Earlier this week I celebrated my 39th Birthday. At home there was not much fan fare, no loud party and no real raw raw but that is actually how I like it as the two people who really matter to me were there! But yesterday we went to a birthday party for “GiGi” and while the relationship is a bit confusing (she is my Father In-Law’s, Girlfriend’s Mother) she was an incredibly energetic 86 years old!
Now when I sat baking in the incredibly hot sunshine (for what ever reason being the first people there, we did not locate the shade), I got thinking about how we look to those that are twice our age…and how we look at those half our age!
Twice our Age
When I was 2, I know that I looked up to my neighbor who was 4 and saw all the really cool toys he had and always wanted to be just like him!
When I was 4, my first of four brothers came along and I looked to my Uncle Jeff as the coolest dude in the universe. We had been sharing Birthday’s for years (his is July 7) but man the things he would do on his bike and the fun we had at the lake going hunting for Garter Snakes (woops…almost said Gartner Snakes…that is what I do now!).
When I was 8 and riding my bike I remember being so jealous of the older kids getting their drivers license and driving around town blasting anything but Disco from the car stereo. 1980 was a pretty cool year!
When I was 9 I had the HOTTEST baby sitter in town. I had a massive crush on this 18 year old who years later, thanks to Facebook we had some good chats about the hellions that me and my brothers were!
When I was 10 I had the coolest 20 year old uncle ever who would show up out of the blue in his GORGEOUS BLACK Z28 and we would go for Ice cream…usually right before supper which would tick off mom to no end!
When I was 12, I would look at the local big shots returning to town for Paddyfest and wonder about all the great stories of College and University. I remember one of those returning to town had done so from having served time with the Canadian Armed Forces and this really firmed up the fact that I was one day going to come home in my Dress Uniform!
When I was 15 I could only think of how damn old 30 was! I did not ever want to be that old and would stay young forever. Nothing could hurt me and I was invincible!
When I was 18, I was living the dream! I had joined the local Reserve Unit (the Highland Fusiliers of Canada) and had the distinction of celebrating my 18th birthday at Land Force Central Area Training Centre in Meaford, ON. This was where my Military career started and ended when I ripped apart the interior of my knee on the first excersize, second patrol EVER. During my time at Meaford though there was an amazing 36 year old Officer who imparted a very special piece of advice that I to this day still hold closely “Never let what today brings you, hold you back to what your dreams for tomorrow can be”.
When I was 20, I was forced to look towards a new career as I had now gone through my 2nd knee surgery and the chances of ever wearing my Dress Greens again were all but over. Having dropped out of high school for the 4th time in 3 years I was looking to battle back and figure out what I would do next with my life. My Father who had turned 40 that year sat my aimless butt down and put it to me only as a father could “Smarten up, you are better than this. Get off your a$$ and finish school. Don’t feel sorry for yourself because no one else does!” What an eye opener!
At 23 I had graduated from College in the beautiful Town of Owen Sound (Georgian College – Law and Security Administration). A Dean’s List, Honor Student I was all set to begin a new life in Toronto as a K-9 Security Officer patrolling some of the worst neighborhoods and apartment complexes in Toronto. I had an instructor there in his late 40’s (I am assuming around 46) who was still an active duty Police Officer who was inspirational in keeping me grounded when during our graduation when he pulled me aside and said “You will go far, and you will go wide but always keep your eye on the prize”. At the time I didn’t know what he meant but now 15 years later…I get it.
At 26 my life was pretty stable. I thought that I had everything I could want but then as fate would have it, I met the love of my life and on June 6 that year I was married and thinking of a new future that did not have me wondering around the streets of Toronto looking for people who were making the wrong choices. The Operations Manager for the Security Company that I was working for at the time was in his early 50’s – (again assuming he was 52) wished me well as I left my job and moved back west to the town from where I came.
At 27 my daughter was born and my life had changed forever! I had returned to work with my father making cheese for a living at the Atwood Cheese Factory. It was hard work but for a man who has held down the same job for 38 years now…this was and is home for my old man. At 50 years old…nothing in my life was easier than seeing him hold his first Granddaughter for the first time.
At 30 I had again shifted my aim in a different direction. My wife had suffered a serious injury while at work and was recuperating from a serious broken leg (that was repaired with rods, pins and screws) and I had an offer of a lifetime to leave my small South Western Ontario Roots and go to Canada’s National Capital – Ottawa to work at the new Sobey’s Grocery Store in Kanata! We picked up and left everything behind and started all over again and what a wonderful time we had there. During the search for a home for my new family I met a wonderful man who ran the small Convenience Store in Carp, ON who in his 60s acted more like a Great Grandpa to my little girl than I have ever seen.
At 36 I looked to my own Grandfather and saw a man that had and has given everything to his Children, Grand Children and Great Grand Children. It is a case of him having 9 kids of his own, 20 Grandkids and 13 Grandkids and counting. Now in his 70s this is a man who has led by example and works and plays hard every single day. Even facing the adversity of Lung Cancer last year this is a man who can bring a smile to your face and make you really glad for what you have and live in the moment.
Originally I was going to go both ways on this and then come back to looking at those half my age but I am more than a little drained from diving into my past and thinking of the great people who have honored me with their time and connections. Now at 39 I look out and see fewer and fewer people that I know that are twice my age.
For everyone who reads this, regardless of your age, take a moment and x2 your age and reflect on those that have had an impact on your life and say “Thank You for being You!” but at the same time think of those who are 1/2 your age and how they will think of you. Make an impact, share your experience and be there for the next generation…lord knows those 18 year old kids with their Pants on the Ground and their Hats on Sideways need some very special help from all of us.
Chris J Powell