Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inner 'Old Man'

I spent most of the day out on the road. I had an appointment with my life insurance agents. We meet every few years to take a look at my portfolio, and to see if there is any need for adjustments. These appointments have allowed my agents and I to catch up with each other, as we have had this working relationship for about 20 years. Our conversation was a little different this time around, as the issue of life insurance has taken on new meaning to me. We also spent a good portion of time discussing retirement options. Another sign of the times, meaning the middle aged era.

It was an interesting discussion, especially related to what I qualified for as Michael's legal spouse for the state, and what I didn't qualify for as to any federal interests. As they both reminded me that I was still quite young, and needed to consider the possibility of a future new marriage, they wanted me to plan ahead accordingly. They were both very respectful, and careful in how they chose their words, being sure to ask me thoughtful questions. I did have to remind them that I was able to qualify as Michael's legal spouse only because of the short window of opportunity we had to wed in California, and that I couldn't remarry today even if I wanted to.

I then visited my parents, who live in the same town as the insurance office. I loved the opportunity to visit with them with no kids, and no other visitors to distract from our conversation. Again, they too were wonderful in letting me talk about Michael, and talk about the ins and outs of being a widower, and the legal hoops I have had to jump through due to being his gay spouse. I felt kind of bad when I left, because I felt like I had talked my parents' ears off. It's odd though, that here I was their son, and I was the one that had all the experience regarding legal matters in relation to death.

In having this conversation with my parents, and with my agents, who are both at least ten years my senior, I was keenly aware that I am a young widower. I don't often think of myself as a young person, but in this realm, I guess I am.

It all has me thinking about youth, and experience. I feel that I have been through so much during these past few years. I often feel like I have aged considerably during this time. This premature experience with later in life issues has really caused me to see life differently, and to experience day to day life in a new way. I have slowed down. I often observe life from the perspective on an outsider, and have lost that naivete that is usually accompanied with youthfulness. And even though I have continued to try involving myself with activities that weigh on the side of youthfulness, such as my yoga, I often look around me and think of myself as an older man that is occupying this body.

When I was a younger man people often mistook me for being much younger than my actual age. I was always having to correct them by saying that I am older than I look. These days I think people would correctly identify my chronological age, but now I would have to inform them that I feel older than my age would suggest.

Maybe I need to return to the Men's Discussion Group, where I can nurture my inner old man.


  1. I think that grief has aged me so much that I look older than I did, I know I certainly feel older, years older!

    I'm too young to feel this old, so are you.

  2. This is so familiar to me. I cared for my dad through his terminal cancer about 10 years ago and felt so old after. I was about 45 at the time. Now, having gone through this again with Don when I was 52, as I approach 55, I feel ancient - like some old hermit sage living in a cave. It's strange and a little sad. Your mention of seeing the world from a different perspective is pretty much how I would describe it -- I think of it as seeing the world through old eyes. What I think we are feeling is something that very elderly people know about, but that is not so frequently known by younger people. It's like being initiated into secret mysteries that the young are not even aware of. I find myself being quizzed about how it feels to be a widowed person by my neighbours who just celebrated their 65th anniversary. How can this be? How did I get to this place? I never really lost that sadness after caring for my dad, so I doubt I will lose it now. Instead, I just try to find a sense of wonder in nature - traveling into places with incredible geology that puts time into yet another perspective. I am just a child in the midst of something so old that it is timeless.

  3. I can see the new wrinkles in my face, reflected back from the shiny computer screen. The brow/scowl line is far deeper than ever, and the laugh lines have faded. I also have always appeared younger than my age, but I don't see it now. I can see my grandmother's face in mine. It is weird to know this before my parents do, or before matt's parents do. I mean - I've always been older than all of them! but this is something I have lived first, and they have no clue yet.
    Bev - as always, you remind me what I have still - nature, and finding the neatness in it. I always looked to the rocks when feeling impatient before. It does feel like waiting out an ice age, though, thinking that I am only 40, and could potentially be only halfway through. A large, oppressive ice age. And I so much hate that I feel that way about life. I liked the whole wonder-and-fascination with life thing so much more.