Friday, June 6, 2008

Birthday Greeting, Bottle of Wine

“Will you still need me? Will you still feed me? When I’m 64?” We were all twenty-something when we sang that for the first times, the Beatles, me, my friends. The challenges of ever being such an advanced age as 64 could only be contemplated in whimsy.

Three years after my Daddy retired, I received a letter saying he would come to visit me in Europe, if I invited him. I worked for the U.S. Department of State in Brussels, Belgium. The only other time my Daddy had crossed the ocean borders of the U.S.A. was in WWII when the Marine Corps had put him on a troop ship as cannon fodder for the invasion of Japan, just before Hiroshima. From Brussels, my wife and I took my Daddy to the Ardennes and Amsterdam. We went to Paris and drove to Normandy. We visited the American Cemetery, 172 acres of white markers, on a cliff, overlooking Omaha Beach. We stayed at a charming hotel in the waterfront village of Arromanches, location of the D-Day Museum. My Daddy and I posed together for a photograph in front of the museum, with the large letters prominent behind us, 6 Juin 1944, D-Day, also the date of my birth. In the picture, my Daddy is 68. I am 35.

At the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, my Daddy, drew stares by complaining about the crowded attraction in terms that would be overly dignified by suggesting an analogy to moneychangers in the temple. I can only think he believed that nobody could understand him, since he could not understand the other languages being spoken all around him. In France, the steaks were cooked too rare for him, and he missed his bacon and eggs for breakfast. “How long did it take you before you could stand this coffee?” he asked me. I was happy to tell him, “Daddy, the first time I ever put it in my mouth, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”

My wife and I often take our grandson to play at Glenlake park in Decatur. It has modern plastic playground equipment on a bed of woodchips, a creek that the children love to play in, and picnic tables and cookout facilities. One recent visit we shared with the reunion of a nearby high school’s class of 1961, only one year before my own high school graduation. I watched the arrivals of the reunited, former prom prince and princess, stag or drag, wearing relax-fit jeans and t-shirts bulging in all the wrong places. I confided to my wife, “I don’t think we look that old.”

Our longtime friend Tina Simms, who lives in Perry, recently wrote us:

Yesterday was quite the busy day and fun too. I was in WR by 10:00 am, setting up a voter education/voter registration table in front of Giant Foods on Davis Dr. When the other volunteers arrived, I left about 11:00a and picked up Claudia and took her to get her hair shampooed and cut. Then we went to a Chinese buffet and did some shopping, and then I went back to the voter activity until nearly 4:00 pm. When I got home I was fairly tired but not exhausted. Went to sleep around 10:30p and woke up at 6:30 a. Got up, ate a banana and some bran crackers, but I was still sleepy so I went back to bed and slept until 9:30! Then I felt fine. But I still don't want to do anything today except "home stuff." If I go fast for a day or two, then I have to go slow for a day or two. I am the same age, 71, as John McCain and actually in pretty good health. Like McCain, I am a cancer survivor but I don't have heart trouble or diabetes. If a day of activity necessitates my sleeping the next day until 9:30, I wonder how he manages to keep campaigning, or how in the heck he could manage the presidency without getting exhausted and cranky. Maybe we will get to see some of that famous temper of his yet.

I also forget words. Yesterday I forgot John Lennon's name, but it came to me later. If I were President, would I not forget words? Will he not forget words? The occasional forgetfulness of aging is annoying, but really doesn't bother me a whole lot because I am retired and I really don't HAVE to remember all sorts of stuff on the spur of the moment. But what if I had to speak extemporaneously and couldn't remember a name or a world capital? Eeeesh. :-(

I am probably an atypical 71-going-on-72 year old, in that I have had a lot of formal and informal education and still do a lot of mental work--reading, audio courses, writing. So it's not as if my gray matter had been allowed to get stale. IT'S JUST AGING! I'm not exempt from any of the typical symptoms, and I don't think McCain is either.


Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter

5 comments:

Tina said...

Bill, I don't remember writing that, but if you say so,I guess I did. Was going to send you a list tips on how to age gracefully, but I lost the list. :)
Tina

ANNETTE said...

Yes, I'll still need you, yes I'll still feed you, when you're 64...and 74...and 84... BUT maybe by 94 you'll need to find a younger woman, to feed both of us. (Try and find one who makes a mean eggplant parmesan).

Paw Paw Bill said...

Tina:

I am sure you wrote that stuff. I saved the e-mail, but I can't find it. Maybe it is behind the dead horse.

Tina said...

Keep looking. Maybe it's in the refrigerator? Anyhow, whether I wrote it or not, I agree with it. What's-his-name really is too old to be president.

Paw Paw Bill said...

Annette:

Your eggplant parmesan is hard to beat. In fact it is well known.

 

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