Stone Mountain: Being prepared important at any age

The Boy Scouts have a great motto: Be Prepared. It is important that older people adopt the same motto. As we go through the aging phenomenon it becomes more important to be prepared for any eventuality.

During my life I followed one regimen — think what the possible consequence might be of actions before I took them. Following my hitch in the Navy during World War II, I acquired an education because I did not want to labor at a low-paying job.

I drove my car within the speed limit because I didn’t want to waste my money paying fines. I became a teetotaler because I did not want to damage my brain. I abstained from drugs because I watched a friend unsuccessfully attempt a withdrawal. One credit card was enough if I lived within my means. Not wanting to overburden my body, I was conscious of my diet. Knowing I would need muscles the rest of my life, I continued calisthenics after being discharged.

I lived with my grandparents on a farm during the Great Depression. Emptying the stalls and hoeing the garden was assigned to my brother and me, who was two years older than I. Work was mandatory. My grandfather left no misunderstandings. “If you want to eat, you have to work,” he said.

It was a tough time, but what I recall most was that everyone looked old. My grandmother always seemed old. She acted old, with several bottles of medicine on the window sill. My grandfather usually had a time-worn appearance. I guess concern about survival during an economic crisis will do that.

What got me to thinking about becoming old was a remark made by my physician during an annual physical. “You have lived beyond your life expectancy.”

“Gee, Doctor C, that’s nice to know. How much more can I expect?” I said. His name is hard to spell, so everybody calls him Doctor C. We talked about cholesterol, triglycerides, potassium and colonoscopies.

“When did you have your last colonoscopy?”

“I’ve tried to forget,” I said.

I suddenly thought about my age. Tony Curtis died at my age. Charlton Heston and John Wayne are gone. It was like a red flag. I had better be prepared.

I need to teach my wife responsibilities with which she is unfamiliar. I need to update my files. I need to hug my family often.

I need to stroll in the woods to watch woodpeckers. I need to chase swirling snowflakes. I need to study the praying mantis on my upper deck. I need to look for spacecraft crossing the sky at night.

I need to tell my wife how much I treasure our years together. I need to lie on my hammock and watch the hummingbirds.

I need to visit the 101st Airborne Division’s Museum in Fort Campbell, Ky., again to salute my brother’s shadowbox, containing his military memorabilia.

I need to prepare to be prepared.

But, George Burns signed a 20-year contract in Las Vegas when he was 100 years old. Maybe there’s less urgency.

Bill York lives in Stone Mountain. Reach him at