(This was written in 2009, but the gist remains pretty much the same.)
I don’t want to get old.
I would never end my own life, nor would I give up fighting if my life were in danger, so don’t go getting any ideas from this post, ok? But I don’t want to get old. I dread it. It’s something I never really gave much thought to. I joke about being dead by the time I’m 50, and if I’m not, I’ll take pills and booze, and just go. Like I said, I wouldn’t really do that, but I just can’t imagine being older than that.
I grew up in and around nursing homes. I know about quality of life. I’ve seen the old, frail folks, and I’ve seen the young, spry old folk. I’ve seen wives in the home who’s 90 year old husband comes to see them and just bounds up the steps with a spring in his step. But it doesn’t matter. Because they’re old. They can’t do things they used to do. I really don’t want to hear the crap about “You can do anything you want!” None of that “it’s all in your head, a 90 year old can do what a 50 year old can do!” It’s just not true. And I don’t want to get old.
I can’t say that I’m scared, really. I’m not. I’m a little put off by not knowing what the future holds, though. Most people start getting ready for retirement when they’re half my age. Me? I got nothing. No savings. No IRAs. No CDs or bonds. Nothing. Hell, I’ll be lucky to get $100 a month in social security. I’m not going to let Kellen take care of me. I assume we’ll be together, but I don’t want him to support me. It’s bad enough now that he supports me, but to let him do it when I’m old will just be…I don’t know. Bad.
A lot of it is that I look back and realize I’ve done nothing in life. No, this isn’t one of those woe is me stories. I know I’ve touched people. I’ve probably even saved lives. I’m sure there are people who’s lives are better for knowing me. But I haven’t done anything. I toyed with the idea of a bucket list. A cruise, rock climbing, etc. The truth is, though, that I won’t do anything like that. Why not? Because it’s not the kind of person I am. I’m the kind of person who sits and watches, and then wishes I’d done it. So why not change? Again, because that’s just the kind of person I am. I can’t say it makes me happy, exactly, but I have a feeling that being unsettled in life is what I feel most comfortable with, if that makes any sense. It does in my head, but not logically… So I’ll sit and watch old age approach. No diet, no change in physical activity, no monetary security is going to change it. And I’ll dread every minute of it while doing nothing to change it. Because that’s just who I am.
And again, not to be woe is me, but it’s times like this that I…well, I really don’t like myself much. Yes, I’m a nice guy, a good person, have a great heart, and all that crap. But it doesn’t change me.
You know what brought all this on? Nip/Tuck. The 40 year old ex-wife on the show is thinking about going to med school. I sit and wonder if I should go back to school. I won’t qualify for financial aid, I have no job, and I won’t let Kellen pay for it. I like school, but I hate studying. And while I think about maybe going back to school, I think back on my unsuccessful attempts at education. I graduated high school at 20. I didn’t start college until I was in my mid-30s. I never finished. I have enough credits for at least an associates, but I’m missing a credit or two that are required for any type of paper. In four years, I could be a teacher. In two years, I could be a nurse. In one year, I could be a paramedic. Teacher is what has been on my mind the most lately. But you know what? I’m 42 years old and I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.
Crazy, isn’t it?
The really sucky thing is that, through fault that is only my own, I have such a shitty job history that even if I do go and finish whatever type of schooling, no one will hire me, because I’d be almost 50, have had held at least 25 jobs in my life, and only two or three of them for more than a year, but none for even two years. That is because I have a short temper, very little patience for idiots, and don’t like being told what to do. I have the hardest time keeping my mouth shut when I should, and I gossip even when I don’t mean to. I’m a 42 year old with the mentality of a 12 year old. So…yeah.
I don’t think this is even a midlife crisis. I think it’s just me finally facing life and reality. I don’t want to grow old. I don’t want to be old. I regret so much in life. Most of all, I regret that I set such a bad example for my kids. They have my short temper, my little patience, and my inability to keep their mouth shut. When they get angry or frustrated, they say things they regret, just like I do.
I never took care of them financially, depending on Eileen to be the bread winner. I barely pay child support, paying it here and there when I’m able. Granted, when I’m working, she gets almost my entire paycheck, just because I want to catch up, but still. Even when I was there full time, I was still a dead beat dad. I never took care of them like I should. I’m not proud of it. I’m ashamed of it, actually. I just finally accept, too late, that I’m the one responsible for my failures. And my kids, they look at me and see the dad who just wants to have fun, who doesn’t keep a job. And now…it’s just too late to change that. I know they love me. I know they will say I’ve been a good dad, but when they’re in their 30s, they’ll look back and realize the truth.
Maybe that’s why I don’t want to be old. In fact, reading back on this, what I said up there towards the beginning isn’t quite true. I’m pretty sure what the future holds. I see myself growing old alone. I’l have driven Kellen away because he shouldn’t be 45 taking care of a 65 year old, and my kids – although they love me and will love me – will be the kind of family to me that I was to them as they grew up. And I’ll be that old person in the nursing home with a nurse aid sitting next to me during the kitchen cooked Christmas dinner because she had to work the holiday, trying to keep me in good cheer.
And that’s what scares me. I just realized that, after writing all of the rest of this.
Life is what it is. I just wish I’d realized all of this 25 years ago.