The Gospel Truth

Playing the Back Nine and Other Stories | May 18, 2011

Getting old is not for sissies.   

Late Cardinal announcer, Jack Buck helped us watch the aging process and the serious limitations it can put on the skills and energy levels of talented people when those skill start to deminish.

Most baseball fans cringed in horror as an aged 43 year old Willie Mays, staggered under a fly ball during the 1973 World Series.

Buck had Parkinson’s Disease during the last years of his life and it made listening to him very difficult.

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Gave us the bad with the good

He was well aware of his decline and in typical Buckian wit said:  I gave you the best years of my life and now I am giving you som eof the worst.”

I remember at a dinner one time as EMC he quipped that at his age “I am playing the back nine.”

At age 67 that’s how I have felt for a while–I am probably at least holing out on the 14th green.

So these stories are all dedicated to my perception and fear of aging.  Read them with the good humor with which I have intended.   

As a child I was in a hurry to grow up, to be mature and independent.  I remember when I was eleven years old, I thought it would be great to live until the year 2000.

That’s before Stanley Kubrick made me realize that I had really meant 2001.  Now that it has finally happened, I no longer relish my advanced maturity.

I am what the late Cardinal Sports Announcer, Jack Buck used to quip, playing the back nine.  And I was never any good at golf.

Jack Buck and I had a really strange relationship  I have three stories that I would love to share with his son Joe, if I can ever summon the courage to meet him some day.  We do see each other at the local Starbucks every so often.

Lets say, I see him and he looks the other way.

This reflection on age and aging has several different components worthy of note.

The first has to do with eating.  Years ago, I could eat anything and work sweat or worry off any unwanted calories.

Now my tailor is on a retainer.  When I go on a cruise, just knowing the midnight buffet is three decks away, can add another inch on my belt line.

Burger King is hiring

Can’t go there any more.

And what are all these golden years I hear about?

Does that mean gold in the teeth, or money in the bank?  I think silver is a better choice.  I mean silver hair, if one is lucky to have any of his hair left.  Silver is also the color on my multi-vitamin bottle.

I thought the salad years was something goos, not that you had to eate nothing more filling that a pile of leaves.

Pain is another constant of the aging process.

At fifty, I stopped jogging, playing tennis and running up stairs three at a time.

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Too much pain

I sadly realized that I was at the stage when my body gave me more pain than pleasure.  It was just too easy to get hurt.  I was spending too much time at the local Walgreen’s, waiting for my pain prescriptions to be filled.

I recently got tennis elbow at a footballgame.

As the injuries piled up and my waistline expanded, I decided to hire my own personal trainer.

Working out was great, but as Lizzie increased the pain level, I found that exercise only felt good because it stopped hurting when we stopped.

The only pleasure my body gives me now, is when I am not in pain or exercising.

I suspect that the next milestone will be that my only pleasure will come from my constant pain, in some sort of post-menopausal response to the ravages of age.

(I recently started getting a massage twice a week.  I can honestly say the pain is much more tolerable and my body seems to be my friend again.)

The older I get the more equipment I need to get along.  I seem to have more gadgets that plug in or insert for added vision, auditory reception, and the like.

It takes ten minutes of each morning to, gather, clean, unplug, dewax, and buff my equipment.

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The young already know about hearing loss

I feel like an “auto” mechanic.

Of course, maybe it is just the times.  Every married couple I see seems to have a baggage train of baby stuff dragging behind them.  I do not see how any of them go anywhere, what with the portable cribs, strollers, car seats—all which seem to way fifty pounds each.

When we had children, hey, two diapers and a bottle in a tiny diaper bag and we were out of the house.  The Latin word for baggage train was “impediementa,” which give sus our English word, “impediment. To me that would be an impediment to having any more children.

I used to have a great memory.  I could recite the presidents in order and the years they served.  I can still do that but I have trouble remembering which country they lead.

For some reason I can’t remember or don’t want to remember who the 44th president is.  Henry Aaron or Willie McCovey?  They were both 44’s.

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I can remember Willie’s number

I would be lost without my daily calendar, that is, if I could find it.  And keys?  Why can I never find my keys?  Do they have legs?  I often go into rooms and forget why I went there.

But then aging is not all that bad when one considers the alternative.

If I were Chinese I would be revered and honored for my age and wisdom.  Here, I am willing to settle for a warm bed, a nearby restroom and three full meals a day.

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In China I would have been revered

I have all the time in the world to think about where I am and what I am doing.

What was the question?

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3 Comments »

  1. ha ha ha,,,,,Bill! Your the Greatest…..and you have a long way to go….

    Comment by Jim — May 18, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

  2. If you can stay free of pain, getting old ain’t too bad but woe to those who have arthur-itis, or loss of sight, hearing etc. I will be 86 on May 25 having been born, 5-25-25. I can still do pretty good, drive my car but just slower and have to rest more often. I feel blessed. Pax

    Comment by Mary B — May 19, 2011 @ 12:05 am

  3. A great post, Pop. Quite humorous and honest. You have a lot of gas left in the tank, Pop. That is, of course, you are still not driving the yellow Pinto again. :).

    Comment by Matt B. — May 19, 2011 @ 6:32 pm


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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