The words burned a hole right through me, leaving nothing in their wake -- including my pride.
Of all the things my wife has said to me in our years of marriage, those may be the ones I will remember most.
I was about to try and move something from our kitchen downstairs to the family room, which required negotiating a flight of stairs, when I heard her say the following:
"Be careful, now that you're older these kinds of things aren't that easy," she said.
I stopped right in my tracks (before I reached the stairs, in case you were wondering), turned and looked at her in disbelief.
"Now that I'm what?" I said, in semi-disbelief.
She gave me one of those deer-in-the headlight looks that seemed to question my sanity, like there was any question that I was now "older."
"You heard me," she said. "You're not as young as you used to be." (Geez, I'm 59. It's not like I'm 60 or something.)
Until that very moment, I had never really come to grips with the realization that I was ... umm ... old.
A million things flashed through my mind. Did that mean my dream of running with the bulls in Pamplona would never be realized? Or that I would never be able to compete on "American Idol?"
I needed a moment to sort all of this out (while my wife rolled her eyes), so I withdrew to my comfort zone in the mancave. I tried to put the pieces of all this together, and quickly realized I should have noticed I was getting old(er).
I'm sure there are other guys working their way through this life-changing kind of moment. If any are reading this, use the following list of realizations as sort of a checklist.
º Do you find yourself enjoying the latest copy AARP magazine more than Sports Illustrated? I remember when I was young(er) I couldn't wait for Thursdays -- or Fridays, if the mail was slow -- for that new copy of Sports Illustrated. But over the last few years I enjoy the AARP publication much more. I love checking the list of celebrities and public figures who are turning 50, 60, 70 or 80.
º Do you check the obituaries each day in The Herald-Whig? I look at those before going to the sports section, hoping I see lot of people who passed away in their 90s. I smile when I see one because I know they had lived a long and fruitful life. It also gives me hope I'll be around for another 30 or 40 years.
º Have you noticed how hard it is to get off the living room floor after playing with the grandkids? For most of my life I could remember simply popping up off the floor while in a sitting -- or any other -- position. Now there are times when I almost need to call Peters Towing to regain a standing position. The only "popping" is the sound coming from various parts of my body where bones are rubbing together.
º If you work around a lot of young people, have you noticed how many of your conversations do not include music? That's because if you mention the Grass Roots, Rod Stewart, Tommy James and the Shondells or the Monkees they have no clue who or what you are talking about? To them, "oldies" is a term applied to music of the 1990s. Of course, to be fair, I look at them the same way when they drop a Bruno Mars, Swedish House Mafia, Imagine Dragons or Kesha reference.
Now that I'm older, these kind of things seem to become more noticeable. Wait a minute, did I just say, "Now that I'm older?"