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March 11, 2023

Frank. 95 years old. Shoveling 200 feet of snow, a big old smile on his face, eyes clear as day, memory sharp.

The other day I ran across an elderly man shoveling snow. We wound up talking for awhile.

I was walking along with Laura and her son Akira yesterday, getting some sun in between Akira’s birthday visit with my mom, happy to get to play grandma for once (no help from me). It was sunny and that doesn’t happen here often. We walked toward the huge grain siloes that form a wall along the harbor, a huge tan wall like something out of a zombie movie.

I saw a merry old codger, an elderly gent shoveling his walk, wearing a handsome ollllld wool jacket, the kind I like to wear myself. I walked by him and thought about saying something, decided not to a few times, then perhaps something about his cheery smile, I said I liked his jacket. We started chatting, and basically didn’t stop for half an hour, with Laura and her kid trying to pull me away to continue our sunny snowy walk a few times. All this was right after helping a group of Sikh (I think) friends push their stuck car out of the snow.

Frank M. He’s 95 years old. Shoveling more than 200 feet worth of lines into the snow, off his sidewalk, out of his long driveway through his long yard to the garage in his backyard.

Skin nearly translucent with age, a big old smile on his face, eyes and mind clear as day, memory sharp.

He grew up 80 years in the house. He was born just across the street, before the huge siloed wall was completed and blocked the view and access to the harbor waters just on the other side. He owns a little place in Chester he probably bought in the 1940s for $400 bucks.

I asked him what kept him so sharp and healthy and cheerful and of course he said: exercise, getting outside. And liking people, and looking up, and smiling.

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