By Tony Deyal
I was born to be an optimist. My blood type is AB Positive. If life gives me a bag of horse manure, I tear it apart looking for, and expecting, a horse. I don’t ask for much and am always willing to take much less. This morning, as I woke up remembering I was 77, I thought about the story of the old man who kept calling his wife all kinds of “sweet” names like “honey”, “darling”, “love” and “baby.” A friend complimented him for being such a loving husband and at 77 still showing so much love for his wife. The man replied, “Listen. About ten years ago I forgot her name and since then I’ve been too scared to ask her.”
But getting old is no joke. When I was young, I always felt like a male trapped in a female’s body. Then I was born. Now, at 77, I am in the double-whammy of the seven ages of man- spills, drills, thrills, bills, ills, pills and wills. Yet, I don’t feel old. This is what the American cartoonist, Kin Hubbard, after wishing a friend a happy birthday said, “You’re now living proof of the old saying, ‘Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men’.” In my case, I’m beyond middle age. I am at that point where you lose your memory and even your mind and the worst thing about it is that you don’t miss either very much. This is where a short nap once in a while helps you to prevent getting older, especially while driving.
I console myself with what some people did at 77. John Glenn, the astronaut, was the oldest person to go into space where he spent eleven days. Some people claimed his wife had finally relented and told him he could come back. Supposedly, the most famous person born in my birth year, 1945, is Eric Clapton, the English rock and blues guitarist. What I can’t understand is why the world’s “Number 5” guitarist should be put at the top of my age group. Clearly, somebody in the English media pulled some strings.
Fortunately, it did not make me cry like the old man who was sitting on a bench, tears streaming down his face, when a young man approached him and asked, “Sir, are you O.K?” The old man, still crying, explained, “It’s my birthday today. I am 77 years old. My wife is a 25-year-old beautiful young woman and we make love every day.” The young man said, “So why are you crying?” The old man cried even harder, “I’ve forgotten where I live.” I would prefer being the 77-year-old husband who got a call from his 60-year-old wife. She went to the doctor complaining of nausea and cramps and was told that although medically impossible, she was pregnant. She screamed, dialed her husband, and shouted, “You’ve made me pregnant you dirty old man.” There was a long pause at the other end of the line, and then her husband asked, “And to whom am I speaking?”
Fortunately for me, I still remember where I live and to whom I’m speaking, but 77 for any man is when you’ve been out with a girl all night and the only thing that comes is daylight. In fact, you’re like a dog chasing a car- even if you catch it, you can’t drive it. A friend sent me this story yesterday as my very special birthday gift designed to tell me where to draw the line. A 77-year-old man who already had a mouthful of dentures was having a drink in a bar. Suddenly a gorgeous girl entered and sat down a few seats away. She was so attractive he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
After a while, the girl noticed him staring and approached him. She looked him deep in the eyes and said in a very sultry tone: “I’ll do anything you’d like. Anything you can imagine in your wildest dreams. It doesn’t matter how extreme or unusual it is, I’m game. I want $100, but there’s another condition.” Completely stunned by the sudden turn of events, the old man asked her what the condition was. She teased, “You have to tell me what you want me to do to, with, or for, you in just three words.” The old man took a moment to consider the offer, whipped out his wallet, and then put $100 in her outstretched hand. He then said slowly and clearly: “Paint my house!” I suppose that was the only way he could have a brush with anything except the law.
The way I see it, though, is that every day beyond three-score-and-ten is God’s gift to me. Some people say it’s better to be a has-been than a never was, but for me, that is only when my son prepares the beans as he did this morning for my birthday breakfast. My daughter made scones and I thought of what Jesus said to the crowd of bakers, “Let him who is without sin cast the first scone.” This led me to the extremely appropriate Psalm 77 in my favourite, the King James Bible, which says, “I will remember the words of the LORD Surely I will remember thy wonders of old.” It is why I call it the present.
Even though my birthday suit needs pressing, I believe that life is a blessing and its greatest value comes from its use. I have learnt that some blessings can never change and the important things in life will never die. Whatever happens, I will continue to believe there is a God regardless of the name by which HE is known. For me, all religions are like rivers that enter into the same sea. For as long as I live, I will continue to honour education and pursue truth and knowledge. In every moment that is left of my life, I will make sure that the greatest things in it continue to endure – love, faith, hope and the essence of humanity.
I know, too, that tough times never last. Tough people do. I tell my children, and live by my belief, that none of us can change the past. But we can learn from it. In fact, the present is the past condition of the future and we need to see climate change and other issues like a world war in that light and prepare, or at least start getting ready, for it now. The most important thing for me, as an individual, is to keep my sense of humour and continue to have the ability to laugh at myself. This is why one of my best friends sent me a birthday card this morning which read, “Tony. Forget about the past, you can’t change it. Forget about the future, you can’t predict it. Forget about the present, I didn’t get you one.”
*Tony Deyal was last seen saying he bought a fridge for the same friend on his birthday and boasted, “You should have seen his face light up when he opened it!”