My Turn: Old at last

Published 12:10 am Monday, July 18, 2016

By Bruce La Rue

You’re only as old as you feel. Age is just a number. Yeah, whatsoever. I once thought 40 was old. I was wrong. Then, I thought 50 was old. Again, I was wrong. I was right about 60. Had I known I would live this long, I might have taken better care of myself.

As I approach the end of my sixth decade on this side of the sunset, a few things make this birthday a little different than the other decade-ending milestones. For one thing, I’m finally getting old; I feel it on the inside, and show it on the outside. I have mirrors in my house, and if I have my glasses on I can see the game trails left behind by the woodland creatures of time.

“These glasses make me look old.”

“No, Honey, the sparse gray hair and wrinkled, sagging skin make you look old. The glasses make you see better.”


I like to think I have learned a lot over the years, but modern technology has left me in the dust. Just about the time I finally figured out how to set the clock on the VCR and make it stop flashing along came personal computers, word processing, and the Internet. I was pressured into surrendering my Motorola bag phone, not to upgrade my telecommunication capabilities and options, but to avoid embarrassing my family. I now have an iPhone, a truly amazing device with all sorts of capabilities and options, about 1 percent of which I actually know how to access. I just want to be able to make a flipping phone call (which I could easily do on my old flip phones.) I do not need access to an old black-and-white video of String Bean or Spike Jones and make it magically appear on my Facebook page. At my age, I am more concerned with being able to contact the appropriate personnel in an emergency.

“If only we had gotten to him sooner.”

“What’s the last activity on his iPhone?”

“Hard to tell. It looks like he was trying to upload 911 into the cloud.”

“Too bad he didn’t have his reading glasses.”

Turning 60 has brought me in touch with my mortality. When I was 20 I thought I might live forever. Now I am quite certain I will not, and that’s okay. I have reached that point at which I am too old to die young, and anything beyond that is bonus time.

Even after I became a grandfather, I did not feel old enough to be a grandparent; grandparents are old, right? I now have four grandchildren, with another on the way.

A couple of years ago a dear uncle passed away, and once the dust of mourning, grieving, and reminiscing had settled, it occurred to me that I am the patriarch of my immediate family. Patriarchs are even older than grandfathers, right?

Many people suffer short-term memory loss and difficulty maintaining focus as they age. Fortunately for me, there is a squirrel in the elm tree just outside my window, whatever that has to do with the price of eggs in China.

Wasting away again in Metamucilville

            Doctor says I can’t have any salt.

            Some people claim

            I’m too old to have game

            But I know


            What was I saying?

The long-term memory remains solid, the painful stuff as well as the achievements, accomplishments, joyous events, and fun. I remember the ’60s, a decade that encompassed all of the above. Perhaps the most impressive product of the time was a brand of laminate known as Formica. This material, glued to three-quarter inch plywood, could withstand a nuclear attack, protecting schoolchildren crouched underneath from radioactive fallout and falling roof trusses. I am convinced that America won the Cold War because the Soviets were unable to obtain the formula to make Formica, thereby leaving their schoolchildren vulnerable.

I have had my heart and mind changed over the years, choosing to admit I was wrong rather than trying to contort the wrong into seeming right. I have made my share of mistakes and bad choices, but for the most part folks have been quite forgiving, making them better people than I am. If I have learned anything in my life, especially in light of recent events, it is this: we don’t hold grudges; they hold us.

Come on, 60. I’m ready for you.


Bruce La Rue lives in Mt. Ulla.