Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meet Jimmy. See Jimmy’s bruise? Jimmy plays racquetball. Jimmy is old. I want to be like Jimmy. As of this writing, Jimmy is 85 years old with a mind as quick as a whip splitting the air with a crisp snap while his body remains relatively motionless as the handle end of the same whip. Oh, he moves. His feet are just a bit more stationary than the activity going on in the tip of his head, like any good whip is. Jimmy also has the ability to sting you. His reflexes never cease to amaze me. No matter how hard you hit a ball at Jimmy, his racquet-filled hand flies up to meet the ball and instantly tames the ball into submission as he dinks the ball to the front wall with no possible return. Ouch. That hurts. I’ve won many games with Jimmy as my partner and I’ve lost many games with Jimmy as my partner. But you NEVER feel like a loser when you play with Jimmy. When Jimmy misses a shot, there’s no drama. No pouting, no swearing, or strutting, complaining or self abasement as he walks back into position. Just a shrug of the shoulders knowing he tried his best and an occasional stink-eye given to his opponent. Did I mention I want to be like Jimmy?
Off the court, Jimmy is as much a delight as on. How does he remember I have a daughter attending UCLA? I almost get the feeling he would watch a game on TV just because he knows my daughter attends the school. And every time he asks “how is your daughter doing at UCLA?” his face breaks out in a smiling grin from ear to ear as he hears how much she loves it there. “That’s great, that’s so great, isn’t that great? I’m so happy for her”. And how many times does Jimmy give up his turn to play so that the younger old guys can play? No proclamations of entitlement. No whining. Just letting others go before him just for the joy of watching others play… and maybe catch his breath.
I’m not sure what all Jimmy has been through in his life. I’ve heard that WWII and Pearl Harbor may have had an influence on who he is. Perhaps it’s his hippy haircut or inability to hear what we’re saying half the time. Whatever it is, the result has been a humble, gracious, caring and patient man. I count it a privilege to know Jimmy. In fact, I’d like to be like him.
Ok, so about the bruise on his arm. I did it. It was one of those rare times my ball moved faster than his whip-like body and mind. Ouch. Sorry Jimmy.