‘Old’ Was Not One Of The Things I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up

Like looking into a mirror

How does the saying go? Something like: “the only certainty in life is death and taxes”. Now I would add “and getting old”.

But I don’t really think of myself as old – I’m middle-aged. Which means at 55 years-old I am in my middle years, right? Only if I live to be 110! So maybe it’s time to face my mortality; something us baby boomers seem to be in great denial about. Oh, we have our “bucket lists” and our life insurance policies but do we ever really think that someday we’re going to run out of time? I know I don’t. I keep planning my next vacation, my next adventure, my next birthday party, etc. I don’t have an end-game. Not only do I not think about my life ending – I really haven’t given much thought to getting old(er). Because old was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up!

This week Elizabeth Taylor died. At work a group of YOUNG PEOPLE were talking about it and I commented, “Do you suppose that Debbie Reynolds is dancing on her grave?”. There was complete silence. Finally one of them asked, “Who’s Debbie Reynolds?”. Not only did they not get my HILARIOUS reference to the tawdry break-up of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds by the man-stealing Liz Taylor in the 1950’s, they didn’t even know who Debbie was! Really? “Tammy”? “Singing in The Rain”? Anyone? When I mentioned Carrie Fisher and “Star Wars”, I got a few nods of recogition – apparently one these brats had parents that were “Star Wars” fans. At that moment I felt like I should be driving a Studebaker, wearing “trousers” and hanging out at the Barbershop.

So I guess I am beginning to face my own mortality; I just don’t like it. I realize that, I am in fact, getting older each day (and maybe becoming a bit obsolete). I watch my parents now dealing with ‘old people stuff’: illness and aches and pains and hearing loss. And I realize when I see Dad struggling sometimes to be steady on his feet that I’m only 29 years younger than him. Twenty-nine years ago Tyson was 3 and Bess was about to turn 2 and that seems like only yesterday. So tomorrow it will be me (if God allows) who is 84 years old and wobbly on my feet.

Today I have decided that even though I may not have wanted to be old when I grew up, I will try to embrace aging with dignity. I want to be around to see my grandkids as adults. I’ll gladly be the ‘old man’ dancing with my granddaughters at their weddings. I will someday help “pack-up” Noah off to college. And if God truly blesses me with a long life I will continue to share my HILARIOUS stories and my PROFOUND WISDOM with another generation of Wilhelm/Kleckners and they will show their appreciation with their kindness and patience for this old man.

Until then, I think I need to go hug my Dad.


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