Lewis would have turned 63 today had, his father gotten the proper toe hold, or had there not been a shortage of Aortic Valves after the Great War.
Let us have a bonus Lewis Grizzard Day today, reflecting on his birthday for a moment.
This post deals with getting older and about the innocence of youth. What makes Lewis’ writing so special is that the themes he talked about thirty years ago are usually still relevant today. His commentary on life, politics, sports and southern lifestyle can be applied to today’s times. This article is no exception. He had the talent to both make you laugh and tear up in the same story. As you read this, not only enjoy the column written by the man, but enjoy the time you have while you are young and the time you can spend with your loved ones while they are still young. As Lewis taught us, anyone can pass before their time.
September 1957 Photo
I was going through some old boxes I’ve had in storage and I ran across a black-and-white photograph of my stepfather, my mother and me.
The date on the photograph was September 1957. I was 11. I had a flattop haircut and my ears stuck out.
I had forgotten my ears stuck out when I was a kid. My friends called me Dumbo, after the flying elephant who used his mammoth ears for wings.
Thank the Lord long hair over the ears later became fashionable for men, and I think my face also grew wider, so my ears don’t stick out nearly as much as they once did.
It’s been nearly 28 years since we had that picture taken. My mother used to say things like, “You’ll be surprised how fast the years will pass by once you get older.”
I didn’t believe her at the time.
Mom stronger in those days
My mother. She looks so young and strong in that picture. Her hands are resting on my shoulders. I remember those hands so vividly. They were warm, loving hands that could turn into lethal weapons when applied forcefully to my backside.
In that picture my mother looks like I will always remember her. Today, she is very sick and very weak. Damn age, how it ravages.
I am older now than my stepfather was when we had that picture taken. That’s hard to believe.
He was stern with me, but he was also kind. The one gesture I will never forget was that when I graduated from high school, he allowed my real father to take his seat and sit next to my mother to watch me receive my diploma.
There is not a great deal of landscape pictured around us, but I know exactly where we were when the photograph was snapped.
Ah, the innocence of youth
You don’t forget trees you climbed as a boy, or gravel driveways where you hit rocks into the cornfield with a broomstick. I played a million fantasy baseball games in that driveway, which separated my grandmother’s house from my aunt’s.
I sat down and looked at the photograph for a long time, and what I realized was that I was wrong about adulthood back when I was a child.
I thought that when I became an adult, all my problems would cease. I wouldn’t have anybody telling me what I could or couldn’t do, I wouldn’t be afraid of snakes or the dark anymore, and I’m certain I even thought time would continue creeping at the pace it did when I was 11 and wanted desperately to be 12.
I was dead wrong, as a matter of fact, and I had to ask myself an intriguing question: Would I trade all that I have now, including the experiences that aging brings, for the innocence on the 11-year-old face in that photograph?
If I could just keep the ears I have now, most probably I would.