Getting older really isn’t that bad

The old saying “Live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse” had become Sandy MacDougall's mantra.

There comes a time in the lives of most people when they suddenly realize they are getting older.

I was born in 1940. When I was younger, I wondered why on Earth anyone would want to live long enough to welcome in the new century in 2000.

Living until the year 2000 would mean I would be 60 years old, an age definitely beyond the understanding of a teenager, whose main focus was on the here and now.

The old saying “Live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse” had become my mantra.

As the years rolled by, I never really noticed much change in my attitude, but my disdain for old things and old people seemed to slowly slip away into the recesses of my consciousness.

The year 2000 even came and went and I barely paid notice except that I was glad to still be here.

We had children, grandchildren and, eventually, great-grandchildren. Suddenly, getting older became much more desirable than the alternative.

Slowly the true impact of growing old has become more apparent.

That fairly slim athletic body of my youth has given way to something frequently referred to by rude youngsters as an obese old windbag.

Along with the disappearance of my much slimmer physique, my middle class wardrobe also vanished to be replaced by a variety of sweat pants and obscene, sweaty t-shirts and a collection of flip-flops and a few pairs of comfortable, sensible walking shoes, which, in my youth, I would have called runners.

No more smart suits, white shirts, ties and a carnation in my lapel. Those have all been replaced by threadbare sweat pants, ratty looking t-shirts bearing soup and other assorted food stains, and worn out socks, all of mismatched colours.

For an added fashion touch, there are those ill-fitting dentures that I sometimes forget to put in my mouth before leaving the apartment for my morning coffee.

And then there is trying to remember whether or not I have taken my daily medication, which amounts to one tablet.

I usually solve this problem by placing the vial containing my medication right in front of the small dish wherein I leave my teeth overnight. Of course, if I forget the medication, I will also likely forget my teeth.

And there has been more than one occasion when I have left the apartment still adorned with the cordless headphones from the television, wearing two different shoes, no eye glasses, and, of course, no teeth. However; I guess the one true advantage of sweat pants is not having to check to make sure your fly is done up.

As a younger man, I loved hiking with a few buddies and cycling. But nowadays my arthritis forces me to restrict my physical activities to pushing a large shopping cart around Costco with one equally aging old friend and manipulating the buttons on the television remote control.

Let me sum up some of these issues: I have glaucoma, arthritis, poor hearing, and I am probably pre-diabetic. About the only thing I have retained from my youth is my grumpiness and warped sense of humor.

Despite all these problems, I still feel a lot better off than many others who are no longer here. I am beginning to feel that I can embrace old age with no sense of loss or embarrassment. I’m now looking forward to my advancing years and whatever other frailties I pick up along the way.

Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.

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