Dave Barry on learning to grow old more gracefully
The Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry, author of The New York Times bestselling “Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog” (Simon & Schuster), offers advice about navigating the rocky shoals of retirement-age living.
I’m getting old. It feels like half the mail I get these days is urging me to pre-arrange my funeral.
I used to get interesting, even exciting, mail. Granted, a lot of it was from Ed McMahon, telling me I might already have won $17 million. He was lying, of course. But at least his letters were upbeat.
Now I get mail about old-person things: funerals, hearing aids, catheters. That’s right: I get catheter mail.
I also get a lot of letters from AARP. AARP is, of course, the last sound you make before you die. AARP! But it’s also a big national organization dedicated to helping us old people deal with being old, by telling us that age doesn’t really matter; that we shouldn’t let it limit us; that no matter how old we get, we can still do anything we set our minds to.
This is also a lie, of course. I mean, no matter what, aging is kind of a bummer. For people, anyway. But not for dogs.
My dog, Lucy, turned ten around the same time I turned 70, so if you go by dog years, we’re the same age. But I’ve noticed that Lucy seems a lot happier in her old age than I am. Everything makes her happy and excited. Like when it’s time for her walk, I’ll be like, “Oh man, I gotta walk the dog.” But Lucy sees the leash, she’s like, “A WALK!! WHAT A GREAT IDEA!! HOW DO YOU THINK THIS STUFF UP??!!”
Lucy also loves to make new friends. I almost never make new friends. I’m not even sure all my old friends are still alive. But Lucy immediately makes friends with everybody she meets. She has way more friends than I do.
She also has more fun. Despite her age, she still loves to play. I’ll be sitting around reading my catheter mail, and Lucy will come trotting up with some old dog toy in her mouth, taunting me, daring me to try to take it away from her.
Lucy may be old, but she finds joy in life, all the time, every day.
I envy that. I’m going to try to be more like Lucy, to take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like play and friendship. I’m going to make a point of doing the things that Lucy does that make her happy.
Although I draw the line at drinking from the toilet.
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Story produced by Sara Kugel.
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