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Writer Without a Clause: Old Man Syndrome, Essay #3

Updated on January 25, 2019
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Chris practices free writing which often produces humorous or introspective results with practical applications to living life more fully.

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?

This photo brought tears to my eyes. It is my dream.
This photo brought tears to my eyes. It is my dream. | Source

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


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    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I work with a few guys here who are not just past the age of 65 but its a 'long way back in the rear view mirror!' and they're enjoying every second of still working!

      I'm not quite there yet, but with a little care for myself, and friends on the way I'm looking forward to being a 'young old' man!

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      2 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Alan, You just sailed right past the average life expectancy for men. Good going and all the best to you in the year and years to come.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      2 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Shauna, I appreciate your look at reality. Yes, let's celebrate 62 and do all we can to be healthy and happy at 63.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      And just for the record: have no heart problems that I know of; or diabetes; or dementia (can't remember who told me that..); have not smoked tobacco for over 50yrs; don't drink alcohol to ever get drunk; don't drink c-cola; don't eat vegetable oil or margerine, only butter; love plenty of cream and full-bodied milk; am not vegetarian, love eggs; rarely have a big, bloating meal; have hiatus hernia but it's under control; mild macular degeneration; hearing aids and intra-occular lens replacements, yes.

      Never played sport, not interested.

      But healthy? You bet! Roll on 100!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      My declaration, at the ripe age of 77, to the young man of 24:

      "You are a young, old man. I am an old, young man. We are each a man. Let's respect and learn from each other."

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 years ago from Central Florida

      This is a fun look at aging, Chris. I, too, was born in 1957 and will be 62 in March. Funny thing is, I know I'm aging but don't really see how much from the inside looking out. That is, until this past Friday when I attended a memorial service for the last surviving uncle on my mom's side (she's one of 10, with she and one sister remaining). It was basically a family reunion. I saw cousins I haven't seen in years. The thing is, everyone has aged! We're in our 60s and 70s. Some have grandchildren. It was a real eye-opener to the reality of life. It was trippy and cool at the same time.

      Let's celebrate 62 Chris!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Oh, Chris! You are better than me with your sons still under 35. So you definitely have the 100% chances of enjoying with your grandchildren. And, I wish for it.

      In my case, both my sons are above 40 (I have no daughter) and unmarried. One will never marry and the other is not getting any nice girl. This is the reality. So, I don't know whether I can see my grandchildren coming.

      And, regarding food, exercise, and other activities, I am here my solo boss and cook to do whatever I like. Only the elder stays with me and he leaves it all to me. My choice is his choice.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Chris, beginning with acceptance, we can learn to be the old people that the young ones want to be like when they grow older. I enjoyed reading your reflections and insights. Thanks for sharing and I hope your grandpa status becomes a reality..

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 years ago from UK

      I used to watch a British sitcom called 'One Foot in the Grave' many years ago about a grumpy retired man. As I have got older, his attitude has resonated increasingly with me, which is a little alarming. Your caricatures are amusing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I think a lot about this now, at seventy. Just a number? Tell that to the creaking bones and protesting muscles at the end of each day. :)

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      2 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I am older than you and I have 5 kids and 12 grandchildren. Ok, I cheated. I married a man with 2 children, 4 and 7 years old. I have had them for over 30 years now, and claim their kids as mine. I eat spicier food than my kids, every one of them has gastric reflux. I don't exercise a lot, because of a bad back, and I have gained weight since they killed my thyroid 21 years ago.

      Right now, my oldest son and his 3 year old are living with me and that child wears me out daily. During the warm weather, I scoot around on my tractor seat, weeding and taking care of my veggie garden. My son, the landscaper, helps me get it planted and prunes my rose bushes. I am definitely getting older, but still living life as I want to. I sit out on my back porch when it is nice out and read a lot. I crochet and quilt, and as active as my back allows.

      I do, until it hurts too much to keep going and then, I sit and do something inactive. I am doing my best and am happy with my life, except for missing my husband, who died 2 years ago. He would have been out on the porch with me, reading and watching the wildlife, and playing with our grandson, who is the only one living close enough to see regularly. The child is a lot of fun and very busy.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      2 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      I'm sorry, John. It was personal and something that connected with me. I thank you for your friendship here on HP. You have been very patient with me. Thank you.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Oh, I see it has disappeared...that's strange. Hope it comes back, but at least you got to read it and reply first. Thanks.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      2 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Eric, you are an awesome friend. Let's just keep challenging each other until we drop. Love your grandchildren and your own little one. These things take on such a new meaning as we age.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      2 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      John, I am concerned. I lost your post. I don't know if I accidentally deleted it or what. Hopefully it comes back. I appreciated so much your encouraging words.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I like even though you are a good 10 months older than I. I love my recliner but my eight year old thinks it is a swimming pool and does cannonballs on me. I used to get out of my chair and grunt. And then I noticed I did it. And stopped it -- that was at 45, yikes.

      I am surrounded by much younger.

      I hate that saggy chin/throat deal. But my wife being a crazy Asian says it make me wise to look like I lived so long. What??

      Tomorrow the hike will only be 4 miles with light pack. I have a Grand Canyon hike to get ready for.

      I am still startled looking into the mirror. That old man cannot do what I do, must be fake news. Love always my friend on our journey.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      2 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      John, that is encouraging. I did not know we were the same age. You do seem younger, to your credit. Enjoy the grandchildren. I know you value each one and don't take them for granted. I don't keep old clothes since I travel so much and don't have room for excess baggage. But I look forward to going back down the row of pants sizes on the store racks.


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