My sister jokes that we’re on life’s “back nine.” Of course we are—I just hope we’re not putting on 18! Now having said that and keeping with the golf metaphor, from a statistical perspective we’re actually teeing off on 18, but that’s not much solace. Nonetheless, the aging process has had more than a few aha, moments for me. In fact more and more I find myself thinking how “youth is wasted on the young,” and while that’s a bit cynical, if you’re over 60 you get the point.
During the ski season I had an experience not unlike that of many grandparents in the valley. But before I relate it here I should mention that I taught skiing on Vail Mountain for fifteen years, and while I certainly wasn’t going to win the downhill, I could hold my own. I recall too how I would tell my group-lesson students there were two types of instructors—skiers who teach and teachers who ski—I fell into the latter category.
But I digress, so back to my experience. I hadn’t skied with my grandson Jonah in more than a year. It wasn’t for lack of interest, but rather because my son-in-law Jake (Jonah’s dad) primarily takes his family to Beaver Creek and I was Vail Mountain guy for thirty-five years, although that changed this season – but that’s a commentary for another day.
Now my recollection of skiing with Jonah was of him doing his best to “keep up with grandpa,” but I knew he was gaining experience I expected that now we would ski more or less at the same level. Boy did I get a wake up call! After our first foray into the bumps and powder I looked at my wife Bobbi and said, “Anything I do on two skis, Jonah can do on one
And that’s when it hit me. Now make no mistake, even during my prime as a ski instructor I doubt I could keep up with Jonah today, I mean this young man is really good, but what struck me was how my own skills had diminished. I really don’t know exactly when that occurred, although in fairness to myself, I no longer ski as much as when I taught. Nonetheless, there has been a significant drop off in my ability. And as with many who share the same lifeboat, neither my sense of balance nor my reflexes are what they once were.
I never could zipper-line Look Ma, nor did I ski High Line on a daily basis, but I could breeze through the 7-11 bumps on Ledges (named for the number of turns it takes to negotiate each set of bumps) with relative ease. In fact, sometimes I would carve through those bumps in 10 inches of powder in just two sweeping GS turns—but alas, those days are long gone.
But hey, it’s not all bad; I like to think a certain peace and wisdom accompanies getting older. For example, I find sitting in our living room on a bright sunny afternoon reading a good book a rather pleasurable way to spend an afternoon, although Bobbi questions how much reading I do with the book on my chest.
At the same time however, I’m finding more and more instances when Bobbi and are watching commercial TV that we’ll see an advertisement for some product or service and then wonder what the product or service was or did that was being advertised. And fifteen years ago I would be going stir crazy without the Stanley Cup Playoffs or MLB’s Opening Day to watch on TV. But now days I’m content just watching birds fight over worms (Blue Jays 3 – Cardinals 2) OK, that was facetious, and I will miss watching a game on Opening Day.
Nonetheless, two things really stand out about this time of my life. The first is that the people who are in my life are there because I want them there. And secondly, Bobbi and I have learned a successful marriage depends on a strong commitment to little white lies. Bobbi doesn’t mention that while my weight is the same, my waistline has expanded by an inch and a half; and I refuse to comment about her two grey hairs that I will love as long as I live.
Quote of the day: “Respect old people, remember, they graduated school without Google or Wikipedia”—Unknown