Golden years?

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Larry Hayes is now North of 77 years old!

I’m sure I’m in better shape than most of the guys 77 years old.

I walk four miles plus in Foster Park every day, rain or shine, 90s or zero. If it’s icy, I just slip on my spikes.

If the snow is deep, I head for Glenbrook shopping mall once the streets have been cleared to walk for an hour or so.

I gave up jogging after I developed a stress fracture in my heel. But once that’s healed I probably won’t return to jogging. The risk of a fall is too great.

That, in turn, might lay me up for weeks if not permanently.

So I walk as fast as I can manage it.

I once heard New York’s famous anti-war minister William Sloan Coffin tell a congregation that it’s not so hard growing older.

“It just takes longer.”

That’s a big part of the story for sure. It takes me longer to get dressed for some reason. It takes longer to shop at Kroger’s, which I often do twice a week.

It seems to take me a lot longer to read the morning paper. It certainly takes longer for me to read a book.

“Grow old along with me / The best is yet to be.”

That’s how the poem begins. I don’t recall any of my students of long ago questioning the poet’s reasoning.

Of course, that was quite a few years before I had celebrated 77 birthdays.

I would argue that age has its benefits. No, people don’t step aside to let me pass at the store.

I don’t get asked for advice in matters of love or business. I do appreciate that son John calls me regularly to see how I’m doing.

But he doesn’t ask for advice or anything else. He doesn’t even sound as if he’s worried about me. Maybe he is. That’s OK.

Back to the benefits of aging. I’m sure I’m slower to anger. In fact, I don’t even recall a recent occasion when I got upset.

Sure, retired editorial writer that I am, I’m following the presidential race. I’m just not talking back to the TV or feeling especially distressed that the country might elect a real estate tycoon president.

That’s what I mean about the benefits. At 77, you can step back from the political debates and from the complaints in the city about garbage pickup or road construction.

Frankly, I love to feel somewhat removed from the national political debates. It’s a feeling that would have served me well when one friend called me “thunder in the mountain.”

I do take satisfaction that my writing for the paper helped spur the desegregation of the schools and the development of better services for people with mental illness.

When Mom, who still lived in Ohio, was in her 80s, we moved her to a retirement home in our Indiana city.

During her first years there, she still could play bridge and work crossword puzzles. So Golden Years Homestead, the name of the home, suited her well.

But her last years, as she grew into her 90s, weren’t so golden. Of course, I don’t know if that’s my future, as well.

I simply refuse to speculate on that. I mean to make the most of each day. I mean to be as good a husband, father, grandfather and friend as I can be.

I do miss the jogging.

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