Opinion Column

Eighty doesn’t have to be ‘a tragic age’

By Jim Foster

Alas, my 80th birthday is now history. As we grow older, birthdays seem to come a lot faster — sometimes once a year, even more. I’m sure some older geezers can identify with that. “Life is a big circle!” I always say. One minute your mother is congratulating you for finally shucking your diapers, and the next you’re down at Shoppers trying them on again.

This morning, as I lie abed trying to decide whether to run a few miles to loosen up the old muscles or swim to Washago and back, the thought struck me: “I am a third of the way through my life.”

Perhaps I should take time to reflect on my more meaningful accomplishments and jot them down for future historians. There have been countless books written, plays penned and movies made of almost all of us world leaders and I need to leave some information just in case. I have no doubt one day some famous author will be typing the opening line of my biography.

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.”

Actually, that is the opening line of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but it made D.H. Lawrence rich. My biographer might as well cash in on it. Of course, he might have to inflate the excitement of my sex life a bit, but what the hell — I do. If you remember the story, Mellors and Lady Chatterley spent a lot of time romping in the forest. I tried that, but it was difficult keeping my mind on what I was doing and worrying about West Nile mosquitoes at the same time. I never did find out how the Chatterley story ended. We moved when I was halfway through Chapter 17 and I left the book under the mattress.

As one looks back, it’s difficult to pick out highlights from one’s life. I need to come up with events that will impress the readers of 2177, once I’m gone. (I’m hoping medical science will come up with a miracle drug to keep me going a few decades longer. They better come up with a formula soon. I don’t want to spend a century or two lying in a freezer next to Walt Disney.)

I suppose future readers might be interested in snippets from my athletic career, but I never really became famous for my exploits on the gridiron or the track or the basketball court. However, I was once flicked with a wet towel in a shower room. The memory still causes me nightmares. To this day, I won’t even have a bath without a loaded revolver beside me.

When I was in Grade 10, Glen Hunter threw my athletic supporter to the front of the room and it landed on Ms. Tapp’s desk. I looked in the lost-and-found for weeks, but it never showed up. I think she made a hanging flower basket out of it.

Isn’t that a shame? The only athletic thing about me was my supporter.

My scholastic accomplishments weren’t exactly legendary, either. My father once told me if I didn’t sharpen up, I’d end up blocking hats at Wagg’s Laundry. I applied for the job, but it was already taken. They’d hired an ambidextrous chimpanzee that could block two hats at the same time. He could also fold sheets with his feet. So, my sister was out of work, too. She went into nursing and moved to Winnipeg. (My sister, not the monkey.) Maureen eventually revolutionized the Western hospital system. She was the first nurse to warm a bedpan before sliding it under shivering cheeks of a patient during a Manitoba 50-below cold snap.

The more I look back over my life, the more I’m beginning to think I might have to do something sensational during my next 160 years or my life story will never hit the best-seller list. I know what Mary and I could do to make it really interesting. I just don’t know how Mellors and Lady Chatterley got around the mosquito business.

Jim Foster is a columnist for the Packet & Times. He can be contacted at fosterjames@rogers.com.

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