— By LARRY M. JONES
If my memory serves me correctly, I think it was actress Bette Davis who is credited with the quote saying, “Getting old is not for sissies.” Speaking from experience, I think she may have been on to something.
We all go through “seasons” of our lives. In this regard, I am reminded of a passage from 1 Corinthians 13, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” Some folks today seem to have a harder time of putting away the childish things of our youth, and they tend to drag them into middle age. Perhaps this is because many parents today do not allow their children to have a normal childhood. They push them too hard in early years to excel and achieve, particularly in athletic prowess. I feel this shortchanges their childhood development. Adolescence, young adulthood, maturity, and old age will come on its own all too quickly without additional encouragement.
Compared to teenagers today, I would be considered an “old man” at a very early age. Even as a teenager, I was conservative in my values, and even somewhat responsible in my behavior. Yet as I grew older, I realize my actions and judgment were marginally acceptable well into my 20’s.
As I entered my late 20’s, I began to see for the first time that I was not bullet proof and invincible. At this time I realized that normal wear and tear was beginning to manifest itself in permanent ways. No longer could any physical anomaly always be “fixed.”
I have been physically active throughout my life, participating in sports, as well as working hard on the farm. This has had both positive and negative effects on my health. Staying physically fit is wonderful overall, but certain sports and occupational exertions can be especially bad for our skeletal and neural systems. Concussions, pinched nerves, repeated pounding on joints, and stressing connective tissue can cause problems that will endure for a lifetime. I’ve seen many of my friends, especially runners and former athletes, who have required joint replacement surgery.
This past week I have been introduced to one such physical meltdown. Despite becoming a “bit long in the tooth,” I continue to work fairly hard on the “pore farm.” However, for the past six months, I have been having significant pain in my right wrist. I regarded it as just one more ache or pain associated with getting old. As Grandpa Jones might have said, “My rheumatiz had flared up.” Being right handed, this was beginning to be a bit unwieldy, so I went to the doctor. After a seeing my primary care physician, getting an X-ray, and a referral to a hand specialist, I learned I have a ruptured tendon which, because of my age, is essentially irreparable. This was my first hard lesson in old age—-deal with the pain and make do with what you have left.
In addition to Bette Davis’ sentiment, I’ve heard, “Getting old is hell.” That’s not true. Getting old was really a lot of fun. It's being old that’s hell.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.