2019-03-09 / Viewpoints

The Old Timer

By Howard ‘Mac’ McDonald

“Over the hill” has a lot of meanings. For many of us, it’s personal.

Getting up the hill was always a challenge for me. Sometimes I thought I could not make it to the top because the hill was actually a tall mountain. At other times, things seemed so easy that I thought it was all downhill.

And then there were the times when I wondered why I even kept climbing.

I spent a lot of time wondering what was on the other side of the hill. Many years ago, I reached the summit and didn’t even know it.

Then I started heading back down the side I am on now. And I don’t think I have fully answered the question of what’s on the other side.

Does over the hill mean that you are just a few steps from the graveyard, or does it mean that the hard work of climbing the hill is over and the best days are yet to come? You would think that a downhill slope would be easier to negotiate, but life doesn’t work like that.

Some folks say that over the hill means you have reached the golden years. What is so great about the golden years? If failing eyesight and a longer stint at the urinal is what that means, then I must be in my golden years.

Old folks seem to have problems with their memories. It hits everyone differently.

I can remember things that happened 50 years ago, but today I don’t know where I laid my glasses.

Most people up in years are painfully aware of their memory loss. It is a terrifying thought when you have to wonder how fast you might be slipping and when people will notice.

I saw an advertisement in one of the free papers that claimed you can teach your brain how to remember again by taking a pill. I am not a big fan of these miracle cures, but I did ask for a free sample.

Then I took my dog Sarge a mile from home and gave him the pill. I waited for an hour, let him out of the car, and drove off.

About midnight, the police brought him home, so I flushed the rest of the pills down the commode. So much for my experiment. I will rely on my wife to keep me informed.

If you believe that story, I will tell you another one next week.

Some of the snow birds here in our section of Arizona are leaving early. They must think it is May. They will have a different thought when they get up north.

Some of our neighbors are Canadians and they are wonderful people. They can only stay out of Canada for 180 days or they have to forfeit their free medical care.

I will miss the arrival of spring in Pennsylvania. People cheer up and many of them begin planning their gardens. With all of the snow this year, the growing season should be a good one due to the moisture of the snow melt.

I hope this winter hasn’t been too hard on the deer herd and other species. They have their own ways of coping with it unless we get a hard ice crust. That can send a whitetail sliding helplessly down a mountainside, slamming into trees.

Old Bernie Sanders is the latest Democrat to join the long parade of people trying to unseat Donald Trump in the 2020 election. It looks like there will be a clear choice that November when the two nominees go head to head.

Bernie tends to have a foul mouth, but I guarantee you that when it comes to cussing, I am king of the mountain. This has been a lifelong habit that I have not been able to kick.

Here is a tip that I have used from time to time and it helps. When you feel like saying something bad, just say, “Sacramento,

California.” That is a more politically correct way to spout off.

All of the news coverage about the measles cases brings back bad memories. When I was in high school, I was hit with the measles five times.

I hope that epidemic stays away from my door because it may be accompanied by the Grim Reaper.

We didn’t have the inoculation back then. If the doctor recommends that, I will roll up my sleeve. Shirley and I got our flu shots this year and they have worked so far.

Many folks in Apache Junction have been hit with the flu. Our next-door neighbors were down for about three weeks. Neither of them got a flu shot.

We made them some homemade soup, but we never went into their house. I am a magnet for any disease that comes down the pike, so I just can’t take chances.

I did take a hard fall last week and thought I had broken my left hip. It was heavily bruised, but did not fracture. A broken hip can be the kiss of death if you are an old goat.

When the calendar page turns to March, my mind drifts to the great times we had kite-flying. That seems to be an extinct pastime.

We used to have a blast. My brother was an expert flight design engineer. I was more like Charlie Brown. My kites had a knack for finding a tree or crashing into the ground.

We used to save all the twine that wrapped most of the packages people bought back then. We tied it together with granny knots and rolled it into a ball. Old neckties made great kite tails. Sometimes Pappy couldn’t find his good dress necktie. Hmmm. I wonder where that ended up?

A quarter would buy you a pretty kite at the Five and Dime. That was a lot of money for a kid back then. If you made your own kite and flew it higher than the other kids, your pecking order in the community would go up.

They still fly kites in the Far East. That is where you can find the large box kites.

When I was stationed in Taiwan, my two oldest were in the Boy Scouts. They worked hard to earn merit badges for building and flying their own kites.

If I had any brains when I was younger, I would have invested all of my dimes in the manufacturing of remote controls for TVs.

That handy tool puts you in charge of what you see. When the political know-it-alls are blabbing at each other or dishing out the dirt, you can eliminate them with the push of a thumb.

There is an old saying, “All is fair in love and war.” These people use that as an excuse to attack, but none of them can take a punch.

Until we meet again, keep climbing the hill, watch your language and keep your musket nearby and your powder dry.

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