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Remember Me?

As per my MO of late, I promised to be back more often yet here it is May with my last post being February – how hollow you must think my words. I apologize for the empty promise and will not offer any excuses; I simply have not had the drive to put “pen to paper”, not a lack of desire… a lack of drive.

Babysitting a toddler five days a week, eight hours a day, is both rewarding and exhausting. He is absolutely delightful and nothing but joy. But… I am now 67 and the decline in my body is now becoming limiting; I remain in good condition but I am not the man I was 10 years ago, not even 5 years ago! And happily we still have the other three grandkids for supper every Wednesday and then have them for Friday night sleepover and all day Saturday. But after a week of toddler-immersion, my energy levels tend to be a bit low by Friday and I suspect I am not bringing my A-game every weekend.

All that said, there remains all the usual chores, duties, and obligations of life, much of which just can’t be done while entertaining a toddler. And guess what suffers? My blog would be the correct #1 response!! So while it may sound like an excuse, it is not – it is a reason. I am tired and busy and my stewpot of thoughts and ideas seems to be rather empty of late…

I guess for openers, assuming there is even anyone left out there who remembers me and still reads this blog, I should provide some catch-up. I last posted on my birthday in February. I have gotten out for a couple of hikes but not many; Sunday is my only “free” day and there is often sooooo much else I need to get done on that one day that hiking (like writing) tends to fall to the wayside. And to be honest, the weather has not been great, we’ve had a lot of rainy Sundays. And of course, a lot of cold ones through the winter and early spring.

I think the single greatest piece of personal news is that my son and family have just recently placed their house on the market meaning the move to Maine will happen sooner rather than later. I guess a small part of me had hoped the whole process of buying a property, clearing it, installing utilities, and building a home would take a long time. But not the case, they’ll probably be gone by mid-June.

The only way I can describe my feelings is tumultuous. I am devastated to “lose” them from my immediate life. Yes, they are only in Maine. But that “only” equates to approx. five hours of driving one way, so not like I can just pop up for visit. But at the same time I am thrilled for them as this has been a long time dream and it is finally at fulfillment for them. And to be honest, grandkids tire of grandparents as they grow – as they should. I think my eldest, who is fast closing in on 14, is already on the cusp of not wanting to be here Friday night and Saturday. And the 11yo is likely not far behind. My granddaughter is still a ways from that, but such is life I guess. We’ll still see them, but not nearly as often. And that just has to be OK, there is no other choice.

I would move to Maine in the blink of an eye if I could. It’s a beautiful state, perhaps colder winters, but once you get into winter and it gets cold, what’s a few degrees colder? I have come to truly detest what RI has become: built up, over populated, over crowded, and no end in sight. In my town, which was once quite rural and quiet, daily traffic on Post Rd is often stop and go and never reaching the actual speed limit. My own road was rarely traveled, it was not unusual to see people on horseback on the road. The little traffic there was barely noticeable. Now it is a constant stream of cars passing by, usually 10-15MPH above the speed limit. I despise what they’ve done to my town.

For now though, moving is off the table; my daughter has the 21-month old and another one coming in September and she relies on us for taking care of them while she and her husband work. We did it for my son’s family and absolutely owe this to her as well. And before you even ask, she loves it here and has very little interest in moving. At least right now… so here we’ll stay at least until both her kids are in school fulltime. And by then – who knows? Maybe I’ll hit the lottery and can fly back and forth from here to Maine so I can remain in all their lives regularly. All that said, children grow and leave the nest and that is the way of life. I will just miss them terribly.

I’ve had more friends die, becoming a sad and tired tale occurring far too often. Age is nothing but loss, don’t let anyone kid you. Golden years? That’s just a fable made up so younger folks felt better about their elders! Yes, I don’t have to go work anymore and that is so relieving and wonderful. But it is, like so much of life, a double-edged sword. When you stop working after almost 50 years, you lose a huge part of your identity, of who you are. Actually not who you are, but who you thought you were. It becomes so easy to allow what you do become who you are. Work is so immersive and all-enveloping that we can often totally lose sight of who we truly are. And by the time we retire, we may have no idea of who we are anymore; we are certainly not the same person now as when we entered the workforce. So there is that loss.

And since I’ve written of the physical loss many times previously, I won’t dwell much on it here other to tell you that it’s bad and it gets worse almost every month. Hips, lower back, legs, and knees become increasingly still and painful. Flexibility is pretty much a thing of the past. There is no longer fluidity in anything you do, from getting out of a chair, climbing a ladder, working on the car, and the like. And this coming from a guy who can still knock out 50 good push-ups and who can easily hike 15 miles in the summer’s heat. I used to be such a fluid and agile man and that is basically now gone. We won’t even get into the eyes or hearing, except to say that my loss of hearing often leaves my on the outside looking in on most conversations, horrifically most often with my grandkids as their voices fall so completely into my range of loss.

What are the gifts of age? Am I wiser? Not really. I’ve certainly learned a lot through the years but the lessons are typically lost on the younger folks. Lessons on patience and forgiveness are rarely of interest to the high-speed full-throttle generations behind mine. I pulled out and accidentally cut someone off yesterday; not like they needed slam on their brakes, in fact brakes were likely not needed at all, merely just take their foot off the gas. They didn’t honk at me and I never saw any hand gestures. But I so wanted to stop and tell them I was sorry.

And that is SO unlike anything I ever was through any of my years. I was the opposite: hang out the windows yelling obscenities, chasing cars for miles beyond my destination, etc. I once actually not only stopped my car in the middle of the road, I got out and began marching towards the offending car behind me – to the point where they frantically threw it in reverse and backed away. And I followed!! Running!!! When I finally stopped and turned back around, I couldn’t even see my car anymore as it was around the curve. Nuts!!

That reckless, rash, and rude behavior is not completely gone from me, but is waning with time. Not out of fear of getting smacked around because I can still hold my own, but more because it is useless, pointless, and unnecessary – it’s just not nice. So I suppose that is a benefit of age…just not enough to offset all the losses though. I am sure there is more to be said on this, just now is not the time.

Some big news –bought a motorcycle!! A dirt bike to be specific, 125CC. And honestly it is for my grandson. I’ve had this bug to teach him to drive a manual transmission and he shares the desire. We talked about picking up a small sport car and him learning on that, but with them moving to Maine, I had to rethink it. I decided that learning to use clutch, gas, and brake was the core skill, and that one could learn it just as well on a bike as a car. And since he’ll soon be in Maine, a dirt bike made perfect sense. It came yesterday and I spent a few hours in the intermittent rain and sun assembling it. It is a Chinese made bike so the instructions were horrible. I ended up watching several YouTube videos instead, which did the trick for me.

I had hoped he’d be here through most of the summer so I could get one for myself and we could ride together. There may still be some chance of that, but a limited amount so I guess I better hurry up and get mine! He has not seen it yet – hopefully tonight. I know he’ll be chomping at the bit to hop and take off but I am not full done with it all. I am not thrilled with the clutch or the carburetor; based on comments I actually bought an aftermarket carb for it and may want to swap it out before he tries to learn on it. I still want to check all the fasteners again, and should probably change the Asian oil to US oil (according to a lot of people’s comments) although the oil can wait a couple of weeks. I just pray with all my heart that he rides carefully and stays safe on it.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and I have already bought my wife her gift – it came yesterday. It is a greenhouse, but not a giant one of course! It is 6’X8’ and is 7’ high with all polycarbonate “windows” and aluminum frame. I’ll need all of a day to get it assembled and tied down in place. Should be a fun project – I just need the time to do it! Sunday is forecast to be sunny and 70d which would be a great day to do it. I really wanted to hike though, so we’ll see how this all works out! Time….you’d think it’d be a non-issue once you retire, but nope!

Well, I left off with Mother’s Day fast approaching and never finished or posted it. And now Father’s Day is barreling down upon us. Just to try to raise a feeble flag of notice that I AM still here, I will publish this tonight and will make a genuine effort to be more frequent over the coming weeks. Stay well dear reader!

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