“Well, gents, we’ve made it to the fourth quarter.”
Unusual way to open a luncheon? Not if the youngest guy is nearing 70. Age has a way of helping you focus sometimes. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
The lunch was an impromptu gathering of men who had been meeting for a weekly lunch for nearly 30 years. When attendance fell to half a dozen, we finally relinquished our private room at the posh Headliner’s Club in downtown Austin. Attrition being what it is.
At its zenith, our group numbered 35-40 guys. The Thursday group never had a real name or stated purpose. We were not a religious group, although we kinda were. Nondenominational.
As you can imagine, we talked of many things over the years. Watched marriages fail and grandchildren come into the world. We were growing old together.
The rules were simple and few:
--you don’t have to say anything.
--but if you do, it has to be first person, personal not business.
--and nothing leaves the room.
Once, about 20 years ago, that last rule put me in a bind. Everyone knew I published Texas Weekly, the largest and oldest political newsletter in the state. One of our Thursday Group was a sitting member of the Texas Supreme Court. He confided to us that he had suffered a minor stroke that left him unable to read.
Unable to read! A member of the state supreme court unable to read! That’s news. And he looked right at me as he was sharing this story.
We trusted each other. Gradually, the judge regained his ability to read. While he was alive, I never revealed his secret struggle. Never published it to this day.
Let’s get back to yesterday’s luncheon: “Well, gents, we’ve made it to the fourth quarter.” That was the observation of one of our guys who happened to be a former All-American half-back.
We sat back on our bony butts – and smiled. We had, indeed, made it to the fourth quarter of life.
Then, we went around the table (there were six of us) and gently talked of aches and pains. It was real, not mawkish. Cataracts and cancer be damned. Ditto grizzled minds and shrinking bodies. Empathy, but no pity.
Life is still good. Damngood.
PS--My second pacemaker surgerythis month is tomorrow, Jan.15th. But I hope to see you next week. Meanwhile, if you want some really good reading on aging, check out this book review of a great book by a great 91-year-old broad. "Somewhere Towards the End." Click here.