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When I am 65

Pakistan Link, Commentary, Syed Arif Hussaini Posted: Sep 28, 2009

You have no choice in the matter: it sneaks upon you. As you wake up on your 65 th birthday, you find yourself labeled as a Senior Citizen and being deferentially addressed as Sir, entitled to Social Security payments, Medicare facilities, gratuitous discounts by several businesses, picture houses, restaurants, and travel by city buses for a token payment.

On the observe side is the reversal of relationship between you and your progeny. You become dependent on them. Your grand children, for instance, have to sort out the glitches on your computer. Internet, Cyber-Space, GPS, Google-Earth, may be all simple and easily understood scientific discoveries for your teenage grand child but for you they are nothing short of miracles.

An 82-year old grandfather asked his childhood friend: I am full of aches and pains; how do you feel? Like a new born babyNo hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants.

That evening the couple attended a senior citizens meeting. When the speaker reached the climax of his talk and declared: The time has come to get rid of socialism, communism and anarchism, the old man with aches and pains arose feebly but shouted enthusiastically Let us throw out rheumatism too.

Granddad, were you in the Ark? asked a 5-year old.

Why, no

Then why werent you drowned?

A person who has lived to be an octogenarian, never smoked or smoked all his life, he drank profusely for 65 years or remained a teetotaler throughout, was a vegetarian or relished meat dishes only. Follow either of these rules carefully and you too can be an octogenarian.

What counts most, I think, is your perception and what you inherit in your genes. Learn to lead a stress-free life with a positive state of mind, you wouldnt need then an apple a day to keep the doctor away. You will find company in your self, your thoughts and pursuits. Otherwise you will be in the words of Shakespeare a poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man, sad as twilight, or as described by O.W. Holmes faded like a dream of youth, or as put by Francis Bacon objecting too much, consulting too long, adventuring too little and repenting too soon.

Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form. The doctor of an octogenarian patient asked him how he was feeling. I am still kicking but I am not raising as much dust as I used to. Keep kicking a little harder, the doctor advised, and you will agree with Bernard Baruch that old age is always 15 years older than you are.

To be up and about and keep kicking, humorist Harry Harshfield would get up every morning at nine, grab the morning paper and look at the obituary columns. If his name wasnt there, he would get up and plunge enthusiastically into his work.

Another humorist remarked, I found the secret of youth, I lie about my age.

Mullah Nasiruddin, the icon of humor in Persian, Turkish and Urdu literatures, was asked how old he was. He said, I am fifty. But, Mullah you had given the same age twenty years back, he was reminded. I am a man of my word: I always stick to what I say, he asserted.

Ask any woman about her age, and nine out of ten time she would guess wrong. No wonder nine out of ten times, she outlives her male partner -the only thing that ages her faster is her birth certificate. Among 80-year olds, there are 25% more women than men. But, who cares at that age. The billionaire in his late 80s who married not long ago a 40-year old beauty kicked the bucket not long after, leaving behind litigation over his wealth and several claimants of having fathered her child. One of them - not the old man - got the DNA nod.

Another senior citizen made a valid point when asked whether the women he was marrying was good looking, a good cook, or was wealthy, he said: No, but she can still drive and I cant afford a driver.

An old man had serious hearing problem. His doctor had him fitted with a set of hearing aids. The doctor testing his hearing a month later announced that it was perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again, the doctor remarked.

Oh, I havent told my family yet, I just sit around and listen to their conversations. I have changed my will three times.

Three senior citizens were out walking. First one said, Windy, isnt it?

Second one said, No, its Thursday. Third one said: Yes, I am thirsty too, let us go and get some cokes.

Another 83-old sprightly gentleman was given a physical by his doctor and a few days later the doctor saw him walking down the street with a gorgeous blonde on his arm. You are really doing great, arent you? the doctor said.

Just doing what you said, Doc. Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.

I didnt say that; what I said was You got a heart murmur, be careful.

It is no doubt a blessing that a senior gentleman can always pretend that he did not hear someone that he did not wish to hear.

He may nurture the delusion of being still young. For, as soon as he starts thinking himself to be ripe, he would start rotting. It is better to be over the hill than under it. Why go into hibernation when one enjoys thoroughly what one is doing.

What a senior citizen buys now will never wear out. No insurance agent will pester him to buy a life insurance policy. And, just in case he is taken hostage by kidnappers in a plane, he would be among the first released.

Charles Dickens wrote as far back as 1841: Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand tightly upon those who have used him well.

When one finds company in himself and his pursuits, he cannot feel old, no matter what his years may be. And, as the NBC weatherman, Willard Scott, has said: The older the flute, the better the tune.

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