I’ve begun to notice a phenomenon that is happening as of late. I suppose this is the natural order of things, but it is unsettling.
I see adults who are now entering middle age. You know, those nearing 30 like Tony would be. And I don’t see anything about Tony in any of them although these are his peers. No, his peers are supposed to be entering adulthood, not middle age. They are supposed to have the look of one foot in childhood, the other in adulthood. It has happened twice now that I see that lack of realization up close and personal.
The first time, I was visiting a friend. As I got out of my car to go into her house, I noticed a father and his child on the quiet street. The little boy was gleefully pedaling his two-wheeler as his father walked behind him, encouraging his son on. I smiled at the scene. It’s nice to see fathers involved with their children. When I got inside, my friend asked me if I had seen “so and so.” I didn’t know who she meant and didn’t recognize the name until she reminded me that it was one of our boys’ old friends. If she hadn’t told me, I would have never thought the man was of that age group, that time frame. Nothing about him suggested a peer. Instead, he was just a mature man entering middle age and not an immature young guy making his way into adulthood.
The second time, I was in a lobby, waiting for my appointment. A woman standing behind me asked, “Are you Tony’s mom?” I turned to see a fit, athletic woman whom I didn’t recognize. I responded yes and asked her how she knew my son, and she told me they were good friends in high school. Stunned, I asked her “Oak Ridge High School, class of 2007”? Could this young woman entering middle age be a graduate of Tony’s class? Wouldn’t those young people look so much younger than her? I was so grateful to hear her memories, see photos of Tony I had never seen before, and share tears over a life cut too short, gone too soon. If she hadn’t told me, I would have never thought she was of that age group, that time frame. Nothing about her suggested a peer. Instead, she was just a mature woman entering middle age and not a silly kid making funny faces at a camera.
But that is the way of it, and I adjust to this reality. Tony’s peers are indeed entering middle age. They indeed are maturing adults with children and good paying jobs. Tony is forever young, and that gap will only grow wider as time marches on.