What I learned from Granddad

Mutt in his prime

A decade has passed since I was last treated to look into those blue steel eyes. Having informed the 5’2” stocky little man of my desire to “talk to him”, I was immediately rebuked with an icy stare and the response: “I’ll speak with you, but you’ll not talk to me”. God I miss that man. My other grandfather was taken before I was of age to fully grasp the value of what those years contained, but “Mutt” or “Uncle Mutt” as he was called throughout the community was a profound  influence into my late 40’s, even to today. The epitome of a southern gentleman, he was without doubt forged in the furnace that produced the greatest generation.

  If you’ve read much of my material, attempting to inspire through my transformation at 60, at  thephysicalboomer.com, what’s not readily apparent is the genetics gifted through Mutt, which, as the chest began to develop brought an instant reminder of him on the beach as a much younger man. The constant shoulder aches was gifted to me from my other granddad, a true gentleman as well, to keep me humble.

  Mutt’s backyard had a bicycle wheel mounted sideways on a pole atop his storage shed with funnels attached which caused it to turn with imperceptible air movement. In his later years he asked if I’d take it down and grease the bearings as they had not been down in years. The resulting tear down reveled the upper bearing which had borne no load, simply going along for the ride, to be still encased with grease. It was however ruined, the race and bearings black and marbled with deep etching around the circumference. The bottom bearing, which had withstood years of load supporting the entire structure of wheel and attached funnels to catch the breeze, had no grease left whatsoever, it being long worn away. The ball bearings and race however were as pristine and shiny as they were when new.

  This was one of those times when Granddad, being full of himself, took opportunity to voice his mind. “Life does the same to people son, folks always looking for the easy way out, end up just like them bearings”. That thought has entered my mind quite often as a practicing therapist when I would encounter people advanced in years and still full of vigor. Each of them has echoed his analogy of the bearing in a bicycle wheel. Remarkably I’ve encountered a number of cases when the inverse was also true. With a measure of success by their fifties or sixties, each took their ease so to speak. “I’ve worked hard all my life, now I’m just going to sit” is a recurring theme. Before long, sit is all they can do.

  If you’ve taken time to listen to Mr Eugster’s Tedx talk, his most important item…”WORK” (recorded at age 93). Staying engaged in life is absolutely crucial to living well. Studying the statistics of general health regarding my fellow boomers we would do well to heed his advice.

 Meaningful work, good nutrition, daily exercise will keep the bearings polished until they need turn no more. Isn’t that what we all really want, to live a rich, fulfilled life?

Join us at www.thephysicalboomer.com  and begin a new approach to growing old with grace.

Live well my friends,


Author: Dennis C Barber

PTA, gym rat, insatiable appetite for learning, healthy eating habits, lover of good cigars...