MY FATHER - who is in the mid-sixties - says he doesn't feel old. Not anymore. He says he once did, when he turned thirty, forty, but after that, age ceased to affect him.

He says his mind feels the same as it did when he was twenty. ''Yo're only aware of growing older when you're younger. It's like some sort of inverse ratio. The younger you are, the more fascinated and anxious you are by aging.''

He won't accept senior-citizen discounts. He tosses out the AARP  magazine that magically began appearing in the mail one day.  He dyes his hair a charcoal black. He turns his head when a pretty woman swishes past.

I'm not sure I believe him. I feel old, after all. I feel like as soon as we finish growing, we begin falling apart.

He and I recently got into a wrestling match. Over the years, physical violence has been our standard. He cannot shake without trying to crush my knuckles with his grip. He cannot hug without slamming a palm against my back., knocking the air from my lungs.

Once, when I was a teenager and we were shopping at department store, he called out my name and I turned out to face him and he sprayed my eyes with a sample bottle of cologne as if it were a mace.

I collapsed to the floor, howling in pain, blind for the next few minutes. This is as close we will ever get to I love you.

In the past he always won. He was always bigger, the standard of strength and manhood. He once snapped a wrench in half when working on a rusted bolt. He once stacked two rowboats on top of each other and heaved them into the back of our truck.

From high in the mountains, miles from any road, he packed out the elk he hunted.

When he was a kid, playing baseball, the catcher dropped his mitt and took the the bench, complaining that my father 's fast balls hurt too much. No matter how many hours I put in at the gym, he would always overpower me when we were grappling, crushing me to the floor, hurling me into the couch so severely the frame broke.

But this time was different. This time |I was stronger. It was difficult for me to recognize at first. Even as I strangled him into a headlock - even as I dropped him to his knees -

I kept expecting him to rally, to twist an arm behind my back and smash my face into the carpet

But he didn't. I pinned him, jabbing my knee into his spine, he stopped struggling and then we shoved away from each other and fell back against couches on opposite sides of the room and and gasped for breath and din't look at each other.

 The honor and serving of this beautiful post continues. Don't just miss it.


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