I promised myself, a long time ago, that if I should become an old person, I would not ruminate about being old. The reason I made this promise was that all the old people I knew were always talking about being old and it was depressing and boring. Well, now that I am actually old, I find that the thing I know most about (and about which I have ample documentation) is the business of being old. Of course, I could just keep my mouth shut. Alas, though I have lived a long time, and though I have always dreamed of being one of those silent mysterious types, I have not learned the lesson of reticence, much to the regret of the few close friends I have left.

The body is the world’s most eloquent professor of gerontology. You don’t even have to take notes: it’s a continually updating notepad. You just have to “read” it. I sometimes think I am being singled out as a kind of test bed for ailments. Then I walk through a modern drug store and see evidence that I am only one of millions who are falling apart. You can tell how things are going with your neighbors by looking at the size of the different displays. Pain relief is perhaps one of the biggest sections. Then comes the 3 C’s, coughs, colds and congestion. Close behind comes irregularity and incontinence. Although this doesn’t cover the entire spectrum of aging complaints, it is instructive.

I met this guy I used to work with in the grocery store not long ago and as he talked, it became apparent to me that we both had similar cancer issues to deal with but he never gave me a chance to share my experiences.  He seemed desperate to talk about his physical problems.  He went on and on.  Finally I stopped him and said that I needed to pick up a few items for company who were coming over soon.  This statement contained enough truth to be useful without guilt.  He thanked me for the “chat” and wished me well.  There was no “chat”.   I never said a word.

I don’t lack for cancer commiseration.  My daughter and daughter-in-law and I are all survivors.  We’re all at different stages of our own journey.  And we do in fact chat.

I am a lucky men. I can walk without assistance, and eat most anything, still handle good liquor and, after several medical interventions, I see quite well and hear fairly well depending on conditions.

Same time next year?

I’m Jerry Henderson – 88 and counting.

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