Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


February 6, 2013

Golden Years - Part 3

Greensburg — Some time ago, a poor disillusioned soul looking forward to retirement and envisioning a life of leisure, penned the term “Golden Years.”

If this person’s identity were known today, his or her wanted poster would be hanging in every nursing home in the country.

Outside, snow is swirling around the house and forming into drifts while icicles hang from the eaves like silvery daggers. Naked trees are outlined against a dreary, gray sky that threatens to dump more frozen H2O on the lawn.

A bitter wind creates depressing moans like the cries of lost souls as it whips across the windows. It’s February, the one month of the year that serves no purpose other than filling a dreary space between January and March. It’s during this month that we snowbound, shivering, idle “senior citizens” rue the fact that our parents hadn’t raised us on an exotic island somewhere in the South Pacific.

But, perhaps if this had been the case, the shoe might have been on the other foot. Imagine telling your family that in order to escape the withering heat of winter on Hawaii, you’ve decided to treat them to a couple of months in North Dakota. While gazing out the window at the other houses in the neighborhood — which are empty because their occupants are spending a few months basking on sun drenched beaches in Florida — I thought about what prompted this golden years individual to come to that conclusion.

During our younger years, we moved through life like a tornado through a Kansas wheat field. Like well-oiled machines, we bounced like grease in a hot skillet, came down with the usual kid diseases like mumps, measles and chicken pox and probably broke a small bone once in a while. In my family, any ailment short of a skull fracture was treated with a foul tasting concoction called Dr. Drake’s Miracle Elixir. It actually cured nothing, but to avoid further doses of the stuff, we grew really efficient at faking miracle recoveries. Hacking and coughing in the morning got us out of school for the day, but a miracle recovery that evening spared us any more Dr. Drakes.

There followed years of education, starting a family and a career, and an IRA to guarantee financial security during our “golden years of fun and leisure.”

All too suddenly, you’re standing in front of a small group and accepting the gold pocket watch as a symbol of your many years of boring and dull service with Boring and Dull Manufacturing Co. Like a fledgling bird, you’re shoved from the nest to face total freedom, to fly on your own, to enjoy the fruits of years of labor and sacrifice. Within a short while, you finally understand the definition of baloney — and it ain’t lunch meat.

That isn’t true for all retirees, but unless you own a villa in Monte Carlo and count your savings using a wheel barrow, it’s now time to find ways to amuse yourself and avoid having your spouse hire a hit man.

The most obvious next steps are to take up golfing, tennis, or fishing. Considering that the average price of a single golf ball can exceed the price of a haircut and that you will no doubt be driving them into various lakes and heretofore unexplored jungle-like territory, the tennis courts seem like a good compromise. That is, until the former smooth bone joints begin sounding like popcorn when you swing the racket. Fishing? Unless you go on expeditions to exotic locales for giant tarpon or sword fish, you might as well be behind the desk at ‘ol Boring and Dull Inc.

It narrows down to paying attention to a lawn that has been neglected for 35 years, finally replacing washers in the faucets to stop the notices from the water company that you have a serious leak, and considering trading your sports car on a minivan because getting into the thing has become like trying to put on a pair of shoes that are two sizes too small.

Believe it or not, some retirees actually consider taking up ball room dancing. The thought of attempting to swing to the music of Lawrence Welk on feet that have problems maneuvering around traffic in Walmart is ridiculous.

Many seniors attempt to maintain a youthful appearance through hair dyes, facial makeovers, clothing styles, and even cosmetic surgery. Dyeing hair means going from a dignified gray to Elvis Presley black overnight. Facial cosmetics work on a temporary basis whereas cosmetic surgery leaves a person with a permanent smile and eyes that have the person looking like they’re sitting on a tack.

Considering youthful clothing styles these days, an older gentleman wearing jeans that fail to cover the tops of their BVD’s won’t impress the others at the Saturday night bingo games.


Text Only
  • Spaulding Outdoors: The Inside on Indiana's Outside Nature’s BountyOur daughters were raised in the country and definitely couldn’t be considered “citified” children. Not with Dad around! From the time I was a little boy, I learned there are a lot of good things coming from the wild, and I set about e

    July 29, 2014

  • Word of advice So, what’s the word?Really, what is the word? With over 250,000 words in the English language, you’d think there would be a word for just about everything. Not so. Therefore, I am on a crusade to find a term for some everyday occurrences for which th

    July 29, 2014

  • 9/11 Commission chair scolds Congress for national security failures INDIANAPOLIS – Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous. A co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Ha

    July 29, 2014

  • Brian Howey: Rising up to meet Putin's thuggery BLOOMINGTON – Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of the Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my pa

    July 29, 2014

  • Pat Smith: A reader's special note Before beginning this week’s column it must be stressed that I love getting emails from readers, love getting telephone calls from readers and love seeing readers when I’m out and about – especially those who very generously tell me that they read th

    July 24, 2014

  • Spaulding Outdoors: The Inside on Indiana's Outside Early Migratory Bird 2014 Season Dates The 2014 early migratory bird season dates have been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Indiana DNR as listed below. The dates are not final until the USFWS approves them, which typically hap

    July 24, 2014

  • Why incumbents get reelected Incumbents are masters at posing as outsiders, when in fact they are insiders who produce the Congress they disdain. It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its

    July 24, 2014

  • Lessons from the largely forgotten war As we approach the official date on which the First World War started, July 28, 1914, when the first shots were fired by the Austro-Hungarians who invaded Serbia, it’s appropriate to think about the lessons that catastrophic event has taught us one h

    July 24, 2014

  • Protecting Indiana's agricultural heritage With the 4-H fairs in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about agriculture. Since Indiana became a state back in 1816, agriculture has played a vital role in our livelihood. For those who are not from Indiana, our state is practica

    July 22, 2014

  • Improving Indiana's infrastructure It is always a happy time when my family visits, especially to celebrate a wedding. I recently played hostess for my niece and her wedding party when she was looking for somewhere to hold her rehearsal dinner. I absolutely enjoy when family comes to

    July 22, 2014