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.