“Do not resist growing old, many are denied the privilege” is either an Irish proverb or credited to Mark Twain or Art Linkletter. Wherever or whoever is responsible knew a thing or two about growing old. As I am now well over 75 years old, I think I can count myself in that merry band.
Many of my recent ancestors and immediate family had children and siblings that sadly didn’t reach adulthood. This of course has gone on forever. I suspect even in much larger families of the past, the death of one’s child was equally as devastating as it is to more modern smaller families.
In my ramble ‘Childhood illnesses vs extreme sports’, I described many horrible things in the natural world that want to feed off our flesh (a bit dramatic that init) as well as many of the horrible things that we do to ourselves such as extreme sports, self-abuse I think it’s called, or am I thinking of something else?
We are very lucky in good old Blighty, in other parts of the world there are parasites and animals that have evolved to kill us all, even some humans seem to have evolved the same attitude.
Sticks and stones
Even though wars have been going on in some form or another since our early ape ancestors learnt how to throw a stone and use a stick, the ways and means that many find to kill each other is, to some, a fascinating subject. I have to admit it is to me, as long as they don’t ask me to join in of course.
A large percentage of the victims of war are the young, either by being involved with the fighting or by collateral damage, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All this and whether we survive illnesses is, in many ways, the luck of the draw.
If we lived in many other parts of the world, and the list is endless, even in some so-called civilised areas, luck forms a large part of our chances of reaching adulthood. In sub-Saharan Africa, one in 13 children do not live to see their fifth birthday. This is mainly due to poverty, poor education and poor health care, the last two are due at least in part to reluctance or ignorance in regards to birth control, which in turn goes some way towards poverty.
Western civilisation … it would be a good idea
In the most powerful nation, and some may say (and some not) the most civilised – particularly when describing themselves – there is an estimated 300,000,000, (that is 300 million) guns. One in three American families with children have a gun, many are loaded and unlocked, the gun that is, not the child. Approximately 1,300 children under 18 are killed each year, the vast majority are killed accidentally, and many in the homes of their friends playing with guns they thought were toys.
There are more than 120 guns in civilian ownership per 100 people in the USA. that is more than one gun per person. The next nearest country is surprisingly the Falkland Islands with 62 per 100 people. There are 3.3 guns per 100 people in Great Britain, that is England, Scotland, Wales and their associated islands. And what is depressingly frightening is that the Americans don’t appear to like each other very much.
In 2020 child (under 15) mortality in England and Wales was seven deaths in 100,000, which is the lowest on record. In 1981, just 40 years ago, it was 33 per 100,000. I often think that we are so very lucky to be born and live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Anyway, enough of this depressing child mortality, let us very lucky oldies embrace our longevity by laughing, in more ways than one, at a few old jokes.
The wisdom of old age
An elderly Somerset farmer had a large pond down by his apple orchard. One hot, late summer evening he decided to potter down to the pond and took a bucket to pick some apples while he was there.
As he neared the pond, he heard female voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer he saw a bunch of young women skinny-dipping. He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him, “We’re not coming out until you leave”.
The old man thought for a second and said, “I didn’t come down here to watch you ladies swim or to make you get out of the pond in the nude”. Holding the bucket up he said, “I’m just here to feed my crocodile”.
A couple in their seventies are both having problems remembering things. During a check-up, the doctor tells them that they’re physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.
Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. “Want anything while I’m in the kitchen darling?” he asks.
“Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?”
“Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?” she asks.
“No, I can remember that.”
“Well, I’d like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so you don’t forget it.”
He says, “I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries”.
“I’d also like whipped cream. I’m certain you’ll forget that, write it down”, she says.
Irritated, he says, “I don’t need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream – I got it, for goodness sake!”
Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment.
“Where’s my toast?”
Remember: You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.