Getting Old Sucks
By Harry Holdorf
aside) The world is displaying that it can take care of itself. This is no
excuse for us to misbehave environmentally, but if it's true that, by driving
to the grocery store, we're making the world warmer, melting the polar ice
caps, and heating up the oceans, then the oceans will have more energy,
providing more energy to the atmosphere, allowing for bigger storms, which will
increase the rains and the snowpack, and eventually add to the icecaps. And if
this is true, then we old people will actually be correct in thinking the
weather's getting worse, as our bodies are failing, as we approach the falling
into our graves, or the smooth slide into our ovens.
I want to say this just once, but forcefully: GETTING OLD SUCKS, so if you want to enjoy this world, and do stuff, do it while you're young.
One of the larger ironies is that kids are inclined to ingest anything that can give them that comfortable mental fuzziness, while old people would give anything to experience again the clear-headedness of their youth.
It's no wonder that churches are filled with old people, people who are nearer to meeting their maker. I was thinking it'd be a good idea to set up AA meetings just for older people, so they could share their experiences as they approach their own physical demise; but I realized it's a benefit for younger people to see what direction older people are headed, encouraging them to adjust their earthly course in time to make their lives more meaningful. Older people are inclined to report back to the younger population: "Don't come this way," but, tragically, there's no other way to go.
My brother Popper's still dealing with his slow-growing abdominal cancer; but I'm not concentrating on his mortality, I'm thinking about all ours, especially my own. Popper's this unique older brother I'll always have, four years older than I, one brother in between, one brother older than he. Popper's an original, and does things quite uniquely. He keeps his stuff sorted out in taped-up cigar boxes, has spent decades designing and building beautiful, original, functional cabinets and kitchens. He kept making three-legged tables until he realized he couldn't make one that wasn't tippy. He built mortise and tenon swinging porch rope couches out of rough hewn redwood beams we'd salvaged out of three hundred year old redwood stumps we'd split up in the incredibly beautiful gulches behind Kesey's house in La Honda.
Popper was the one who'd taken care of the horses when we lived on the farm; he's the one who actually emptied a railroad coal car with a scoop shovel down at the lumber company. Later, he set up a construction crew to build steel grain bins, which I spent many summers working on, establishing the procedure for hanging sheets, creating the pattern for getting the work done.
It was all based on hard work, starting with digging the footings: getting out in some farmer's pig lot early on a Monday morning, in the middle of a Nebraskan summer, driving a center post, running a tape around, marking where the footing was to be dug, which we then proceeded to spend half a day digging by hand, kicking long tile spades down through incredibly rich Nebraskan dirt, forming a two foot wide by three foot deep circular foundation trench.
Later on in the process, after the foundation was in, and the roof was set on top of it, then jacked up, Popper and I established this process of hanging sheets, where we'd carry a hundred pound, three by eight foot sheet of galvanized steel over to the bin, hoisted it up with one gloved hand, with a punch in the other hand, to line it up with a hole; then twisting the punch to hold the sheet in place long enough for the free hand to get a bolt and thread a nut on it, to hold the sheet up.
One time (I wasn't there), when Popper was finishing up this thirty by sixty foot silo sixty miles west of Lincoln: he was inside working on the un-loader, when he heard the trucks drive off (his Mission Help was leaving) he looked outside and saw this tornado coming, so he ran to a root cellar, and when he looked back out, the bin was gone, having blown three quarters of a mile. The insurance paid, so they built another one there, but I don't know if they paid Popper for new ladders.