Getting old is (not) for the birds

“Don’t grow old, Stacey.”  my father used to say to me.  “Getting old is for the birds!”

“There is only one other alternative, Dad.  And I don’t like the alternative.”  I used to respond.

He would laugh.  “Yeah – I guess you are right.” he would add.

Dad hated getting older.  He hated the limitations his age put on his physical abilities.  He pretty much refused to give into his age – until a wood splitting accident removed his thumb and index finger, Parkinson’s Disease took his balance and mobility, cancer took his parotid gland and burned his face.  Oh – and he had had a stroke earlier on which taught him to keep falling off a ladder quieter so that Mom wouldn’t fuss over him.  This stroke lead him to a bit of a hospital stay and a hip repair.

My Mom had a hard keeping him “in line”.  He refused to give up.  Every weekend, Dad would venture into the back acreage (80 acres of maple trees and meadow) to clear the bush of fallen trees for firewood.  I have such strong memories of how hard Dad worked.  He did not back down – ever – from a challenge.  All of his life, until he chopped his thumb and index finger off in a wood splitter, he had been healthy.  I don’t remember him ever visiting a hospital, never mind  a doctor.

Dad always claimed it was “good living” that helped him to live such a long and healthy life.  Good living, of course, meant body builder – homemade wine.  Dad invited many guests to join him in his good living over the course of the years.  One would think there would be longevity in many of Mom and Dad’s friends.

He started to slow down when he lost his two digits.  He could no longer chop wood, change a fan belt on the tractor, or plow the snow.  It was not long afterwards that Mom and Dad sold the farm and moved into town.

The decline for Dad was slow and gradual.  It was mainly physical because his mind, right until the end, was as sharp as a tack.  He was so frustrated with his physical challenges.  I think that’s what kept him going.

“Don’t grow old, Stacey”, he would say to me when shuffling off for an afternoon snooze.

“Don’t grow old, Stacey”, he would say to me when trying to get up out of his pink chair.

“Don’t grow old, Stacey”, he would caution me when getting up out of bed in the morning.

I don’t think he would tell me that if he were here today.  I think he would wish old age on me.  To be Dad’s age, I would need to live another 40 years.  I could live with that.  He was a healthy person with Parkinson’s – just like I am a healthy person with cancer.  But I want old age.  I want to grow old.  And I think Dad would agree.

Getting old is not for the birds – it is a blessing.

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About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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14 Responses to Getting old is (not) for the birds

  1. Jan says:

    Getting old is NOT for the birds, Stacey. You are right -it is a blessing. But perhaps one could say “it’s not for sissies”. Uncle Bill was no sissy, and neither are you!

    • inmycorner says:

      Ha – true enough – I love it! Growing old is not for sissies! New mantra. Thanks for coming along on this journey, Jan! (I’ll call you Journey Jan – instead of Pyjama Jan! )

  2. Tom Graves says:

    Seven things God wants to do for you!
    Psalm 91:14-16: “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore [1] will I deliver him: [2] I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. [3] He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: [4] I will be with him in trouble; [same as 1] I will deliver him, [5] and honour him. [6]WITH LONG LIFE WILL I SATISFY HIM, [7] and shew him my salvation.”
    Blessings, Tom

  3. Yea & Amen. Even with poor health a person can still enjoy the good things of each day.

  4. Gwen K says:

    Hear’s to old age!

  5. pepesapam says:

    Your post remind me of my grandpa, your dad is just like my grandpa…even my grandpa he is old, but he refuses to grow old..we want him to rest since he is weak,a diabetic and heart patient, still he would come out, go for a walk and by God’s grace like your dad, his senses is so sharp, still he can see everything so clearly..i feel so blessed to have him in my life 🙂

  6. This felt like a visit from your dad! 🙂 My husband and I have long used the adage “it beats the alternative” when talking about aging. I am quite willing to grumble about the aging process, but not willing to give in to it. Here’s to seeing how creative we are forty years from now with our continued living, enjoying, appreciating and writing! 🙂

    • inmycorner says:

      oh, my goodness – what are the odds that we repeat our stories over the next forty years! Hmmm – I guess it did sound like my Dad – and YOU would know – imagine – you’ve never met either my or I and yet you can identify the thinking. Cool

      • I’ve often written something and asked my husband “did I already write this?” So I”m pretty sure I’ll be doing repeats!

        It only makes sense that you remind me of either of your parents. It’s how I first ‘met’ you. 🙂

  7. Gallivanta says:

    Old age is hard work. My grandfather used to tell my mother not to grow old but she ignored him thankfully. 🙂 I am sure your father would want nothing but the very best for you, ripe old age included, no matter what he said about old age. I am sure my grandfather’s statement about age came from years of chronic pain for which there would have been little treatment in his day.

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