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Chuck's column: I'm getting old

Getting older. It's a weird process. One day you're young and then -- something happens. You hear yourself making a noise as you get in and, moreso, out of your car.

Getting up in the morning, you head into the bathroom, but you do whatever you can to avoid facing the mirror. When did this happen?

In my job, I'm constantly reminded of how I am aging. Sometimes it seems at an incredible pace. I ran into a former student the other day. He was coming out of Cub Foods with four gallons of milk in his two hands. He recognized me and stopped me to chat; I never would have recognized him. It had been many MANY years since we had last seen each other. He's now married with multiple kids; thus, the milk. He's 37 years old. His older sister, who was also a student of mine, is 41.

I'm getting old.

I'm out shopping at Target or having dinner someplace, or just at a function when I run into yet another student from years ago. A warm greeting is often followed with, "Are you STILL teaching?" Nice. My mind hears, "Are you still ALIVE?" Ugh.

Many of my first students are now much older than I was when I began teaching. That's also weird. When I began teaching, I used to say, "The day one of my students says, 'Mr. Brooks, you taught my mom/ dad/parents,' I am walking right out of this building and never looking back." Yeah. Right. Like that happened. I remember it well. A young lady was sitting in my first row, third desk. I was doing roll call on day one. I don't remember the year, but I remember the moment. She was waving her hand like she was on the precipice of an emergency. "Yes?" I said. She eagerly shared, "You taught my mom."

I was in therapy for the next five years. I also had to take the rest of that day off.

So it goes. We age. Mom never told me there'd be days like these. However, if it wasn't for my students, I'd probably be twice the age I am now. They've kept me as young as is humanly possible. Not much they can do for the physical process, but they definitely keep my mind youthful. They even give me an excuse for not acting my age from time to time, and for that, I am deeply grateful. It's in the Brooks blood to be childlike from time to time.

It's Homecoming Friday as I finish this. I'm facing a pep fest this afternoon. The game is tonight as well, and I'll be in attendance. Tomorrow morning, we're decorating the student center for tomorrow night's dance, and you'll find me at both events.

Oh, and did I mention teaching seems to worm its way into all of this?

Sunday, I'll crash. Trust me. But through it all, age or not, I'll have fun. The difference today versus 10 years ago is I have to dig down deeper in my being to find the energy to sustain such a schedule. It used to be easier.

When I was a kid in high school, I remember picking up Mom after she would finish work. We'd be heading home, and I'd share with her we needed bread or some milk, implying we could stop at the store on the way home. Surprisingly, Mom was in no way going to have that happen. She would say, "Just take me home, and then you can run out and get it." I didn't understand. What was the big deal? We would be going right by the store on the way home. I'd even go in to get the stuff and come out. Nope. She just wanted to go home. Especially if it was a Friday. I thought it was silly.

Not any more. I get it. Sorry Mom. I so get it.

It's true what they say. We eventually become our parents. Imagine that!

See you next time, if I can find the energy.