GEORGE BROWN
Thoughts on growing old

July 14th, 2011    Author: George Brown    Filed Under: Opinion

Not so long ago incurable diseases and the wear and tear of survival offered little hope of growing old. Reaching old age was like winning the lottery except there were no tickets for sale.

George Brown


We are privileged to live in an era when we not only hope to grow old, we expect it. Despite this good fortune, few of us give serious thought to what life will be like, or what we may hope to do, in old age. John Lennon captured this point in verse, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” and this includes old age.

Usually, and understandably so, we do not give serious thought to growing old until we have arrived. That’s okay. As you will see from the quotes which follow, we’re in good company. These individuals, most of whom you will recognize, shared these observations in their later years. Perhaps you will find some of their comments to be compatible with your own thoughts on growing old.

“I find as I grow older that I love those most whom I loved first.” – Thomas Jefferson

“The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The soul is born old but grows young. That is the comedy of life. The body is born young and grows old. That is life’s tragedy.” – Oscar Wilde

“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – C.S. Lewis

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

“Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.” – Billie Burke

“That man never grows old who keeps a child in his heart.” – Richard Steele Sr.

“Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.” – Ben Franklin

“Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.” – Groucho Marx

“Age appears to be best in four things: old wood is best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” – Alonso of Aragon

“To remain young while growing old is the highest blessing.” – German Proverb

“We don’t grow older, we grow riper.” – Pablo Picasso

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” – Henry Lewis Mencken

“Old age is not a disease. It is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses.” – Maggie Kuhn

“The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old.” – William James

“Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.” – Tom Wilson

“Those who love deeply never grow old, they may die of old age, but they die young.” – Ben Franklin

“Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” – Robert Browning.

“I don’t plan to grow old gracefully, I plan to have facelifts until my ears meet.” – Rita Rudner

“If wrinkles must be written on our brows, let them not be written upon the heart.” – James A. Garfield

“I’m not interested in age. People who tell me their age are silly. You’re as old as you feel.” – Henry Frederic

“Old age is just like everything else, to make a success of it you’ve got to start young.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“My first advice on how to grow old would be to choose your ancestors carefully.” – Bernard Russell

“Never fear growing old, there are many who have never had the privilege.” – Unknown

“By the time you reach my age, you’ve made plenty of mistakes if you’ve lived life properly.” – Ronald Reagan

“No matter how old a mother is she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.” – Florida Scot Maxwell

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Greek Proverb

“If you live to be 100, you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age.” – George Burns

George Brown is the executive director of Clermont Senior Services.

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