George Younce has been a favorite of mine for years, and I am certain that Heaven is an even happier place (if possible) since he and my dad arrived there separately over the past year or two. Many times during his conversational portion of concerts with the Cathedrals, I have looked at his receding, gray hairline, have responded to his quick wit that bespoke of aged wisdom, and have heard him say "I love old people." I concur. Since my hair is not as gray and my wisdom is not as sound, perhaps my saying this is not as ironic nor laughable in a good way as was with Younce, but I say this in all sincerity. I love the way our elders turn a phrase which sometimes is foreign to our less seasoned ears, but we get the meaning--or not. Either way, old people do not castigate you if you miss the point! They look at you with an understanding smile and ease your discomfort by silently signaling "I've been there before you, and I sense your discomfort. It will be okay," or in current vernacular "Been there, done that. I survived." Case in point. . .I go to water aerobics on base on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Because I haven't been involved with an organized exercise program recently, I chose the low intensity class (It also meets at 10:00 rather than 9:00, so it fits my needs on more than one level.). Upon walking into the locker room on the first day, I am met by retired female military personnel, retirement- age spouses and a few wives shy of age 65 all giving me advice as to choices related to the class offerings. Leaving the locker room, I enter the pool area rather timidly, and in mid-stride to join the already stretching members in the water, I notice that the little Korean lady closest to me motioned that I should pick up the floating dumbbells, a noodle and hand weights--poundage of my own choosing--before entering the pool. All of this was done without language but rather pointing gestures and a whole lot of smiling. She walked me through the acquiring of equipment, signing in and getting into the water to join the class already in session. Already, I was feeling a sense of nurtured belonging.
I love their stories. The older gentleman who stands between the aforementioned little Korean lady and myself in the pool loves to talk. It is obvious that he is one of those people who have never met a stranger, and it is equally obvious that he has not used all of his male-alloted words by the time he arrives to class (I bet his wife lives for the hour when he leaves for water aerobics--jk). Aside from the fact that he made me miss half of the instructions throughout the first class, he tells great stories. He told me yesterday that he and his wife were going to Kansas City for a military reunion, and then the stories began. . . .
I get their antics and fun loving spirit! Having been a teacher of teenagers for several years, I can make the observation pretty confidently that there is always a clown in every class. It is true with these military retirees as well. Three men at the other end of the pool, perhaps former officers and leaders who were probably responsible for many men's lives and safety, whoop and holler at random times when the class gets boring or they smack their foam noodles wildly and unabashedly on the surface of the pool as their classmates twitter (like birds, not social media) in response. Oddly, their "acting out" does not evoke any occupational urge in me to reprimand nor remind them of their role in the "educational community." Ha! I embrace it!
And last but not least, I love their embedded meanings-- uplifting, in nature, rather than employing a "putdown." Granted, I am in my late fifties, currently wearing more pounds than I would like, and very modest. I go to the pool with my swimsuit on under my street clothes not because of modesty issues but for the purpose of saving time. So it was quite ironic as I stood in front of a locker and began to remove my street clothes that a sweet lady with wrinkled, mocha colored skin and a gravelly voice bathed in a smile passing behind me said, "Hey, it is not legal to do what you are doing in public." Ha Ha! I, for just a moment, felt like I was in my 30's in an athletic body with the ability to be Queen of the Pool! Nice feeling! "I just love old people!"