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Ole and Lena’s fiftieth anniversary was coming up. They weren’t sure how they wanted to celebrate, but in the end their kids took over. They planned a really nice party – the whole family came home, lots of friends and neighbors came over and all in all, it was a great day. 

Late in the evening Ole and Lena were sitting alone in their house, basking in the enjoyment of the day. Lena looked at Ole, smiled shyly and said, “You know what would be a perfect ending to the day? If we ran upstairs and made love the way we used to.” 

Ole looked at her and said, “Lena. Pick one.” 

When I first heard that joke about twenty years ago, I thought it was pretty cute. Now...not so much.  

I’ve been thinking about getting old. We haven’t quite reached our fiftieth, but it’s only a year away.  

This train of thought came about because I was thinking about my wife’s grandmother.  I wouldn’t say I was terrified of her back in 1973, but when I was around her, I was definitely on my toes and not just because she dominated at croquet. She had a bit of an edge to her, but that may have been because she didn’t think I was good enough for her granddaughter. Overall, she seemed like a nice little old lady.   

I just figured out that when I met her, she was two years younger than I am today. 

This I do not understand. At sixty-seven she was old, but at sixty-nine, I’m not old. Grandma and I didn’t have a lot of deep conversations about our hopes and dreams for the future, but I had the definite impression that she was cruising toward home plate – doing some quilting at the church, visiting with friends, doing a little gardening.   

I am not cruising toward home. I’ve tried cruising, but it just doesn’t seem to work. I have so much left to do, so many things. Sometimes, deep in the night, I’ll be in bed just vibrating, thinking about how much more I need to get done in this life.  

Part of the problem is that I don’t get nearly as much done in a day as I used to. A few years ago, we had a situation where sparrows were messing all over my wife’s car. Because I am a good husband, I hung a tarp from the ceiling over her car. That worked, sort of, but she recently got a different car and keeping the sparrow poop at bay became more of a priority.  So, I pulled the tarp down and installed a poop-proof barrier. Not a big deal – three sheets of plywood, a dozen 2 x 4’s and about three hundred trips up a stepladder, sometimes while balancing a sheet of plywood on my head. It took two or three hours and at the end of the day I stepped back and basked in the glory of another job I will never need to do again in my lifetime. 

And I was exhausted. Really. I put my tools away, pulled off my work boots, and took the rest of the day off.   

That could be why I lie in bed vibrating about how much I have left to do in my life, because apparently my workdays are seventy-five percent shorter than they used to be. 

I never had any in-depth conversations with grandma, but my wife certainly did, and she told me once how her grandmother said that in her heart of hearts, she still felt eighteen. 

I don’t feel eighteen in my heart of hearts, but I don’t feel old either. 

I think I’ll go run up the stairs. 

Just to keep in practice. 

Copyright 2024 Brent Olson 

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