The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

December 28, 2006


I remember when I was about twelve years old, there was this summer during which I went on holidays with just my mother because my father couldn't get that week off work. When we returned home, I noticed (or thought I'd noticed) that my father's hair had all gone gray. In my memory, a week earlier it had still been black, and it was as if he'd aged ten or fifteen years in that one week. He also seemed rather tired and exhausted. I don't know if anything happened during that week, but as, contrary to legend, people's hair doesn't just go gray overnight (or overweek), I suppose I simply took a better look at him that day and noticed what he really looked like rather than what I thought he looked like.

About two years ago I had a similar experience when I saw him and suddenly I realised he had become an old man. Not an "old" old man -- he still does 20-mile bicycle tours without any problem at all -- but something in his posture had changed enough to change my perception of him, as if he had again aged fifteen years within a week.

It's frightening that he ages that way, in those big steps every once in a while. Most people seem to do it more slowly, more continuously, more subtly.

Similarly frightening is a medical diagnosis he received a week ago that I learned about at Christmas; hardly the kind of thing you want to learn about at Christmas, or at any time of the year for that matter. It looks curable, but an operation is required, and that was when I realised that he's almost 70 and I'm almost 40, and now I've become slightly afraid of the face that I might see if I take a closer look at the mirror, or the face that I might no longer see one day when I look where my father is supposed to be, but isn't.

Posted by Horst on December 28, 2006 01:35 AM to my so-called life | Tell-a-friend
laura g brown said on December 28, 2006 06:24 PM:

I enjoyed this bit of insight. Hope dad recovers well from the operation & Happy New Year.

Jann said on December 29, 2006 02:37 PM:

Your perceptions about your father getting older are very interesting, and the topic is one with which all of us with aging parents can empathize. May his surgery be successful, and his recovery uneventful.

Bettina said on December 30, 2006 11:02 PM:

make the same experiences with my parents and feel like you.
With me (we have the same age, as you know) itīs the same...age seems to come not continously but in intervals...sometimes I realize I have changed a lot inside and outside...then years pass by and everything nearly stays the same...

Best wishes for you and the ones you love in 2007!

Annie - London Underground Blog said on January 1, 2007 01:01 PM:

Great post Horst. If often have thought like that as my mother died when she was only 11 years older than I am now :( Hope you have a happy New Year though. All the best, Annie

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