'Someone said you can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old....'

Tom CookNow that summer weather is finally here, my family and I have been taking advantage of it all.

One of the activities that we enjoy is going to Hagg Lake with my 35-year-old Bayliner ski boat. I had the big outboard rebuilt five years ago, and she runs just fine. I can pull the huge five-man tube with no problem. And since it is an older boat, I don't worry about dings and dirt from the kids.

My four teenage grandsons have a blast on the lake seeing who gets dumped, who goes skipping across the lake like a smooth stone and who can hold on the longest. And I have my GoPro camera mounted to catch it all on video!

I am known as "Poppa" to the boys, and I gave up waterskiing last year. I was always proud that, at the age of 67, I could get up on skis usually on the first attempt, ski for 10 to 15 minutes, and then back to driving the again. But that was last year.

I usually stay up and then let go of the rope when I am tired. But last year, I hit a wave that dumped me hard. That was it. After having the wind knocked out of me, and feeling pretty sore the next day, I decided to "retire" from waterskiing.

Someone said you can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old. For some reason, I thought growing old would take longer.

I have always thought of myself as "young at heart." My grandsons have a pond on their property south of Forest Grove. Even though we are not at the lake, they can still have a blast in the water. You see, on that pond, their dad built a rope swing from a tree, a very long water slide, homemade diving board, log walk, bike jump ramp into the water, and of course, two ziplines. I have tried all but a few of the adventures. The slide is too long and too bumpy for this old man, and I have not launched a bike off the ramp and into the water.

So, this summer has helped me realize that I see myself not so much as old — just vintage. And as I watch the four boys yell out, "Hey, Poppa, watch this!" I can relive my youth all over again.

Tom Cook is a volunteer chaplain for Forest Grove Fire & Rescue and the Forest Grove Police Department.

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