Tag Archives: Getting older

doctoral thesis vs dissertation

It is hard to know when I first noticed that my parents were aging.

The closer you are to a subject, the more your perceptions are distorted and you don’t see as clearly.

For example, my mother and the mother of a childhood friend of mine both grew up in Germany.

When I would visit my friend, I was always struck by how thick his mother’s accent was so many decades after living in the states.

One day my friend remarked on how thick my mom’s German accent was, and I was like: What accent?

So too it has been in discovering that my parents have gotten older.

The revelation was most forcefully driven home after they had been traveling with a bus tour and Dad tripped in a parking lot and fell, fracturing his arm.

A trip to the emergency room and later his own doctor back at home left his arm in a convoluted sling that rendered the arm immobile and pretty much useless.

I learned that Mom had to feed Dad because his dominant arm was out of commission. He was also having difficulty sleeping because of the discomfort and pain.

When my wife and I visited a few weeks after Dad was on the mend, it was shocking to see Mom sticking a napkin under his collar while he ate with his non-dominant hand.

And a month after that, Dad fell off a chair while reaching for something on the floor while visiting us. I was in the kitchen when I heard a noise and the next thing I saw was Dad on his side on the floor.

It was quite the shock to see Dad — an authority figure who commanded respect and who I remember from childhood as being the strong guy I turned to for leadership — out of commission like that.

My reflections on all of this resurfaced after my brother-in-law’s father recently died at age 90. Ed’s dad was an energetic go-getter who unexpectedly took a bad turn after heart surgery.

And within weeks of his death, my former father-in-law, a contemporary of my Dad’s, also died years after learning he had Parkinson’s disease.

Dad has had a heart attack,  a defibrillator installed and significantly slowed down over the past six years. There have also been a couple of medical crises set off by high heat and lack of hydration.

All of that said, Dad, who will be 79 in the fall, is in good spirits and will soon have physical therapy. He is even driving again.

Mom looked a little worse for the wear immediately after all of the strain of his fall but things seem be more settled.  Though she complains about being old, there’s not much slowing her down.

They live in a retirement community that residents euphemistically call “God’s waiting room.” While there’s a bit of gallows humor about that, there is no escaping that, in the end, time claims everyone, including your parents.

You Know You Are Older Than 50 When …

An AARP columnist astutely and humorously listed 11 things you should not do when you are beyond 50.

Jell-O shots.

Trying to break a plank with your head.

Crowd surfing.

Truthfully, I am not so sure how wise any of those are at ANY age.

But it did get me thinking about getting older. So, with her column as inspiration, here are the ways I know I am north of 50:

I understand the meaning of the phrase “Film at 11…”

I recall: “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?”

I exercise twice as hard for half the results.

I realize how little of the world I’ve seen.

I recall well a conversation from more than 30 years ago with a veteran newsman who was probably younger than I am today.

He said to me: “Chris, newspapering is a young man’s game.” At the time, I thought, “Pshaw!” But now? Hmmmm….I think I understand what he meant.

I am more aware of mortality — mine and others.

I watch a movie and say about the actors and actresses: “Oh, he’s dead.” “Yeah, him, too.” “She’s dead…”

I am aware of how little I have saved for retirement.

Turning 70 suddenly does not seem so out of reach.

Playboy removed the photos of nude women and I didn’t notice.

I have to pee when I don’t want to, and when I want to, I can’t.

I find myself saying things like “Kids today…”

I remember when spell-check was a dictionary.

True piece of dialogue among myself, my wife and two friends:

Friends: Describing how one of their daughters watches cable television shows with strong mature content.

Me: Well you have just that one TV in your living room, right? So you could monitor what she watches. Where else is she going to watch these programs?

My wife: (Turning to me with a dose of exasperation): On her computer…?

Me: Oh, yeah. Did I tell you about the rotary phone I have?

The idea of having a doughnut for breakfast repulses me and I instead embrace a bowl of oatmeal.

I can’t read in bed because the book is too heavy.

I read nutritional labels for fiber content.

When I am filling in my date of birth on a computer form, it takes longer and longer to scroll to reach my year.

I look at old photos of my parents and realize I have already eclipsed the age they were in the pictures.

I make sure to turn out the lights in a room because I remember the energy crisis of the 1970s.

I jaywalk less.

I am more aware of my balance (or lack thereof).

A nap? Why yes! I think I will take one!

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17 at Heart, Older in Other Places

It first happened about 14 months before I turned 50.

I went to a Dunkin’ Donuts, ordered my customary hot medium coffee and expected to pay about $2. I handed over two singles but when the cashier rang it up, I got back a handful of change.

I was surprised but chalked it up at the moment to the price fluctuations you sometimes see among different franchises and the fact that I was not paying close attention.

And then I looked at the receipt.

And there it was: A 10 percent “senior” discount.

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I was flummoxed.

How dare they let me pay less! I want to pay full freight, damnit!

To hell with saving money! My ego needed saving!

It is not that I am vain about my looks (mostly, I really am not) it’s just that mentally I have the maturity of a 12-year-old.

The Three Stooges.

Making fart noises with my mouth.

Trying to get your friend to splooge soda through the nose with a well-timed joke as he’s drinking.

These things are the art forms that I adore.

Tony Horton, my exercise hero (think of him as this generation’s version of Jack LaLanne) addresses this often in his various exercise DVDs:

“Aging is for people who do not know better.”
“Aging is for idiots.”
“I’m 55 and hello! I feel like 12.”

This might sound Peter Pan-like (sing it with me: “I Won’t Grow Up!“), but on the occasion of one of my buddies turning 17, we got together at his place and took a semi-solemn vow to remain 17 forever.

Granted, this was *cough cough* 33 years ago and happened amid the imbibing of beer and some very strongly mixed Tom Collins drinks.

That image of us, crowded in the hallway of Silvio’s apartment, drinks raised, has stayed with me.

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When I asked him about it recently, he wrote back:

“BTW, how did that pledge work out for us <<he asks as both knees pop, his neck creaks and typing this caused a shooting pain from his fingertip to his eyeball>>??? Oh you mean 17 at heart. Owww!”

Well, he has a point.

I guess I prefer to believe that we have no choice about growing older but that growing up is optional.

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