“All you need is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust.” – Peter Pan
I wonder if you know someone who gets younger over time instead of older? Or perhaps, someone who seemingly stops aging altogether? That’s my dad. It’s finally happened. He’s discovered the fountain of youth (or at least the geezer freezer). DooDaddy remains eternally young at heart, regardless of his physical condition. And the lighter his mood, the better he feels. Laughter does a body good. And choosing happy, despite your circumstances, is better than any prescription opiate.
What I’ve come to understand, through the care and feeding of old people, is that Old Age is a state of mind.
My son was born an old soul and has been 30 since he was 8 years old. He lost his innocence in the way that only children of divorce can do. Abruptly. Without warning. But with a stiff upper lip worthy of Gmamma. Childhood interrupted but not ruined. Because children are resilient, and life goes on. The new becomes normal.
The same is true of Old Age. It sneaks up on you and taps you on the shoulder, maybe even shoves down the basement steps, breaking a few ribs in the process. Next thing you know, you’re a widower on a walker in the Old Folks’ Home. Cardigan sweater. Metamucil. Reading glasses perched on the furthermost tip of your nose as you doze in your latte leather recliner. You wake up with a start and marvel at the warp speed passage of time and how it all led to here. Your whole world has shrunk to the size of four walls. The smallness is either suffocating and claustrophobic, or it’s cozy and comforting – your choice.
And if you choose wisely, the magic happens. Peter Pan stuff. Your inner child awakens and stretches his lithe limbs and looks at things with fresh eyes. The cataracts fall away like proverbial scales. There’s an unmistakable twinkle in your eye, despite the fistful of wrinkles on your face.
So DooDaddy has stopped aging. I’ve noticed it recently. He’s got his mojo back.
After Gmamma died, he lost his way for awhile. He simply wasn’t himself. And while the mere mention of her name can bring him to tears, he’s no longer in free fall. He lives with his grief, but it hasn’t destroyed him. My mother is still with him, a companionable angel on his shoulder. Of course, it’s not the same, but he has adjusted to the After. The new has become normal.
Yesterday, DooDaddy was spinning stories and sipping his “vodka rocks” as we celebrated Thanksgiving. It was just Mac, my father and me. A merry band of three. But that’s audience enough for an accomplished raconteur. We heard about The Doo’s transition from Jack Daniels to vodka and traced his alcohol preferences all the way back to a pitcher of gin gimlets at an engagement party.
“I hadn’t eaten lunch, and I got to where I could barely stand up, so Bea Wright Jones – Jennie D. never trusted Bea Wright Jones – wanted to put me to bed in her upstairs bedroom, but your mother wasn’t having any of that.”
We talked politics as usual. Mac brought The Doo up to speed on the net neutrality issue. We all agreed that people should be able to see what they want on the internet and to use the services they prefer. We sometimes find common ground across three generations of political perspectives.
We’re for less government. Human rights. Privacy. Free speech. Stiff drinks. Live and let live. Death with dignity.
We discussed race relations, and DooDaddy recalled working at Kennington’s Department Store as a college student in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1950s, when African American customers weren’t allowed to try on clothes in the dressing room, or return them if they tried them on at home.
“I grew up in Middle Tennessee, and we didn’t treat people like that. But Mississippi was a whole ‘nuther story. I felt terrible for those customers, and I am embarrassed about it to this day.”
Our conversation meandered here and there, but DooDaddy never lost the thread. And the more he talked, the younger he became. Not in a creepy Benjamin Button kind of way. He just morphed into the best version of himself. Ageless. Timeless. Connected and fully present in a way that transcends the years. Classic DooDaddy.
And so, if you find yourself or someone you love, feeling old, pour two fingers of vodka in a short glass with lots of ice and just a splash of water and a twist of lime. Sip slowly and let the ice melt as you warm to your favorite topic of conversation. Then talk and drink and laugh till you’re feeling no pain, no age, no infirmity. Just a warm glow and a light heart.
And when the buzz is gone, choose happy.