belong to the club? I’m referring to the regular members of the blogging and blog-reading fraternity.  (Or is it a sorority?) I’m not sure what our members are called---bloggers, blog junkies, blog groupies. Whatever it is, we have stumbled onto a most engrossing, stimulating, and sometimes addictive diversion. Perhaps you ought to consider it. If your world is not big enough to suit you, following a blog or two is a fun and painless way to expand your horizons. 

Let’s begin with the obvious---a working definition. Blog (noun) - a website on which an individual or group of users record opinions, information, etc on a regular basis.

Perhaps you know already that there is a blog, or blogs, for just about everything. The blogger may be an expert, or an overeager novice, but no matter what the subject someone is offering their opinions and information on the subject. Take any hobby, habit, or hang-up you can imagine and you can be sure that any decent search engine can locate one or more blogs about it.

It is, of course, an internet enabled pastime, akin to visiting with your neighbor over the back fence. Except that your “neighbor,” the one who wants to talk about your favorite subject, may live on the other side of the world. Be that as it may, chances are he or she will bring unique insights and ideas to the conversation---something new for you to explore. Best of all, you get to choose when to visit, whom you will visit with, and when you want to add your own input to the dialogue.

Perhaps you’re the “show me” kind of person. You know, someone who says “I’ll believe it when I see it.” If so, go to any search engine---enter a topic in the search line, then add the word “blog.” I can’t imagine a subject that won’t produce a response. No special computer skill is required. Simply review the results of your search, choose an entry that appeals to you, call it up and read. If you decide to enter the conversation you will be coached through that process.

The result of that blogging activity is a new kind of community---one that began for me with an inconspicuous website called Hitch Itch. There I was introduced to the world of full-time RVing, something that interested me a great deal. (Though sadly the wife does not understand the romance of making our home in a tin house on wheels.) 

Anyway, there on Hitch Itch dozens of folks are posting their blogs---proclaiming the virtues of living full time in an RV, sharing their travel experiences, and staying in touch with each other. Though I’m usually a silent observer, I occasionally add my input to some ongoing dialogue. After all, where else but on Tioga and George would I listen in as grown-up, straight-thinking seniors debate the virtues of cameras, laptops, and RVs that demonstrate nearly human abilities to delight and disappoint?

On a daily basis I follow the travels and trials of folks I’ve never met, and probably never will. We’ve become new age Pen Pals. (Remember those?) In the same way this blog you’re reading now allows, they have let the rest of us to come along for their ride---learning who they are and what keeps them going. It has the feel of an old-fashioned party line, an intimate conversation posted for all the world to read.

As for myself, I have several reasons to be blogging. This October Years space is clearly labeled “a writer’s blog.” I use the blogging format to explore, explain, and (gasp) promote my books. Hopefully all that is enough to keep people reading. Personally, I enjoy returning to some story I wrote years before to better understand why I used this or that device to make a point or advance a storyline. I’m always writing a new story, looking for ways to make it better. Blogging helps me do that. If, at the same time, I can nudge a blog reader towards reading one of my stories I’m okay with that.

So whatever your reason for being here I hope you’ll return often, and tell your friends about it. I’ll keep asking for your comments, though very few have taken me up on that. In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out other blog topics that interest you. There is a whole world waiting out there, tens of thousands of conversations going on at this very minute. Chances are somewhere there is one that you’d enjoy being part of. You have the computer and internet connection. (That’s how you’re reading this.) Why not expand your reading horizons?

As always, if you’re so inclined I’d appreciate your comments, posted below. Beyond that, if there are folks with whom you’d like to share this October Years post I hope you’ll pass it on. It’s an easy thing to do. Just click on the “M” at the bottom of this page to email the post, with the video, to any addresses you choose.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ah, the power of --- are they really 81 years old?

Safe to say you won’t find “preachy” religion in my Tanner Chronicle stories or this October blog. Though I’m inclined to see and explore what I consider the spiritual side of things, it is never through the eyes of a zealot.

There is, however, one truth that cannot be set aside. Whether in April or October, our lives are apt to be visited by hardship, disappointment, and depression. The problems come in many forms---infirmity, relational problems, financial setbacks, the painful loss of a loved one. No matter what the obstacle and what it requires of us, there is one overriding reality---love, in its many forms, provides the healing we need. 

You may value that truth for it biblical credentials, or because it is one of the few universally accepted facts of life. Regardless of the “why,” you’re likely to believe in its power---because you have experienced the healing of love received, and know that in times of great need what you need most of all is love. That is true at seventeen or seventy, but especially in our October Years. With its unique challenges, there is no other time of life when love is more important.

And coupled with love, at seventeen or seventy, are dreams. The two go hand in hand, reinforcing each other, impacting what we feel, even what we see. It’s a reality I try to capture in my stories, the powerful effect of love on what we think, and feel, and see---the way it adds deeper meaning to everything.

For many of us it’s been that way for a lifetime. Husbands and wives at seventy are very different than they were at twenty-five. Yet because they have made that journey together they scarcely notice the dramatic changes. They see and remember those years, and those changes, through the prism of love.

Consider for a moment an extreme example, something as mind-altering as the reunion of eighty-one year old one time high-school sweethearts, after sixty years apart. Months of letters, emails, and phone calls have fanned old feelings into a new flame. They have moved beyond their adolescent “what-might-have-been” to focus now on “what-they-hope-can-be.” Without knowing what to expect they arrange to meet. About then the questions begin. What does she look like? Will he recognize her? What will she think when she sees the “him” he has become? 

At eighty-one, caught up in a new “geriatric adolescence,” you can tell their love and dreams are alive and well. The results may strike us as funny. That’s okay. Don’t be afraid to laugh. Our “hero” does a lot of that. Yet there is no denying the deep and powerful feelings behind his embarrassed chuckles. So take a few minutes to enjoy the following video. It’s a testament to love and hope at eighty-one, with a dose of teenage anxiety thrown in for good measure.

Finally, if there are folks with whom you’d like to share this October Years post and its special video, I hope you’ll  pass it on. It’s an easy thing to do. Just click on the “M” at the bottom of this page to email the post, with the video, to any addresses you choose.

To see 81 year-old love in action click here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Happily ever after - or not

How adaptable are you? Are you the kind who could start over? Those are not rhetorical question for October seniors considering the prospect of starting from scratch with a new partner? If you’re like me, you’ve spent a lifetime learning to live with “the one.” (And he or she with you.) At this October stage of the game would you be willing to relive that sometimes complicated learning process yet another time?

In the course of writing eight novel-length “relational” stories I have depicted my Tanner friends, the ones in their October Years, as they travel toward what they hope is “one more time.” The first part of my storytelling process is easy enough---introducing those lonely and wanting folks, explaining how they have made their way to where they are now, and helping them imagine where they would like to go. If I do my job well I’m hoping that you’ll want to know more about their journey, which is the story I’m telling.

Recently, however, perhaps prompted by this renewed blog-focus, I find myself wondering if my expectations for a “second chance” relationship have been too simplistic. As I noted above, I’ve lived out the deeply personal process of learning to live with a life partner. The merging of any two lives into a meaningful partnership is not an easy thing. That must be especially true when each of them has spent a lifetime acquiring their own unique set of habits and preferences. Coming together the first time, all those years ago, required realistic expectations, chemistry, and patience. Though I’ve never been there myself I’m certain that a second chance, October relationship must be built on those same elements.

In Second Chances each of the Harris brothers is widowed and seeking a new connection. Nothing unusual about that. So I have them charging ahead, assuming that if they win “her” interest their pairing will succeed. Each of them, of course, defines “success” in terms of their own long and loving marriage. Not surprisingly, the picture of a new relationship they are painting in their mind looks a lot like the first satisfying time.

But there are so many variables. How can anyone be sure the formula that worked so well in one relationship will succeed with someone new and different, someone they are still getting to know? Small wonder that not all my stories end with a gift wrapped, happily-ever-after bow. Still, who am I to say they shouldn’t try?

Perhaps you can tell that digging deep and looking for unseen motives are occupational hazards for someone like me. If that’s true, I accept it as the price of being authentic. I want the stories I tell to be something more than feel-good caricatures of lost and lonely souls stumbling toward inevitable happiness. My Tanner friends know it’s not always like that. You’ll find very few ivory towers in the October landscape.

When I step back to consider my own experience I remember the first times I seriously considered a future with her---and how that youthful me charged ahead, relying on a naive “I hope it works” model. Fortunately, it did. But there are no guarantees. We say our prayers, trust our instincts, and hope for the best. That was true at seventeen. I’m assuming it’s still true at seventy. You give it your best shot and take your chances. Since I want my October Years stories to be credible, don’t be surprised to find there are times when “giving it your best” isn’t enough to win the happily-ever-after my Tanner seniors are seeking.

I would really appreciate your thoughts and comments on the October Years posts. I would much prefer having it be a dialogue. If you already have a Goggle account just sign in leave your comments. Otherwise, creating your own Goggle account is a simple, 30 second matter. Thanks for considering that idea.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Retirement - if it's so easy, why did I nearly flunk it?

As seen through younger eyes retirement looks like an easy thing. My grandson is convinced it must be “the sweetest thing ever.” And why not, when I “can play computer games all day and all night,” if I’m so inclined? But I know better.

I was not surprised to read that a recent study at the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs concluded that retirement, and the life-altering changes it creates, can contribute significantly to a decline in health and an increase in depression. I’ve been there, experienced the frustration of a new and unstructured lifestyle. After years of looking forward to that magic time when work, with its sticky, always demanding tentacles, would no longer dictate the shape of my day, I  learned that retirement is not easy at all.

We spend years dreaming our dreams of that special prize waiting at the end of our employment journey. “The Golden Years” we call them, the ones I’ve labeled the October Years. We paint glowing mind-pictures of how it will be---the things we’ll do and the places we’ll see, The fortunate happenstance of being born into the “pension plan” generation, with its generous payouts, can even make those dreams financially feasible, as long as we can agree on which dreams to follow, and stay healthy long enough to enjoy them. 

Beyond the economic and health implications we are likely to face a more elemental set of choices---deciding how to use the time that retirement provides. It may seem like that is the least of our worries. In fact it can be a serious challenge. The fortunate ones began their preparation years before---cultivating interests and capabilities to help them ease into that time when the structure and strictures of employment are removed and they are face to face with empty, unscheduled days.

In a matter of weeks at the most, the giddy exhilaration of being past the need to  be up and off to work wears off, and for at least some of us the real test begins. For those who are not prepared it has the feel of a clean slate or, if you are a writer, a blank page. However you describe it, your new job is to fill in the blanks. Unless your are willing to settle for couch-potato-hood the abundance of unclaimed time is a challenge that demands your attention. Chances are if it doesn’t, your spouse will. You have hours, days, and weeks to fill with some activity. But how?

As I started my own search for a viable retirement project my guidelines were vague at best. I was looking for a means of creative expression I had never found in my work. I told myself it was time to be bold, to take a chance, even risk failure. That too was not part of the work-a-day school administrator I had been. But this time I didn’t need to satisfy anyone else---only myself. If, at the same time, my work pleases others, that’s fine. But in the end I intend to be the sole judge of what is acceptable and what is not.

That I stumbled onto my storytelling, the thing that worked for me, was primarily a matter of “try, try again.” The wife’s gardening didn’t suit me. I just couldn’t be interested in woodworking. It was hard to get excited about something as pathetic as my golf game. Not until I came across a thirty year old manuscript, a story I had written and set aside, did I sense that I had found my retirement project.

Take if from someone who very nearly flunked retirement---it is a big change, one that requires serious attention. We begin with grand ideas of how it will be, but little experience in actually living that new life. For perhaps the last time in our life we have the opportunity to choose our future. The goal is simple enough---to settle on a life and lifestyle that suits us, something that will hold our interest, perhaps even help us grow, for years to come. After all, it’s the rest of our life we’re talking about.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Soulmate? Are you sure?

Imbedded in Long Way Home, the second half of a two-book story that begins with  Second Chances, is a rather unexpected, but intriguing side trip---a visit with the woman Clint Harris thinks might be his “soulmate.” Like you, I had read about “soulmates.” Though I suppose the term means different things to different people, the basic idea is probably the same---there is someone out there who is meant to be with you, someone with whom you are paired in a mysterious, predestined way.

In Clint’s case, being nudged down that soulmate-seeking path is a fall-back situation, a way out when there are no other options. He has lost his wife. The lady he hoped would fill that void has apparently sided with his rival, Fat Tom Berry. It would have been awkward, so late in the story, for me to introduce a new female character who’s sole purpose for being there was to provide Clnt with another round of romantic failure. So instead I have him considering what some of us can imagine, and perhaps even relate to---meeting again after sixty-some years the one who first stirred those relational fires---his very first potential “soulmate.” 

It begins as a mind game---as it would for any of us---a memory-driven return to a special adolescent moment we have carried somewhere in the back of our mind for a lifetime. Perhaps like you, the impressions of that incident on a young Clint Harris had been indelible---a experienced realization of how affirmation ought to feel---providing a relational baseline he had never outgrown. 

Now, deep in his October Years, there is no way to repeat that first time. So instead, he is left to imagine the possibilities, to dwell on what-might-have-been. In spite of his doubts he wants to believe in that soulmate reality. Finally his whiskey-induced remembering of who “she” had been sixty year before grows more persuasive, and he finds the courage to plan a much-belated reunion.

So there I was, sifting through bit and pieces of my own youthful relational history, gathering snippets from which to assemble a rationale for the feelings I wanted Clint Harris to feel. I was trying to imagine how it would feel to be caught up in that disorienting mind-drama so late in life. Are they real, I wondered, those soulmates? Does that mean the sweet lady who has been at my side for fifty-seven years was intended from the beginning to be there? Was that the Big Guy’s plan for us from the start---a pairing of soulmates? 

Of course, in the fictional “second chance” setting I had created I was also dealing with other, more practical questions. Their stories---both Clint’s and his potential soulmate’s---must explain how a connection made decades before could have survived to become a “second chance” possibility sixty years later. What had there been about their first encounter, the one that had not led to a relationship, that now made her soulmate material? If it had been meant to be, why hadn’t it happened the first time?

Without dwelling on the outcome of Clint’s soulmate adventure, let’s turn for a moment from the nebulous realm of literary construction to a more personal real-life look at how each of us---you, me, and everyone---comes to terms with our own unique set of adolescent lessons. Were your “first time” experiences discarded, erased from memory? Or have they remained? And if so, are they an affirming part of whom you have become, or a bit of excess baggage you would rather unload?

Finally, having imagined the story of Clint Harris’ return to his roots in hopes of finding his soulmate, I was left to put those sometimes conflicting elements on paper, a paragraph at a time. In truth I approached that process with a degree of timidity---knowing that I would be asking my own soulmate to proofread my stumbling descriptions of a time before we met, when perhaps a first soulmate candidate had crossed my path. We don’t normally talk about that, yet by the time she had finished her work I was accepting her willingness to lend a hand as the ultimate endorsement of our shared history.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why would he write that kind of stuff?

I’ll admit I cringed when my first ebook publisher wanted to call my stories “senior romances.” After all, do they still call it that in our October Years---when sixty and seventy describes us? And even it they do, what kind of seventy-plus guy would claim to do “romances”? These books of mine aren’t about muscular Alpha Males cavorting across a book cover in a torn shirt, swooping up a seductive maiden. My tired Beta Males are more likely stumbling toward a late-life connection, resurrecting adolescent memories they had set aside decades before. So from the beginning I set aside the “romance” label and settled for calling them “relational stories.”

Yet, call them what you will, relationships---both casual and deeply personal---are the stuff of life. When they are absent or injured we suffer. We’ve all been there. It’s not a feel-good time. Beyond that, relationships are also the stuff of a good story. So why be embarrassed about writing something that everyone can relate to? Would it be more authentic to focus instead on fantasy or vampires and zombies, spy thrillers or who-dun-its---none of which are part of my personal experience? (Well, I did know this girl once---but that's another story.)

Each of us, based on our own unique experience, knows how complicated, even intimidating, that “relation seeking” process can be. For the October friends I write about it is all that and more. After all, they and their world have changed dramatically since their hormonally-driven first time. Along the way they have learned an important truth---everything looks different through October eyes. Yet, though the world may appear different,  they are seeking to fill the same existential void and find the same affirming affirmation they went looking for as teenagers. 

But even with a new label, it took a while to move beyond the self-induced embarrassment of writing relational stories---to accept that relational episodes are an elemental part of life. More than that, it turns out they are highly relatable. We read a vivid fantasy, a murder mystery, or time-travel adventure to escape the ordinary---a perfectly valid reason. A relational story, on the other hand, will probably include recognizable snippets of our own lives. That’s what I enjoy the most---creating stories about good people in need, hoping for the relationship that will help them heal.

Of necessity, that process has me asking questions I’ve seldom considered before. It’s not enough to relate how two individuals---an uncoupled couple---manage to find each other. I must create a personal story for each of them---one that explains why they are alone, why they want another relationship, and what kind of “someone” it would take to make that happen?

Each “fact” of their story must be plausible and consistent. And, of course, along the way I must imagine, and bring into being, the appropriate obstacles---real, yet surmountable---to place in their way. A story with no obstacles is boring, not really a story at all. It is the “overcoming” that makes the result worthwhile.

Fiction is a favored form of escapism for both readers and writers. Truth to tell, a storyteller like myself, relating life-like relationship stories, is apt to be focusing on the very thing the escapist is hoping to escape. In that case, I can probably scratch that potential part of my audience. And the rest of those fiction readers? How many of them are looking to curl up with an October Years relationship tale ---especially one that addresses head-on the challenges that come with that territory?

Pretty smart of me, eh? Staking my claim in the tiniest sliver of the whole darn market.

Monday, May 6, 2013

These October Year are not for sissies

You’ve seen the flashy commercials---the ones that urge us to imagine our sixties and seventies, that part of life I call the October Years, as a time of carefree relaxation, spiced by exotic travel and country club luxury. If your retirement is not on track for those enticing destinations, they'll be happy to show you the way---for a price.

I sincerely hope those glowing promises and seductive adjectives describe your future. If so, odds are you've earned it. Yet for even the financially fortunate ones, those autumn decades are apt to include the stressful reality of medical setbacks, loss of friends, and nagging loneliness.

It can be a hard thing, making our way in what often feels like an unfamiliar and unfriendly world, especially if we’ve spent a lifetime in a more hospitable place. Try as we might, some of us are bound to experience the harsh side of October life, when trusted partners and familiar landmarks are gone, leaving us to navigate on our own. Even those who are living out a storybook retirement will find there are times when it feels like the odds are stacked against them.

In my Tanner Chronicles I write relational stories about the October inhabitants of a place I call Tanner. Of course, my stories must keep the truth of their sometimes unfortunate circumstances in mind. If my oh-so-mature seekers, the ones looking for a late-life relationship, do manage to find each other, the life they build together will bear little resemblance to the televised romantic-comedies that flood our airwaves.

That’s not to say my October friends won’t share a laugh or two along the way. They certainly will. But I must take care to see that their humor is age appropriate---with a slightly sharper edge, honed by the certain reality of an uncertain future. And then, of course, there will be those times when there is simply no place for humor.

For instance, in Best Friends and Promises I address Leona Peck’s advancing dementia and Johnny Blanton’s medical vulnerability, focusing on how their distress magnifies Aaron Peck’s descent into disabling isolation. His wife and best friend are leaving the scene. The loneliness that engulfs him is a particularly sinister matter, especially at his stage of life---so real that it threatens his being. In time the pain of that loneliness will have him seeking comfort in ways he would never have considered in more normal times.

Aaron Peck’s dire situation is not likely to produce simple, Pollyannish answers. Instead, in the face of circumstances he cannot control, he has to move on toward his own future. In spite of the obstacles he must overcome I have insisted that he advance boldly, because those October Years are not a time to be timid. Getting the best and the most from our “golden years” is not for the faint of heart.

By actual count I rewrote the ending of Aaron’s story seven times before arriving at what seemed to me the right one. I guarantee you, he does not take the easy way out. I hope some of you will take the bold step of reading Aaron’s story for yourself. I’d like to hear what you think---about his unorthodox response to trying times, and perhaps your own “not for sissies" experience.”

Thursday, May 2, 2013

There was a time when I could---but I can’t

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.

It’s a simple admission I’m talking about. One that shouldn’t be so hard to do---except when it’s your own offspring who is asking for help, or perhaps a grandchild who must hear the distressing news that Grandpa “doesn’t do that any more.” Though I rarely confess that “I can’t,” I am getting better at explaining that “I don’t.”
I guess that means I’m still learning---even at my age. What about you? If you’ve been in that space, I’d like to hear how you dealt with it. Let me know, won’t you?