Feeling My Age

Seems to me that my late bout with unreality (or call it what you will) took its toll.

I seem to have less energy.

I walk in shorter steps and, walking, I’m more bent over than I used to be.

Nuisance. Annoying. Unattractive.

I was doing fine, sailing along, until…

So what’s the big deal? I’m not so blithering an optimist that I don’t know that life comes in spurts and starts.

I mean you can’t expect to float on Cloud Nine for the duration.

There’s got to be some give to get.

Enough platitudes, Sylvia.

So I said to my honorary son Geoff in L.A., “I’m feeling my age for the first time!”

A vigorous man in his sixties, Geoff burst out laughing, “Listen to you…ninety–”

“I’m not ninety yet!”

“Ninety and you’re just beginning to feel your age? That’s insane. I’ve felt OLD as long as I can remember!”

Not true, I’m sure.

But yesterday. Yesterday. Yesterday was proof that Bill does not feel old.

Yesterday was the first of my professor husband’s four lectures on Henry Fielding’s novel, Tom Jones.

Under the auspices of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCSC, twenty-six stalwart students (all FOB, Fans of Bill) appeared. Without doubt some came because they’ve enjoyed Bill Park’s seven courses on the movies (in addition to teaching English Literature, Bill taught Film History), were curious about the novel, are now hooked on what Bill considers a work of literature on a par with The Odyssey, Don Quixote, and James Joyce’s Ulysses.

For two hours our extraordinary professor described the history of the novel (in Fielding’s case, “A new species of writing*”), and in the second hour answered questions, asked students to read from the work. Fun-and-a-half.

Bill first taught Tom Jones at Sarah Lawrence College in the 1960s, so the material is in his bones. Also for weeks and weeks I’ve been reading to him and he’s been listening to the Audible version (a royal treat). I should explain that due to macular degeneration, Bill can no longer read…and due to having been a competitive backstroke swimmer in high school, his hearing is impaired.

Doesn’t matter. With his amazing mind, humor, insight, warmth, without consulting any sort of prompt, his lecture of two hours raced by.

Afterward the two of us celebrated with a visit to Costco (his favorite store), bought a fresh supply of popping corn, roasted giant peanuts, pesto, Irish cheeses, coffee pods, dishwasher tablets, square boxes of Kleenex…likely you know the drill.

Euphoric, after supper and before the movie we’d chosen to watch, I went to my desk and wrote a quick note to his four children, whom I knew were eager to hear about Dad’s class.

I asked Bill if he wanted to hear what I wrote. He did. Sat down across from me on what was our little white dog, Cakes’s, pouf.

I read: “I’ve been given permission–reluctantly–to tell you that this morning the professor was BRILLIANT BRILLIANT BRILLIANT…no surprise… To listen to a man of ninety-two-plus years describe the culture of the seventeenth century–and what led up to it…”

I heard a soft harumph.

“Sylvia, it’s ninety-three-plus years…”

“It is? You’re ninety-three now?”

“Yes, darling…”

I thought to myself, That’s right…he’s five years older and I KNOW I’m eighty-eight…

“And it’s the eighteenth century…”

“It is? Oh yes…the 1740 confused me…”

My professor stood up, bent down to give the top of my head a kiss, “Still want to watch The Talk of the Town?”

“Of course. Cary Grant and Jean Arthur, oh my!”

“I’ll set it up.”

Alone at my desk, drenched in shame–I mean not to know how old your beloved is–and to mix up centuries–I realized I’d better pull myself up and out of this nowheresville.

I’m going to stand up straighter. Take longer more purposeful strides. Stop being a mindless wuss.

Do as my husband does.

No more feeling my age!


*The New Species of Writing by William Park… Published by Gsd Productions, 2020.

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