The Balance Sheets of Aging

As I grow older, I (like most other people), notice mental and physical changes that are occasionally either comical or just terrifying.

I rather like the fact that my hair is gradually turning silver. The symbolism is, at least visually, a sign of wisdom, regardless of how one has spent his time in learning things. The stereotype is a charming illusion suggesting that simply being alive beyond one’s sixties is automatically a sign that those years have been spent absorbing truckloads of knowledge and understanding, just hanging around a bit longer. One week from today I will turn 78. That “extra time” to which Webster’s Dictionary also assigns the meaning of “a prison or jail time.”

I would like to believe that, however many years one lives, he or she will accumulate, along with silver hair (or a neatly polished bare scalp) a deeper understanding of the world, and especially of other people. Whenever I see someone with silver or white hair, my first thought is often about the person’s life journey. Beyond consideration of silver or white hair, I must say that the principal struggles of growing old aren’t visual, but rather based upon behavior and that winding road of change in our dealing with everything and everyone around us as the years accumulate.

My partner, Jim, a most intelligent (and mostly patient) man, lets me know when I forget something in an obvious way, like leaving a cocktail on a kitchen countertop, or asking the same question to which he gave his answer that very morning. My frustration about such things is probably just as frightening to me as it is to him. The only redeeming part for me is that sometimes, just shaking my head can erase the recollection of a recent gaffe (like shaking an Etch-A-Sketch from the 1950’s).

I still drive my car occasionally to the grocery store, to Walgreens and to visit a few friends locally, but not cross country as I was doing just a few years ago back and forth from Colorado.

This part of growing older is like moving to a strange new town daily and having to learn again each day where the rooms are and how to use the stove. When I reach that point, it will probably be time for Jim to find me a comfy room at the Fort Lauderdale Home for the Bewildered (Please insert laugh here). So far, those glitches of awareness are ones that only Jim and my other close friends notice. Thank goodness for love and patience as I move perhaps to that time of life when my journey each day may require new maps to find my way, even in my own town or my own home. Thus far, that scenario seems far down the road, but one can never tell when the danger signs may appear, and all doorknobs seem to open the same rooms.  JB

About John

About John John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BS and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado, where he resided for ten years before moving to Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth book is, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014. John’s most recent book is a novel titled Resisting Gravity, A Ghost Story, published the summer of 2018 View all posts by John →
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