When I look at a recent photo of myself…I admit to sometimes feeling dread…because the photo that I’m seeing doesn’t match the picture in my head.


In my head I am much younger…on this my heart and mind agree…

while the man in the photograph…is much older…I’m not sure he’s even me!


In my head I can easily tell myself I am still that once young guy…

but that doesn’t work with a photo…because a photo doesn’t lie.


A photograph is proof that I’m no longer that budding baby boomer…

It’s also proof that our Creator…has a sense of humor.


Why else would she let my ears continue growing…I’m surprised people don’t stare…mine are as big as a garage…you can park a small car in there.


And to add insult to injury…the photo proves this to be true…She’s decided my nose for some unknown reason…should keep on growing too.


And looking at a photograph…this fact I must concede…my nose and ears look even bigger the more my hair recedes.


No matter how young I feel…I could use a cardiogram…every time a photo reminds me just how old I am.


But the Creator has left me a loop hole…which I havre found engaging…

My eyes have gotten worse and worse…the more and more I’m aging…


So here’s my solution to this problem…(try it before you scoff)….

Every time I see a photo of my old self…I take my glasses off.


And through the haziness of my vision…

when I see myself in a photo someone took…

I am always pleasantly surprised…

at how much younger I now look.

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In school when I was growing up while destiny and I were still determining my path…I leaned more toward reading and art…I was not interested in math.


Oh, the basic math I needed in life I was able to adopt…but here…when it came to math…is where my interest stopped.


For instance I didn’t need to amass a fortune…as my math and I agreed…I don’t need to have everything I want….as long as I have everything I need.


And when it came to birthdays…as each year I turned another page…I seldom knew how old I was…I let other people track of my age.


Yesterday we attended a birthday party for one of the last students I ever taught…when I saw Jenny sitting there I was overcome by this thought:


It was Jenny’s 30th birthday!…How can this possibly be…because…if Jenny is 30 years old…then how old does that make me?


I suddenly wondered how many years I’ve been walking down life’s path and I decided, against my better judgement…that I would do the math.


Let’s see…I was 62 when I retired…(I think I remember that number being on a sign)…it’s been seven years since then…that would make me…69!


No, that can’t be right…as usual my math has gone awry…I’m pretty sure that 69…for my age…is much too high.


Then I spied Jenny’s pink birthday cake and from my calculating…took a break…

because it’s impossible to work on a math problem…when staring at a cake. 


(I’m not sure I remember it correctly…and it would probably incur my elementary school teacher’s wrath…but I do believe what I just stated is one of the basic laws of math!)


My attention, instead, turned to Jenny and her family…I chose to watch them for a while…to relish in their moment…to enjoy the sweetness of her smile.


It seems to me…what gives a birthday its allure..its charm…its overall appeal…

Is the way it brings together not only how old we are…but….how young we feel.


Before I left I wished Jenny a happy birthday 

and her smile made the whole room glow…

as for figuring out my age…since I’m not that interested in the math…

I guess I’ll never know.




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I’d like to take a minute and talk about growing old…It’s something many people do…

and if you’re lucky in this life…you’ll, one day, grow old too.


Some say getting old is hard and they don’t really want to do it.

I say getting old, like any part of life, is all in how you view it.


Sure getting old means I don’t walk as effortlessly or as fast as I walked before….

but that means I get to lean in and hold on to Deborah a little more.


I might not see as well as when I was young

and when someone speaks…I might not hear every word

but, then again, I have seen so many wonders….and so much beauty I have heard. 


I might not get up from the floor as gracefully as I once did

and some days it seems impossible to bend

but getting old is the only way to have old memories…and old friends. 


A look in the mirror tells me I’m not as young as I once was

and there are days I wish these wrinkles and spots on my skin would scatter

but getting older also makes me realize…those things…don’t really matter.


Even on the days I wonder if my wrinkles are turning into cracks…

I remember I raised a family…

I’m retired

I am happy…

It’s my time to relax.


For I have gained the wisdom of my years

I know more than I ever thought I’d know

I’ve been lucky to be around …to watch my children and grandchildren grow.


I could go on and on about the benefits of growing old…for there really its no cap…

but after thinking and writing for a while now…I think I’ll take a nap.


Before I do let me remind you to celebrate getting old.

It’s a part of life, I guarantee, you will not want to skip

Just be careful how hard you celebrate however…

after all…you wouldn’t want to break a hip!

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I saw Judy Collins in concert last night…

her melodies once again soaring to the stars

proving angels never lose their voice…

no matter how old they are. 


And I remember thinking to myself

As she, smiling, took the stage

how I listened to her when we were both younger

before our youth was replaced by age.


There came  time…I think it was late in the show

but I really can’t be certain

when she set down her guitar

sat at the piano

and a lone spotlight threw her silhouette upon the curtain.


And I remember being overwhelmed

not only with her presence on the stage

but with the fact…when you stop and look

a silhouette doesn’t age.


And I smiled as I sat there

it’s a moment I’ll never forget

as an older Judy Collins

sang with her younger silhouette.


And I felt blessed to have seen her from both sides now

from young…and old…and still somehow

this is the illusion I’ll recall

how her silhouette showed no age…at all.


And though she’s 80 years old now

a fact time won’t let us forget…

to me she’ll always be…

and sound


like her younger silhouette.

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Old age doesn’t burst through the door…it takes time for it to arrive…

then one day you find yourself heading out to dinner at a little after five.


Hey, it pays to get there early…there are specials on the menu to be read, 

and we wanted to get back in time to watch the news…before we went to bed.


After we entered the restaurant and to our seats we strolled

I decided to keep my jacket on…to counteract the cold. 


When I first picked up the menu…I admit I was appalled

I thought, what am I reading…a contract…this print is much too small.


And I saw our waitress’s lips move when she handed us our bread

but she must have been talking in a whisper because I didn’t hear a word she said.


As I commented on the menu’s print, how loud it was….and how cold

I suddenly came to the realization…I have gotten old.


So I resolved I would embrace it…I smiled at Deborah, my wife

zipped up my jacket then proceeded to eat my tuna sandwich…

with my fork and knife.


After the waitress said “Thank you honey!” and from the restaurant we debarked…

I said, “That was a lovely evening…do you remember where we parked?”


On our way home I commented to Deborah about how our meal tasted great

except I was a little unnerved by that old guy across the room 

who seemed to be watching everything I ate.


She happily pointed out I was looking at a mirrored wall

and that old guy watching me…was me…

In my defense the lighting was a little dim

and my eyes aren’t what they used to be… 


As I say old age does not burst through the door…

it takes time for it to arrive

Sometimes it sneaks up on you …

at a restaurant…

while you’re eating dinner…


a little after five.

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I’ve heard it said with age comes wisdom.

I’d like to think that’s true.

I like to think I’m wiser now than I was at 22


Wise enough to know family is important

how it’s influence is vast

how our present and our future are connected to our past


Wise enough to understand we are all one race

as every God has tried to guide us

one family, one community,

no matter what labels we use to divide us. 


Wise enough when I see hate to know…

love is the key

that love, compassion and acceptance 

is humanity.


Wise enough to know 

the way I want to be defined...

as a man who followed this philosophy:

It’s always better to be kind.


I turn 67 years old today….

and look forward to the new adventures that await

that will help me be a little wiser


when I turn 68.

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We were celebrating our granddaughters birthday

with games and cake and cheer

when she tapped me on the shoulder and asked,

PopPop, how old are you this year?


When you’re young age seems important

as you celebrate birthdays and the such…

But as you get a little older…age doesn’t matter quite so much.


“How old am I?” I repeated. “Well I suppose that all depends…

How many children do I have?

How many grandchildren?

How many friends?”


“How many people have I hugged? 

How many people have I kissed?

How many people have I lost?

How many people will I miss?”


“How many walks have I taken in the moonlight?

How many clouds have I dreamed upon?

How many rainbows have I marveled at?

How many sunsets?

How many dawns?”


“How many books have I ever read?

How many sights have I ever seen?

How many trees have I climbed to the top of?

How many places have I been?”


I looked up to see my granddaughter was gone.

She was with her friends…they were sining a song.

apparently the answer to how old I am…

was taking me too long.


My eyes met hers and we smiled at each other

How old am I? I thought. That’s difficult to gauge…

but as that moment I was more than happy


to add one more smile to my age.

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When she was young…just a little girl

when life was more innocent and free

she believed in castles in the sky

in fairy tales…and fantasy.


She believed from the sparks of a campfire fireflies were born

She believed in happy endings

in mermaids and unicorns… 


She believed in houses made from gingerbread

that every sentence ended in rhyme

She believed rubbing a lamp could summon a genie

She believed long hair she could climb.


When she was young she believed in Santa Claus.

She believed her grandparents lived in a world of black and white.

She believed in the magic of a kiss.

She believed her blanket would protect her at night.


When she was young she’d play outside for hours.

She’d come home with scraped up knees.

She believed she could see the entire world when she climbed to the top of a tree.


And when she grew up she still believed… 

In happy endings..in fantasy…and play

but the duties and responsibilities of life often got in the way…


Which is why now that she is older

she loves to find moments when her fantasies are reborn…

moments when she revisits her fairy tales…


and finds her unicorn.

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She is not an egotistical person…vanity…she has no trace

yet she was lamenting getting older…and all the wrinkles on her face.


Her husband overheard her and decided to intercede

“Come with me for a moment." he said…”I know just the thing you need.”


She took the hand he offered as she’d done a million times before

and they walked hand in hand together until he opened the front door.


Outside the summer morning was cloaked in a misty fog

And though there was no thunder…it was raining cats and dogs


She looked into her husbands eyes…silently urging him to explain

“Take your shoes off.” he smiled…”We’re going barefoot in the rain.”


He ran into the rain…leaving his shoes and socks behind

as she watched him jumping up and down she thought he was losing his mind


But if he’s losing his mind she reasoned then I guess I’ll lose mine too

and out she headed in the rain without her socks or shoes.


They laughed and sang and even danced and when their playing was through

He brought her back to that same mirror and said…”Now let’s take a look at you.”


“I love every wrinkle on your face.” he said in a voice both soothing and kind…

“Because those wrinkles are just remnants of what your smiles left behind.”


“Don’t let your wrinkles get you down, don’t let them worry or annoy.

besides being an indication of your age…their a celebration of your joy”


“I find each wrinkle beautiful…alluring and beguiling.”

Then he kissed her and as he walked away

in the mirror…


she was smiling.

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