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Column: Getting old is hard to do
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

Getting old is not fun. I have made 61 and a half trips around the sun. That half portion used to only be important when you were a kid. “I’m five and a half,” I would say. Kids still do that.

I remember when my parents reached my age, they used to get the newspaper and would turn to the obituaries. I have lost four childhood friends in the past year to sickness and suicide. That kind of thing makes you feel really old.

I was sick in the early fall and worried a few times that I might find myself in the paper for the wrong reason. The good thing is that I am a believer and know that my future plans are good. I believe that I will go to heaven and that’s as good as it gets.

The thing that troubles me is that many of the professionals in my life are younger — much younger, in some cases —  than me.

My doctor retired earlier this year and the new guy is about 30 years younger than me. I go to the doctor and it feels like I’m in an episode of “Dr. Kildare.” That last sentence made me really sound like an old guy.

My dentist is younger than me. I’m fine with that. I’m glad that I’m not living in the era when the closest thing to a dentist was a barber who would yank a tooth out for you. I’m hanging on to my teeth. I have one that has been with me since I was a baby. There was no permanent tooth there. I remember some dental hygienist telling me, “Be true to your teeth and they’ll never be false to you.”

I’m glad that the dentist office music is a little better. I remember they had a recorded tape of instrumental music with an orchestra playing a Beatles song, like “Hey Jude.” I went to a dentist for a time who would sing the lyrics of the instrumental song. He thought he sounded good on “Tea for Two.” He did not.

The stuff they play now was written in my lifetime.

My preacher is younger than me. Sometimes his pop culture references include things like “Star Wars” as an old movie. “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz” are old movies.

I interviewed an actress a few years ago who appeared on Broadway with the late Farah Fawcett in a play that closed after one performance. “She was a very nice older lady,” said the younger woman.  That was like a stab wound to my heart. In my teenage boyhood room, I had that famous poster of Farah in a swimsuit. Older lady? For shame?

I do find some modern changes to be for the better. I like to watch reruns of the police drama, “Adam-12.” Those guys carry the same revolvers that Elliott Ness carried in “The Untouchables.” It makes me nervous to see them fire six shots and have to stop and reload. Of course, if you watch the news these days, a police shoot-out sounds like a military battle.

I’m happy for a person protecting me to have a gun that shoots plenty of ammo.

With that, I’ll return to my business of making it through the second half of my 61st year. To make myself feel better, I always remember it’s less than nine dog years. Woof, woof.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly.