It’s getting ready to get Montana cold here abouts, with an even chance of snow over the Christmas holidays. The end of another year is at hand. It seems that lately I have buried a number of friends, guys that joined me in a feeling of immortality just a few short years ago. Toby Keith, singing an old Willie Nelson classic, said it best when he sang……
“When he rides up on his horse…..and you feel that cold bitter wind….look out your window and smile……..don’t let the old man in”
For me it started in 1985 when I realized I had lost a step or two on the softball diamond. When I worked wood with a chainsaw, gone was the sun-up to sundown energy that delivered a chord of split and stacked hardwood for the stove in anticipation of the wood heat and aroma of burning oak. I always maintained conditioning with an active lifestyle, chasing bird dogs, working wood and flying up and down Truman lake in the latest fiberglass water rocket in search of a few bass or a limit of crappie. The outdoors are best enjoyed at my age with a casual, not too long walk through the woods or slow float on one of our magnificent rivers. My conditioning today is now courtesy of regular trips to the gym and miles on an indoor track, pushing and pulling on devices designed to replace the challenge of living large. My love for fast cars still exists but I find myself falling into the BMW rather than strapping it on for another highway adventure. The quick reflexes of a road trooper have long since been replaced with a more sedate driving style. I recall my last crappie trip vividly. After a day filling our limits and cleaning the fish, my hands were shot, courtesy of old “Arthur”. When I pulled the boat out, a very nice couple stopped and admired it, asking about our luck that day. I shocked my partner when I asked the couple if they liked the boat enough to buy it and sold it to them 3 weeks later. The “old man” had taken this wonderful pastime from me, smiling when he reminded me that enough pain can trump pleasure. Three hand surgeries and another on the horizon in January are signs the “old man” is gaining ground. This same “old man”was grinning when the doctor told me that I would never need another colonoscopy. He was looking over my shoulder when I picked up a steel post driver at a local hardware store and quietly cussed it for the hell it’s predecessors had dealt me in years past. That was, I am sure, my last contact with this damnable tool.
As if it was yesterday, I remember climbing off the Harley in the parking lot of the of Steak and Shake in Lebanon and handing the keys to it’s new owner. You do not throw around a motorcycle with bad hands and the “old man” knew it. I am reminded of encounters and confrontations that I easily handled 30 years ago that I have doubts about today. I wear trifocals, wear hearing aids and fight with a memory that is geared to long term happenings and embarrassing when recent events get lost in it. The “old man” is relentless but needs patience. I have outlived the vast majority of the men on dad’s side of the family and have no intention of throwing in the towel. Stupidity and ignorance are becoming intolerable for me so if I seem abrupt, well, it is the “old man” again. I have little patience with folks who don’t get it.
Next week, Sharon, Tazzy and I are going to defy the “old Man” as we ring the bell at the main entrance to Bass Pro for the Salvation Army. We’ll be there from 10 AM until noon Tuesday. Stop in and sweeten the pot……
If you see the “old man” anytime soon, tell him to not bother with old Johnson. He (Johnson) is not afraid of you……and will fight you to the very end.
Stay warm this week….