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Keeping It Light

by Julia Sneden

The other day my daughter-in-law sent me a pass-along email containing several clever statements about growing old. I have no idea who originated them, but I enjoyed seeing them:

  • "Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional."
  • "Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get."
  • "It's frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you the questions."
  • "Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician."
  • "Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone."

Whoever wrote those epigrams knew that a light, witty touch truly helps when you're dealing with the indignities of aging. Whether your sense of humor leans to the ironic or sarcastic or just plain silly, it is a potent weapon that needs to be kept handy for all those times when wrinkles and creaks and miseries begin to assume too much importance.

Today's teenagers often refer to 'tude (attitude) as the ultimate in cool. There are, of course, all kinds of 'tude including a bad attitude, but most often the word is used to define a kind of defiance of life's vagaries. I'd like to tell the kids that having 'tude is nothing new, and if they'd really listen for it, they might just be surprised by their own grandparents. Herewith, a few examples of humor in the lives of some very laid-back elders:

Sometimes simple word play can help make light of the discomforts of old age. One of my friends deals with his arthritis by giving it a persona that he can insult.

"I had a visit from Sir Arthur yesterday, and the old fool doesn't want to leave," he says as he massages his shoulder gently. "Wasn't it Ben Franklin who said: 'Fish and visitors stink in three days'? Sir Arthur stinks on arrival!"

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