Writer Without a Clause: Old Man Syndrome, Essay #3
Writer Without a Clause is just that, me, the writer, without a thing on his mind about which to write. I begin with a blank screen and move on from there. And today, the result was, Old Man Syndrome.
Age and an aging body have been on my mind more and more the last few years. Age is only a number, they say. Show me who they are and I’ll have a word with them. It’s not that I think age is not a number because clearly, it is. I recently passed the age of my father at his death. He was 59 years old. He was barrel-chested. So am I. He carried a bit of belly fat high. I’ve developed my own over the last three years. It looks bad and feels worse. I’m thinking of getting rid of it. Tying my own shoes has become slightly more difficult, and I won’t use velcro. Yes, age is more than a number.
Don’t get me wrong, I accept age 62 as a reality. I mean, all I have to do is a little math with the numbers 2019 and 1957, right? But what does it mean to accept one’s age when we get to that age of needing to accept it? Let’s play with a few scenarios about this.
#1 The Old, Old Man
My god, I’m 62, I look 82, and I feel 102, at least. What’s that damn noise. Oh, it’s the neighborhood brats coming home from school. They don’t know school. What they call school, we called recess when I was a kid. I wonder what the wife is making for dinner? I’ll just poke my nose into the kitchen—Good lord, chili? She knows I can’t eat chili. It gives me heartburn and gas. I should check on my supply of Rolaids. Maybe I’ll fit in a little exercise before dinner. Yep, I’ll just sit right down here and start rocking. Love this recliner. It’s been with me for a quarter of a century. Where’s the remote? Oh, I’m sitting on it. Let’s see what Pat and Vanna are up to this evening. Look at that Vanna, and she’s only a year younger than me. She should start acting her age, and for sure should start dressing like a mature woman. That dress. What a disgrace. Oh, where’s my inhaler? I must have left it in the bathroom during my morning constitutional. I’m really not looking forward to that tomorrow morning after chili tonight.
And for You Older Women, This is Awesome
#2 The Old Man in Denial
My god I look good. These full-length mirrors in the gym are just what I need for admiring the man who’s still got it all at age sixty-two. Well, hellooo there. Wow, would you look at that? And I get a double take to boot. Smile little lady. You’re a lot prettier when you smile. Oh yeah, she loves it.
[Author's note: Ok, that was disgusting]
#3 The Young, Old Man
Thank you, God. I’m 62 and still going strong. I’ve got my home, my wife, our family, and friends. Every day is still an adventure, and my wife’s cooking is second to none. I wonder what she’s making for dinner. I’ll just poke my head in the kitchen—Yippee, chili. I’d better check my Rolaids stash, but it’ll be worth it. It’s time for our walk. I’ll see if Cindy can go while the chili simmers. We have to stay fit to keep up with six grandchildren.
Where do I fit in that trio? God, strike me dead if I end up as number two. In 1957, the year of my birth, the life expectancy for men was 66.4 years and 72.7 years for women. Today, we’ve gained about ten years each. In my opinion, what’s the point in living longer if we aren’t going to continue to live happy, active lives. Seriously, I could not look forward to ten extra years with Pat and Vanna. Although, as a single man, I must admit, Vanna is doing marvelously.
But to answer my own question, I believe I’m 70% number three and 30% number one. What’s the point of this reality check? The point is, I’ve still got a number of years ahead of me, and I want them to be good years. But let’s approach this from the negative side for a moment. Here are some sobering statistics.
Approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least two. Four chronic diseases—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—cause almost two-thirds of all deaths each year.
Can I do anything to give myself a fighting chance against those statistics? Lose some weight? Exercise? Break some bad habits? The payoff may not be a longer life, but it certainly will be much more enjoyable. Are you ready?
My two sons are awesome young men. One is 33 years old and the other is thirty. Neither of them is married and they have no children. Just a few days ago, my son informed me that he and his girlfriend of 10 years are considering having a child. My heart did flipflops. I wanted to jump and cheer.
But this brings us back to the topic at hand. Will I be a grumpy, sickly old grandpa? Or will I rise above mediocrity to a new and higher standard?
© 2019 Chris Mills