What Makes Me Proud About Being A Senior Citizen
Yep! I know I bitch about getting old but looking back at my 65 years of existence on this earth there are so many things that I am fortunate to take tremendous pride in; some are silly, some comical, many emotional and most prove a point that today's world is no better off than it ever has been. Oh, there's been countless improvements in technology and science that has made our lives easier, but I contest... has it really made our lives better?
A friend sends me little snippets of platitudes every once in a while I feel compelled to share a few, as well as, add a couple of my own. I hope you get the connection and if you're old enough, understand the connection... enjoy!
First... those of us from my generation, survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and drank throughout their pregnancies. I know I did. To top it all off... my mother was subject to the doctor taking many x-rays. They also gassed her with ether for sedation when I was delivered. During her pregnancies with me and my siblings, she also drank copious amounts of coffee and caffeinated tea, ate red meat and struggled with chronic back pain that resulted in her taking what is now considered harmful medication in search of relief.
When we were kids, we were placed on our tummies when put down to sleep, our cribs were rickety with slats wide and sides that dropped down easily.
When we were growing up we survived even though childproofing hadn't become fashionable. Parents actually had to pay attention to their children because medicine bottles didn't have un-openable lids, locks on cupboard doors and cabinets were inconvenient and unheard of and dangers lurked everywhere throughout the house.
As infants we rode in cars on our mother's laps. When we grew older, we rode in the back seat. We didn't have seat belts, car seats, air bags and we often times stood up behind the driver (our parents) and peered over their shoulders as we drove to whatever location we were headed.
When we got old enough, we rode our bicycles with bald tires, coaster brakes, bent handlebars and no chain guard and we wore baseball caps and not helmets doing so.
Aches and pains were most generally treated with items that we hated because they smelled bad and / or caused us even more pain. A toothache resulted in dabbing a little oil of clove on the tooth with a cotton swab (boy, did that taste awful). Teething babies also received a treatment or two. A cut or scrape usually ended up with a dose of merthiolate tincture or mercurochrome. By the way, 50 years ago both contained mercury and iodine which we now know are poisonous carcinogens.
We played outdoors whenever weather permitted (often times even when the weather was horrible), we stayed out in the dark and played "kick the can" until all hours of the evening and we did so without supervision. Often times, we would leave home in the morning to go to friends houses or to the park and we were gone all day. Our only requirement was to be home by dinner time.
We drank calorie-laden sodas and soft drinks and Kool-Aid made with real sugar cane, we ate Hostess cupcakes, real butter, oleo margarine, white bread, bacon, chicken with the skin still on it, mashed potatoes with gobbs of gravy. We ate pork and beef with marbling fat still attached and many other things that have been deemed unhealthy. We also ate candy bars that were 3 times the size that they are today and sucked down sugary "pixie-stix" and gobbled down penny-candy like it was kernels of corn, yet most of us weren't fat because we were always outside playing and very busy.
We had three or four channels on television, no DVRs or video recorders, no cell phones, no CDs, no surround sound, no computers and no internet. Our social media was either the telephone or face-to-face conversation with friends and family. And if we were bored and desired more to do, there was always chores, homework, cursive writing practice and reading books to fill our time.
We fell out of trees, got cuts and scrapes, broke bones and knocked out teeth. When we acted out, we got spanking (sometimes with wooden spoons or leather belts or worse yet... willow switches) and none of us ever threatened to call child services.
As kids, we were given BB-guns as presents, played with cap pistols, pointed sticks that we used as make-believe swords, wrestled in the backyard and watched cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner (that are now considered much too violent and/or politically incorrect).
If we acted out aggressively our parents wouldn't bail us out of trouble. Nope, they sided with the what was truly right. Instead of making us feel justified, they would whoop our asses by giving us spankings. And, if we were real bad, they would have no problem with us having to spend an evening or two in juvenile detention. And, all of this was so that we would understand that there are consequences to our aggressive actions.
Back in our day, we had tryouts for sports and academia. There were winners and losers and only the best got to participate. To excel in something was actually looked upon as aspiration... and if we weren't good enough to be "top-tier" we learned to deal with our disappointments. This often times gave us determination and something to work towards improving. Not everyone got trophies or ribbons. We learned that life was tough and if we truly wanted to be better that meant we had to hone our skillsets. That way, when we reached a level of achievement we raised out heads high in pride in knowing what we had accomplished..
We had freedoms back then that were far greater than what we have today. 5-6 hours of playing ball in the park that was a mile or so away from home, or playing at a friends house until a predetermined time were commonplace. Parents thought nothing of allowing us to walk to school alone or ride the bus downtown.
We learned at a early age that if we wanted something badly, we had to earn it. And, in the course, we bloodied our hands, sweated profusely and saved our own money. When we were 12, we got up at 5 in the morning, packed lunches and rode dilapidated / repurposed old school buses that should have been retired and picked berries and beans in fields miles away to earn cash, and throughout it all... we soon learned first hand that privileges like wearing Levi's and having a record collection required working and motivation on our part to save up enough to buy them.
Yes, we had our biases and personal opinions back then; not everything smelled of roses, but most of those negative traits were learned... passed down to us from our parents and their parents. We were a product of our environment and still are. We knew our place in society. We also knew that with determination and hard work we could make a better living for ourselves.
Yes... in the days when I was growing up we found out early that not everyone was created equally. Some of us had skills others didn't have and others of us were lucky enough to be born into a higher tax bracket. Regardless, we knew in our hearts right from wrong and most of us worked hard to suppress our bigotries and anger.
Our society was evolving when I grew up and with each day, we found that morals and ethics were good things to have and that churches were a pretty good source to learn more about them. When we achieved something on our own we learned about honor. If we were wronged, time would heal most of our wounds and with kindness and determination we would overcome many of our faults as humans. We were God fearing people, regardless of our religious persuasions and we worked harder to overcome barriers that divided us.
We didn't have our hand out or cry foul because someone had something we didn't. Only those truly destitute were supported with governmental entitlements. If a friend or neighbor needed clothing, shelter or food, there were always friends and neighbors that would lend a helping hand until one could get back on their feet.
Speaking of neighbors... we knew ours and were friendly with them (for the most part). Seldom were there fences between property and always there was someone to comfort you when tragedy struck.
We found heroes in those that rose above the rest of us. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Superman portrayed or were fictitious characters and their messages were unified in spirit: Do the right and justice will prevail. For me, Willie Mays, Mohammed Ali, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Fran Tarkenton and Bill Russell were not just sports figures, but individuals that I placed on pedestals not only for their abilities but for how they represented themselves.
So, where am I going with this? Despite fretting about it, I have aged and with that aging has come a kinder person that is less critical of oneself then I used to be. I guess you might say that I have become my own friend over the years. And, maybe I have a different perspective on life than our younger generation does but I attribute that to growing wiser.
The world has become crazier with the technologies we now have. Kids today don't appreciate what their parents and grandparents had to do to survive. And, not only have the scientific enhancements enriched our lives they have stressed us to the point of frenzy and made culture pretty much insignificant. I find myself looking backwards and remembering the "good old days" with fonder memories.
I have seen too many friends and family members leave this world, some long before they should have. My brother Dana left us before he understood the wonderment that comes with aging. Yes... I said wonderment. With his passing, as well as, the passing of many of my close friends and beloved family members my heart breaks. I now weep openly when a person suffers and I find contentment in pets. I appreciate the things that I have and find comfort in the friendship from those that have become a great part of my being.
I have had many broken hearts; from breakups with girl friends to the passing of friends, yet I believe that broken hearts are what give us understanding and compassion. Often times we gather strength and determination when we physically and emotionally lose someone. Often times the hurt runs deep and lasts a long time. I know it does for me. It is said that "a heart that has never been broken is too pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect." And, aren't we all imperfect?
The only perfection in my life so happens to also be the love of my life, Janice, as well as, my kids and their kids. There is so much joy that I derive from them that I couldn't imagine an existence without them. They make me happy and feel privileged. They fill my heart with pride and purpose. Oh... there are issues that crop up every now and again, but that is life, isn't it?
At my age, I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray and fall out. I am blessed to have wrinkles in my face that came from both laughter and sorrow. I am blessed to have a full stomach and the wisdom to know that such a simple thing as eating or walking can be social events, as well as, necessities. I am blessed to reach an age where I don't give a damn what people think of me because if they see something negative in my personality, then they don't know me. If I choose to read a book that might be a little off-color or blog on my website until all hours of the morning, so be it. It's no one else's business but mine. I am also proud enough to walk the neighborhood in clothes that might be a little too small and not care that I have bulges that I never had in my youth.
The one thing I do wish were different though is that I care to be less forgetful. I think the loss of our memories is why we fear death. Oh, I know that there are some things in life that are best forgotten, my past experiences (whether good or bad) are still sacred to me. They are fond memories, even when times were hard. That's probably why reminiscing is so important to me these days.
July was hot and dry. August began even hotter. Just the way summers are supposed to be... right?
My health is questionable but I am under doctor's care. I will go under the knife to remove plaque that has built up in my right carotid artery. The procedure is called an endarterectomy and, if all goes according to Hoyle, I should be back home after an overnight stay in the hospital. Recovery time should be less than a month and other then a scar on my neck, the downside of this surgery is minimal. The upside is that my risk of having a stroke in the future diminishes to less than that of a person without atherosclerosis.
Funny (in a peculiar way) had this been diagnosed 25 years ago, what I have would have been a death sentence. Thankfully, I live in a time when technology and our understanding of the human body can turn back the hands of time. Vascular blockages when caught in time can be cleared before a heart attack, stroke or TIA occur. I am lucky and thankful that I have another chance at life.
Ryan... our middle son, turned 40 a few weeks ago. My three sons: Mike, Robbie and Chip (actually Jason, Ryan and Kyle) have all grown in themselves. All are different and all have such great wisdom. They make me so damn proud. I remember back to when I was their ages (which so happens to be 45, 40 and 37 respectively). I was working hard on a career and sustaining a family. Now I watch them as they go through the same things that I did at their ages, only their purpose and their careers are so different than what mine was.
Janice and I met up with friends Bob and Doe in Port Angeles, Washington where we camped and took the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia. We spent an afternoon at Butchart Gardens and dined downtown. Our friends, Jan and Eddie drove up from San Diego to stay a spell. We always enjoy their company.
Little else has happened this last month other than prodding and poking by nurses to ready me for surgery. Wish me luck with that.