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Change ‘n Exchange

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Salt and pepper

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As I age, I notice changes in myself. Some are awkward, some are funny and some are delightful. I’m the youngest in our family, and, have two brothers left living – the others and my sister are no longer changing. I am in constant communication over the internet with the now oldest member. He prefers Skype, but I prefer messenger. With my brother, voice communications tend to drag out, and invariably at the wrong time. While their wives are making their suppers, they are sitting with nothing to do, and, that is when they call. Because of their being in a different time zone, at the time of their call, I am in the process of lifting the first forkful to my mouth. So most of the time, we communicate by written messenger. I prefer this method because it gives me time to think, to choose my words, and to work at plays on them. Lately, I have been writing on Facebook and to him in a code, most of which is leaving out the vowels and developing typing shortcuts over time. This is what it would look like:

f u cn red ths, thn u cn undrstnd the way I rit.

As I am the youngest of seven, they have become the elders by attrition. From my point of view, then, I see what changes age has brought and is bringing to them. Like, I am seeing myself, perhaps, a few years from now. Some of it makes good reading. My now eldest brother, whom I shall refer to as Theodore, is not tall. Well, short enough that he missed being accepted in the Air Force by half an inch. Way back in those days money had more value, and, as an emerging adult paid a hundred dollars for a guaranteed course to add several inches to one height. These ads were in the comic books of the era. He beg, borrowed and almost stole to scratch up the hundred dollars. What he got, for one hundred dollars, was a sheet of twenty inches by twenty-four inches with depictions of perhaps a dozen exercises. After six weeks of ardent exercises, he remained a quarter-inch short. Getting into the Air Force was critical to his happiness. He loved flying, and, got his private license through the Air Cadets. But he wanted to fly for his life’s work.

Sidelined into some other line of work, he continued to dream of having a commercial pilots license. He accumulated the hours of flying to qualify, wrote the exam, took the flight test, and, became a commercial pilot. Now to find work. He did, as a part-time pilot for a small non-scheduled airline flying floatplanes. He flew for many years, then he began to grow older.

One day, as the plane was pushed away from the wharf, he, stood up, lost his balance and fell into the water. He had difficulty clambering up on the float, and, one of the passengers came out and yanked him out of the water. He started the plane, drew back to the dock. He went home changed clothes and took the flight to its destination. He never admitted it was age. Must have been some ice on the float that he did not see. Must have been the fact that there was no one to push the plane away from the wharf that early morning. Must have been . . ..

He was eventually sidelined from flying. But the events were the sale and replacement of personelle by the buyers. He was not required to face the decision himself. If he had had to face the change in status, I wonder how it would have affected the remainder of his years. He still looks skyward when the sound of the aircraft motors calls, but, he avoids going to the wharf or the air port. Wonder why.



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