On The Bricks

May 22, 2018

My mother is a beautiful 80 – year – old woman. She’s married to Bob and she is smart as a whip. She is also half a step from being a perfectionist and being raised by her wasn’t easy, although she certainly tried to teach me how to work hard and well and to be socially acceptable. I wasn’t always a good learner.

Mama is different these days than she was when I was young. She is more accepting and more forgiving, more positive and just generally more relaxed. And I like the new Mama.

The last couple of months she has had yet another transformation.

She has fallen in love.


Head over heels.

She is crazy about Walter.

She calls me sometimes to tell me the wonderful things that Walter does.

Walter is a rescue Schnauzer who has found the good life. Mama feeds him and waters him, has a backyard that he owns, and he has the run of her immaculately clean house. She buys him toys and any day I’m expecting a collar with jewels. We’ll see. Last night he slept with Mom and Bob … under the blankets. Yes, she called and told me.

Who is this person that used to be my mom? I don’t know, but I really enjoy her. Probably not as much as Walter does, but close.

When we get to retirement age and go on into retirement, it is a life change that we really need to prepare for.

Recently I read an article that a man wrote about his retirement. H decided to devote more time to photography; reread One Hundred Years of Solitude and every mystery written by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler; and to learn the guitar riff or the first 10 bars of every Beatles song. And he did all that and then said he had a “what now?” moment.

“I had simply spent more time indulging existing talents and interests,” said James Petersen. “And none of those goals took me out of the house, involved other people, or kept me connected. I was no longer taking risks.

“The learning curve, I realized, should lead somewhere.” He explained further. “A friend who took up online dating apparently mixed up his likes and dislikes in his profile. It took him months to notice that the women he was meting were drawing him into activities he had previously avoided – and that he was enjoying himself.

“The learning curve should lead you out of the house.

“I have attended Story Slams … sat in intimate Irish pubs being moved to laughter or tears or heartache by the sound of human voices.

“Find a microphone. Tell your story. This campfire has been burning for millennia. It is human connection in its purest form, the exact opposite of what often happens in social media.

“For most of my life I was inclined toward adrenaline sports, velocity. Then I inherited a garden. Over the past few years I have built a vocabulary and a library of reference books. I’ve started a calendar, photographing the arrival of bluebells, lilies, wood anemones, lobelias, bleeding hearts, astilbes. If this is July, that must be echinacea. I have seen plants change in the course of a day. I have sat in the backyard watching the fireflies rise.

“To be on the learning curve you must be willing to be a beginner again, to wrestle with skills not entirely under your control.”

Facing a challenge ignites the brain. To have full engagement, focus, and enjoyment, you have to tackle challenges that are just beyond your abilities, that are new.

Feeling challenged? Wondering what you can do that is new? Want to visit about volunteering? Would love to talk to you about it!

One of the challenges that might be perfect is to get involved with the Guymon Community Theatre. They have a play this weekend. Go check it out.

You might challenge yourself to expanding your culinary skills. Virgil Gibson is teaching a cooking glass through the All Fired Up Gallery on May 31.

Think on it. This could be great fun.

And I hope I’ll see you on the bricks while you’re pondering!