It was radio personality Don Imus who said of the late octogenarian television news celebrity Mike Wallace on the occasion of Wallace’s 80th birthday: “Mike Wallace is so old he doesn’t buy green bananas.”
And, it was American show business icon Bob Hope who declared before he died in 2003 at 100 years of age: “I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap.”
At age 87, I can identify with both sentiments. There are several times during the course of a day when a nap and a green banana would be most welcome. However, it’s too bad that we in America have to treat growing old with such sentiments in an attempt to say something congenial about growing old.
“Learning to Love Growing Old” is the title of an article written by Psychology Today essayist Jere Daniel, who says: “Fear of aging speeds the very decline we dread most.”
Baby Boomers on the cusp of 50, Daniel states, can suddenly and surprisingly “envision themselves becoming obsolete, just as their fathers, mothers, grandparents, uncles and aunts did when they crossed the age 65 barrier, the moment society now defines as the border line between maturity and old age.” And now, with increased life expectancy in the high 70s, there are moves in the works to delay retirement to age 72.
I have always been told that I looked younger than my years, and I “loved” that assessment. It was a comforting thought until I reached the age 80 hurdle. But, seven years later, have I suddenly evolved from a youthful retiree into one of those new middle-aged old persons?
Motion picture, television and radio star Grouch Marx told all who would listen before his death in 1977 at age 87: “I intend to live forever, or die trying.”
Cape Elizabeth resident Ron Palmquist spent 50 years in radio, television, print journalism and public relations.