Keep a smile on your face no matter age

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 5, 2016

As if the bald head and the slight bulge at my waist didn’t telegraph the matter, a recent tick on the calendar clearly reminded me just how mortal I am.

To co-opt a line from a book by the late author Lewis Grizzard, Prince is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself. Grizzard wrote about the musician of his generation, Elvis Presley who died at age 42.

Grizzard — and others of my mother’s generation — were flabbergasted in 1977 when the King of Rock ’n‘ Roll left the earth suddenly. His death was a realization for the Baby Boomer generation that despite their forever-young view of the world, they couldn’t escape life’s inevitable end here on earth.

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Prince made it a little longer than Elvis. The rocker of my junior high and high school years made it to the ripe old age of 57.

After a birthday last week, I’m slap in the middle age-wise of those two fellows. Fortunately, beyond the occasional Aleve pills necessary when I forget my age and pull a muscle and the standard Southern snack, allergy/sinus meds, I’m drug-free.

But none of us can escape the slow, steady drone of time, catching up with us.

For me the current number is 45. I’ve been kicking for nearly half a century. The question we all have about now is: How much longer do we have left?

None of us knows for sure, but the statisticians among us sure do like to guess.

The folks at the Social Security Administration guess that someone of my age in the U.S. should have another 37.2 years left.

Well, that’s depressing.

At some point in the last four years or so, I hit the tipping point — less years left than years already passed.

Somehow, I missed the occasion entirely. That’s fitting, I suppose, for an aging mind like mine.

No celebration, no big party and no losing of my mind in a mid-life crisis. The proverbial mid-life crisis used to mean a person starts changing their wardrobe, festooning one’s self with gold chains and purchasing a red sports car.

I’ve not changed the wardrobe and own no gold chains — at least not yet — but I did purchase an old car a while back — a 1966 Ford Mustang fastback.

It wasn’t running and had been sitting under the carport of a very nice local woman who had inherited the car from her uncle several years back.

The car had not been driven in years. With a little work, it’s now running, and I’ve begun working through the other mechanical systems that need attention before it hits the road.

As another birthday passed, the car project serves as a good reminder of my own youth. I restored a similar car with my own father while I was a teenager. That project kept me broke as a teenager, which subsequently meant I dodged most trouble.

Perhaps the new project — which is older than me, by five years — is my mid-life crisis. I am giving new life to something old, after all.

Subconsciously, maybe my hope is to prove to myself that despite the changes in hair and waistline, the teenager of my youth still lives beneath old man costume.

Only time will tell if that’s the case or not.

But in the meantime, I’ve decided not to worry about the longevity — or lack thereof — of life. Who has the time to worry about such, particularly when you’re beyond the halfway point?

No, instead I’m inspired by all of the folks in my life who seem to defy their age. You probably know people like this, too. They’re all around us, if you just pay attention. Most of these folks always have a smile on their faces and don’t let their age show — ever.

They also seem far happier than their birthday-worrying counterparts.

Given the choice of the two, I hope to be in the happier crew, enjoying every second of life.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or