Steve Eighinger

There are days when memories can ease the burden

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 27, 2017 11:00 am

The best -- and worst -- things about growing older are the reminders that often accompany the process.

Just recently, I experienced both ends of that spectrum.

I have two grandsons in their first year of junior high school who often have to put up with my "I remember when" stories. Somehow, I don't think they fully appreciate all, some or any of my remembrances.

I like to tell them about sneaking a pocket-size transistor radio into junior high so I could listen to World Series games on October afternoons. I would hide the diminutive radio behind a book while sitting in the back of a language arts class. The other tough part of that task was keeping one of my hands over the earplug coming out of the side of my head.

"Gramps, why didn't you just watch the game on your phone?" one of the boys asked.

I just kind of looked at him, trying to figure out how to explain that in 1967, the only phones we had were the kind that hung on a wall in the kitchen.

About that same time, the other grandson looked at me and asked his own question.

"What's a transistor radio?" he said.

It's comments like those that make growing old fun.

Unfortunately, there are other instances that don't.

I noticed the other day that an old friend of mine whom we always referred to as Big Ed, a former co-worker for more than a decade when I lived back in Ohio, had not been posting anything on Facebook.

There were many evenings over the years when we would reminisce online about the Cleveland Indians or Ohio State Buckeyes, but lately Big Ed had gone silent.

A few days ago, his sister posted a note to all his friends on his Facebook page, explaining that Big Ed had died unexpectedly. The news hit me like a left hook.

Ed was a couple of years older than I am, and some medical issues had taken a rapid toll on his body, his sister explained. Moments after his sister had posted the information, the comments and condolences began appearing. Dozens and dozens of them, which was heartwarming.

Big Ed was gone, but hardly forgotten.

Big Ed was one of those people you just enjoyed being around. He was of Serbian descent and loved to talk about his relatives, food, wine and sports.

Big Ed, who stood about 6 feet 6, was a hulking figure who was as kind as he was big. Probably my favorite Big Ed story was when he invited me over to his apartment to watch some sort of sporting event.

What impressed me most were the 20 or so empty pizza boxes -- large, if I remember correctly -- stacked neatly beside his favorite recliner. Before I left that day, we added No. 21 to the pile.

Memories are another byproduct of growing older, and on days like this, I appreciate that.

Sign up for Email Alerts