Whitesburg KY
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Proof that growing old is not for sissies Points East




I’m writing this column late on the first Friday evening in January ’09, three days before I’ll be 60 years old. If you called me on Monday with happy birthday cheer, you already know that we are no longer on speaking terms. I took the greetings glumly.

If, perchance, it just now crossed your mind to make a belated call, now that you know I’ve hit the big six-ohh, and you want to wish me well, stop! Because chances are we still are friends and wouldn’t it be nice to stay on peaceful terms for at least another while.

I am determined to become a grumpy old man and there’s not much you can do stop it.

Well, actually there is. You may have a magic wand. In which case I’d be most appreciative of having you wave it over my shoulders and bringing back the golf swing that enabled me to take up the game for a few years back in the ’90s when I could consistently hit the ball off the tee and keep it in the fairway for 250 yards or so.

What a rush that was back then. I never had a short game but I enjoyed leaving deep divots and occasionally breaking off the heads of pitching wedges on my swing just short of the greens and looking for my ball out in the poison ivy that normally surrounded them. I used to keep count of the holes on which I shot par and actually topped out at well over a hundred. Then I started counting birdies and got to 31 before my right shoulder went kaput about the time I was getting good enough to finish nine holes without having to stop at every other one and let some old ladies play through.

Uncle Arthur came to visit me about 10 years ago when I had barely turned 50. Now, no matter how much glucosamine and senior citizen vitamins I consume, he will not go away. I’ve also tried every arthritis medicine I can find but he seems to be solidly stuck atop my back and tightly locked around my shoulders.

I can still manage to use a garden hoe for up to 30 minutes at time if I don’t need to use my arms for anything else for a week or so, but I’ve long since given up fly fishing. Someone actually gave me a high dollar fly line for Christmas. I’m wondering if the same sporting goods store also carries arm slings, in which case I may trade it back in.

I’ve learned to cast my spinning rods with a flick of the wrist and get almost as much distance as I once did with a whole arm swing. This works fine until I hook a good-sized fish and have to use much upper arm motion to reel it in. I recently caught a catfish in the 15-pound range from a friend’s pond and then had to run to town and track down some extra strength painkillers while everybody else kept fishing. I may be the only fisherperson on the planet who manages to get his hook into the water and then starts hoping that no respectable fish actually takes the bait.

Another friend received a nice 12-gauge shotgun for Christmas and stopped by to show it off.

We put up a couple of paper targets to see how well it patterned and I took the second shot. Hugeeee mistake! The pain in my shoulder was so intense that I literally shed tears.

So now I’m thinking about taking up checkers as soon as I can find somebody who will make the moves for me.

In the meantime I am living proof of the notion that this business of growing old is not for sissies.


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