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Oh to be young again,

To run barefoot through the woods,

hollows,

and glens.

To see Grandpa,

the old farm,

and my dog Peppie running in the wind.

 

Oh to be young again. 

To walk the hardwood of Lincoln School,

take milk-money,

and search for steel pennies in the bin,

To play baseball,

marbles,

and Cowboys-n-Indians,

 

Oh to be young again.

To race the playground,

learn grammar and fractions,

and get lost in the wonder of a young girl’s grin,

To discover comics and novels,

read in the night,

and dream of being a hero of men.

 

Oh to be young again.

To look upon Creation,

think about God,

and become aware of something called sin.

To understand love,

sacrifice, forgiveness,

and thanks to the Lord salvation within.

 

Oh to be young again.

To be fueled by optimism,

invulnerable, invincible,

and take life as you must right on the chin.

To revisit Central School,

look for the names carved in the desk,

and recapture the hope of where we begin.

 

Oh to be young again.

To grow up fast in ways not our choosing,

watch the world change,

and find JFK, MLK, RFK no longer therein.

To endure Viet Nam, Watts, Kent State,

wrestle with racism, rebellion, hate,

and meanwhile youth comes to an end.

 

Oh to be young again.

To be young again is an old one’s fantasy,

repeat, redo,

and relive the uncertain.

To remember is a privilege,

amuse or bemuse,

and it dawns, after all, youth’s not such a bargain.

 

Oh to be content with the age that I’m in.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Aging usually isn't on people's top ten list of things they want to do, or experience. But as they say, "It's better than the alternative."

Aging comes to us all, great and small. Ancient and wise King Solomon spent a lifetime thinking about what mattered in life. One of his conclusions? "Gray hair is a crown of splendor," (Proverbs 16:31). In other words, he thought advancing age came with some benefits. So do I.

Here's at least one:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Until only recently, I didn’t scan much less read the obituaries. Oh, it caught my attention when a notable passed away, and depending upon who they were or what they did I’d read their final story. But this wasn’t my pattern because scanning the obituaries never seemed to speak to me.

There’s an old joke that does speak to me.

Youth says to old gentleman, “Why do you read the obituaries?”

“To see if I’m still here,” says the old gentleman.

I guess it’s not only an old joke but a dumb one too. But like a lot of jokes there’s just enough reality tucked away within it to grab us. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow and all of us recognize that our day of reckoning cometh, at least we do as we grow older.

But there’s more behind this joke. Checking the obituaries isn’t so much about the old gentleman discovering whether he’s still here as him discovering whom among his friends are not still here. That’s when obituaries begin to speak to you, when you find in them a friend’s final story. With the ravages of time this logically happens more frequently with each birthday under our belt.

Now that I'm in my late 50s I’ve noticed that from time to time a friend’s passing appears in the obituaries. This happened today, a fellow in his late 80s who I worked, attended banquets, and prayed with on a few occasions. He was a good man who leaves a good legacy, and I was in one sense glad I had not missed the news of his home-going.

It’s not, of course, that I enjoy learning a friend or associate is gone. It’s rather an opportunity to read and reflect about them and their contributions. Unless I am able to attend their funeral, reading their obituary is a way for me to pay them silent respect.

So now I scan the obituaries because they speak to me in ways they once did not. And I check to see if I’m still here.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

One of the best things about being in one’s 50s is the chance to get to know your own kids as adults. It’s a truly interesting, sometimes fascinating, experience to sit with your wife across a restaurant table from another person—your son—and his wife. Just couples getting better acquainted. He’s your son, yet he’s an adult with a spouse and it all feels different because it is different.

Your son or daughter, now in his or her 20s or 30s, usually married but maybe single, is in the process of making a whole series of decisions you remember making as a young adult. Profession, jobs, rent or buy, car payments, children, and a host of other home economics. But more than that, philosophic decisions about living “In the World” while “Not of the World,” making their own way in the Christian journey.

I’ve told each of our four, now 20 or 30-somethings with three of four married, “You don’t have to do it the way we (Mom and Dad) did it. You don’t have to answer to me. What you need to do is discuss each decision as a couple, assure the direction you’re going is consistent with the moral will of God, then move forward. Issue is: how does the Lord want you to live your lives?”

While we’re here for them, what they need to do is make their own decisions and make their own way. And they do. Sarah once observed, “We taught our kids to be independent, and they are.” She said this after one of them hadn’t been in contact with home for a while and then made a rather strategic decision or two. OK, not my call.

Another thing that comes along, usually, is daughters-in-law and/or sons-in-law. In our case, two of the former and one of the latter are now part of the family. Very cool indeed to watch your son mellow out when his wife tells him with a look to “Cool it.” For sure, makes me smile. Also more than a little interesting to have another young man around who thinks so differently from the rest of us because his background is rooted in another family.

Now in our 50s there’re also to-date four grandsons. At 8 years of age, the oldest, was born just before I turned 50. So another good thing about being in one’s 50s is the opportunity to get to know, at least in their youth, your grandchildren. Interesting. The three brothers who look sort of like they belong in our family, dark hair and eyes, all have a French last name with a lot of letters. Then the fourth and newest grandson who wears our last name has light hair, blue eyes, and looks like his Mama’s family. Go figure, but fun.

All in all, getting older isn’t so bad.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Years ago I asked a 95 year-old gentleman in Iowa, “Who is the first president you can remember?” To my surprise he said, “Woodrow Wilson, I saw him when I was just a kid. He was riding across country on a train and stopped in Des Moines.” Amazing.

Since that time I’ve asked this question whenever I find myself with a person in their 90s or especially over 100 years. One older man remembered Hoover, another one “Silent Cal.”

It’s fun because it always triggers smiles, memories they thought they’d lost, and some pretty interesting responses. Usually they say more than just the name of the president. They talk about other things that come to mind from the same era. If they’re old enough, folks remember the first time they saw a car or rode in one.

Presidents’ terms are like that. They mark the progress of our lives and the direction of our country. People will say, “I haven’t weighed that much since the Carter Administration,” or, “I was in college during the Nixon Administration,” something like that.

Presidents’ voices are remembered too. We hear them so often in the course of four or eight years, and thereafter, that those voices are indelibly etched in our brains if not our psyche.

The first president I can remember is Dwight D. Eisenhower. I was in the 2nd Grade and can still see him in my minds eye on black and white television. I remember hearing Truman’s voice, and of course Ike’s, but Truman left office when I was just months old.

Who is the first president you can remember, and what other memories does the question, the president, or the time bring to mind?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

If you think this is morbid, read no more. If you’re a dreamer or a planner, read on.

Warner Brothers Pictures’ 2007 film, “The Bucket List,” starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, surprised movie moguls and a lot of other people. High hopes cast it as a feel-good, maybe low profit film. Yet it was considered DOA by some film critics—and we all know how inerrant they are. But in the end the film grossed over $174 million worldwide.

The movie featured two older men facing terminal illnesses, who, rather than lie around and wait for the end, created a wish list of things to do before they “kicked the bucket.” Than they flew around the world visiting sites and checking off each item on their “Bucket List.” Humor played a role in the film’s success, and two old hands at movie-making didn’t hurt, but it was the story and message that put the film over the top.

Audiences loved it, at least older members of audiences. Some of my 20-something and 30-something kids and their spouses or friends watched it. They pretty much thought it was “dumb.” But my wife and I thought it was interesting, thought-provoking, poignant, and not-dumb.

It’s called age or time or maturity, I think. Something like that. We liked the film because we’re old enough it made sense to us. So if you’re over 50 I’d say “Watch it; you’ll like it.”

The film introduced "Bucket List" into the cultural lexicon and people began making their list for fun, fantasy, or forming plans. It’s an interesting exercise that reveals something about the bucket-lister. That’s why it’s an enjoyable family or group exercise. You discover things about the people beside you that you didn’t know.

My Bucket List is a work-in-progress. In no particular order, here’s the current list:

--Hike Yellowstone National Park for about two weeks with Sarah.

--Play a round of golf at St. Andrews in Scotland with Sarah and son Eric.

--Ride horses in the Colorado Rockies in the fall when the aspen turn yellow.

--Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY with Sarah and son Andrew and Kristen, who are fan-atics.

--Attend the Christmas Mass led by the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Christmas Eve. I’m not Catholic, but I’ve watched this spectacle for years while Sarah placed the kids’ presents around the tree downstairs. It’s quite an interesting service re the history of the Church and Christian teaching. I’d take Sarah and our son Adam and Morgan; Adam’s begun his own tradition of late night Christmas Eve viewing.

--Attend the Olympics, summer or winter, anywhere.

--Go on safari in Kenya or other African nation.

--Take Sarah and our daughter Elizabeth and Joe to NYC where Elizabeth spent a portion of her youth.

--Bicycle Ireland for a week or two with a group of cyclers. We’ve already done this, but I’d do it again in a second.

--Travel the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

--Write the Great American Novel or my Magnum Opus, whichever.

This list evolves as I evolve. A few years ago one item would have been attending a national political party convention. Now I’d find that interesting but wouldn’t strain myself to get there. Is this new perspective progress or regress? Depends on whether you believe in evolution, I guess.

So what’s on your Bucket List?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.