Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this column are those of Michael Goings and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Dillon Herald.
This article that I am presenting to you came from a conversation that my best friend and I had not long ago.
The topic of our talk concerned the fact that we both realized that we were not physically the young men that we once were.
The old gray mules are definitely not what they use to be and we know it.
My friend made a reference in our conversation to an old guy, who was a neighbor of his when he was growing up, who had a problem with wetting on himself.
When they would get close to this old gentleman, who they referred to as Snuff James, he would often smell like urine. Therefore, they added further insult and vulgarity to him by mocking and ascribing him with a nickname.
However, both my friend and I have arrived at the age and stage of our lives where we fully understand why Mr. Snuff James had a problem with wetting on himself. It is a part of growing old. To be perfectly honest, I have had some close calls where I almost wet on myself.
Out of that conversation about Mr. Snuff James, both of us came to the regrettable reality that the older we get, the more we are becoming like some people we once mocked when we were young. My high school principal, from the eighth grade through the twelfth grade, was an educator named Mr. H. E. McBride. He was perhaps one of the most well-dressed male teachers that I have ever had the privilege to know. He was a stylish dresser who knew how to coordinate colors, fabrics, and garments when it came to blazers, suits, pants, shoes, and other male attire. Perhaps his one glaring flaw when it came to dressing was the fact that he wore his trousers jacked up too high above his waistline. My wife recently teased me when she saw how high I had my pants elevated above my waistline. She mockingly said with a chuckle, “You’ve got your pants jacked up just like Mr. McBride’s.” He was also her principal when she attended Gordon High School. It was evident that when it came to how I was wearing my pants, I was becoming like my former principal, someone I had mocked.
Assuredly, most of us have been guilty to some degree of mocking certain people in our families, schools, communities, and even churches when we were growing up. Back then, the way some old people talked, walked, dressed, or some other awkward or weird behavioral patterns they demonstrated was mocked by us when we were young, insensitive, and ignorant. However, now that we are old like those we mocked, we are reaping the whirlwind. I used to watch certain old guys who worked on my father’s construction crew, when I was a young man who often seemed to struggle to make it through the workday.
Of course, the reason a few of them had such a hard time working on the job without monkeying (quitting) was due to them hitting the bottle the night before and coming to work without fully sobering up. However, some of these fellows (who a few of the younger workers and I loved to taunt and tease) were just old men who no longer had the strength and stamina they once possessed when they were much younger.
Well, the universal law of reciprocity (what a person sows they will ultimately reap) eventually caught up with me some years later. I realized that I had become like the old men I use to mock on the job, when my two younger brothers began to mock me, right before I permanently retired from being a part-time bricklayer on my father’s construction crew.
Perhaps not in the same areas, but I have become like some of the people I once mocked. I am convinced that many of you who are reading this column, if you will be truly honest, will witness to the reality that in many aspects of your lives where you mocked or made fun of others who were old, awkward, and perhaps even a bit unpleasant to your senses and standards of etiquette, that you are now the object of ridicule from some due to your age and loss of dexterity and vitality. Do not despair if you are at that stage of your life. Be encourage that most of the taunting and teasing, especially from family members like children and grandchildren, are just expressions of affection and endearment. I will conclude today with an original poem that I wrote just for this piece today:
When you were growing up as a child
Did you mock an older person in disrespect
But now that you have grown old yourself,
Do you look back with much shame and regret
Did you make fun of old people
Because of their clumsy and awkward walk
Did you and other
youngsters your age
Ridicule and mimic their faint and feeble talk
Do not forget the young scoffers in Scripture
Who mockingly said, Go up thou bald head”
And reaped the tragic consequences
Bears mauling them ‘til dead
So be careful while you are young
Not to mock those who are feeble and old
Lest your latter days and
Bring upon you much