Ann Bailey: There's no time to get old
My mom, who was a week short of 36 when I was born and nine days shy of 41 when my sister, Bonnie, was born always told the two of us that we kept her young.
Our older brothers Mike and Terry graduated from high school when Bonnie was a baby and Richard graduated before Bonnie started elementary school. I knew my parents were older than those of a lot of my friends, but I never thought it made a difference. My mom and dad did things with us out of school; we weeded the garden and cooked with my mom and helped my dad with cattle and went horseback riding with him. When it came to school, our parents went to all of our parent-teacher conferences and attended our track meets, basketball games and other extracurricular events.
Their example probably was the reason I didn't worry about Brian and I being "older" parents. Though I was 38 when Brendan was born, nearly 40 when Thomas was born and 44 when Ellen was born, I knew Brian and I were both in good health and shouldn't have any problem keeping up with our children.
And I was right. We played baseball, football and went swimming with them during the summer and took them sledding and to watch UND sporting events in the winter. The five of us made forts in the woods, hiked and camped at Turtle River State Park and went on trips across the United States.
Over the years, we traveled to Brendan's and Thomas' football games, cross-country meets, wrestling meets and attended in-school activities. Brian's enthusiasm for running encouraged our sons and daughter to run and all three became distance runners. Ellen inherited my love of horses, and we ride together.
Our two older sons have graduated from high school, but that doesn't mean Brian and I have become couch potatoes. Even if we wanted to, Ellen, who will be a high school sophomore this year, wouldn't let us. She is busy in and out of school and keeps us moving, whether it's going for a run with Brian, a horseback ride with me, or taking the dogs on a walk with both of us. Even if we're sitting, she prefers playing board games to watching television, so we've had many an evening of playing "Scattergories," "Melarkey," and "Say Anything" around the kitchen table.
I rarely think about my age, except when I go somewhere where a senior discount is advertised. That happened a few weeks ago when I was buying Wisconsin State Fair tickets and noted to the people with me that next year I would be ready for the senior discount.
Ellen's friend Chloe began laughing, then stopped when I told her I was serious and would be 60 in four months. She studied my face to see if I was serious, and then told me she thought I was in my mid-40s.
Ellen laughed and replied "Chloe, she was 44 when I was born."
Thank goodness for that.