Friday, May 13, 2005

What’s "Old?"

Tom Pry

(Originally run 10/31/03 on the old site)

Got a pleasantly laudatory note from Eddie Best the other day. Eddie is a retired (mostly) journalist, and a driving force behind the White County Historical Society. Among other things, he asked for permission (granted) to occasionally dip into this site for material for use in the Society’s excellent newsletter, which he masterfully edits. What was of interest was his reason for doing so: “We need things that appeal to younger people. Those of our members who remember the Depression are dying off.”

WCHS Newsletter Editor, Eddie Best Posted by Hello
Are Ernie and I younger or older? Depends on your viewpoint, I suppose but, as the Editor of this excursion into the past, I found it personally amusing that Eddie’s welcome note was almost immediately followed by the following thinkpiece from Ernie -- with which I wholeheartedly concur, and it is lovely.

Ernie Simpson

Getting Older
(An Old Man’s View)

One day you realize as you read the obits in the paper, everyone listed is younger than you. When your 4-year old granddaughter says, “I love you, Grandpa” … in younger days, it was “Big Ern,” now it’s “Grandpa.” I like Grandpa much better; it’s wonderful to have the favor of a precious four year old.

You look in the mirror and wonder who the old guy is looking back at you. But now is not the time to despair, and I offer this as advice:

There are several rewards we still have to receive. First, look at growing older as I do. I look at this as good news, and have tried to become accustomed to thinking of it in a positive way, without sentimentality. That’s hard for me, because I am a sentimentalist, fundamentally. However, accepting death is the final milestone on the road to full blooded manhood. Once fearless, you’re free. You may be physically frail, but if you’re fearless, you are a spiritual strongman. An old man can speak the truth without fear or favor, indict the guilty, and sing the good of what he believes.

There are no shortcuts to this kind of serenity. It is serenity earned from a life deeply lived, and bestowed only on men who have known passion and have stepped up to the plate and took their cuts. Just look at the wealth we have accumulated, not in material things, but in experiences, loves, relationships, friendships, closeness to God, and the difference we have made in our passing through this world. We have touched, and been touched, and that, too, is a part of our reward.
Once and only once I pass,
Through this toilsome world, alas,
If a good deed I may do,
If a kindness I may show,
To a suffering fellow man,
Let me do it while I can,
No delay for it is plain
I shall not pass this way again.
(Author unknown)
The idea is not to be afraid of death but to accept it and understand that is the reward for every man in his life who has done all he can do to make a difference, truly believed has done all he can to make a difference, and has taken his chances with the possibilities of everyday life. Now is not the time for doubt, but for acknowledgement of self-worth, and recognizing the place you hold on this earth will never be replaced, regardless of what happens after you’re gone.

The day we drew our first breath, we crossed the Rubicon, just as Julius Caesar did in 49 B.C.

It set us on a course that will not turn back. The die was cast at that first breath and, thus, set us on a path of life that was irrevocable. Death is with us from that first moment, and it is not a curse, but a reward for a life deeply lived. When we realize that as men, we can move towards our treasure without fear. Let us acknowledge our place in this world and in this life, and know that our reward is part of the strength we hold in our hearts.

From Tom:

All I can add to this is one of my favorite quotes: “Do not complain of growing old. It is a privilege denied to all too many.”


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