My hunka bro Roger Welsch (aka Heyoka ta Pejuta), a well known humorist and writer with forty books in circulation, has a new book out with the title “Golden Years, My Ass.” The subtitle describes the tone of the book: “Adventures in Geriatric indignity.”
As he has aged, Roger has turned into a poor man’s Andy Rooney – a curmudgeonly sort with a good heart. Actually, like me he has a bad heart health-wise, but he is good-hearted, generous to a fault and an indomitable fighter for the underdog, especially when the underdogs are Indians.
I agree with Roger’s assessment of the so-called golden years of seniority. But even though the old joints are rusting and won’t respond with the agility they did in years past, and even though the night visits to the john are getting more frequent, and even though I sometimes need a mid-afternoon nap to make it through the day, I consider old age better than the alternative.
My wife calls me a “failed retiree” because I can’t seem to enter that period where we all feel that we’ve done enough damage and maybe ought to hang it up and leave it all to younger folks to screw up for awhile. For one thing I can’t say no to groups that ask me to serve on boards of directors, or to participate in other civic activities.
Actually, retirement isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, anyway. Roger Miller, that late, great American philosopher, poet and songwriter, tells us “Every day is Saturday to a dog.” That’s also true with retirees, but I don’t especially like it.
There’s no TGIF anymore; no weekends to look forward to with eager anticipation. And Wednesday is no longer “hump day” – coasting downhill the rest of the week. (Actually, there’s no more hump days of any kind at my age, but I won’t go into that.)
Another thing that bothers me is the openness of public files with data that various hucksters use to target their markets. Now with the Internet opening new mediums for transmitting advertising, it’s even worse. For instance, the whole world knows that I’m a geezer, and I’m getting all kinds of ads telling me how I can enjoy geezerhood more than I do.
I have been getting junk mail advertising what we used to call “old folks homes” but are now called assisted living, sunset villages and other nice terms that make people think their inmates actually enjoy them.
Worse than that, though, on-line I’m getting spam from sellers of Viagra, for instance, and increasingly from people wanting to hook me up with nice single or widowed old ladies. This is depressing for me and, I’m sure, for those nice little old ladies who might be on-line as well.
Another thing, clothes don’t fit like they used to. Now I understand why the only pants I can buy that will stay up without suspenders are those that are so long-waisted that you can pull them up just under your armpits; that way, your belly will hold them up, since you don’t have a waist any more, or a nice set of buns to hold them up where they’re supposed to be. When I complained to my wife about this, she responded that I never did have nice buns, but she just never mentioned it before. I must admit I’ve always had cradle-board buns.
One of the good things about nature is that mirrors will lie to us, and make us think that we don’t look all that bad for the years on our bodies and minds. When I see someone I haven’t seen for many years, although I always say, “You look great!,” I’ll say to my wife as we walk away, “Geez he looks old.” But he’s probably saying the same thing to his wife about me.
But fortunately I have my health – which isn’t all that good, but it’s all mine. I walk every day, usually about a mile and a quarter, or whatever I can do in a half hour. I’ve given up golf since I lost two fingers of my left hand in a car accident a few years back. I could never play golf very well anyway, and the loss of the fingers gave me a good excuse for not doing it anymore. I was usually double bogey by the time I got to the first green.
Since the Battle of the Wheezing Geezers didn’t come off as planned -- matching me against Tim Giago in response to his threat to knock me on my Gluteus Maximus -- I’ve quit training for that.
There are good things to being old, the first is the fact of just being alive, for which I thank Tunkasila each day. And another is being called Grandpa by so many younger people on Facebook and in person, and being introduced as an Elder at student gatherings. There’s a wonderful, warm ring to those words, and they make life worth continuing beyond aches and pains and sad memories.
Charles "Chuck" Trimble, was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation, and is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. He was principal
founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970, and served as
Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972-1978.
He is retired and lives in Omaha, NE. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
and his website is www.iktomisweb.com.
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