I think I have mentioned before that my father had three simple words to describe the aging process. He said, “Growing Old Stinks!” Not a particularly profound statement, but it fit his pragmatic personality and his succinct way of saying and doing things. Of course, I was always young at the times when he said it. Hence, I would always sympathize but never empathize. Nowadays the latter term has become more relevant and I do feel his pain since I’ve caught up and even passed the distance he traveled. Fact is, I am only a mere month and a few days away from a birthday he never reached. I have thought about this a lot lately; it is hard not to. I am going to be the age I always perceived grandparents to be. And, dammit, here I am a grandparent of a brood ranging from eight to twenty-two.
Now, let me hasten to say this is not some pessimistic, feel-sorry-for-myself quagmire that I’m trudging through here. I’m just making some observations that I have discovered along the way. For example…It’s true, old folks do read the obits in the newspaper more than any other demographic. Now I suppose it’s also true that old folks are the only ones left these days who still read newspapers. I find that when I do, l always stop on that obituary page for a scan of the day’s “harvest.” It’s here that I have noticed another new quirk about myself. In the past, when I heard or read about someone’s death my usual first question was always “how?” How did the person die? I’ve noticed that is no longer my first question of interest. Now it’s…”How old was the person?”
Meanwhile, I swore that I was not going to be one of those elderly folks who devote most of their conversation talking about all their aches and pains. Which reminds me, you should see how my fingers are growing in all kinds of grotesque directions as the effects of arthritis take hold. It is so freaky to look at my hands that one cannot help but mention it. Then, once I’m done discussing my hands I have an elbow to tell you about.
I have given thought to one more observation as my birthday—my 70th—approaches in mid-May…and that is how bazaar it will be to have people singing Happy Birthday to me. Trust me, this is NOT going to be a happy birthday. It would make more sense if the chorus went something like this….”
Sad birthday to you, Sad birthday to you.
Sad birthday Dear Marc, Sad birthday to you.
Now that sounds a lot more appropriate to me than the traditional happy crap. When you are young, birthdays are meant to be happy events and you look forward to them every year. They mark your advancement in life not only in maturity, but in accomplishments made and those yet to be made. But at my age, I have accomplished about as much as I am going to. Yes, I still have a few more things I’d like to achieve, but at this stage my glory days have pretty much been glorified.
So where to from here? Well, there’s really only one place. It’s simply a matter of how rough the trip will be getting there and how much further down the road it is. One thing’s for sure–there are no signs along this highway telling you the speed limit or how many more miles you have to go. I just hope there’s a Dairy Queen when I get there.