Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Cruising The Attic"

                                                                     
                                                Even at 9 months those ears were a hallmark.

I turn 67 years old today.  If I could give one piece of advice to you young whippersnappers it would be; don't fear old age.  Old age is a marvelous thing.  You are retired from the working world.  You've raised your children and they are off on their own life path.  You've accrued a little wisdom and you've made enough mistakes not to repeat most of them.


But mostly, old age creates acres of time; time to explore worlds, old and new.  If I want to drive out into the desert and walk in a field of wildflowers, or dip my bare feet into a cool mountain stream, I have the luxury of time to do that.  And, as a writer, some of my best stories were born just from sitting in a public square and people watching.  

And if I'm too tired, or not in the mood to go out, I can climb up there in my mind's attic and explore the worlds of yesterday.  More than once I have mentally revisited old homes where my family and I once lived.  I've walked through living rooms and kitchens where I haven't been in fifty years.  The old stove sat there, the dining table here...here is where mom set up her ironing board and ironed our school clothes.  In my sixties, I've thrown open the windows of my sixteenth year and listened to crickets long gone, or watched lightning bugs flitting about the night sky.  Fifty years after their voices floated over the night sky I can still hear Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons calling a Giants game.

Up in that attic in my head I can take down my old toy box off the shelf.  As I open it the scent of ancient leather permeates the air and I hold in my hands the old Roy Rogers holsters and guns that I got for my 6th Christmas.  And there's my old home-made sling shot that brought down many a pesky sparrow.   There's that old plastic football that I loathed to receive, yet seems now so precious in the spirit from which it was given.  

I close the lid on my toy box, then wander around the attic, my gaze halted when I see that old Okie dresser that held my pitifully spare wardrobe.  Here's the ancient Levi's, adorned with knee patches and faded nearly to white now.  I can still remember throwing them in the wash two or three times just to make them less stiff and to conform to "cool" by fading a bit of the dark denim blue from the cloth.  

And when I sorely miss my dear ones who have already passed, I can visit with them again up in that dusty attic.  There's my sis, sitting on the floor, legs folded as she plays a game of jacks.  I can hug my dear mother, still smelling "mother scent", a gentle smile playing across her lips.  I can still smell her cornbread nicely browning in the oven, and a pot of beans steaming on the stove top.  

And, up there in my attic, I can summon my children to play.  I can get on all fours and play horsey, riding them around the room and braying and bucking to unrestrained giggles.  And we sometimes sit and eat ice cream cones, or suck the sweet juices of a cherry pop cycle on a hot summer day.  Or I can drive them over to Disneyland as they squeal in anticipation.  Or drive them across America as they giggle and play license plate poker in the back seat.  

So, don't be afraid of old age.  Gone is the angst of childhood monsters.  Gone are those turbulent, uncertain, hormonal teenage years.  Gone are the two-job, sixty hour work weeks to house,  feed, clothe and educate a family.  Gone are all those remote military tours when I missed my family so much it ached.  No more career climbing, no more work place politics, no more borderline ulcers worrying about job security.

Instead, I'm free to wander the green hills under powder blue skies.  To walk under canopies of trees, down shady lanes where the morning breeze brushes your cheeks and refreshes.  Time to tarry over morning coffee with old and good friends.  Time to sit on my back patio and listen to an aria of morning doves cooing their messages of life and love.

Acres of time and worlds to explore, both new and ancient.  Happy Birthday to me.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!

Jilly

Jeff H. said...

Happy Birthday to a fellow April baby. I have 5 years to retirement, but I still enjoy going to work everyday. I get such a kick watching the young whippersnappers and the mistakes they make - it is sometimes difficult to not preach to them. Then I remember how much I hated it when I was their age. Since the passing of my mother last year, I have seemed to have acquired her wisdom and no longer am so impatient and angry, nor do I sweat the small stuff. Life is truly what you make it. Enjoy your day!

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks so much, Jilly!

A Modest Scribler said...

Jeff, I did not know your mother passed. Belated condolences....you have written about how much she meant to you. Good for you on the work....and for your growing wisdom and patience. it is a rare commodity these days.

Thanks for the birthday greetings and may your birthday be extra special this year.

Vivian said...

*******HAPPY BIRTHDAY*******

To a Great and Expressive writer.
From your essay I was able to picture in my mind's eye all that you described..I too had a similar life growing up..
Those were the Great Good Ole' days...
And Happy Birthday to your memories..
Vivian

A Modest Scribler said...

Thank you, Vivian...and when someone says they can visualize my writing that is always the greatest compliment I could receive. Again, thank you.

Darlene said...

Love it as usual!!!

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks, Darlene.

Brian Clancy said...

A very happy birthday to you, it looks to be a beautiful day here in the valley.

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks, Brian...yeah, it's looking pretty nice. Gonna go out and run some errands while it's cool this morning, then birthday dinner with the wife this evening. Have a great weekend.

Craig Bailey said...

Happy Birthday!Awesome read this morning.

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks, Craig...have a great weekend!

Frank said...

Happy Birthday, Scribe. I turned 67 in Feb so we are really close in age and probably experienced a lot of the same things. Here's to many more years! :)

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks, Frank...and pile on those years for you too!

Jerrylee said...

Happy birthday cuz...Maybe it's because our childhood was a of a similar vintage but let me say I so appreciate your ability to make memories and past emotions come alive, it's almost like watching the video. I don't know why I never felt comfortable expressing it but as a child, I admired your mother about as much as anyone I have ever known and when I think of her, I always see that gentle smile playing across her lips.

A Modest Scribler said...

Hey, thank you, Jerry! I'm glad I can bring back a bit of our childhood...it's good for us old geezers! Awe, Jerry I'm sure Mom knew just how much you loved her...she had great intuition about that. Stay cool in the desert, cuz!

Carol said...

Happy, happy birthday!! May you be sharing your writings with us for many years to come ~

A Modest Scribler said...

Thank you Carol! Just back from an early evening of senior revelry...dinner at Rio Mirage and lots of good talk.

On the writings, from your pretty lips to God's ear! :)

Ken said...

I wrote one of my long epistles to you wishing you a Happy Birthday!

Sadly I was directed to a monster google "I'm not a Robot" robot. Sadly I'm not sent there be anyone else so I don't remember my password. I set up my password and then need to review my security page and I approve but can't get passed that one for some reason.

What did I do to deserve this? Well I guess you get the rant instead of the kind words.

I have so enjoyed your columns for quite a while. Actually this is the longest standing blog on my computer. Thanks for all that wisdom and your sharing of what I consider an extraordinary life!!

A Modest Scribler said...

I'm so sorry, Ken. As you know I have nothing to do with the way Google manages comments. As you also know, as recently as last year you didn't have to do anything to make comments. Then I was overwhelmed with Spam comments and, though I didn't have anything to do with it, I think Google just got tired of having to filter it all and started the comments step process. Luckily, even though I have that little "I'm not a robot" check box as well, I ignore it and comment. Maybe someone else will give us some input on their experience. Anyway, I appreciate your efforts to comments and appreciate the ones that DID get through.