The Eyes of Age

This was my column for Saturday, May 8

A confluence of conversation this week got me thinking about aging.

“You never change,” someone told me as I was covering a playoff softball game earlier this week.

Wes Edens spotted me doing my thing at the state softball tournament last week.
Wes Edens spotted me doing my thing at the state softball tournament last week.

It’s true that I haven’t changed all that much in the nearly 33 years I’ve been at The Ada News. Some of that is by chance, and some is by choice.

“You kept your hair,” a friend told me recently. Yes I have, though I can’t take credit for that. Baldness is genetic, and I guess I got the lucky gene, because I have young-man’s hair. I have also been lucky so far that it has mostly kept its color, but those days are numbered. I already color my beard twice a week, and I am starting to notice my temples are greying.

Wait, Richard. You color your beard? Yes, I do. I got the idea from a years-ago co-worker whose beard turned grey in his 20s. It’s an easy 15 minute chore twice a week.

Is coloring my beard an indulgence? Vanity? Ego? Yes, all of those.

One thing by choice is that I have kept my weight very consistent over the years, through a combination of smart dietary choices, and remaining physically active. Also, I don’t smoke.

The eyes are the biggest tell when it comes to age. Older people’s eyes tend to wrinkle and sag, and look less bright and intelligent. That’s unfair, of course, since the cosmetic appearance of cognitive deficit is different from real loss of mental function.

As a photojournalist, eyes are, of course, my living. You may have seen me wearing glasses. Those are reading glasses, which as anyone my age will testify, need to be stronger and stronger as we get older.

These conversations culminated late this week when I was on the phone with a fellow photographer who lives in Tulsa. As we talked, he walked into a bright patch of light just as he came across a mirror, and was suddenly taken aback by his self-image.

“Wow. Richard, I am so grey!” he told me.

Maybe age is sneaky that way, creeping up on us until we are suddenly old.

So, Richard, how old are you? That 33 years in Ada I mentioned earlier kind of gives it away, but my age isn’t a secret. I’ll turn 58 in July.

A week after I originally wrote this, a friend who had moved away some years ago, and hadn’t seen my column, told me, “You never change.”

It was so good to see Brenda Wheelock, and, for the first time since September (except for very-socially-distanced Rotary), sit down and eat in a restaurant.
It was so good to see Brenda Wheelock, and, for the first time since September (except for very-socially-distanced Rotary), sit down and eat in a restaurant.

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