Pacing through the Pines

Anyone can get old if they live long enough

May 3, 2013 

“Nice to be here? At my age it’s nice to be anywhere.”

— George Burns

What’s all this nonsense about the joys and pleasures of growing old? Who wrote that book?

Right, you work hard your whole adult life, hoping for good health when retirement knocks on the door but instead you’re knocked off your game and eventually end up knock, knock, knocking on Heaven’s door (to quote Bob Dylan).

You thought you’d spend those “golden years” kicked back with a good book — and maybe you’d wet a line on an immaculate lake — but you discover more rust than gold and you end up drenched in forgetfulness with lines on your face.

Instead of reveling in endless and glorious free time, a guy I know pretty well struggles along on a bum left foot, while witnessing his reflection in a downtown store window and wondering who that gray-haired senior citizen is with purple veins popping out of his beat-up hands.

The youthful dream of a stress-free, pleasurable retirement ends up being more like a nightmare when you go into the kitchen and forget what you were in there for. So you retrace your steps but forget where you were when you had the thought that propelled you up out of the chair in the first place. It gets confusing.

You set the car keys down to fix a noon meal and someone must have stealthily entered the house and swiped your keys because they’re not where you left them. But where did you leave them, and where’s my wallet with my driver’s license in case I need to head to the Cookie Crock to replenish my supply of Ensure?

Yep, the guy was told as a kid he’s going to have a wonderful life and thank God it gets better in those senior years. He was reminded more times than he can remember to plan for all that free time, all those morning coffees with no deadlines and endless sunny California days to warm weary bones as he hangs out on the back deck with the treasured morning paper.

But nobody mentioned that along with the sunshine those onrushing years bring a touch of arthritis, a constant ringing of the ears (Google “tinnitus” if you’re not sure what that is), an occasional bout of gout and eyes that need what the late Art Beal called “cheaters,” just to be able to read the sports page.

The 49ers got into the Super Bowl? Wait, this can’t be today’s sports page — who won the pole vault in the British Summer Olympics? Is Joe DiMaggio still playing center field for the Yankees?

Oh heck, it’s not all that bad. Aging actually brings with it some amusement. Everybody who is old is starting to look normal and high school kids look too young to be out of the high chair.

The other day I saw a kid who looked like he might be enrolled in Head Start out at the Coast Union campus. Ha! He was driving an SUV. Somebody check that driver’s license.

All this is pertinent to those in Cambria who are, as they say, “getting along in years.” But it’s super relevant to this reporter who faces the reality of the big “seven-oh” coming up on the first day of July, this year. I plan to celebrate with my official, well-edited bucket list and a cold beer (or two).

But hey, it’s great to know a guy’s not alone. To wit, the 2010 U.S. Census reported there are 1,912 people 65 years of age or older in Cambria. Hmmm, 1912. Isn’t that the year the Titanic crashed into an iceberg and sank?

Freelance journalist and Cambria resident John FitzRandolph’s monthly column is special to The Cambrian. Email him at john fitz44@yahoo.com.

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