When did I Grow Old?

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We had a box of photo slides taken over a period of years – close to 50 years ago. We hadn’t looked at them for a very long time because the bulb burned out on the projector and then the bulb became obsolete. That seems like a harsh word to use, “obsolete”, when I’m thinking about my life.

I remembered some of these slides and wanted to see them again so I had them digitized. I eagerly waited for the e-mail but when I finally opened them up, it was with disconcert. There were a few photos that made me feel like I had crossed a time warp. It was like walking into a room and greeting people who have been dead for a long, long time. There was Babcia, Grandpa, my dad, Uncle Al, Aunt Vicky, Uncle Dick, Uncle Pete. So many people who I loved and who loved me back, sitting at my sister’s graduation party as if it were yesterday. I don’t recall living all those years in between even though I remember events that tell me I did.

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There were many photos of our kids, like this one taken at House Lake, where we enjoyed primitive camping – without electricity and flush toilets. I talk about remembering our primitive camping experiences in my post Roughing it by the Rogue. I haven’t forgotten – but maybe memories become a little out of of focus, a little soft around the edges.

I have several photo boxes filled with a lifetime of photos. I look at them every once in a while – get them out when kids are here so we can pass them around, with love-filled laughter. These photos and I have grown old together. The slides are different, the slides and I grew old in parallel, not together. The photos-in-the-box fed my memory every time I looked at them while other memories, like the ones in the slides, faded and almost disappeared.

I really appreciate my memory and hope I don’t become senile. As I have gotten older I have relied on my memory to maintain my sense of who I am as my body has changed along with life around me. But every so often I have to do a memory adjustment because memories are sometimes formed based on a distortion of reality. Sometimes I have continued living life based on memories that have become obsolete.

It seems like my decade birthdays stimulate a need to make sense of life all over again. I’m pushing one now. We are also getting close to being married for half a century. These two events seem to be messaging our hearts and memories. I hear it in our conversations. Last night as we were going to sleep we shared our “I love you”s and commented on how good life has been for us. J commented that we don’t have much left of our life. I agreed. It wasn’t with sadness, it was just a statement of fact. I’m glad we aren’t foggy around the edges about that.

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17 Comments »

  1. There’s so much good stuff in here Pat, I hardly know what to say. How about “thank you” for a gentle nudge to a younger person who wants to age with an in-focus memory, too.

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  2. I love how you wrote about the years going by without sounding regretful or especially nostalgic and the last paragraph set a wonderful example of how we would all like to be. Great post, Pat!

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