Guest Column

December 31, 2013

Life lessons about growing older

Whatever I’ve learned about growing old gracefully has come from many sources, not the least from my dogs.

Years ago, as I was visiting some friends in Vermont, I noticed a three-legged dog busy amusing his human companions by fetching sticks for them.

“Oh. Poor thing,” I said.

“Don’t feel sorry for him,” I was told, “he doesn’t know that he is supposed to have four legs.”

I hadn’t thought about it that way. While many humans would be bemoaning their loss, this dog pranced about like three legs was the norm.

It was a revelation to me, one of those moments you see in a cartoon where an overhead bulb lights up. That’s why Isis, my blind dog, is so happy — she doesn’t know that she is supposed to see, and nobody reminds her of that.

One problem with us humans and old age is that we know too much. It’s OK to remember those days when we could toss on a 60-pound backpack and walk up a mountain like it was level ground, but too many of us mourn for those things we can’t do anymore.

My dogs taught me that if there’s something you can’t do anymore, do something else. 

Another lesson came from Louie. During the late 1970s, I ran a senior-citizen program in Long Beach, Calif.

Our offices were in a downtown storefront not far from where AARP was founded. One of our regular clients was a nattily dressed 80-something-year-old man named Louie. Most mornings, Louie would appear at the front desk and ask for me. When I came out to the reception area, Louie would sing a song. That was all he wanted — to sing a song, say hello and leave.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Guest Column
  • krieg_felicia_mug.jpg Affordable doesn't mean low quality

    Drugstore products often perform just as well as their high-end counterparts, Felicia Krieg writes.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • paul_grasso.jpg Opportunity to repair infrastructure missed

    A vibrant economy requires roads, bridges, dams and other assets that are in good condition, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ken_wibecan.jpg Remembering the Sixties

    Each Memorial Day and Labor Day in the early 1960s, about a dozen of us city-dwellers drove to Lake George, writes columnist Ken Wibecan.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg The right to be forgotten?

    Europe taking first steps toward securing privacy with Google and Facebook, writes columnist Stu Denenberg.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Ethical consumerism in vogue

    However, making purchasing choices that can help save the planet aren't always that simple, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg U.S. lacking leadership

    Inspiration is hard to come by as society struggles to fulfill the traditional American dream, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for quality, safety, animal welfare

    June Dairy Month is a good time to appreciate all the effort that goes into producing the very best in dairy products, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    June 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Libraries still relevant

    In the digital age, it takes innovation and creativity to assure libraries stay a vital part of the community, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    June 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Trees at risk from pests

    The Emerald Ash Borer is a major threat to ash trees locally and across North America, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    June 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Scandal an affront to America's veterans

    Those who sacrifice for their country deserve only the best treatment when they come home, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo