Contemplative Ol’ Codger - The Missourian: Features People

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Sights and Insights Contemplative Ol’ Codger

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Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 1:00 am

Cool weather drew me to the screened-in porch. Though it’s not fall yet, a noticeable change is upon us. The raucous chirping of birds tending nests has been replaced by the din of humming cicadas in trees faded by the summer drought. Down by the lake the bullfrogs are quiet, and nary a mesmerized crane stands on the shore set to spear an inattentive fish lazing by.

School will start soon. The thought of students toting cartoon-character backpacks neatly organized with graffiti-free folders and No. 2 pencils sharpened to finite points takes me back to my teaching days and further still to three daughters in school uniforms rushing out the door in new tennies bound for a shortcut down the hill to Our Lady of Lourdes School.

Summer has flown — yuck — summer has drug. It’s been a sweltering, unforgettable one. We draw a sigh of relief at a respite, welcome the rain, some brisk, refreshing breezes and brilliant blue skies free of the humid haze that hung on the horizon. No doubt, our recent heat relief is just a teaser.

Nonetheless, a drop in temperature and a new school year bring on contemplation. So do colonoscopies.

My husband just had one; the report was fine, but it threw me into trying to remember when another invasion of my system would be due. Every five years isn’t bad for this tremulous test — but how many more five-year-spans do I have left?

My birthday is coming up in a couple of months and when I quipped about how old I was going to be, Spark quickly reminded me that I’d be 65, not 64. After some caterwauling, I did the math. Now I understand why the mailbox has been littered with a flurry of official looking envelopes advertising Medicare supplements and glossy brochures for cutting-edge hearing aids able to pick up the sound of a goose feather hitting the floor.

August also marks my 15th anniversary at The Missourian. That’s a boatload of “Sights and Insights” columns, book reviews, and photos in black and white and color. Looking back on tear sheets from the paper that I pull to keep records, I can see myself aging, weight going up, then down, hair short, then long, glasses on, glasses off, lip without scars, lip with. I used to only need a touchup for gray every six weeks, but natural color at my temples now necessitates a trip to the beauty shop every three.

When I began writing for The Missourian, I swore I’d never be one of those senior hens who write about getting older, about eyesight fading quicker than a sunset, and back fat not adhering to bones like it used to.

But last weekend on the porch I was contemplative. Siding makes you contemplative — thinking about needing new siding, that is. So do roofs. When we had our new roof put on we were assured it would last more than 30 years. That brutal statistic quashed our denial. Spark and I would fade before our roof gave up the ghost.

Now we face the same issue with our siding, which has outlived its 25-year life expectancy, siding that was put on when we were pups with teenagers at home, required to be hyper vigilant about boys in the basement, enforcing curfews and worrying about underage drinking.

On second thought, perhaps 65 isn’t so bad — it’s certainly more relaxing, as bittersweet as an unexpectedly cool August day — you know there may be uncomfortable days ahead, but for today it’s nice to just be on the porch, drawing in life all around you, focusing on each minute, trying to slow down time, as time marches on.

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