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‘When’ is a word older folk may overuse

"When" means different things to different people under different circumstances at different times. It is often an excuse for avoiding details. I’ll get that done when — sometimes "when" never comes.

Older folks read the Telegram and are more apt to read this column. When is a word that is used often by older folk. Some of us are old enough to have even heard Kate Smith when she made that old western song a favorite, "When the moon comes over the mountain."

I thought of that song today when Bud Brand, local poet and friend, sent me another of his poems, which I’ll use to close this piece.

I’ll bet many readers have used that word "when" in the not too distant past. Some folks who are early filers with the IRS are already planning what they will do when they receive their tax refund. That is a good feeling that some who never get a refund don’t experience.

When are the best times to run errands? We do most of our grocery shopping at Super One and hope to get there when their parking lot and store isn’t jammed. What is a "when" in your mind right now? I have one every week when I spend an hour on Sunday with my three kids on Skype. One, Barry, is a professor at Denver University and not a kid anymore; he is 70 years old. My daughter, Mary Beth, is a retired Spanish teacher in Minneapolis, and the youngster Terry, who played football at Superior Senior High School, is now only 63 years old is a dentist in Columbus, Ohio.

That Skype hour on Sunday mornings is a distinct highlight "when" in my life.

My second wife and I, after happy 50-plus years of first marriages lost our mates from fatal diseases. We met during our third year of lonesome lives and after many "whens," we decided we’d be happier together and that is still true after 13 years.

A less happy "when" in the mind of those my age is when will be our final call? Medical discoveries and easier work lives have caused later deaths for many people these days, but in the end, all of us will reach that finale.

Now to conclude today’s piece with the Bud Brand poem that gave me the idea for today’s title: "When?"

It seems that I

were but a lad —

Sometimes good

And sometimes bad —

And then I was

A rebel teen —

Not boy not man,

But in between

And so I grew

Into a man,


A life-long plan

Until at last

I could retire,

Attaining all

I did aspire.

Now I just sit

Day after day:

No longer work

And cannot play.

My life story

Has now been told,

But just when did

I grow so old?

— Bud Brand

I didn’t think Bud would use my oft-used sentence for the close of his poem?

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at