By Stephen Simon.
While I was waiting in line at the post office, a wonderful gentleman and I exchanged “Good mornings” to each other. When I asked him how he was, he answered “Well, I’m 90 years old today, young fella, so I would say I’m doing pretty great.”
At 65, no one has called me “young fella” in a long, long time, so, obviously he made my day and I told him so.
“Congratulations”, I said. “I’m 65 so you’re actually old enough to be my father, right?”
Smiling slyly, he responded with a wink. “Nah…I was always way too careful for that.”
He then patted me on the shoulder as he walked up to the clerk, who had obviously heard our conversation, and welcomed the gentleman with “Happy 90th to you, sir.” Whereupon the other 4 or 5 people in line chimed in with their own best wishes and a small smattering of applause, which the “birthday boy” accepted with a grin and a slight bow.
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking our lab Lola in a West Linn neighborhood near our home. On a particular street (Carriage Way, for you Portlanders), I was hoping to see a man named Theodore who is something of a local legend. At 92, he sits in the driveway outside his home on a lawn chair every morning when the weather is decent and greets everyone who walks and drives by. As the weather in Portland this “summer” has been a few notches worse than atrocious (don’t get me started), I wasn’t sure if he would be there, but the sun was out this morning so I was optimistic.
Sure enough, there he sat, with a blanket across his legs and his customary wide and welcoming grin.
“Good morning, Theodore!”, I greeted him as he was waving at the driver of a car as it passed by.
“Good morning, young man!”, he responded with a big smile. (Again, “young”. Life is good!)
We chatted for a few minutes as Lola sniffed around his chair and wagged her tail while he gently patted her head.
When I asked him how he was, he replied “Pretty damn good for an old man. I don’t hear all that well anymore, and I have to use this lovely cane my wife bought me to get around, but I still get out here every morning so I can talk to folks like you…and, of course, my regulars.” With that, he waved at another driver.
In the couple of minutes that we chatted, at least 3 or 4 cars drove by. All of them… ALL of them… slowed down and waved. A couple of drivers even shouted out “Good morning, Theodore!”, including a young child in the back seat of one of the cars.
As Lola and I said our good-byes, Theodore wished us well and said “Have a wonderful day…and come see me again tomorrow.”
So, today, there are no movie posters or discussions in this blog.
Just an acknowledgment that, despite all the troubles, heartaches, and challenges that we face each day, life can also still be magical, hopeful, and happy.
And we “young folks” in Acts 1 and 2 of life can still learn a lot from our elders who are enjoying Act 3 of theirs…. if only we just slow down and listen.