I just came across an old photograph of my Grandpa and Grandma Wilkins. They are standing on the side of their family home in Santa Ana, California – a house that was also my home from the end of seventh until the beginning of eleventh grade. I’m really glad to have this picture for all of the memories that it triggers, and, of course, so that I am able to picture my grandparents themselves. There is one realization, however, that is very disconcerting and that is that my grandfather, whom I always considered to be the epitome of an old man, is actually almost five years younger in this picture than I am as I write this. It does not help a whole lot, either, that Lora is exactly my grandmother age here.
One thing that age does give you is perspective. It seems that real life is almost exactly the opposite of what famously happened in A Picture of Dorian Gray, where the man was able to keep his young looks for ever, while his picture in the mirror continued to age. When I look in the mirror and see my aging face with all of its wrinkles, I am always taken by surprise because in the mirror inside of my head I am still not even half of my age. At least that is how it feels. I imagine that my grandfather as he sat there also must have thought of himself as much younger than he looks in this picture. While I don’t believe, as the old saw says, that with old age comes wisdom, I do think it reveals to you just how much you didn’t realize when you were younger…and perhaps that’s a good thing.