On Getting Old

I got old on Thursday.

Not last Thursday.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t a Thursday. I don’t remember, I’m old now.

But it happened that way.

In a moment. An instant.

I was getting in my car to go to work. As I often do, I connected my phone to listen to my precious music on the way.

The music filled the car. And it was fine at first.

But then it wasn’t.

I don’t mean the music. I mean the moment.

Suddenly, in that moment, the music seemed old.

I should mention that it was. 35 years or so.

It had just never sounded old to me before.
It was the music I had fallen in love with in middle school (that’s what we old folks used to call “Jr. High School,” kids).

Played on the cassette player in my first car. [See, there were these cassette tapes, and sometimes something would get mucked up and tape guts would get into your player and cause a ton of headache. You might have to get tweezers and carefully pull the guts out of your machine, stick your finger in one of the tape spools, and manually rewind the tape a little and hope it would still play and preferably not spill its guts all over your tape deck again. (We called ’em “tape decks.”)]

The music that had faithfully shepherded me through adolence, college, my first years of marriage, graduate school, raising my three babies.

It soothed, comforted, and empowered me through hours and days in my room, as I lay in bed on occasions where I could do little else but listen, praying that the MS ravaging my body would relent and leave me with any of my faculties intact. Or at least that I’d have the energy to get up and not let The Simpsons Movie play for a fourth time in the DVD player. (Remember those?)

I don’t need to explain. You have a soundtrack to your life too. And you know what it means to you.

So I knew my music was old.

But that day, all at once, it sounded its age. And at that moment, for the first time in my life, I felt my own.

Which is to say I experienced myself as the person I saw people my age as being when I was young, when that music — and everything else in the world — was new.

And it scared me. How the days are flying, how quickly I’ll be looking far into the past as I re-read this post and reflect on this moment. How I won’t actually be able to read this post at all because I won’t remember where I left my glasses.

Our girls are gone and our house is so often empty.

I’ve lost my hair and my beard is turning gray.

The lines on my face (and the hair in my ears — what?) surprise me every morning.

And for the first time in my life, I’m beginning to hear it, a ruthless hum of dread. It’s faint, but it daily grows a tiny bit louder.

The End.

Seriously, I’m done writing now. I haven’t resolved this yet. I haven’t wrapped it all up neatly into an object lesson as I am wont to do. (I’m getting older, so I say things like, “as I am wont to do”). I’m sure one day I’ll write about all the amazing wisdom I gained at this time in my life. Because I am wont to do that.

But right now, to be honest, I’m a little scared. Not of dying but of getting older. And of living to an age where I say things like, “I hope I live until next week because the new Wonder Woman movie comes out Friday.”

After all this is brand new to me, on account of having just gotten old on Thursday.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. A request for me to defend some of my comments does not obligate me to do so.

  • Nancy Grundell Galassini

    Hi Dave, old is what I am at 65 (in three weeks). I have to say, I always feel a year older at the beginning of a new year, never on my birthday.
    On getting older, what can we say? It sucks…more for some than others. I have new knees (2 years) and new lenses in my eyes for the last ten years, so suffice it to say, getting old doesn’t suck as much as it used to. I remember being amazed at how my grandparents were so ready for death to, “come take them home.” I would think, “No, you are home! This is where you belong!” But, it isn’t; this isn’t it; in all of its beautiful natural wonders, this ain’t IT.
    I imagine my grandparents at times felt a lot like I do today. After four hours of yardwork this morning I am tired, have a backache and cannot imagine anything other than going to bed. But, it’s only 8 p.m. and the dogs need a walk. Ouch.
    I also imagine that they were ready for the Kingdom as Jesus described it. Fertile valleys, flowing rivers, no weeds (my wish not Biblical) and EVERYONE loving their neighbor! My Dad used to say frequently, “The world’s goin’ to hell in a handbasket.” It was always after seeing a group of hippies, hearing rock music or some other such conumdrum of the day. I loved my Dad, but I’m glad that Jesus loved those hippies…and I’m hoping they’re saved.

    So you can probably tell I’ve been thinking about this awhile; more so since being retired just this past school year. That was weird…how did I have time to work? Oh yes, I was younger. Also more so since this past year of political…well, you know, I have no words. It’s embarrassing and my Dad’s phrase comes to mind.
    Like the song says, we weren’t made for this world. I don’t belong, and I never will; I am forever thankful for that fact. I am forever a child of the King. For right now, I’m also thankful to be here and watch my daughter grow and learn. She’s 33 and dislikes me talking about her as if she were a child…one day she’ll realize that she is, when she’s about 65.

    Someday though, I will wake up one morning and say, “Oh shoot!” Just as my Grandmother did when she was 93 and realized the Lord hadn’t taken her home during the night; and then one day He did. I’m starting to look forward to that great reunion more as time passes…and it never slows down.

    So, for today, that’s my two cents. It makes me so extremely happy to know that my agenda, which is constantly manipulated by the world’s conumdrums, doesn’t mean squat. Getting older means I relax more into that…lean into the wind. Then one day it’ll all be better!

    Sorry this is so long…no prompts until today!
    Peace!

    • This is really beautiful, Nancy. I’m really glad you took the time to write it.

  • Becky

    I’m scared too Dave. I turn 50 next Friday and am really struggling with that and wondering if my life has mattered up to this point, and what will my future look like. I’m a little ashamed to even say this when I don’t have the added challenge of living with MS or any other life altering disease that I know of. Keep making a difference each moment of each day that you are given. You still walk on water to your wife and daughters and there are many more memories to be made with them.

    • Thanks for your comment, Becky. Just being reminded that other people I care about are thinking these things too is helpful.

      Your life has mattered a lot to me, for what it’s worth. The summer we hung out together is one of my sweetest memories. Really. And I so treasure your openness, honesty, and vulnerability on Facebook. I know that has a big impact on people.

      Your support, friendship, and encouragement mean a lot to me.

      And screw the MS thing! You don’t have to have some major life affliction to be entitled to wonder about and reflect on your life and feel like it’s a struggle!!