What does age mean to you?
When I was growing up, my grandparents were ancient. They were only in their fifties in my early memories, but they were OLD. When my parents got to their fifties, they weren’t nearly as old as their parents were at the same age.
Obviously some of the difference was my perspective. I was about fifty per cent of their ages when they turned fifty, compared to less than ten per cent of my grandparents’ ages at the same point in their lives. But there was also a real difference. They dressed in older fashions, wore their hair in older fashions (well, my grandfather didn’t have much, but anyway). I can put photos of each of those generations side by side at about the same respective ages, and my grandparents still look considerably older.
Now that I’m in my late sixties, I look much younger than my dad did at this age, and much, much younger than my granddad. On the other hand, when I look in the mirror I remember myself as a teenager or a 35 year-old, and I look ancient.
Wonder what my grandkids see when they look at me. An old man, I’m sure. I don’t dodder yet (whatever that means), but I definitely wouldn’t be thought of as looking young—except by my 95 year-old mother. I know my grandsons love me, just as I loved my grandparents, but I wonder if I look as old to them as mine did to me.
Reversing the perspective, my daughter is the same age I was when she entered her junior year in high school. Although healthy and active at that age, I knew I was no spring chicken. Yet she looks like a 20 year-old to me. Bet she doesn’t to her kids.
Maybe part of the point of pictures of parents and grandparents is to make us feel a bit younger by comparison. It works. Makes it easier for us to lie to ourselves.
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.