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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 4, December 2017

Charles Halsted
Davis, California, USA

Breaking Eighty

At seventy-eight, I ran up ten granite stairs in a violent East Coast summer rainstorm, tripped, crashed forward head first, and bled profusely from a long gash in my forehead. After a wailing ambulance ride to the nearest ER, a young woman doc stitched me up while my attentive teenage granddaughter hovered at my side. Once seen in the clinic back home, I learned that my head MRI was OK, while cognition tests showed minimal change. I’d entered the realm of the aged.

At seventy-nine on a family climb, I stood on a ledge looking down hundreds of feet through tops of towering pines. I imagined a fall that would break arms and legs on branches, splatter my brains across the forest floor. As I wobbled over walking poles in mounting panic, my elder son grasped my outside arm, asked “Dad, you OK?” and led me past impending doom.

When I’d turned eighty, my college-aged granddaughter asked, “Grandad, how did you design your experiments?” Enchanted, I led her through the scientific method, second nature in my former career. My grandson, a tireless teenage athlete, chimed in: “Grandad, what was your best time in the two-mile run?” I replied “Ten minutes, twenty-eight seconds in my last freshman track meet,” adding that my alumnus donation requests always begin: “Dear student athlete.” Eighty did not seem so old when my grandson replied: “Awesome time, Grandad!”

slanting sun
on golden oak leaves —
crickets singing



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