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Kent Bernhardt: Like a fine wine

This morning, I got out of bed and headed straight to the bathroom, which is my normal routine. In fact, it’s probably the normal routine for most people.

As I rubbed my eyes and attempted to get my bearings, I was shocked to observe an elderly man standing face-to-face with me.

He was approximately my height and weight. His thinning hair was askew, and there were dark circles and bags under his eyes. His aged face looked vaguely familiar. He made no sound. He stood there gawking at me just like I was gawking at him.

As I contemplated calling the police, I suddenly realized this man was my reflection in the mirror.

This scenario is repeated in my bathroom far too often these days. In fact, I’ve taken to introducing myself to people as “What’s Left of Kent Bernhardt”.

The guy facing me in the mirror is a far cry from the guy who was standing there thirty years ago. Perhaps, if you’re my age or older, you’ve noticed the same thing about yourself.

Bob Hope used to have a great line about aging: “When I was young, I looked great; big chest, flat stomach….but that’s all behind me now.”

Mark Twain said “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.” To be honest, I’m not so sure that’s true.

Robin Williams’ character on “Mork and Mindy” existed in such a world. His planet’s residents looked elderly at birth and steadily grew younger looking as they aged.

If humans aged in that manner, we’d just dread pimples instead of wrinkles.

Father Time works his magic on us all. He reshapes, he carves crevices in formerly smooth surfaces, he adds here and he takes away there. And none of us are immune.

Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.
— Anonymous

I often remind my daughter that she is responsible for my gray hair. The ones that escaped the latest application of Just for Men are the result of years of worry, waiting for her car to pull into the driveway well after midnight after a night out with friends.

“Every minute you’re late produces another gray hair”, I always warned her.

And yes, by the way, I darken a little. I started five years ago when I was with her at a local restaurant and someone remarked how beautiful my “granddaughter” was. I headed to the drugstore that afternoon and never looked back.

What’s to be done?

Well, there’s always plastic surgery, but that’s not for me. Besides, I’ve seen examples of the occasional celebrity who went under the knife and regretted it.

I could name a few, but they don’t need me piling on. I have the feeling they know they made a mistake.

I prefer another route.

Embrace it. Look upon every wrinkle, every gray hair, every sag, and every bag as a badge of honor.

Cherish the journey that got you there, and be thankful for every additional day. Each of those days are a gift, an opportunity to experience more of the familiar and explore the new.

Oh, and one more thing: Never lie about your age. There are far more important things to lie about — like your weight.

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.

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