Category Archive 'Old Age'

13 May 2024

Jefferson On Approaching Death

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On May 11 in 1819, Thomas Jefferson wrote about making peace with his slow descent toward death.

A decline of health, at the age of 76, was naturally to be expected,” he wrote, “and is a warning of an event which cannot be distant, and whose approach I contemplate with little concern. For indeed in no circumstance has nature been kinder to us than in the soft gradations by which she prepares us to part willingly with what we are not destined always to retain.

“First one faculty is withdrawn and then another, sight, hearing, memory, eucrasy, affections, and friends, filched one by one till we are left among strangers, the mere monuments of times past, and specimens of antiquity for the observation of the curious.”

23 Oct 2023

Old People Will Understand


06 Jul 2019

At Age 70

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Marble Bust of Antoninus Pius, Emperor 138-161 A.D., British Museum.

Peter Quennell, The Wanton Chase — An Autobiography from 1939 (1980):

Here and elsewhere, I am often surprised to notice, the landscape of my life shows comparatively little change. I love the same pictures and, generally, the same books; and, both in painting and literature, I admire the same qualities. Human existence, the Etruscans maintained, was divided into seven-year periods; and, when the tenth had passed, the individual, having run through his allotted span, need expect no further signs from heaven. This, happily, I have so far found untrue. Flashes of illumination still descend; yet a single change has certainly occurred; as soon as one enters that ominous eighth decade, the prospect of one’s own death becomes, if not a morbid obsession, a regular preoccupation, obstinately lodged at the back of the mind, though the foreground may continue to be peopled with amusing and distracting fancies. What chiefly haunts one is less a primitive fear of death, the medieval timor mortis, than a problem that defies solution – how to accept the idea of nothingness and of one’s future non-existence. That idea, like the ‘black holes’ modern astronomers have located in the fabric of the universe, totally baffles the imagination; and, should one attempt to build up a detailed picture of some familiar friendly room –- books, chairs, eighteenth-century prints, a large window surrounded by broad leaves, and the window-sill on which a cat alighted –- but then deliberately exclude oneself, one feels a sudden touch of horror, so difficult is it think of the world surviving without one’s own invaluable aid.

I have long collected evocative ‘last words’ and the philosophic pronouncements of great men when they felt that death was drawing near; and my friend Alan Hodge, now himself dead -– he died, alas, while I was halfway through this chapter -– used to describe a revelatory conversation that, about 1955, he had had with Winston Churchill. Allan was then assisting him to produce his History of the English-Speaking Peoples, and often spent a working holiday at a villa in the South of France. His business was to prepare a series of drafts, on which the great man would then impose a fine sonority and Churchillian dignity; but, when that had been accomplished, they often dined together and, after dinner, sat beside the fire. The great man had passed his eightieth year, and his heroic life lay far behind him. His mood was sometimes pensive; and, one evening, the logs in the fire were damp, and spat reproachfully and hissed and smoked. The spectacle arroused him from a lengthy silence. ‘Curious’, he said, ‘to imagine oneself a log –- reluctant to be consumed -– but obliged eventually to give way. … Further than that his reverie did not go; but the effect it made was deeply solemn.

Sir Winston had still ten years to live; and among memorable last words, pronounced under the shadow of death itself, I particularly admire the farewell utterance of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, Hadrian’s adopted son, father of Marcus Aurelius, and one of the ‘good emperors’, the virtuous and industrious Antonines we were expected to admire at school. Gibbon, however, with his usual flippancy, makes gentle fun of Antoninus. At least, he remarks that, whereas the life of Hadrian had been ‘almost a perpetual journey’, and that he had ‘marched on foot, and bareheaded, over the snows of Caledonia, and the sultry plains of upper Egypt’, his successor seldom left home; ‘and during the twenty-three years that he directed the public administration, the longest journeys of that amiable prince extended no further than from his palace in Rome to the retirement of his Lanuvian villa.

Yet Antoninus, Gibbon freely admits, was a by no means idle ruler; at home he codified the Roman legal system; beyond the Italian frontier, he ‘diffused order and tranquility over the greatest part of the earth’. Nor was he a grim ascetic; ‘he enjoyed with moderation, the conveniences of his fortune, and the innocent pleasures of society’; and Gibbon adds, in a footnote, that he ‘was fond of theater, and not insensible to the charms of the fair sex’. He also appreciated the pursuits and pastimes of the Roman country gentleman; and on his estate, especially when the grapes were gathered, he liked attending rustic feasts. A tall, impressive man, he had a loud but pleasant voice, and was renowned for his civilitas, his unwillingness to take offense and his easy-going courtesy. The Emperor was even prepared to tolerate Christians – or so Christian writers themselves declared — although, if they were judicially accused and convicted, he might allow the law to take its course. His own religious faith was quietly conservative; he built and restored temples, and did his best to encourage the worship of the ancient Roman gods. Still practicing this calm and temperate philosophy, Antoninus reached his seventy-fifth year. Then, in the spring of 161 A.D., he, too, recognized the approach of death, and retired to his country house near Rome, where, at dinner, he ate some Alpine cheese, and woke up feverish next morning. On March 7, the Tribune of his bodyguard asked him to give the watchword of the day. ‘Aequanimitas’ he firmly answered, and withdrew into his private apartments, from which he never reappeared.

27 Apr 2019

Democrats Ignoring Reality

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Why not the Cryptkeeper?

The current democrat frontrunner, Joe Biden was born November 20, 1942. He is currently 76 years old. The month of the next presidential election, he’ll be 78. If he were elected and ran for a second term in 2024, he’d be 82. If he were re-elected and served out two terms he’d be leaving office at 86.

Another prominent contender, Bernie Sanders, was born September 8, 1941. Bernie was born before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor! He’s a year older than Biden. In 2020, Bernie will be 79, in 2024, 83. He’d leave office, after two terms, aged 87(!)

Now, bear in mind, that Donald Trump, born June 14, 1946, set a new record as the oldest man, at age 70, elected president in History.

Ronald Reagan was considered remarkably well-preserved and was constantly mocked for his age by his opponents and accused of being senile and of napping through meetings and so on. Reagan, born February 6, 1911, was 69 when elected in 1980. He left office at age 78, the same age Joe Biden would be when entering. Ronald Reagan was, indubitably, an extraordinarily vigorous and physically gifted man, but he was widely recognized as slowing down and showing his age in the last couple of years of his presidency. Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 83.

Obviously rich men and big cheese public officials live longer, but the average life expectancy of male Americans is only 76.9.

What are the odds that either of these two, if elected, would even live out two terms? Not great, I’d say.

And even assuming President Joe or Bernie lives through nearly an entire decade from now, think about it, what are the odds that he will remain healthy and lucid enough to cope with the stresses, responsibilities, and long hours of the Presidency?

Most people in their 80s, if not already “shaking hands with the groundhog,” as Leo Hobbs used to put it, are nodding away their days, napping in their rocking chairs, not in the White House, but in some assisted living facility.

All this shows, I’d argue, that people younger than 60 have no clear idea what old age is really like, and just how many things can go wrong for you. And, it shows, too, just how feckless and irresponsible democrats really are.

13 Aug 2016

Geezer Responds to Priority Seat Offer



Someone offered 68-year-0ld Wayne McEntire from Amarillo, Texas a priority seat reserved for the elderly, pregnant, or disabled. This is how he responded. HuffPo UK.

02 Apr 2016

Wanna Bet?

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Hamilton Nolan
Gawker’s Firearms Editor Hamilton Nolan

Millennial Hamilton Nolan advises us geezers to give up on carrying. We’re all too old and too infirm, he contends, to draw, aim, and fire with any hope of success.

We live in scary times: sharia law, foreigners, and rape gangs haunt the streets of this once great nation. Some old people believe that they must arm themselves in order to find peace and safety.

Wrong. Old people. Wrong. Want to find safety? Can you even “find [the] safety” on the handgun you’ve purchased? Probably not very quickly, with your poor eyesight and fingers ravaged by arthritis.

The Wall Street Journal reports that interest in guns among retirees is booming. In just the last five years, more old people are buying guns, training with guns, and cupping their hands over their ears to try to hear whether the instructor at their gun safety course said “Shoot” or “Stop.” In this day and age when you have Obama, ISIS, and Chief Keef, you—an elderly American—are thinking seriously about getting yourself a gun, for protection.

Might as well get yourself a dragon, or a unicorn trained to be your bodyguard. That would help you just as much.

When you’re old you’re slow as hell and decades of muscle erosion have made you weak. Pretty much any healthy young person can beat you up. Is a gun gonna even things out? Nope. In order for that gun to work you have to pull it out and aim it in a moment of crisis. While you’re fumbling to do that, all slow, a young person is just pushing you on the ground. And taking your gun out of your feeble hands.

Leave the guns to the young nuts, oldie.

Smoothly drawing a gun from a holster, aiming it quickly, and firing it accurately despite the kickback require a level of strength and dexterity that you just don’t have. I’ll lay 5-1 odds that any street criminal can kick you in the knee and chuckle as you roll around on the ground, grasping for the gun you dropped, as they rifle through your purse and then steal your gun, too. That gun you bought will end up in a pawn shop before you ever get to blow a hole in one of these disrespectful young menaces. Were you to somehow squeeze off a shot in the course of being attacked it’s as likely as not that you’d shoot yourself in the knee replacement as shoot the bad guy. It’s time to wake up and realize that though your irrational age-induced fear of the outside world may be here to stay, so is your physical inability to defend yourself. And where are you going anyhow that’s so scary? The grocery? Those teens may be delinquents but they probably aren’t a stickup gang. Please return that Beretta to the nice gun dealer before you mistake a stray rap lyric for a death threat and put a bullet in some poor C student cutting class. Yes, yes, Have Gun Will Travel was one of your favorite shows, but you’re no Paladin and there ain’t any bandits on horseback in your subdivision. Stop watching cable news so much. All it does is scare you. Failing to take your medication is the greatest threat you need to worry about now.

Your reflexes are faded as hell so you might as well just learn to get along with people. Who do you think you are, Charles Bronson? More like Charles Osgood. Stop acting crazy.

I was at Woodstock and am definitely getting on in years, but I would bet little Hamilton that if he tossed a bottle in the air, I could still draw and hit it before it came back down, and then still have more than adequate strength and dexterity left over to hammer him into the ground like a tent peg before he could push me to the ground or kick me in the knee.

29 Jan 2016

“Growing Old”

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John Sparrow (1906-1992), Warden of All Souls College, Oxford 1952-1977.

I’m accustomed to my deafness
To my dentures I’m resigned
I can cope with my bifocals
But –o dear!– I miss my mind.

22 May 2014

Age-Activated Attention Deficit Disorder

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Baby Boom-era Geezers will recognize the symptoms.

Hat tip to Henry Bernatonis.

19 Jul 2013

Past It

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