THE WAY WE WEREN’T

The trouble with turning memories into memoirs is that when one is finished, a sneaky feeling comes along: “Things never were that way, anyway.” –Jean Negulesco (1900-93), Academy Award-winning movie director

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I’ve just finished reading Jean Negulesco’s memoir (coincidentally, he died 25 years ago today) titled THINGS I DID AND THINGS I THINK I DID. The above quote is from that book–as is his reflection on having raised, with his wife, two adopted daughters from war-torn, post-WWII Germany:

And so it starts, and so it ends. And we see ourselves in them. There is no sense in telling them, “When I was your age….” We never were their age. 

“We never were their age.” And so it is with us. We’ve never been ‘inside’ them–even our own children. When all is said and done, we’re lucky if we know ourselves–now, then or in-between–which is not to say that, along the way, we were not open to wanting whatever knowledge romance promised….

They say “You can’t go home again”–even if your old haunts still exist, your past and its ghosts stay with you, not with where you were….not so? So, where do we go?

Now, I’m as nostalgic as the next old geezer, but as my past recedes further into the past, I look at old photos, see the images of faces and places I knew, and there’s no avoiding the sense that the road between THINGS I DID AND THINGS I WISH I DID leads to a place where the sun sets before we get there.

Sooner or later, it’s all over but the doubting. It’s the place where (to paraphrase a phrase) OLD GHOSTS NEVER DIE, they….just….fade….a w a y

Still….

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TIME FLIES

It is said that “Time flies when you’re having fun.” As for me, time flies when you can’t believe a certain young woman and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this fall, and next year on June 23, the oldest of our two daughters (Big One and Little One) will celebrate(?) her 50th birthday. How is it possible that one day the young woman and I got married, and the next thing we know, our girls are older than my oldest clothes (though not by much). Time and fun fly when ‘hangers-on’ in the closet look the same as decades ago….but the reflection in the mirror looks like Methuselah’s grandfather. 😦

The moral of the story?

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

Then be not coy, but use your time
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

–Robert Herrick (from his poem TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME, 1648)

In other words, take the advice of legendary songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989) and….

Oh….I almost forgot: Happy 49th Birthday, Big One!

 

 

MAY IS OLDER AMERICANS MONTH (and don’t you forget it!)

May is OLDER AMERICANS MONTH. I’m pretty sure I qualify as an older American because, as George Washington told me, “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves”….or maybe I’m thinkin’ of Lincoln (incidental details, like who said what, can get a bit hazy at my age). No matter — either way, it proves I’ve been around long enough to establish my bona feces.

As long as I’m quoting bigwigs I have known or could have known (as the case may be), no doubt you will be interested in other memorable quotes that I remember, most of which admittedly weren’t said to me directly, but which I either overheard, or were whiskered to me in confidence by the quotees under their goatees (or beards, as the face may be):

Old age is no place for sissies. –Bette Davis (whose facial hair at the time was confined to a mustache, as I recall)

Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act. –Truman Capote

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened. –Jennifer Yane

If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. — variously attributed to  Eubie Blake, Adolph Zukor and Mae West, among others

There is no cure for the common birthday. —John Glenn

You’re only as old as the girl that you feel. –Groucho Marx

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. –Chili Davis

Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician. –Anonymous

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. –Anonymous

So there you have the story of my anonymous existence: just when I’m on a roll, I run flush out of time. C’est la vie. Take it on out, Pops (Louis) and Schnoz (Jimmy):

 

 

 

 

 

AGE WISE

For the benefit of my fellow geezers out there who may not be aware of it, May is OLDER AMERICANS MONTH (not to be confused with NATIONAL SENIOR CENTER MONTH (September) or NATIONAL ACCORDION MONTH (June). Accordionly, May you and I bask in the recognition which is due us for living long enough to pass along our well-earned wisdom to those who don’t want to hear it.

To be sure, there is also a slight  drawback about old age: there’s not much future in it….but otherwise, it’s not a bad time to be alive. At any rate, it beats the alternative — or so they say (as if “they” have experienced said alternative).  On the flip side, there are many timely quotes on the age-old subject of age, so let’s put on our reading glasses and see if we can make heads or tails of some of them:

If  I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. –Anonymous

An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have: the older she gets, the more interested he is in her. –Agatha Christie

Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone. –Jim Fiebig

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. –Susan Ertz

Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you’re aboard, there’s nothing you can do. –Golda Meir

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. –Chili Davis

You’re only as old as the girl that you feel. –Groucho Marx

Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician. –Anonymous

If you worry, you die. If you don’t worry, you also die. So why worry? –Mike Horn

I was going to use that last quote to close with the song DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY, but on the occasion of the birthday (May 10, 1899) of the never-grows-old Fred Astaire, this song and dance make me happy to change my tune:

 

 

 

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEASON

 

In the unscheduled post which appeared here on my birthday (October 18th), my youngest daughter let the cat out of the bag — her old dog of a dad had just turned certifiably ancient, though I didn’t feel more than a day older than I did on October 17 as a young pup of 79. More’s the pity. Some say age is only a number….but it goes without saying that October is autumn. Yes, if you look at the calendar, September and November lay claim to autumn as well, but let’s be clear — nobody does autumn as well as October. So this will be a post of poems and quotes about aging and autumn, in that order (age before beauty).

AGE DEPLORE(s) BEAUTY

What passed for time
Before time was invented?
Before there was time,
How was time prevented?

If time had a beginning,
When did time start?
When it’s time that time end,
How will time depart?

Why are there times
When time frustrates and vexes….
And last, why must time
Do its thing to the sexes?

THE BIG FIX

While passing through,
I noticed that
this world is too much.
What big teeth it has.
What big eyes you need.
What big talk is heard.
Speak to me.
But not big.

I OF THE BE OLDER

If you think
I take life
too seriously you

are either

a night and
day younger than
I am or

I do.

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I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. –L.M. Montgomery

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves;
we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.
–Humbert Wolfe

Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day. –Shira Tamir

The tints of autumn … a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter frost. –John Greenleaf Whittier

For anyone who lives in the oak-and-maple area of New England, there is a perennial temptation to plunge into a purple sea of adjectives about October. –Hal Borland  

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower. –Albert Camus

Spring is too rainy and summer’s too hot;
fall is soon over and winter is not.
–Evan Esar

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. –George Eliot

Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying. –Langston Hughes

Now Autumn’s fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt. –William Allingham

NOTE: There have been many recordings of AUTUMN LEAVES over the years; I chose the French chanteuse Edith Piaf’s version because it was originally a 1945 French song titled “Les Feuilles Mortes”  (“The Dead Leaves”), and because October (1963) is the month Edith Piaf died and drifted by the window.

 

 

 

 

SENIOR MUSE

May is Older Americans Month (fka Senior Citizens Month). Back in 1963, when the month was established, I was “a young man full of idealism and vigor” (as Barack Obama joked recently at the White House in a different context), a year out of the army with the rest of my life ahead of me. Now here it is 2016, some 53 years later, and I still have the rest of my life ahead of me. Amazing.

So much for the glass-half-full outlook. In the other hand, the glass is half-empty:

COME TO THINK OF IT

Old age is a sad estate.
With it comes wisdom,
But it comes so late.

Now recall innocent youth.
Ignorance was bliss,
But less than truth.

Why can’t life be in reverse:
Born knowing the score,
Blameless in the hearse?

The old joke about old age is that there’s not much future in it. Maybe so, but I like to think ‘outside the box.’ One thing for sure: Old age is no place for sissies. –Bette Davis

Well, never let it be said that this blog is no place for good quotes. Most of the following goodies aren’t funny, but then, old age isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs either. So, until further adieu:

Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative. –Maurice Chevalier

Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that can happen to a man. –James Thurber

A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, “At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.” –Claude Pepper

Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late. –Benjamin Franklin

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age. –Victor Hugo

There’s no such thing as old age; there is only sorrow. –Fay Weldon

Whatever poet, orator or sage may say of it, old age is still old age. –Sinclair Lewis

A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight. –Robertson Davies

Not even old age knows how to love death. –Sophocles

By the time you’re 80 years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it. –George Burns (who, in case you forgot, lived to age 100)

And now for the BIG (double) FINISH: