April 29, 2011

USA: "As people age they begin to appreciate the “little” things in life"

PORTLAND, Maine / The Elder Storytelling Place / Time Goes By / April 29, 2011

Upon Reaching 60

By Mickey Rogers of  This, That and the Other

I can no longer rationalize the fact that I’m old. The President of the United States, my doctor, my accountant and even my favorite football coach are all younger than I am.

Perhaps I’m not “as old as dirt” as my son likes to say, but I’m a senior citizen nevertheless. Maybe 40 is the new 30 and maybe even 50 is the new 40, but 60 is 60 any way you look at it.

I like to brag that I can still do the same manual labor today that I did when I was 20. This is not an exaggeration. For example, even at this advanced age, I can still mow the hills and valleys of our property with a small push mower.

A few years ago, an ex-baseball player, pitching in an exhibition game, claimed that he was throwing the ball as hard as he ever did; it just took the ball longer to get to the plate. Likewise, I'm pushing that mower just as hard as ever, but now I need about two extra hours to finish the job and afterward, I hurt in places on my body that I hadn’t even known existed.

There’s still a little boy living inside me but the poor lad must be shocked whenever he glances into a mirror. Like it or not, I’m looking more and more like my father - not the extremely handsome young man but the old, wrinkled grandfatherly version.

By age 60, our priorities have changed. After all these years I can still remember the batting order of the 1962 New York Yankees. The fact that I cannot list the 2011 Yankees’ lineup is not so much senility as a change in focus. As a kid, sports were among the most important events in my life. Today they rank somewhere around number 200, just behind a good nap.

As people age they begin to appreciate the “little” things in life such as a beautiful sunset, fragrant flowers or a songbird‘s melody. The younger folks have little time for such subtle delights; they’re too busy getting educated, climbing the corporate ladder, finding a mate and rearing a family.

One advantage to getting old is that most of us learn to appreciate and accept ourselves, warts and all. Maybe I no longer look like Burt Reynolds but these days, neither does he.

A couple weeks ago, an elderly lady said I was a ringer for Cary Grant. After a few seconds of contemplation she added, “Of course, he’s been dead for several years.“ I think she was implying that I look like Cary Grant‘s corpse! Talk about faint praise!

Oh well. At this point in life, for better or for worse, a smart move is to follow the teachings of that great philosopher, Popeye the sailor: “I am what I am.”

This is the time in life when a hot bowl of soup trumps a hot date and when the idea of a fun night is an extra hour of sleep. Surprisingly, The Lawrence Welk Show is now a viable alternative to rock and roll. Indeed, at this age many of us have expanded our musical appreciation beyond the songs of our youth.

It’s sad, in a way, to see rockers in their 60s and 70s still performing songs that address the problems and concerns of teenyboppers. Today, if they wish to relate to their own generation, the Rolling Stones, when singing they are getting “no satisfaction,” should be referring to their lack of success with a denture cream or a prescription for constipation.

Other things have changed, too. The other day my wife, who was upstairs, called out to me, “Dear, if you run upstairs we can make whoopee.”

“Sweetheart,” I replied, “at my age I can either run up the steps or make whoopee but not both. Which do you prefer?”

© 2011 Ronni Bennett.