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Tuesday August 22nd 2017

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Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now!

Carl Peterson

By Robert Albee

Our good friend Carl Peterson turned 100 years old this year on January 6th! Happy 100th Birthday, Carl!

It got me to thinking… If my father were still alive, he would be 101 now. He suddenly departed at age 66. And his father passed even earlier, yet to my eyes, he seemed much older than my father ever did or than myself now. At age 68, I’ve outlived my father by two years despite the fact that I smoked heavily for 40 of them. With diabetes and having a heart attack some years ago, I count every day as a blessing! Yet when I think of Carl, I’m still a pup! I don’t think of myself as an old person, a senior citizen, or an elderly person. In fact, I hate those terms, because they seem to pigeon-hole us into frail, helpless beings just “fixin’ to die. Far from it! Look at Carl, our Phillips role model! Look around at elders not rocking in a chair, but rocking the boat! Or engaging the younger ones in the community. And not just dusty old stories of past victories.

I realize there’s a sunset sometime ahead for each of us; yet I want to do as many things as we can before that time comes. If I can tell you one thing, it’s about the distinction of becoming an elder: It’s about our responsibilities and obligations to those following our pathways. It’s not about time to put our feet up and sighing about the “good old days.” As a gift for living our lives, we must give back everything we know and discover that could help you with your journeys. But only when we are asked or invited to do so.

We are obliged to not squander our time picking apart tiny little things with a whine and complain like Andy Rooney used to do on 60 Minutes. Instead as elders, we need to climb up on something higher than our attitudes so we can get a better view of what’s going on, and then summon the powers to either intervene or applaud. Sometimes we need to lead that charge ourselves. I often replay Leonard Cohen’s words from “Anthem,” his simple song that sings: “Ring the Bells that can be Rung • Forget your Perfect Offerings • There’s a Crack in Everything • That’s how the Light Gets In!” Before it gets dark for me, I want to let in more light! Sometimes that means making the cracks bigger, and sometimes turning that light back on!

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One Response to “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now!”

  1. Madeline Douglass says:

    “we must give back everything we know and discover that could help you with your journeys”

    As you do each day, Robert!

    When I visited Carl and Helen’s home last year, which they’ve lived in since the 1940s, they mentioned many photos and documents about their lives, work, and neighborhood history…I hope those will be donated to the Special Collections Dept. of Minneapolis Public Library before Carl and Helen’s “sunset”

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