March 2, 2016: All Dressed Up

~by Louis Templeman

I remember the old men, those who were so distant, so different in style, in skin, hair and shoes, whose words were either dismissive or absent or condescending and excessively sweet speaking to me as if I were younger than I was and certainly less wise than I felt. I remember their gait was always slower, more cautious and, I thought, often clumsy.

They were always so well dressed. Some wore ties and jackets. Their shoes were “spit-shined”. Almost all wore hats. My Dad would say, “All dressed up and nowhere to go.” That’s what he thought of retirement and old age. Once a relative in his sixties passed on and I asked Dad why he died. Dad’s answer was, “Old age.” Evidently he had learned somehow that old age was a disease and old age is where you have no place to go. That is what I got out of it anyway.

Dad died four years ago. He was 84. He was seriously crippled by a series of TIAs, or mini-strokes, and was unable to dress and unable to go anywhere. But, before he became house bound he liked to dress well. He would put on nice slacks and an ironed shirt if he was going to the store or barber shop.

I am now 65. When I was a child 65 was considered old. A 65-year old person was likely to die at any time of old age. I am now retired and have Parkinson’s disease. My left arm trembles constantly. I can still use it. I can type and still make most of the guitar chords I know but it is not as easy. When I was a kid Dad called what I have, “the palsy.” He made it sound like a crippling wasting disease.

For 7 months now I have been covered by Medicare and have purchased a supplemental policy. So I go to a lot of medical and therapy appointments. And, of course, I always dress well. I feel better when I do. Sometimes when sitting in a doctor’s waiting room or walking through CVS I will see men of my age who still look like the hippies from 1972. I know that’s what they were. I was one so I can recognize one when I see him. An old dirty Redman Chewing Tobacco hat, sleeveless T-shirt just retrieved from the laundry pile and faded cutoff jeans, flip-flops and unkempt long hair and beard. No judgment here. That look still works for them. They are caught in a time warp not unlike the men of a generation ago who kept their Elvis cuts into their fifties and beyond.

My Dad was wrong. Old age is not a disease. I still have places to go. I just go there slower. Sometimes I envy friends my age that can still work all day and run around on the weekends. I have plenty of places to go. I can go in the next room and see my wife. I go out to eat with ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out). I go to prayer. I go to church. My wife and I really like each other and we go places. She can make the most ordinary errand feel like an outing.

Time is all we have. As a senior adult I am discovering I really enjoy spending time doing nothing – talking to friends, tending my flowers, watching TV or reading (either Kindle or old style). I have time to enjoy my morning devotional readings; I no longer have to rush through them. My Things-To-Do List is still important but has lost some of its urgency. I can take it easy. I find I really enjoy a day when I have no place to go. And, if I want I can dress up and not go there.


Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • email
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Twitthis
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • MySpace
  • Sphinn
  • Mixx