A sportswriter looks at 62

It took awhile to identify the pang, maybe a month or more but in recent days it became clear. It felt like a hunger, but only higher.

The little nagging hurt seemed located somewhere behind the nose and felt a lot like the ones that try to force out tears at funerals — the quiet ones, you know, not the ones like children emit for attention or alarm.

May and early June were when the pangs seemed more obvious, and then were right down obnoxious in mid-June. Recognition was difficult because of admission being involved. It was time to ‘fess up: Jealousy. Envy. Accompanied by some embarrassment.

Kids were graduating. They were leaving high school for colleges, jobs or other callings. They were moving on from college for careers.

That was it. I was jealous. I so envied these young people and it really wasn’t such a bad thing. So, the embarrassment was in the reaction, in the concern.

I’m probably not the only senior citizen (Yikes!) who looks back with similar longings. I enjoyed a career that really did beat working for a living. Thanks to ButteSports.com, that career, sportswriting, is an endeavor in which I’m still allowed to dabble. I still love it. So, I should never have been embarrassed over feeling like something of sentiment was being taken away.

I still can’t help but envy, though, that these young adults are about to embark on some most wonderful journeys. I’m confident that they will succeed, too, and accomplish some great work.

Maybe, no, hopefully, they will love what they do enough to be dedicated to it, that the monetary compensation will be a secondary concern, that they will meet famous and interesting people, get to know good, honest folk, work with smart and respectful team player types, have the best seats at terrific events and be paid to sit there, that what they’ve chosen lead them to satisfying, fulfilling lives.

Oh, to be able to do it all over again. That’s it. That’s the pang. Yep, I’m jealous.

The feeling surged to surface with more oomph this mid-June, though. Hudson Willse and Jim Edgar seemed a lot older when they turned 62. They were the men I worked with on The Montana Standard sports staff when I arrived in Butte in 1978 at age 26. I was the young guy.

It’s funny how the older I grew, the younger those older than me became as life proceeded.

When Jim turned 62 (in 1992), he marched triumphantly out the back door of The Montana Standard newsroom, crowning himself with his cowboy hat and not even stopping to enjoy his cake, as editor Rick Foote freed him early that retirement day. Jim drove me to work that day. I had to find a ride home at the end of the shift.

Rick died last fall and we lost Jim on Pearl Harbor Day. I bet their debate is lively.

Hud, eccentric, unique and kind,  seemed to have an old man way about him as long as I knew him. He was a great mentor and I will forever be  appreciative of him for hiring me and bringing me to the best part of the best state with the best people. He insisted on the local. If a sports section had 12 local stories in it, it needed 13 (readers would argue 15) and as many of them as we could jam onto the front page of the sports section, the better. Unfortunately, I missed Hud’s retirement send-off, but he, too, was 62 when he decided to leave the daily grind in 1996. I was moving a daughter into a college dorm out of state that same weekend Hud’s party was held.

Hud lives in Tulsa now, sharing time with family and likely reading vociferously. Poppin’ wisecracks, I hope.

The men were dominant on my mind in mid-June when I, also now retired from regularly scheduled work, reached 62. The pang wasn’t the same. What realization cleared, even though it was part of the overall plan, was that I was now eligible for Social Security benefits simply because of my age.

It was government verification of old fart status and I’m still not too sure it is how I wish to be described. However, even through the fog of vanity, that’s what I see when I look into the bathroom mirror. It doesn’t seem that first check is getting here nearly as fast as the birthday did.

I think now that it is healthy to envy the futures of these young people we are sending justly prepared into the world. The pang will endure. It is so exhilarating to enjoy what you can do and who you can be. It is not so selfish.

You may even be able to keep doing it on into your golden years, maybe even through the graces of God, Ron Davis and Bill Foley.

So, as far as I know, you’ll continue to see me at some games.

I’ll be the old fart. 2 comments

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  • Ted Richards
    June 30, 2014, 6:52 am

    Still a great write

  • AD
    June 30, 2014, 9:55 am

    An old fart? Maybe. But the best smelling one in the room. You are class personified, Bruce Sayler. PERSONIFIED. Great column.


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