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Growing old: Give it a try

Being old is a once-in-a-lifetime event that is not shared by many.

If you have managed to dodge the potholes of life and rolled up four score and more years on your personal odometer, then according to the mortality tables, fewer than 10 percent of the people who were born the same year as you are still on the right side of the grass.

That makes you a member of a rather exclusive and short-lived club, one whose members will all have been replaced within the next 20 years or so. This can be a rather lonely place, and as your peers ride off into the sunset you may feel like a stranger in a strange land.

While you were once indispensable to your family and employers, you are now simply Grandpa and the old guy who used to work here. You are slowly becoming irrelevant.

For example, while watching my grandson play baseball, I ventured the advice that he was holding his glove wrong and that was the reason he was getting hit in the face by the ball. He looked at me with genuine puzzlement, and his look said, "What could you possibly know about baseball?"

He then continued to hold his glove wrong and got hit in the face again. Go figure.

As you zip through your early years, you are too busy living to give much thought to old age. But when you turn 60 and start to place the final pieces in your life jigsaw puzzle, you begin to re-evaluate your past.

If you were a two-pack-a-day smoker, a good friend to Jim Beam and Jack Daniels, a recreational drug user who thought a square meal was two donuts and coffee, you may be in trouble. You could well spend your remaining years enriching the medical profession and big Pharma, and still your quality of life may not be that great. On the other hand, if you lived a life of moderation and common sense and tried to treat others with respect and affection, your Golden Years may indeed be golden.

In any event, it sure beats the alternative. Give it a try.

Tom Brussat lives in Jacksonville.