I know a guy who goes to the gym three or four times a week. In summer he plays golf as much as he can in search of the perfect swing.
He can throw together a standing rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding and roasted veggies seemingly on a moment’s notice. With a nice crusty loaf straight out of the oven. And when you’re ready to fall down on the floor, he’ll bring in dessert and coffee.
A wine connoisseur, he always knows just what wine, of what vintage, of which country or which vineyard, will go best with what he’s prepared.
Paul is his name, and, in his busy schedule, he finds time to sit on the board of his local performing arts centre. He’s a past art gallery director. And a voracious reader (on his new e-reader) with a commitment to lifelong learning.
Hanging on the walls of the modernist-style home he designed himself and shares with his wife Doreen are modernist paintings — his own. Among the books on their shelves are one on rural life in Alberta and another on the early days of Ocean Falls. He wrote them.
I don’t mean he strung sentences together and called them books. I mean, this man has a gift with words that makes me weep with envy.
Many of the things he does now — the gym, the golf, the writing, the cooking — have been picked up since he retired. Others — appreciation of fine wine, interest in the arts, community involvement — have been a part of him for much longer.
The past 28 years have allowed Paul more time to do the things he wants to do, to explore the talents he was born with but which had to take second place to work and family for much of his life. He retired from a key management position with B.C. Hydro at 62; a month from now he’ll turn 90.
Danna Bach recently wrote about her wonderful 90-year-old gramma. A remarkable woman for sure, but I’ll see her gramma and raise her a father-in-law.
Paul Jones doesn’t have enough hours in the day to do everything at once so he doles out his time carefully to each pursuit and each new experience. At 80, he thought he might try snowboarding, but Doreen put her foot down on that one.
He started cycling right after retirement. And cross-country skiing, as not only a participant but a race official. You will see no quaint stories here about how Paul Jones still enjoys a nice game of whist or gets a kick out of taking his scooter out for a spin.
When he needs to go somewhere, he drives. He doesn’t do crafts. He fixes things, writes books, works on his computer. When we need to know something about gardening, we ask Paul.
Right now he’s working on a Powerpoint presentation for a couple of speaking engagements about the time he narrowly escaped death when a mudslide buried a power station on the Arrow Lakes. It was in all the papers at the time.
The other morning, Paul shovelled the snow from his driveway. Then, he shovelled the next-door neighbours’.
If you ask him, he’ll tell you about his childhood in Sangudo, Alta., or working at the Ocean Falls mill, or his time in the Navy in the Second World War.
But he’s about today, right now. Point is, some people age more successfully than others, but seniors aren’t children. They don’t need us to praise them for gluing macaroni on a jar and calling it a pencil holder. They don’t need us to pity them and to thank the lord we aren’t old like them.
Me, I want to be like Paul Jones some day.