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Time happens

I’m not going to complain about advancing age. Because like a classic old tractor, I hope to just keep put-putting along. 

I was recently chatting with a neighbor, a guy who has gray in his beard, three adult children, and two small grandchildren. After relating an anecdote about something that took place when I was in seventh grade, I did some quick mental math and stated what year it happened.

“Huh,” replied my neighbor. “I was two years old.”

The statement shook me to the core. Could I really be that ancient? I’m glad I hadn’t asked the neighbor if he remembered where he was when he got the news that the Beatles had split up.

I later reran my calculations and stumbled onto an even more disturbing conclusion: I had been off by two years! When that long-ago seventh-grade incident took place, the grandfather I’d been chatting with wasn’t yet born!

There’s nothing like realizing that you’re getting older to make you feel old.

But I don’t really feel that way. Whenever I watch a Bond movie and see Daniel Craig pull off one impossible escapade after another, I think, “I bet I could do that.” But that’s probably what most guys tell themselves.

Approaching one’s 65th birthday causes one to take stock. I’m lucky. I have all my original teeth and all of my hair. In fact, extra hair has appeared in some unexpected places. Nobody ever told me that I would need to shave my ears.

Nothing hurts – for the most part. And everything works – most of the time.

Becoming a Medicare recipient

The federal government recently sent me a card. Not a birthday card, though; this one is leagues better. I’m about to become a Medicare recipient!

I had hoped the government would include instructions regarding the secret Medicare enrollee handshake or gesture but found no such thing with my card. This isn’t the first time the government has disappointed me. It probably won’t be the last.

Over the past year, I’ve been deluged with mail from insurance companies who were all deeply concerned about my status regarding a Medicare supplement. Navigating the maze of Medicare rules and supplements is only slightly less challenging than painting your toenails in the dark while blindfolded.

AARP has wanted me to join their organization for many years. I think I received my first AARP flier shortly after I turned 21. It’s hard for me to take seriously an association whose name sounds like the noise you might make after chugging a carbonated beverage.  

It’s difficult to believe that I will soon officially be a senior citizen. No longer will anyone be able to say of me, “That’s too bad. He was so young.” I instead may be the subject of such headlines as, “Elderly guy arrested for felony fashion cluelessness,” or “Old man hospitalized with serious ear shaving injuries.”

I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t know what happens next. This is fairly normal for me, so I’m cool with it.

Pay heed, young people, and take a lesson from me! Time can happen to anyone! If you’re not careful, you too might become old someday.

According to the internet, there are some advantages to advancing age. While your brain may not work as fast as it once did, you continue to develop so-called “crystalized intelligence.” This means that you can instantly figure out something that would cause endless amounts of dithering for a young person.

For instance, should you misplace your TV remote you would instantly realize that you’re about to miss your favorite rerun of The Love Boat. It would take a teenager years to reach that same conclusion.

Both of my grandfathers were born in the 1890s, which means they were roughly my age when I arrived on the scene. No wonder all my earliest memories of them are that they were incredibly ancient. There can be little doubt this is how our toddler grandson views me.

Neither of my grandfathers ever actually retired. They both just kept on puttering.

Grandpa Hammer drove until he was well past 90. They finally took his car keys away when he became blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other.

Grandpa Nelson kept a handful of cows and puttered with his beloved Farmall C long after he rented out his farmland. My wife and I now live on Grandpa’s farm, and I have a handful of cattle and mess around with my John Deere 3010. This isn’t at all similar to Grandpa because he favored the red machines, and I’m a Deere guy.

In any event, I’m not going to complain about advancing age. Because like a classic old tractor, I hope to just keep put-putting along. 

About the Author

Jerry Nelson
 Jerry Nelson and his wife, Julie, live in Volga, South Dakota, on the farm that Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded in the 1880s. Daily life on that farm provided fodder for a long-running weekly newspaper column, “Dear County Agent Guy,” which become a book of the same name. Dear County Agent Guy is available at

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