How to be a geezer
Since living to an old age is supposed to be our reward for taking good care of ourselves earlier in life, I wonder, “Just where the heck did I go wrong?”
This geezer thing just plain ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.
I have literally spent a lifetime trying to do all the things we are told are good for us and supposedly will lead to a long and healthy life. I quit drinking alcohol almost a half century ago. I quit smoking tobacco about 30 years ago. I never did smoke pot. I quit using salt in my food about 25 years ago. I get ample exercise; I don’t use any drugs except the myriad pills my health care professional prescribes; I avoid needless stress; I dare not sass the wife; I avoid discussions with the opposite political bunch; I keep pets who soothe my emotional upsets; I try to stay active and the list of my “do-goods” goes on and on.
I am still trying to get a handle on what I am supposed to do now. If I thought I was the only one feeling like this, I would be upset. However, I see many other old folks also trying to cope with all these “why me” maladies, so knowing that misery loves company, I feel not quite so unfortunate.
The failing memory is a bother, but I don’t have any glorious past to relive, so it doesn’t matter much. I do get miffed when it takes me twice as long to do half as much as I used to do. One benefit of that is being able to call the neighbor over to help, then getting the coffee and pastries working and maybe planning how to attack the task tomorrow. One nice thing is meeting friendly new faces all the time … until they remind me that we worked together for 10 years. Fortunately, the embarrassment fades fairly quickly.
It is said that adversity breeds character. That has to be true. We geezers have faced a lifetime of adversities, some large and some small. Taken in the aggregate, anyone over 50 has earned quite a few scars and calluses. Now, as to the issue of character, many of us are referred to as “characters.” I believe the term doesn’t upset but very few of us. After all, we have seen a lot and done a lot and have managed to survive mostly intact. If some young 50-year-old squirt wants to call us names, it just says they don’t know what’s coming to them in a few years.
We geezers may be old, but we are not yet dead. We still appreciate the beauty of youth. We enjoy good food and good music and yes, some of us still enjoy romance with the right partner. We also enjoy sharing stories about places we have been, and we like to hear stories about the adventures of others. We enjoy basking in the glow that surrounds the real, honest-to-god heroes in our midst. We can also share the grief of a good friend at their loss of a loved one. And we do, of course, still have tempers and we rant and rail at what we see as injustice or stupidity or cruelty. Sadly, we are no longer able to offer our services to our country’s military. We already did that a long time ago. Even though we cannot be the warrior we would wish to be, we can still stand with our hand over our heart for our national anthem and we can, and do, remove our hat when the flag passes. We can proudly sing our national anthem with all the right words. We can also weep without shame for our fallen comrades and all those who followed our generation.
When I was a youth, I used to wonder why old men would sit for hours claiming that they could fix the problems of the day if they had a chance. Now I know exactly how they felt and I understand their astonishment at the changes they saw in their lifetimes. When we were youngsters we try to become what our peers and respected adults wanted and expected us to be. So we worked our backsides off to be that ideal person. Then oh-my-God, suddenly we are saddled with family and responsibilities and mortgages and careers and on and on. We look in the mirror and see someone who looks just like Dad or Grandpa, then we fuss at some foolishness of the kids and what do we hear? Why, that’s Dad’s voice coming out of my mouth!
At about that point, we take stock and realize that the guidance and instruction we were given by our elders was pretty much the way things really are in the world. But we then think maybe I should listen a bit closer to Dad or the mayor or the boss because they seem to be pretty well tuned in to things. Then, just about then, we realize that treasure trove of wisdom and golden advice is now sitting there in the form of an old person, yup, a geezer. That same person has already cleared the path for us to have an easier road to tread than the one they had to deal with. And we suddenly grasp the thought that that geezer will soon be gone and with him goes all those easy answers and that fount of irreplaceable knowledge.
Coming back to the now for those of us geezers still hanging around, we are experiencing an odd mixture of emotions at just where we are in our little world. We can be proud of our accomplishments and of our offspring. We can take satisfaction from the knowledge that we, too, have made our own contributions, just as a whole lot of folks who fought their own battles and had their own successes are now trying to figure out just how to go about being a geezer. It gets real interesting.
I wish I had an answer.