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Boomer Grandpa: A road trip is the self-care I needed

August 23, 2018

There are times you need some space to be by yourself. A week ago it was my birthday. It was the crooked number that welcomes you to Medicare. I was having a tough time with it.

To get some alone time, I took a drive north to Proctor to see my mom. I made a stop in Sandstone on the way up. This is where I grew up.

Sandstone was having its summer Quarry Days celebration. For me, a visit to the past can sometimes soothe my apprehension about the future.

I have witnessed a great deal of pain and suffering by loved ones the last decade. There have been physical and mental challenges, and the loss of dignity in some cases.

Seeing these struggles from aging has made me apprehensive about my future. While driving, I was daydreaming about various points in my life.

In particular, I tried to remember my early years and recall the people that I loved who are now gone. It’s always thought-provoking to try and bring to mind memories, voices and faces of the past.

Music motivation

Back in the day before my high school and community college basketball games I’d retreat to my room and listen to music. Tunes from various bands like War, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steppenwolf and Iron Butterfly would motivate me. This time focused and prepared me mentally for what I hoped to do.

I guess that’s what I was doing last week — retreating to gather strength to accept, focus and “put on my big boy pants” about aging.

While making my stop in Sandstone, I arrived early enough to eat pancakes at the Lions breakfast in the fire hall. I then watched the parade down Main Street and wandered around talking with friends. I saw a couple of high school classmates and visited with acquaintances of my mom and dad.

During the parade I stood near the beautiful, old, vacant quarry rock school that rests quietly among homes and businesses in this small, close-knit community. I glanced at it a few times, almost hoping to hear the school bell ring.

Friends by the dozen

During my drive to Proctor and on the drive back home, I pondered my birthday. I decided I would do something different. Since the date was Aug. 12, I called 12 friends and thanked them for being a positive part of my life.

It was a joyful conversation with those who answered. Not everyone did, so I left messages thanking them for being a part of my life. I’m guessing a couple of them wondered if I had been having a few too many beers on my birthday.

I’m no expert, but each of us probably needs to be more present in the here and now. We shouldn’t fret about what has not taken place in our life, but remember what has. Even though some of us are on Medicare, there is still much we can do for our families — in particular our grandchildren — as well as our communities.

I was overwhelmed with birthday wishes from my friends over Facebook. The phone calls to my friends made the day rich with emotion. At this point in our lives, we all understand that it is not material things that bring us happiness, it is our relationships.

At times, this aging thing is frustrating. Our physical bodies and mental capabilities continue to change. We have to understand and accept our new limitations. We never had these stupid limitations before.

While driving home, I tuned in some classic rock ‘n’ roll on the radio — turned it up loud, I might add. Like years ago, solitude and music did motivate and encourage me.

When I arrived home, I was greeted by my wife of nearly 43 years, along with my daughter and grandson. Ice cream cake was waiting.

I had taken the time I needed. I had grabbed a few moments from my past to get right with my soul. Like the great song from the group Steppenwolf, I took a “Magic Carpet Ride” up I-35.

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