My Uncle Gus on Aging

Was He Right? Well… Yes and No

Robyn Sinead Sheppard

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They’re both gone now, but for a time my aunt and uncle — brother and sister — shared an apartment in Hollywood, Florida. They were both in their 80s, and were my father’s older siblings.

I remember the time my Aunt Dorothy confessed to me, “I’ve lived here for 30 years and I’ve never been to the beach.”

“Aunt Dot, have you ever wanted to go to the beach?” I asked.

“No, not really.”

“Then don’t worry about it. If you had wanted to go to the beach but never did, then I’d be concerned. But no worries.”

Photo of my Aunt Dorothy
Aunt Dorothy. Photo by author

I was attending trade school in Tampa at the time, but always managed to make the 270-mile journey to Hollywood every other week. One trip, my father was there, whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, so that was an added bonus.

My father. Photo by author

Every day, right at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Uncle Gus would return from his daily golf game.

“Ooohhh,” he would moan. “It hurts to get old! Don’t ever grow old!”

At first, I commiserated with him, but as time went by I got wise to his tricks. The next time he came home moaning about how it sucked to get old, I let him have it:

Photo of my Uncle Gus
My Uncle Gus. Photo by author.

“Uncle Gus, I’ve got you sussed! The only time you complain about growing old is when you’ve just got back from playing not 9 but 18 holes of golf. And although you’re as rich as Croesus, you never use a golf cart, preferring to walk all 18 holes, carrying your golf bag over your shoulder.

So don’t complain to me about getting old.

Uncle Gus just stood there for a moment, looking like a deer caught in the headlights of a Mack truck. A bit like the photo above, actually. Then:

“Ooohhh, it hurts to get old! Don’t ever grow old!”

I’m 73 as of this writing. Aunt Dot, Uncle Gus, and my father are all gone. My favorite memory of Uncle Gus is him standing in the kitchen doorway, moaning about growing old. And to my dismay, I often find myself echoing his mantra.

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Robyn Sinead Sheppard

A happily retired technical writer, I write in order to understand what I'm thinking. I'm walking wounded from the Sexual Revolution.