Tuesday, April 03, 2007



A Man of All Ages

There is an old man, he could be 76 or 96 but I prefer to think of him as a Man of Ages, living in my neighbourhood.This Man of Ages, walks through my neighbourhood and I have observed him for years. His face is old. He has deep, deep, wrinkles, a fine, weathered face, a face which is riddled with character and stories. He is bald with a bit of stubble where side burns should be, he wears horned rimmed glasses from the fifties. He is five feet tall but he seems to loom as he walks up our main strip with purpose. He wears a knapsack on his back and he always dresses in khakis either long kahakis in the winter or army shorts in the summer. He dons a desert hat, over his shaved head and his legs do not have a hair on them. He is always wears hiking boots, with wool socks when he walks. And when he walks, he bounces. His gait is long and his arms firmly to his sides. He walks with determination staring ahead with his head level and his shoulders pulled back and his chest out. He commands the space around him and beckons space ahead of him, all in a walk.

I have been in the park on occasion and have observed him cycling on a ten speed. He wears the unitard and the proper cycling cleats, he is out of his khakis and in a cycling uniform with a cycling cap and no helmet. I have seen him cycle with young whippersnappers in their twenties. I have heard him yell at them in Polish as they whoosh by training together.
I have heard him belt out 'Faster!Faster!' in English as they trail him.
I have heard him use his age as a taunt. I have heard him say' I am an old man, you can not let an old man beat you! Have pride!' He is challenging the young men to keep the pace. To keep his fast pace, and not for one lap, but for twenty uphill. And I stand holding my breath in amazement.

I have never had the opportunity to talk with this man, this Man of Ages, who is so part of the walking scenery in which I live. I have often asked my other friends and neighbours if they had ever noticed 'my' man in hopes of getting an introduction to him. But when I describe him, they draw a blank. They have never seen my man or at least taken note.

I find it odd, as I think he takes up the street, he is a defining person of the neighbourhood in which I live, he commands the world when he bounces by and I find it peculiar that he has gone unnoticed by my group. I think he is king of the world, but apparantly only in my world. A world in which I wished to know part of his story, for there had to be a few good stories in the leathery markings on his face.

The opportunity arose innocently enough this past week. I had the opportunity to talk with 'my' man. I walked into a dollar store to pick up a bottled water,and to my surprise I saw my man at the counter talking with the store owner. I must have looked shocked, maybe, I even blushed, at seeing him, so anchored to the counter, so at ease, and me so unprepared to see him upclose and not at my comfortable distance to observe. He drew me into in the store with a joust.

'Come in ! Come in! Don't be shy, Come in!' he blurts.

And with his comment suspended in the air, I am jostled to my reason for entering the store.

I hear, My Man, call for me at the back of the tiny five and dime store.

'Miiiissis, Miiiissis... This man here, dis store owner is such a lovely man, he is...' he belts out.

And as I approached the counter with my water I agreed with a smile toward the owner.

'Miiiissis, do you know where he is from?'

And I was flabberghasted as it seems like an innocent question enough, but I had not thought of the shopkeeper as anything other than a shopkeeper... A one dimensional, stationary, being... And I have embarassed myself with my lack of knowledge and prejudice in my wee village of a street.

I look at him, my shopkeeper,and have never thought of his accent, never thought of his travels, never thought of him anywhere besides behind the counter.

I then try and save face by stammering out a reply of 'India?'

Miiiissis, he is a long way from where he started...He is from from Kenya.

And with that the shop owner smiled modestly.

Miiissis, Kenya is one of the most beautiful places on earth... And her people? Ohhh her people, are some of the loveliest to walk the planet...

And the shop owner smiled in accordance.

And with that I ask him, my Man of Ages, how he knows this information.

Well, Miiisusssss, I was a mapmaker for the UN. I miss Africa so much, so very much. Such a beautiful beautiful, country. I lived there for a very longtime, a very longtime. And the language? 30 different dialects of Swahili. Oh it is so beautiful to listen to. I come here to talk with my friend, here, and just listen....I owe dis man, dis man, so much, as he brings de winds of Kenya to me. He is a very good man, a very good man.

And with that he, my Man of Ages, and the Shopkeeper took me, dear blogger on a marvellous taste, of an adventure through Africa,but most importantly though Kenya.

And as I finished my bottled water, my ole man, my traveller, mapmaker extrodinaire who speaks many languages, and has no name and no age laughed and said 'You must be going I see.'

And I reluctantly said I did have a few errands ...

And he says with a wink' Do not tell your husband about me, I wouldn't want to make him jealous... And for him to beat me up. I am an old man, afterall.'

And somehow, that comment made me smile all day...As I finally had the chance to meet 'My' man, My Ageless Man, the man with many, many stories to tell...

I can not wait until I have the chance to talk with him again! And maybe it will be with my husband, but hopefully I am alone, as I truly want to listen and hear Kenya and her winds calling.

64 comments:

Gina said...

I adore the phrase "Man of Ages."

So often we tend to be so wrapped up in our own busy lives, but it is often so rewarding to talk and learn from other people.

I am glad he lived up to your expectations!

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

You have such experiences. I envy you.

Awesome Mom said...

I am usually so wrapped up in keeping my kids in hand that I often miss out on chances to talk to other people like that. He sounds like a neat person.

chelle said...

wow ... that is so cool. I long to be on one location long enough to meet a man! ha! That sounds evil!

What an experience ... talking with people truly opens the world at your feet.

Lawyer Mama said...

You sucked me into your story again and now I so want to meet your "Man of Ages!"

Lisa said...

That gave me goosebumps. What a great story.

chichimama said...

How wonderful. May he have many more tales to tell. There are several "People of Ages" in my travels around town, and I always hope to run into one of them...

Mamma said...

Oh that was beautiful!

I hope to see Kenya some day. How lucky for you to have people to bring it right to you.

Keeping my fingers crossed you'll see your "man" soon.

Sarah said...

It's nice to make neighborhood connections like that. What a fun experience!

hautemama said...

How cool! Old people remind us to slow down and not dance so fast.

They just can't drive 20km on a main street tho!!

Lady M said...

Some people have a wonderful way of reaching out, with gestures or with words. The Man of Ages with words, and you with written ones!

wayabetty said...

I love to watch people and trying to figure out their backgrounds, etc...too. And I think my Sophia "inherited" that trait from me but I can't write as eloquently as you have described once again, Pend.

Sayre said...

I must remember to slow down. When I was a kid, I lived in a neighborhood FULL of old people. I would rake their leaves, sweep their roofs, mow their lawns - and listen to their stories. There were some wonderful ones there. I need to look through my childhood eyes more often and SEE the people around me more.

Rock the Cradle said...

The Impling just looked up as me as I laughed with delight over this, giggled, and said,

"Mommy funny!"

It's wonderful how a man I have never heard of inspired you and then inspired me. The ripple effect in action. The world is a marvelous place sometimes, isn't it?

I hope you have many more wonderful conversations with your Man of Ages. What a treasure.

Cheesy said...

AMAZING post dear!!! Ok I will add some more>>!!!!!!!

You made me see this event and feel your glee... thank you SO much for sharing this tale!!!

Please flirt with your "Man of Ages" for me ok??

Jess Riley said...

What a cool story! And I love the way you wrote it. We have many older people in our neighborhood, and I'm fortunate that I've gotten to know one.

Jocelyn said...

Your post has laid me flat with pleasure, for the writing and the story have melded perfectly.

Well done, Pendullum.

jen said...

so, so beautiful.

it's amazing what we can discover if we simply remain open. you got to go to Kenya today...i wonder where it will be tomorrow.

lovely story.

G said...

It is really cool to stop and listen to the stories of other people!!!

Nikki said...

Stop giving my goosebumps.

Oh, The Joys said...

Wonderful post (as usual pend!)

He's right about Kenya.

Eryl Shields said...

Hello, I'm new to your blog and come by way of Kim Ayres. I met him at a storytelling workshop and he convinced me to start a blog.

I loved reading your story: old people are so cool if one takes the time to observe and talk to them. But so often, as you so eloquently point out, they go unnoticed. Sad because they can teach us so much. Thanks for reminding me of this fact.

Kim Ayres said...

Next time you see your Man of Ages, help him set up a blog of his own if he doesn't have one already.

Hmmm, just noticed something...

Am I the only guy commenting on your blog?

slouching mom said...

He commands the space around him and beckons space ahead of him, all in a walk.

This was so beautiful, so descriptive.

BeachMama said...

What a wonderful description of your "Man of Ages". How awesome that you took the time to meet him and hear his stories. Part of our problem these days is that we don't stop long enough to find out about other people around us.

crazymumma said...

I think you were meant to meet him honey.

Shelly said...

Hi. I really like your blog. Was wondering if you want to add it to my directory? Thanks Shelly

Weblog index

Dana a/k/a Sunshine said...

You have such awesome writing ability - truly! I am so guilty of not taking time to observe those around me - to listen and really take time to find out who they are, what they are and were....really neat that you got to meet him. by the way, two gals that are linked on my blog - Robyn and Mama Chameleon - grew up in Kenya...their parents were missionaries. They have really interesting stories about the country...you should check out their blogs sometime. I'm so glad you posted a picture of yourself too you mysterious woman you!!!

Catch said...

Pen..you always have "experiences" and I love reading about them. And I am happy you got to meet "your man" and he was all you thought he would be. Im not suprised your neighbors didnt notice him, but you did. I think you are very aware of things and people. And when you write about them we are all just enthralled with them. I hope you run into him again Pen. He will enjoy telling you about Africa.

Have a Happy Easter Pen!

Attila The Mom said...

You know Pen, every moment before I click on your link, it's like the eve of a holiday...xmas, my birthday, anniversary, etc.

I always know that whatever I find is going to be a fabulous gift to my heart.

xo

Amber said...

What a wonderful, inspirational encounter! We have a similar old man in our neighborhood, one I've been dying to talk to for ages. He walks his beautiful collie, rain or shine, every single day at the exact same time. I, too have wondered about his history and the stories he could tell!

Pattie said...

Sounds like an interesting guy! Sometimes, you never know who you might meet and what story they have to share. Glad you didn't miss out on this one :)

BV said...

Great story!

urban-urchin said...

you are a gifted storyteller. I love how sometimes if we stop, we see beyond the age of someone and discover a wealth of experience.

Blog Antagonist said...

What a lovely story! I wrote a piece a while ago about how every person has a story if you just wonder enough to ask them about it. Your Man of Ages and your shopkeeper are a testament to that. I enjoyed reading that very much.

strauss said...

Fantastic Pendullum. I am so glad that you got to speak with him, and I am glad he was as intriguing as you imagined, although when we notice such people, like you did with this "man of ages", they always seem to have a fascinating tale to tell.
I would love to hear his stories too, what an intersting job he must have had.

JLee said...

You are so good at describing those moments to us, Pen! Sometimes we never know who we are going to come across in life. One dear older man who used to be a security guard where I work was a former spy for the CIA!! He is the most amazing person, but just a humble security guard. I am so glad I got to know him.

jan said...

Well written with an excellent message for all of us. I love stories like this.

Thanks for visiting the Poodles and dogs.

Damselfly said...

Cool! I think if you just take the time to sit with the someone in the older generation, you can learn so much about them and also the world. And they're always good for at least one surprising thing you didn't know or feel before.

Caro said...

We have a man who walks our neighborhood but he is a bit senile. :)

I enjoy talking to him once in a while if for no other reason than he seems lonely.

Her Bad Mother said...

What a WONDERFUL story. I so hope that you speak to him again, and that when you do, you tell us another story.

Kim Ayres said...

Yup, I still seem to be the only man commenting...

mamatulip said...

Please write a book about your life, your happenings, the people you meet and the experiences you've had.

Please!

Miga said...

Oh I love to meet old people with stories to tell. I could sit and listen for hours! He sounds like a wonderful person with alot of spirit.

Open Grove Claudia said...

What a lovely story! WOW! I love the mystery of the wizened man. Very cool. Thanks for sharing it!

Crunchy Carpets said...

That is so cool.
I love meeting people like that with a story to tell.

And as you said..he was interesting to observe and as interesting in real life!

I like my local dollar store owners...they shower my son with adoration about good he is and how helpful he is..they always give him something as a gift....

They are a lovely Persian family.

Kevin Charnas said...

Wonderfully told, my friend!! I LOVE this story. It gave me chills and tears of joy welled-up in my eyes.

We're all siblings and children of this planet. And I LOVE it when we meet each other and truly, truly connect.

It's simple.

And so, so profound.

Mrs. T said...

There used to be a show on - it was called "Everybody's Got a Story" or something like that. Everyone does- and it's nice when you can take the time to listen to them. People are really fascinating.

scribbit said...

Once again, great story.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I'm mesmerized as usual. This man - your man - exudes the power of experience. You recognized this and reaped the benefits. You will meet again. Please take us with you!

InterstellarLass said...

My grandfather is a Man of Ages. They do have the most fantastic stories.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I absolutely LOVE this post! What a testimony to taking time out of our ridiculously overscheduled lives to appreciate this interesting man! The "don't tell your husband" line would have made me smile too! I hope you get to talk to him again.....so we can all hear about it!

Thanks for the smile!

La Cubana Gringa said...

Just goes to show, there's a story behind every face! Some more interesting than others!

Happily Anonymous said...

What a neat post...and the guy sounds very interesting.

kim said...

oh how I've missed you!

I'm late to everything because I can't just leave it at a smile and nod. My husband says that I've never met a stranger.

Your stories would make a lovely book.

Kristin said...

We had a "Man of Ages"... he walked everywhere with the oldest most decrepit dog you have ever seen... he never looked sideways, always ahead and always moving forward... one day the dog wasn't there and not too long after he wasn't either... and I hate that I never took the time to do more than wave as I drove on by.

Catherine said...

I think this is what I admire most about you, Pend. You can make a chance encounter with someone from your neighborhood interesting. Not just interesting... but profound.

Like Kev, chills and tears. Chills and tears. Thanks. :)

momishblogger said...

Oh, I am totally enthralled now! I am also a wee jealous. How I would love to be beside you the next time you run into this man of all ages. You have made me fall in love with him!

* (asterisk) said...

It's a rare thing when a blog post takes my breath away, but this was just such a post. An absolute pleasure to read, thanks.

Jodi said...

Is the man of ages Irish? Because as I was reading his lines he sounded Irish in my head. As always, cool story, of course, I know to expect no less from dear Pendullum.

carrie said...

I love this.

I see the same "characters" over and over again in my daily errands and often find it strange and a little unfomfortable once I actually come face to face with them - you know, after years of creating their "stories" in my mind I am awestruck.

But everybody has a story, and it is usually not the one you were thinking, was it?

Your post is fascinating, as is the mapmaker who inspired you to write it.

Carrie

ablondeblogger said...

Awww, that is such a sweet story!!! What an incredible man!

Jenifer said...

Thanks for dropping by! I have seen you over at B&P's I think. I love this story it is moving. You should visit Alpha DogMa she has the same talent as you for capturing her encounters with strangers.

I used to catch myself wondering about people on the subway. Now when I am out I am making sure we are all together, not touching things, dropping things, etc. Not much time for aimless wondering anymore.

PortraitofPeter said...

A wonderful emotive posting of your dear 'Correspondent' friend and how kind of his widow to write even in grief at her loss.

Treasured are the memories of friends no longer with us.

Blessings to you and your family.