Lloyd Omdahl: There's no gold in golden years
Being in the vanguard of the aged population, it is my duty to warn the younger folks along the way about their unrealistic expectations of the golden years. Cutting to the chase, there is no gold in the golden years.
The term "golden years" was created by an advertising executive whose client was a manufacturer of wheelchairs.
Common sense should forewarn us that "golden years" is a fiction. They say that everybody goes downhill after 26. That's assuming that we were uphill when we started. As soon as we started referring to our best friend as "what's his name," we should be aware that something is wrong and "you know who I mean" doesn't cover it.
It is difficult to measure the decline of the mind. When they talk about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, they forget about the difficulty in defining the illness. To be honest, there are days when I am more mentally ill than on other days.
On the other hand, the decline of the body can be measured by the number of pill bottles in the bathroom. Your inventory will increase as you are confronted by surprise ailments.
So you get a terrible itch. For a while you think you are in the third plague in Egypt. The Internet tells you that as people get older their skin gets dry. So you rush out to buy humidifiers and the problem is allayed.
Then your eyes seem to be suffering from some sort of infection. Internet reports that as you get older the lower lids of your eyes sag, thereby overexposing your eye to the environment.
The good news is that there is a cure. They can sew a ruffle in your eye lid. It looks better if you do both eyes, even though the other one may not need it.
Then one morning you look down and notice that one foot is bigger than the other. Thinking it is a sprain, you put ice packs on it but that doesn't help. So you go to the Internet and ask it about foot ailments.
It says that as folks get older, water settles in the feet. The normal cure is a big diuretic pill and you can spend the rest of your years in the bathroom trying to get a smaller foot.
I heard one cynic suggest that after you hit 75, doctors don't try as hard. I think the doctors try hard to keep us on our feet even though we prefer sitting down.
After awhile your whole body becomes a mess. They don't make clothes your shape anymore so you wear whatever and you look like a thrift store in motion. So you aren't careful with your dress. It shows when you discover at mid-morning that your shorts are on backwards ... again.
Eventually, you worry about lasting longer than your money. When Publisher's Clearing House went to awarding $7,000 a week for life, I wrote and suggested they pick me since I would be a burden for fewer weeks than most folks. No answer.
When you are old enough, your kids start bossing you around. At my house, the issue is ladders. All I am permitted to have is a one-step ladder. The ceiling lights are all out until one of the kids comes home.
Entertainment is nonexistent. TV is full of junk. They even shut down the Barnum-Bailey circus. A great disappointment, but we still have Congress.
Well, who in the family aggravated me today? I usually rework the addendum to my Latest Will and Testament daily.
So don't expect gold in your golden years. You will be lucky to get bronze.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor and professor at UND. His column is published Mondays in the Herald.