On Aging




The poet William Wordsworth, wrote:

“My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.”

The line that has always perplexed me is, “The Child is father of the Man.”

I am a husband and father of four and grandfather of seven. For all these years I have been recognized as their father or grandfather. I beamed when my children were introduced as the daughter or the son of Dr. Fleming. And then one day, it happened. I introduced myself to someone at church that I hadn’t met before, and she said, “Oh, you’re Matt’s dad!” Since then, it’s happened over and over again.

After I went through a string of hospital stays last year, I realized that this was more than just a passing phenomenon: I have gotten old! I understood just how dependent I’ve become. And I am sensitive to hearing that I am Matt’s dad, Graham’s and John’s granddaddy. I am Debby’s husband. I am Michael’s dad, and Brande’s dad. I am Tommy’s dad and Elizabeth’s granddad.

Once I understood, something rather amazing has happened: not only am I “OK” with it, I love it.

My advice: embrace it. As Mr. Wordsworth said, ALLOW YOUR HEART TO LEAP UP!


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