I was born in 1937 and immediately hopped to age 17. That was followed by a quick skip to 47 and then a split-second jump to 77. And now like a growing number of others I am a full time resident in seniordom. But unfortunately, unlike some other seniors, I do not live on the ever-sunny side of the street. My side of the street has its fair share of inclement weather.
I am very much aware of those people who are happy living in seniordom. They travel to far, exotic places; jump out of airplanes or swim from Cuba to Key West. More power to them. They are the ones who as seniors live their lives with no pills, who still smoke or drink a healthy shot or two (or more) of Jim Beam – or do both – daily. Running two miles a day is mere child play to them. They look forward to Wednesday and Friday aerobics at the club. They still can play a great round of golf. They are interviewed on TV with pleas to reveal the secret for their longevity. The truth is that they won life’s power ball lottery with a payoff of great genes.
Having said all that, I am not an old grouch so I don’t begrudge them their happiness at an advanced age. Rather than viewing myself as an old grouch green with envy, I prefer to think of myself as a rational contrarian. And as a contrarian, I’d like to say, “Bah, humbug. Old age sucks!”
Just as there are those winners, there are many more losers. It is we the losers who are buying doctors mansions and Mercedes Benzes. It is our Medicare and secondary insurance (if one is lucky enough to have one) that makes hospitals and drug companies the envy of all other businesses trying to make a profit. We have a bedside table full of pills along with our trusty pill case we take with us wherever we go. We are the ones who awake each day with a body racked with aches and pains. When we talk to our similar-aged friends, it is about the number and kind of pills, replacement knees, replacement hips, the number of stents and/or high blood pressure or cholesterol. Then we are always looking over our shoulder to see if the long deceased German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer is getting ready to knock on our door.
Given all that, I want to undo that last jump in my life and return to age 47. Now that was a great age. I didn’t live on the sunny side of the street then, I owned the sun. I could dance and drink into the wee hours and still be at work on time in the morning. Back then dining was a matter of what looked good on the menu or grocery aisle, not what will set off my pancreatitis. Thirty years ago the only pain I had was trying to lift something too heavy just to impress some woman. Who the hell ever heard about or talked about the excruciating pain of trigeminal neuralgia back then? Have spinal surgery for lower back pain? Better to deal with the pain than risk that kind of surgery.
Those who are in their forties or there about look at us who are in our seventies and snicker or shake their heads in dismay. What the fools don’t realize is they are looking at themselves in thirty years. God has not suspended time just for them. They are still too young to realize thirty years go by in 30 minutes. At my advanced age I have gained enough wisdom to know that the problem with life is that those who are 47 (and this included me) are too dense to know how well off they are.
That rugged complexion is tomorrow’s weather-beaten look. That face that doesn’t need much makeup at all will soon have you thinking about Botox then facelifts or resigning yourself to however Father Time decides to treat your countenance. Their only hope is breakthroughs medical science might find or create. And even then they better hope that McDonalds gets into the medical field so they can afford whatever pills, devices or surgeries they are going to need. The day will come when the calendar is more important than the clock. The flicking of calendar pages will seem like the swift moving second hand on their watch.
In thirty years hence, some of them may think back to this contrarian and say, “By God, he was right – Bah humbug. Old age sucks!”