George Graham

How Old is “Old”?

'Living nine hundred years is okay, except you feel so darn anachronistic!'

I just read an article that tells me I am officially old. Here’s the announcement:

Not too long ago, a study revealed that most people define old age as 68. But a study that came out this week revealed a vastly different take: that old age really doesn’t begin until 80.

I turned 80 a couple of months ago, so – according to the latest research – I am definitely old. How does it feel?

To tell the truth, I feel better today than I did at 79. Back then, I spent nine days in the hospital after a procedure to insert three stents in my heart. I was allergic to the dye they used and one thing led to another. My kidneys failed, my heart’s accelerator got stuck one night … For awhile, things didn’t look so good.

But that’s all over now.

I just came back from the dermatologist after a melanoma scare. Turns out all I had was a squamous cell carcinoma on my arm. And I’ve had that before. They cut the pesky thing out and bandaged me up. Now here I am – as good as new.

And I feel good. Frisky in fact. I could go dancing (and romancing?) tonight if Sandra is in the mood.

In some ways, I feel better than I did at 40. Turning 80 wasn’t the shock that turning 40 was. I sat in the office at Global TV’s Braden Beat that day and stared into space for hours. How could I be 40? Forty was old.

And 50. What a shock that was! I played golf at Florida’s beautiful Innisbrook resort that day and got into a fight with a pal named Ralph Johnson because I said I felt old and his girlfriend and I were born the same day. Yes, a fist fight. I gave him a peach of a black eye – and felt like a fool the next day when I saw him wearing dark glasses.

By 60, I was getting used to old age and I didn’t feel so ancient. Seventy was a landmark, though. My dad died at 70 and he used to say that the “days of a man are threescore and ten.” I guess that’s not true for all of us.

Seventy is long gone now, and I’m still standing. And walking. Without a cane, even.

My memory is not what it was, of course. There are the usual aches and pains. And I squint more than I used to. (I’m sure it’s those darned glasses. I’ll have to talk to the eye doctor when I go for my checkup next Tuesday.)

I’ve lost a lot of distance on my drives but I still play golf twice a week. I still go shopping for groceries and putter about in the garden. And I still perk up when a comely chick saunters by (just kidding, Sandra, just kidding!).

All in all, I feel pretty sturdy. I am surprised when I see that balding old coot staring back at me from the mirror.

Now, if I can just extricate myself from this chair, I’ll head over to the bedroom and watch the college golf championships on TV. All this typing has worn me out.

Click to find out the signs of old age.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com