Jimmy is a great man. He loves all his sons (there are 6) and all the grandkids. He'd help anyone who asked. He's kind, generous, loves Notre Dame and baseball. He also loves morning Soduko, crossword puzzles and bacon. He really, really loves bacon. I have yet to see a bacon he hasn't gotten along with.
Obviously, none of us are getting any younger, so in an attempt to help Jimmy work off that bacon, the family has had subtle interventions. One family member bought him a walking stick; another a pair of walking shoes. When the subtle didn't seem to work, my husband and I went for the obvious - a membership to the "Senior Sneaker Club" at our local community center.
"It's perfect," I exclaimed, "you go any time you want and they have all the equipment there. It'll be fun."
I let about a week go by when I asked if he had gotten to the gym yet.
"I don't have any workout clothes," he said.
"Oh, let's go buy some now!" I said excitedly. I knew he didn't like it, but he went with me and we got t-shirts and sweatpants. Jimmy was ready to go.
"Do you have your membership card?" I asked.
"Oh, I have to get my picture taken for that, I'll do that tomorrow," he said with a sigh.
"No, let's go now and then I can show you all the stuff they have there."
So, we went and he got his ID photo card. Even my littlest, who's four, was very excited about Grandpa's new gym and held his hand, walking all around to see it all. Now Jimmy was really ready.
As we were wandering around, two people he used to work with came out of a class.
"Jim!!" they called enthusiastically, "You joined the gym! This is great. We come every Tuesday and Thursday for the Tai Chi class and then we work out a little afterwards. You need to join us."
"That sounds great," replied Jimmy.
I was over-the-moon. What could be better? New sneakers, new clothes, a new membership and instant friends. "This is gonna be great!" I exclaimed.
Thursday rolled around and I coaxed Jimmy. "Are you going to meet your friends for Tai Chi?"
"Um, I guess so. Are you coming?"
"Do you need me to drive you?"
"No, but I mean, do you want to go to the class with me?" he asked timidly.
"Go to the class? Jimmy, the class is for people over 70. I don't qualify."
"I bet the teacher would let you in."
"Um, that's okay. I'll pass. This is your thing, but I want to hear all about it when you get home."
Jimmy wandered out the door and for a moment I felt a little guilty. Maybe I should have gone with him, just to help him acclimate. But really, that's weird. It was like he was a little boy, nervous about his first day of school. My goodness, this man's been through combat, he can handle a Tai Chi class on his own. Let it go, Alison.
Forty-five minutes later the front door opens and it's Jimmy, home way too early from his first day of Tai Chi and carrying a brown paper bag with an aroma smelling distinctly of Chinese food.
I instantly became Mama Bear. "Was someone mean to my boy? Did they pick on him? Was he hurt?"
"Why are you back so early? What's the matter? How was class?" I asked.
"Oh, yeah, class. Well, I decided that maybe for today I would just observe and see if it's something I'd like," he said with a nervous tone.
"And they give out Chinese food after every Tai Chi class?" I asked.
"Oh, yeah, this. I don't know. I guess you could say I felt inspired by the class," he said with a chuckle.
"I got you some sweet and sour chicken too! Are you mad at me, Alison?"
"Oh, Jimmy, I can't be mad at you. Maybe Tai Chi isn't for you. Do you want to go for a walk with me and the little guy later?"
"Oh, that would be great. Thanks, Al. I won't let you down."
Jimmy, apparently, is my oldest boy.