Youthful or Childish?


“You look awfully young to be a grandfather,” the younger woman said.  Although she wasn’t all that young – my age, give or take a couple years. We were in the retinal specialist’s waiting room, and she was with her mother, a chatty soon-to-be-eighty-nine year old, who told us about her pet parrot.
   “If he’s perched on my finger,” the older woman told Nancy, “and I tell him to shake hands, he’ll lift one foot and take your finger if you let him.”
   The parrot and the older woman are in assisted living. To pass the time, she said, the parrot will perch on a small electric train for a few trips around the track. But the parrot is looking a little ragged these days, she said. It’s losing its feathers and has a few bald spots. Nancy asked if it was molting. The woman’s daughter said she wasn’t sure, but the parrot seemed to be getting some new tail feathers.
   The older woman went on to tell us about herself. She had lived in Florida for many years. That’s where she got the parrot. Her son lives in Ashtabula, on South Ridge East. She remembered his last name, but had to ask her daughter for the first name. “Andrew, that’s right,” she said, “Andrew, he lives in Ashtabula.” About four months ago, because of problems with her hips, she moved into the assisted-living facility. She had been on her own until then. “Why don’t you drop in sometime?” she said. “I’m in room 136. Did I tell you, I have eight great-grandchildren?.”
   Nancy asked the woman’s daughter if some of the great-grandchildren were her grandchildren. The daughter said yes, and asked if Nancy had grandchildren. “No,” Nancy said. No one asked me, but braggart that I am, I told her I did. That’s when she said, “You look awfully young to be a grandfather.”
   Gray hair on my head, my butt in a wheelchair, and I look awfully young to be a grandfather? Perhaps there is an air of youthfulness about me. Or maybe it’s my air of immaturity.

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