The pensioners lament

Ed
Ed Smith
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Oh how I long for those bright days
to come again once more.
But come again they never will,
for now I'm sixty-four.


That's not my problem. If I were 64, I'd be happy. If I were 64, I'd be ecstatic. If I were 64, I'd have a half decent chance of getting to be 65.
My problem is that I'm over 64. How much over? As the bride said to her husband when he asked if he was the first, "None of your darn business!"
Being beyond that ripe old age isn't normally a problem. What you can do at 64, you can normally achieve at 65, unless you have some catastrophic event or illness in your life between the two - like me.
I suddenly discovered one day after one of those catastrophic-type things, that I couldn't do at 59 what I could do at 58. I'd make a list of the most important issues if this were not a family paper. In Toronto, where I finally ended up after my car accident for rehabilitation, it was generally accepted that 58-year-old men were over the hill, and one shouldn't expect too much.
Ask any younger woman whose Significant Other is an older man. She'll tell you the truth of it in a hurry.
You can whisk by him wrapped only in a small towel that covers everything from your navel to your rib cage, announce that you want to take a long shower, wait in the shower for two hot, steamy hours and, at the end of it, be cold and damp and alone.
You can go to bed at 9:30 p.m. clad only in a sheer negligÉe and stretching your arms above your head as you pass by him. If the hockey game is on you might as well turn over and go to sleep.
You can ask him which is his favourite of your body parts and he will say your hand, because that's what feeds him.
I'm not saying this is true of all older men. Other Half married an older man. You should ask what she got out of it. Don't ask her, ask me.
We're supposed to be talking about being older than 64, which at its next logical step is 65, which itself should only be a small way removed from the former. The difference in Newfoundland and Labrador right now could be a living, breathing person and someone who is not. That's a big difference!
I was never a big fan of Jerome Kennedy. Honestly, I thought of him as just a little arrogant, a little glib and a little smug. A well-known writer in the province said exactly the same thing about me - in writing, if you please, so Brother Kennedy is in good company.
Fact is, Brother Kennedy may be all those things. He may even be a little more arrogant, a little more glib and a little more smug than me, which would put him in even more select company. I don't really know the man, which is probably a loss to both of us, we being so much alike.
But in the middle of this fiasco called mass vaccination for the H1N1 virus, I think the honourable Mr. Kennedy is doing a remarkable job. Given the shortage of vaccine, mass confusion about prioritizing groups and an overworked public health service, he's managing to keep us all confident that he's in charge, knows what he's doing and it'll all work out, children!
Good work, Sir! You'll be kept on.
The local health people are likewise doing their level best to function in what must sometimes be a more frustrating situation than a mussel trying to make love to a whore's egg. You may not consider that to be an appropriate simile. Neither does OH, but she's working on me.
Now, about that over-64 crowd. I have a particular affinity for that group. Some of my best friends are over 64. I even have family - not to mention any names - in that age group.
You want to have your heart broken? Listen to Randy Simms' "Open Line" some morning. I know in some quarters it may not be considered cool to do that, but these days some quarters are out to lunch. It's a good program and you might learn something.
There are older people calling Randy really upset that, being more than 64 and with sometimes many underlying health problems, they cannot get the vaccine. Some of them genuinely believe that nobody cares about them because of their age.
Perhaps if you were 78 and had lung cancer - remember H1N1 hits the respiratory system - you might feel the same way. Let's say you were 82 and suffered from emphysema. Or 73 with chronic asthma. Get the picture?
Some science people somewhere have suggested there is some proof that some people over 65 have acquired some immunity to the swine flu because they were exposed to something similar back in the 40s and 50s.
That could hold possibilities for people in New York, Toronto or Montreal. But for those of us living on the then isolated coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, the possibility of immunity seems a little less sure. And it's certainly not worth the risk to the people concerned.
So, you hear what I'm saying, those of you charged with the huge task of establishing priorities?
People in that age group with underlying health problems should be vaccinated along with those others considered to be at risk. They should not be placed at the bottom of the totem pole, as a friend of mine likes to put it.
In the meantime, you of "advanced age" with those problems, be assured you are as valued as anyone else in our society. It's just that sometimes society has a funny way of showing it.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Geographic location: Toronto, Newfoundland and Labrador, New York Montreal Springdale

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Recent comments

  • GAR
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Ed Smith makes some valid comments concerning the people charged with the task of setting priorities for groups receiving the H1N1 vaccine. It's a fact that no children and very few adults younger than age 60 have existing antibody to the 2009 H1N1 virus, however, about 1/3 of adults older than 60 'may' have antibodies against this virus. It is unknown how much, if any, protection may be afforded against 2009 HiN1 flu by any existing antibody. Was this fact taken into consideration by the people charged with setting the priorities as to what age group gets the vaccine and when they get it ?

  • GAR
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Ed Smith makes some valid comments concerning the people charged with the task of setting priorities for groups receiving the H1N1 vaccine. It's a fact that no children and very few adults younger than age 60 have existing antibody to the 2009 H1N1 virus, however, about 1/3 of adults older than 60 'may' have antibodies against this virus. It is unknown how much, if any, protection may be afforded against 2009 HiN1 flu by any existing antibody. Was this fact taken into consideration by the people charged with setting the priorities as to what age group gets the vaccine and when they get it ?