Lamentations, celebrations on growing older

Guy Dossi

Yes, I’m getting old. OK, maybe not AARP old, or referring to my wife as, “The nice woman who feeds me,” but every day I’m being reminded that I’m not getting any younger.

Now, while I’ve always thought about getting old, I’ve never truly felt old. Well, that is until I started my writing career and have had to be around teenagers 10 months out of the year. The first time I ever felt old came in 2013, which was my first year covering Calaveras football.

I did an interview with a senior on the team and when we finished, he said, “Thank you, sir.” I honestly had to look behind me to see if he was talking to someone else. Sir? I was 25 and nowhere near being referred to as, “Sir.”

But with each year that passes, I find myself noticing things that make me older and older. I recall a conversation I had with a teenager a few years ago about music. We were talking about Dave Grohl and the teenager mentioned how much he loves the Foo Fighters. I agreed, but of course had to bring up Nirvana, to which I was met with a blank stare. Not only did this teenager not know Dave Grohl was in a band before the Foo Fighters, he had never heard of Nirvana.

My most recent example of my age becoming noticeable came with a recent trip to the emergency room. I was feeling under the weather (no, not COVID; not every illness is COVID) and it got to the point where I needed medical attention. I sat on a bed in a Modesto hospital emergency room and with a mask covering my face, talked with the nurses. I needed to get blood drawn, so I extended my right arm out for the nurse to find a vein.

While the nurse – who was also wearing a mask – was just about to shove a needle in my arm, said to me, “Are you still covering Summerville football?” He was referring to my time as a radio broadcaster before my print journalism days began. Out of all the questions I was expecting, that was not one of them. Because he was wearing a mask, I had no idea who he was. I looked at his badge and sure enough, he was a former Summerville football player whose team I broadcasted for.

In my mind, he was still 16 and a football player, not a medical professional. Here was a full-grown man who was helping take care of me, who I used to talk about on the radio when he was a teenager. How is this person a contributing member of society? Shouldn’t he still be getting ready for the best senior year ever? Oh wait, it’s not 2011.

This wasn’t the first time I had an encounter with a former athlete who made me feel old. Remember the fire in downtown Angels Camp a few months ago? I was in the area and ended up taking photos. While walking around, there were firefighters everywhere. I did my best to stay out of the way, but still wanted to be close to the action. This was my first fire, so I was a little nervous and wanted to do a good job.

With flames only a few hundred yards away, I’m focused on trying to get the perfect shot, but my attention is shifted when I hear, “Hey, Dossi,” from one of the firefighters. I saw a young man walking my way and I had no idea who he was. I looked closer and sure enough, it was another former Summerville athlete whom I covered as a journalist while at another paper a number of years ago.

He was a good kid. He was funny and I enjoyed getting to know him. I knew he always wanted to be a firefighter, but I didn’t know that he followed his dreams. So again, here’s a kid who I would interview following football games and wrestling matches, and now he’s protecting communities as a firefighter. Honestly, I was proud of him, but I still couldn’t believe he was an adult.

After the fire, I had to walk back up the road to my truck. There was a police officer directing traffic and I had an extra bottle of water on me. It was a hot summer day and the smoke was quite unpleasant. I walked up to the officer and offered him my extra water, which he politely refused.

Before I could walk away, the officer looked at me and said, “Hey, Guy, how have you been?” Again, with my mask on, I had to look at his badge to figure out who he was, and the moment I saw his name, it all came back. This was a former Calaveras High School student-athlete. Here’s a kid who I would routinely interview, and now he’s taken an oath to protect and to serve. How could that be? Wasn’t he in high school last year? No, he wasn’t; I’m just getting old.

While it’s always a shock to the system when I see former athletes in the real world, it gives me nothing but satisfaction to see them doing well as functioning members of society. Everyone grows up. Everyone makes a decision to become an adult and I guess that’s one of the cool things about my job. I love seeing who these teenagers turn into.

The longer my career continues, this trend is going to repeat itself. I guess that’s a sign of longevity and I can’t complain about that. But what I can complain about is lower back pain, the fear of slipping in the tub, and now requiring two tries to get off the toilet. Yes, it’s fun getting old.

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