On Friday, March 20, 2020, a record high temperature was set in Richmond. The thermometer hit 88 degrees. That broke a record of 85 degrees set back in 1948.
I can verify the heat on that afternoon as we were working in the backyard of our son’s home. We were clearing debris that had probably been there since 1948.
But, this morning, Wednesday, April 15, when I headed out for my run, the temperature was 39 degrees with a wind chill of 29.
The National Weather Service had a freeze watch posted for sections of Virginia, frost advisories for sections of North Carolina, a winter weather advisory for stretches of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, and parts of the Virginia and North Carolina coastlines had special marine warnings.
So much for spring, welcome back winter.
On my run, I wore my knit cap, gloves, and other winter gear.
This is nuts. And just think, in a few short weeks, I will probably be whining because of the heat and humidity.
But, I enjoyed my run. It is good to embrace the elements and all of the contrasts the weather of spring brings to us.
Later this morning, I would be heading to my doctor’s office for my annual physical. Back on April 9, I had reported to the doctor’s office for my lab work.
On April 9, I wore the mask made by my wife, the Commander Supreme. I checked in outside the building. Then, I was told to wait for a phone call. The phone call would be my orders to report to a tent in the parking lot. There, I would have my blood drawn.
Ok, I will tell you up front, I’m a chicken when it comes to blood drawing.
I always alert the nurse doing the work—you have to talk to me during the procedure. I will not watch what you are doing either. If you don’t talk with me, you might be picking me up off the floor, or in this case the parking lot.
The nurse was very good. I didn’t dent the asphalt.
I left, went back home, ate some breakfast, and then headed to Trinity.
Sometime after one, the Commander calls. She tells me I need to call the doctor’s office. Immediately, I’m in a panic. What did those blood tests reveal?
So, I call.
Mr. Pike, we need you to come back to have your blood work done again. Something went wrong with the lab process.
I was polite. I promptly left to get this over.
I checked in again. This time, I was directed to a small trailer. The same nurse was waiting for me.
It was a windy day. I asked her about the tent. She told me a gust of wind took it and everything inside of it. Now, all of her equipment was set up inside this tiny trailer. The chair for the blood work was sitting in the bright April sun.
I sat in the chair. The nurse remembered my talking request. We yakked. She drew the red stuff. And, for the second time, I didn’t dent the asphalt.
This morning, after the run, I showered, dressed for winter again, and headed to the doctor’s office.
As on April 9, I was checked in outside. At the entrance doors, a nurse sat wrapped in a blanket with a portable heater running. She asked me a series of questions, took my temperature, and sent me in the building.
The nurse who did all of the prep work for the doctor was very good. She captured my health updates, and then she asked me a series of questions. All of the questions were designed to test my mental dexterity.
I interpreted that line of questioning to affirm one thing—I am now officially old.
And if there was any doubt at all, I was given my first pneumonia shot, and informed about a new shingles shot. After this COVID-19 chaos settles, I will need to get the shingles shot.
I take no comfort in the affirming from this annual physical that I am aging. I worry about the future. I pray that I will not be a burden to the Commander Supreme or our children. I don’t want that to happen to them.
This quote from Sophia Loren makes a lot of sense: “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
I don’t expect to defeat aging, but I hope I can tap those sources. I hope to continue to develop my mind, my talents, my creativity, and I hope to use these gifts to be better at loving those people who surround me.
Over the last week, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has given lots of coverage to the passing of Bill Millsaps. Mr. Millsaps had quite a career as a sports writer, columnist, and executive for the newspaper.
On June 24, 2011, Mr. Millsaps was honored to be named the recipient of the Red Smith Award. This award is the most prestigious sports journalism recognition in America.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Millsaps noted the sixth game of the 1977 World Series. That was the game when Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees hit three home runs.
Both Mr. Millsaps and Red Smith were covering the series. At the time, Mr. Smith was 72 years old. After the game Millsaps and Smith were in the media madness in the hallway outside the Yankees’ clubhouse.
In this media mayhem, Mr. Millsaps asked Mr. Smith, “I know why I’m here. Why are you here?” Mr. Smith replied, “Oh, you can always learn something.”
At that point, Mr. Millsaps reflected to himself—“that’s not a bad motto for any working journalist.”
And in truth, that’s not a bad motto for someone like me who has been officially notified that I am old.
As I continue to age, I hope that I will always be willing to learn.
Aging really comes down to our capacity to adjust.
Life, like today’s Virginia weather is a roller coaster—full of ups and downs. Adjusting to those conditions is about learning.
It is figuring out how to sustain the ups while not letting the downs consume us.
Red Smith was right—“oh, you can always learn something.”
As I age, I pray that I will always be willing to learn.