Whether it was first said by composer, Eubie Blake, baseball player Mickey Mantle, or producer, Adolph Zukor, one of my favorite quotes has always been, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
Although I loved Mickey, it was probably better if it came from one of the other two. Mickey was 63 when he passed, Eubie was 96 and Adolph was 103. At any rate, it kind of underscores a theme. What is old and how do we recognize when we are—or should we?
Back on April 14, I turned 80 and I had some nice tributes made to me. It makes you wonder—do they know something I don’t know, ‘cause I have to tell you: I don’t feel old yet. I think that might relate to a lot of things: how my family sees me, what I am still able to do, and certainly, playing golf up at RCC with that bunch of renegades I associate with. They sure help keep you young, because they treat you the same no matter your age—with nothing ceded and lots of barbs. It’s a blue-collar place and I love it, because that’s how I grew up. Ask no quarter, give no quarter and get it done—or pay the price. That’s how life should be; rise or fall on your own merits. I guess I am old, but this poem illustrates my thought on old:
When did I get old?
When did I get old?
I looked in the glass when I rose today, the man staring back looked tired and gray.
When did I get old? I remember my hair, wavy and brown; my body firm with no paunch to be found,
So, when did I get old?
It’s sad to wake and suddenly find, the image you knew is but left in your mind.
And, suddenly you’re old! There is no color left in my hair, I have no breath when I climb the stair!
My skin is sallow and lost its tone; the child that I held is now full grown.
Some things that I loved are now a bore and games that I played can be just a chore.
I guess I’m finally old! But, WHEN did I get old??
Was it when my hair went from brown to white, or when my skin was no longer tight?
When my breath was short instead of long, or when my drive was not so strong?
Was it when my gait had lost its grace or the sands of time just fell into place?
Was THAT when I got old?
Not the passing years or a fading look; not the early exit my brown hair took;
Not a sagging physique or a child that’s grown are signs that your youthful years have flown.
Not a paunch, a wrinkle or double chin are signs that your “golden years” are in.
So, WHEN DO we get old?
The answer, you see, wasn’t easy to find, but, now I see that it’s all in your mind.
I kept asking the question, again and again, and it really isn’t important WHEN!
If the fire in your heart NEVER grows cold, then no one will care WHEN you are old. JDF
At least, that’s how I see it and I intend to keep proceeding that way. I know that’s how my hero, Andy Trinkaus, sees it. Andy, who will be 98 in May still has coffee with us each morning. On that aforementioned birthday of mine, he entered to front door, speeding along on his walker, and sang Happy Birthday to me: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear, (and here he paused, temporarily forgetting my name. Dunc quickly shouted “Dumbass: and Andy went right on,) happy birthday dear dumbass, happy birthday to you. That’s how I want it to be: sense of humor, still involved and –oh yeah—I hope I’ll be still playing golf with some success.
Joke: When you buy a baby diapers for their “accidents,” they’re called Luvs or Huggies. If you need diapers for old people, they’re called “Depends.” Why is that? Well, if a baby has to be changed you’re still going to Luv ‘em and Hug ‘em , but if an old guy has the same accident, whether you change him or not Depends on if you’re in the will.
Historical oddities: * In 1977, researchers detected strong radio signal from space. It lasted 72 seconds and hasn’t been heard again (that we know of). Strangely, that was during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the only president to have a UFO sighting on record. * John Tyler, the 10th president of the U.S. had two grandsons who were still alive well into this 21st century. * Alexander the Great conquered half the known world by the time he was 22. The last known widow of a Civil War veteran, Maudie Hopkins, died in 2008. Favorite Sayings especially for old folks) *I can remember the words to songs from 60 years ago, but can’t remember why I came to work today. * I’m not sure if life has passed me by or just run me over. * Life is short, so smile as often as you can—while you still have teeth, * Any ending that I’m still around for, is a happy ending for me. *I don’t regret growing older. It’s a privilege that was denied to many of my friends. See ya--JDF