My Final Year As a Quinquagenarian

 

In other words, I turned 59 today.

Anyone between the ages of 50 and 60 is a quinquagenarian. It’s a word you use all the time, right?

Are you kidding? People that age get worn out just saying it. Who the blue devil came up with that title, anyways?

Never mind, here I am, standing at the threshold of 60. A threshold I thought would take a lot longer to show up. Truly astonishing, how fast life runs when you’re not looking.

It’s unfair, too; by the time you come to appreciate just how precious your days on this earth actually are, they’re mostly gone.

But enough gloom and sadness. The larger point is, I’m still here! And, as that noted philosopher once said, “Any day above ground is a good day.”

(Even with the guy we currently have as President, but I digress…)

Also, considering that I’ve spent the last several years with depression as my constant companion, occasionally urging me to just cash it all in, it’s a small miracle I’m still around.

And, on the whole, I’m glad I’m here. Despite what I try to tell myself sometimes, life actually is worth living.

Especially when I can get in some naps. Us old folks need those, you know.

So, have a piece of cake for me. Heck, indulge; have two.

Just don’t make me blow out any candles. I’m still a little winded from saying that word.

 

 

 

The Secret

 

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Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.

You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines.

“Time”, Pink Floyd

Songwriters
ANDREW WRIGHT, SIMON SMITH

Published By
Lyrics © T.R.O. INC.

First time I heard those words, I was 14 or 15 years old. I didn’t grasp the significance of them back then, obviously.

I sure do, now.

I recently wrote a post about commemorating yet another birthday, and I alluded at one point to how getting old scares me a bit, so I should probably explain myself. You may not want to read on unless you’re really happy today, because this one’s a bit of a downer.

I see my folks, they’re getting old
And I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me
And it makes us both feel strange
No matter how you tell yourself
It’s what we all go through
Those eyes are pretty hard to take
When they’re staring’ back at you

“Nick of Time”, Bonnie Raitt

Songwriters

BONNIE RAITT

Published By
Lyrics © BONNIE RAITT

First of all, and I know this is going to sound so shallow, but have you seen what old people look like? With their wrinkled up faces and age spots on their hands and turkey wattles on their necks? I know, I know, I’m sorry, I really am, but I just can’t envision myself looking like that. Not me. My hair is definitely grayer, and there’s less of it than there used to be, but I’ve accepted that, more or less. Those other cosmetic changes are gonna be much harder to face.

But, it’s not just the looks; it’s the health. I dread what the future holds for this steadily deteriorating shell I walk around in. Will I get slowed down by arthritis? Will I be felled by a debilitating stroke, like my father, and bedridden for the last years of my life? Or will my worst fear come true, and Alzheimer’s slowly and mercilessly steal my mind, piece by piece?

It’s stuff like this that, whenever somebody says getting old “beats the alternative”, makes me think, “Are you sure?”

And, yeah, I know, none of those things may happen; I may just get hit by a truck, instead.

But, I’m the kind of guy who thinks, my life has gone pretty well so far, something’s gotta happen sometime to screw it up. The Law of Averages dictates that the scales eventually have to tip the other way.

What can I say? It’s how I roll.

 

Truthfully, though, I think the worst part of getting older is how everyone else gets older. So, the older I get, the more funerals I’ll be attending. Funerals of friends and family members. People I’ve known and loved for years, for decades, for pretty much my whole life. I want to keep them around forever; I don’t want to say goodbye to any of them, and it will seriously break my heart when I have to. I am really not looking forward to that part.

I mean, I know that’s all just part of it; we’re born, we live, we get old and die. That’s how this thing works. It’s never bothered me as much as it has lately, though. I know, I should probably just shut up and accept what’s coming, because it certainly doesn’t come only to me.

Just feels like it, sometimes, that’s all.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

“Time”, Pink Floyd

Songwriters
ANDREW WRIGHT, SIMON SMITH

Published By
Lyrics © T.R.O. INC.

On the bright side, though, friends, (yes, there is one) I am working towards reconciliation of these issues, because I know a life lived in fear and dread is really no life. It’ll just take some time for me to reach the state where I can believe what singer James Taylor said years ago:

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

“Secret O’ Life”, James Taylor

That’s the goal for me. Hope I attain it. Sooner, as opposed to later.

57: It’s Not Just a Steak Sauce Anymore

 

So I’m 57 this month.

Actually, every month for the next year. (rim shot) But seriously, folks…

What I want to know is, how did I get here so freaking fast? It really is amazing. It’s like grabbing ahold of a rocket just as it launches, then hanging on for dear life.

I remember Dad taking me out to lunch on my 30th birthday, and him asking me if I ever thought I would be “this old.” I said I never thought I would be this old this fast.

And that was 27 years ago!!

Now, I’m at the age where my friends and I compare medications. (What’re you taking for your high blood pressure/cholesterol/diabetes/yadayadayada?) With all the stuff I take, I’m a walking chemistry set. I worry, one of these days, they’re all going to interact with each other, and I’ll spontaneously combust.

I can no longer sit down or get up quietly anymore. The action has to be accompanied by this groaning noise, like I’m putting down or picking up some huge, tremendous weight. Which, of course, I am. Gravity is a terrible thing, sometimes.

Speaking of which, I seem to be getting shorter, as well. I’m pretty sure I used to be just a shade over six feet tall but, according to my last few doctor visits, I’ve been measured at five-ten to five-eleven. If I live into my nineties, I might end up as a dwarf.

I have reading glasses scattered all over the house, in an effort to reduce the number of times I’m caught in a room without any when I need them. It’s bad enough being caught in a room with no idea at all why I went in there! Then, I have to play detective, searching for clues, retracing my steps, interrogating myself, roughing myself up when I don’t give the right answers…it’s just terrible, I tell you. I should know by now, if I just leave the room, then I’ll remember why I went in there.

Then, you know, there’s the cosmetic stuff. I don’t look too wrinkled, I think; the fat mostly conceals that. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Also, I don’t know how this happened, but the hair that’s missing on my head has evidently relocated to my ears and nose. I guess it’s more fertile there, because it sure seems to grow faster there. I think someone should open a chain of ear and nose barbershops; that is a seriously untapped market, if you ask me.

Fortunately, though, I haven’t become a geezer, yet. I haven’t taken to wearing Bermuda shorts with knee socks, and I don’t go around knocking kids over the head with my cane, although that part actually sounds kinda cool.

And, by the way, kids, you may not want to take naps now but, trust me, the day will come when you will absolutely live for them. Really.

Bottom line, despite my whining and complaining, it’s been a pretty dang good life, so far. I’m glad to still be here, with the people I have in my life. (and the pets!) Done lots of things I shouldn’t, avoided doing lots of things I should, got more than a few regrets, but many blessings, as well. Getting old is a pretty scary thing to me, but I won’t dwell on that here. Some other post, perhaps. Right now, I’ll just be happy with where I am.

Since the only wisdom I can pass along is what I can borrow from someone else, I’ll leave you with some lyrics from my all-time favorite lyricist, fellow Texan Don Henley. Hope I get to stay around awhile longer.

Later, y’all. Nap time.

I look in the mirror now
I see that time can be unkind
But I know every wrinkle
And I earned every line
So, wear it like a royal crown
When you get old and gray
It’s the cost of living
And everyone pays
It’s the cost of living
And everyone pays

“The Cost of Living”, Don Henley

Songwriters
DON HENLEY, STANLEY LYNCH

Published By
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

For every moment of joy, every hour of fear
For every winding road that brought me here
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my thanksgiving

“My Thanksgiving”, Don Henley

Songwriters
HENLEY, DON / WINDING, JAI L. / LYNCH, STANLEY

Published By Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.