A personal essay by Loren Bullock

Nowadays I am always somewhat surprised when I look at that old man in the mirror looking back at me. The features are familiar. I have watched his hair thin out and turn to gray over the years. I remember him looking back at me when I first started to shave at fifteen or so. He looked back at me in his Navy Ensign’s uniform in World War II. I’ve watched him age, but I never seemed to feel the same corresponding change in me. In so many ways, I am the same me of that little boy of five, or that shiny new Ensign, or that young Assistant Professor of Physics, or that IBM Branch Manager. I am still the me that is curious about everything, fascinated by the stories of history, and in awe of the complexity and wonder of life itself.

I recognize that the old man in the mirror has been all those things too, but I always think that I am standing up straighter, striding out with my head up, standing at military attention at the playing of the National Anthem – until I see him in the reflection of a store window. So although we are good friends and know each other pretty well, there is still a disconnect.

So when you see him on the street walking with a cane, please recognize that there is really a different person inside, a person who is very much alive and interested in all the people around him, and who is grateful to be a part of this amazing thing called life with its gift of love. I accept each day to be enjoyed, but also to be used. I am still struggling to be a better human being each day.

So I salute you my friend in the mirror, as he salutes me back.