Of all the stages of life that I have experienced, even the ones that I may still not have completed, given a touch of arrested development here and there, the one I find myself in now may be the most interesting and perhaps the most challenging.

These days I have many friends who have passed the test of time and become bonafide AARP members. With that distinction many have started to experience issues that come with later life, some not so pleasant — joint pain, hearing loss, memory lapse to name some of the conditions that descend upon all of us, and lo and behold some are slowly creeping into my purview. But there is also an experience that I will never have but that many of my friends are experiencing to their great joy: Grandparenting.

I have to say, though, that sometimes as they regale me with stories about what this grandchild or that grandchild did, the other effects of aging sometime interfere with the telling. They start the tale and I miss a word and ask a question and they look at me blankly and say, “What?” So I repeat the question and add where we were in the story and again they stare at me and say, “What were we talking about?”

But eventually we get back on track with the stories, and when I hear how one grandchild sneaked up and tackled my buddy or listen to another friend recall with pride watching his preschooler grandchild score four goals and then laughingly remark, “There was no goalie!” it reminds me of my time with my own grandfather.

My grandfather always had a few tricks up his sleeve. One was when I sat on his knees facing him, he would take both my hands by the wrists and gently make me slap myself in the face saying, “Why are you hitting yourself?” This would go on for a while to my utter amusement, and I didn’t want it to end.

Another one of his famous jokes was to hand out a coin and say, “Here’s a nickel, go out and play in the traffic.” Of course you wanted the nickel but the task as charged was hard to fathom.

Another aspect I enjoy hearing about from my friends is who the grandchildren are taking after. One kid takes up the piano from Grandma’s influence, another takes up sports like Grandpa. In my case, I was influenced by a great-grandfather to go to sea and by the grandfather with the coins to take up music.

It would be nice to be around long enough to see this generation grow and change, a thought I am sure all my friends have which makes them want to spend as much time as possible with their grandkids. There may be no greater love than that of a grandparent to their grandkids, and vice versa.

So there is a joy hearing about the experiences these friends are having with their progeny. It’s a pleasure to hear the re-runs even though I know memory lapse is at play. Navigating the challenge of seeing some friend’s faculties degrade, the challenges of communicating, repeating simple things, like where we are heading, what we were doing, aren’t an imposition. They only show me what I may have to face as I slowly, though not begrudgingly, reach the truly elder years.

This experience has also provided me with a good slogan for my roofing and siding endeavors: “Old timer roofing and siding, we’ve been at it for so long that . . . Um . . . ah . . . what were we talking about?”

Joe Keenan is a roofer, baker and musician living in West Tisbury.