It’s those golden years of retirement -- BAH, HUMBUG! Not so. Whatta crock of golden nonsense.

Golden Years? The author of that nonsense must have been some kid, some juvenile in his 50s. Little does he know about trying to survive late retirement on limited savings combined only with monthly Social Security payments (which started in 1935). It’s a constant struggle nowadays. Just consider prices then and now. Today's older Social Security receivers remember prices well, like when gasoline was a quarter a gallon -- who likely also remember the yowling heard when gas prices hit (gasp!) a whole one dollar a gallon. The good-ol’ days? Depends, of course. Who remembers when buying a new car would cost less than a thousand bucks?

It's too easy now for that 80s age group to get into the pointless rut of “remember when...” -- but it's a fun rut anyway and makes nostalgia seem useful and rewarding: “Yup, I can remember like it was yesterday that....(supply your own remembrance)”.

What’s your name again?

Senior moments for forgetfulness (or is that minutes of blankness?) march on too fast, alas. Anyway, with aging automatically comes the automatic problem of forgetting. Especially forgetting names of folks you've known a lifetime! Embarrassing.

Young whippersnappers may still enjoy this story: Two good friends met for coffee every morning for half a century until this one morning a confused Lars looked differently across the table as his old friend Truls and then asked: “What was your name again?” Truls then looked quizzically at Lars before stumbling through his answer: "How soon do you need to know?” Har-harde-har-har! Younger age groups loved this story; but years later they don't think it was so funny.

Among daily problems for 80s citizens now are their incessant, ongoing and newly occurring medical needs (uff da), the dire situation summed up perfectly in the simple line of one octogenarian: ‘Y'know, when I hit the 80s, things didn't work right no more.’ How true.

There's also the social problems (really economic) of being 80 or older. Among them is receiving letters in the mail, the writing often masked as “important.” The senders would add “information needed.” Actually that's baloney in envelopes. Yet who doesn't like to get letters?

My wife would regularly receive about 10 letters a day. How nice! But nine of the 10 letters received were sneaky pleas for money for some “worthy cause,” like "Save the forests! Save the Court House! Save Uncle Clarence.” Amid these unwanted parcels the postman delivered was the question of Where/How did the senders get our address? Again, another something we'll never know.

The fortunate made it

But back to the main topic. Living life into the 80s is a fortunate achievement, even knowing and accepting that it is considerably short of perfection. That's for sure. But for those of us already there (l will be 88 in a week), we consider it a mighty good achievement, certainly so when compared to the alternative, i.e. for the folks who did not make it, their names and ages noted in the obit section of the newspaper.

The moral of this whole subject: Enjoy life today! (and don't wait ’til you are in your 80s to do so.) Because, who knows? Hmmmm, yes. (Those readers of a ripe age will remember that last sentence eerily pronounced on the old radio program called “The Shadow,” with the Shadow at show's star always asking his question – “who knows what evil lies in the hearts of men?” while smirking and laughing: "The Shadow knows! Heh-heh heh." If he knew, he wouldn't say.



Art Lee is a retired BSU professor.