Marking another year with tea and joy and a white stone

Mar 19 2012 - 9:39pm


Lewis Carroll, the author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," marked wonderful days in his diary "with a white stone" -- an ancient Roman tradition -- so let me say that Sunday, the final day of my 63rd year on the planet, is marked with a brilliant white stone indeed.

I got to spend it with my gracious and lovely granddaughter, Alice, who is almost 2.

Alice is most charming. We drew pictures. We played with blocks. We walked the dog. We had tea and watched "Snow White" and "Shrek," and had several fine discussions, some of which I even understood both sides of.

I cannot remember a finer day.

I am writing this Monday. It is the first day of my 64th year, and my brother in Florida called to say "another year older and wiser."

I reminded him that our father always told us real wisdom is knowing what you don't know. Since, after 63 years, I realize I know almost nothing, "by that measure, I'm a genius."

We agreed real wisdom is how we deal with that lack of knowledge. The trick is sorting out what's important.

When I interview people who are up in years, I like to ask what they've learned. Not one has told me buying a bigger house was important. I don't recall any mention of spiffy cars, lavish meals, finer clothes or elegant vacation spots.

They do mention family, community, doing things they enjoy and getting through life as stress-free as possible.

Sometimes our brain helps us do that. I read a study that older brains have trouble telling types of things apart. The example was pianos, but it might have been computers, celebrity scandals or any of the other zillion new things that deluge us daily.

The study made it sound as if this failure to discriminate is a problem. I just think older brains have learned to filter out repetitive clutter on their own. There's a new type of computer music player? Some Hollywood bimbo got pregnant/married/divorced?

Add them to the pile.

Older folks care less what other people think, and I happily join those who wear comfortable shoes, funny hats and "favorite" pants.

I'm the one whose feet hurt and whose pants finally fit. I even wear purple from time to time (Go Wildcats!), and those Red Hat women have a lot of fun.

Older people can be more outspoken. OK, I already am. It goes with the job.

But older folks get away with murder.

Rick Santorum, who says he's ready to lead America against the world, was afraid to correct a Florida woman's blathering that President Barack Obama is a Muslim because "this was an elderly lady. She was there leaning on a cane. She was quite wobbly."

I'm in AARP. I have a cane. I can wobble. "Santorum's a weasel!"

Older folks have the joy of seeing their offspring take over the world.

I love seeing my sons make names for themselves. Ben hobnobs with Midvale officials. Far from feeling replaced, I feel pride when someone spots my last name and says, "You're Jeremy's dad!"

And I really love grandchildren.

Those babies represent their parents' own futures of challenges, joys, sorrows and wonders. Throw in dirty diapers, and that's a lot to deal with, and sometimes the parents need a break.

Which is when they drop the tykes off at my place. We have tea, a walk, a delightful time and will again soon.

Mark my whole life with a white stone. And it only took me 63 years to get here.

The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232 or He also blogs at

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