A few weeks ago, my husband was complaining about his knee. A champion bowler -- having traveled the country to hit pins -- he counts bowling as one of the joys of his life, and a hurt knee could stop him from sliding and coordinating for a strike.
But today? Today he just smiles as he becomes an octogenarian.
Aside from the knee and a few aches and pains, he tells folks he does well for an old man. Believe me, that is just talk. Sometimes he feels much younger -- thinking that those in their 20s sound older than he. One can hear him say, "Old people can make old people older."
He doesn't feel his age as long as he focuses on his dreams instead of regrets. Having spent all of his teaching career in the halls of Robert Smalls Junior High School, he felt that he could turn students around -- and that he did. His trophies are their lives.
While living in town, students would come by to see him. Now, many call and chat about "Joy Boy," the demands that were made on them and how, ultimately, it made good citizens of them. Many of those students became a part of our family and still visit.
"I loved the years in the classroom," he says. "Where I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students. My students were second to none."
The only time he looks back is to learn and move forward.
He talks about the movies, television specials and radio programs he was in, having a major role in the film "Daughters of the Dust," and being an extra in 13 others. In the role of Tunis G. Campbell, he learned about the life of a man unknown to him, a great African-American from Savannah.
Many Sunday mornings, he is the song leader at King Street Church of Christ. Singing "Amazing Grace" can lift his spirit for hours. He feels one should enter quietly to serve God and respect his presence in the sanctuary.
Much can be said about him as you observe my happiness and the respect given to him by his children and grandchildren. He speaks what he believes, sometimes with warmth and other times as the spirit moves him. He is T.O. to me, Da-Da to our children and Pa-Pa to the grands.
I've learned so much from him and when he cooks, I find very little wrong. When he shakes more salt than I want to handle, I've learned to wash it out with herbs and enjoy.
What kind of diet causes one to reach the ripe old age of 80? It is not one that Dr. Oz would recommend. It is not one that my digestive specialist suggests I follow, for sometimes late at night the fried food is being served and a Pepsi is being poured.
Oh well, I guess a little wrong food makes one do right. One thing is for sure, I do not complain when he is at the stove: I compliment everything he fixes.
Country Ham With Red-eye Gravy
1 to 1 1/2-pound sliced ham
1/3 cup water
Cut ham into serving pieces. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ham and reduce heat to medium. Fry each side 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Remove skillet from heat. Remove hot ham slices with a fork and place on a platter to serve. Remove skillet to medium heat. Stir in water. Use a spatula to scrape crisp bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring gravy to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook about 1 minute.
Serve immediately with fried ham.
Fried Shrimp Patties
1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deviened
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion, minced
Enough milk to make the batter
Mix all ingredients; add shrimp and mix well. Drop by tablespoons into hot vegetable oil. Fry until golden brown.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.