I am about to reach the reverent age of 66. It doesn’t bother me, though I am disappointed I am unable to do some of the things I used to, at least not as often or as long. I don’t much care for the aches and pains either, but they’re bearable.

What I find most interesting about reaching my grandfather’s age, is the humorous changes.

I laugh at the “old man sounds” I make when I get up or down from a chair. I laugh at the fact that whenever and wherever I eat, I need to make sure there are “Tums” close at hand. I marvel that I have to trim my eyebrows, ear and nose hair at least once a week. I wake at 5 a.m., am asleep by 9 p.m.
The one that makes me chuckle the most is the difference in gifts one receives for birthdays, et cetera.

When I was in my 20’s, I received “toys”. These might have been basketballs, baseballs, or footballs, or some other sports related apparatus. I was very athletic, and participated in games whenever possible. As it is with most young men, I envisioned myself quite the “jock”.

I might also receive clothes, and not the “practical” kind. The lady in my life would give me tight fitting pants, or shirts she may have decided were “sexy”. There also might have been gifts of alcohol, (scotch whiskey being my favorite). Concert tickets were within the realm of possibility.

In my thirties things didn’t change greatly. There weren’t as many “toys” of the sports variety, more of the electronic venue. Gifts of clothing remained the same with the addition of “sexy underwear”, (I must have needed something to increase my “sex appeal“). The cost of gifts increased exponentially to the increase in our income levels.

Along came the 40’s. I felt no different for the most part, physically, but mentally I had changed a great deal. So gifts exemplified the “new and improved” me.


I received books, both novels and the coffee table varieties. Framed pictures of loved ones were not uncommon. Clothes and electronics remained a staple, but gift cards to restaurants or department stores such as the now defunct “Sharper Image” were not a big surprise. Gifts of my greatest vice, Scotch Whiskey were still frequent, and never unappreciated. Also to be added were gifts of “weekend getaways” to some of my favorite recreational areas.

And becoming forty required a few gag gifts on my birthday. My gifts were all wrapped in black, I received a “walking stick”, suspenders, a magnifying glass, etc.

The fifties didn’t change greatly from the forties. The cost of the items the most notable difference. I received satellite equipment to enable reception of a certain television transmission which allowed me to watch my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers every Sunday, as well as my first recliner, which forced me to fall asleep watching them. And Steeler’s apparel followed. I received hats, sweats, leather jackets, and “T” shirts. The fifties were good. (And even though my beloved wife dislikes, maybe even hates, football, she was generous and loving in her gift giving.)

Then along came the 60’s.

The first gift I received was the day before my 60th birthday, and I could never receive a greater one in my lifetime. My bride of almost 15 years surprised me by having my family and friends arrive here in Reno. My brother and his family lived in the Denver, Colorado area, my daughter and her family in Naples, Florida, and my best friend in Memphis, Tennessee. My lifelong friend Rich, the one from Memphis Tennessee, has lifelong pass privileges with the airlines, and stayed with us, so at least he did not add to the enormous expense. It was worth every penny. My brother and his family and my son and daughter, grandson and granddaughter had never all been together at the same time. It was the greatest birthday of my life.

However, the reality was that I was getting older, and beginning to feel it. Some physical problems began to get my attention. My injures didn’t heal as quickly. The years of playing basketball and baseball on asphalt began to take its revenge on my ankles and knees, and of course my back. I was definitely paying for the “sins of my youth”.

My eyesight was not as sharp, even when I purchased new eyeglasses. I had to turn up the television a little louder. I uttered the word “what” a lot more frequently. I began to feel the consequences of eating spicy food, or eating after 6 p.m. at all for that matter, my stomach taking its revenge in the creation of a furnace in my middle. My sinuses became more irritated, causing me to blow my nose more often and more vigorously, and hair seemed to grow much faster, that is everywhere except on my head. So, gifts became more of the type based on my “needs”, rather than my wants. And I was presented items of a perceived “humorous” nature.

I got “T” shirts that stated, “Old Men Rule”, and “World’s Greatest Grandpa”. I received a coffee cup telling me I was the “World’s Sexiest Grandpa”. I was given another magnifying glass. (This was actually quite useful.) A neck support to use while in my recliner was appreciated, but, thank God, I didn’t receive a “throw” to cover my legs in the winter.

For my last birthday I asked for and received a wall mounted mirror for my bathroom so I was able to trim my beard, nose hairs etc. It’s lighted, magnified on one side, not on the other. I love it. I did receive wine, and a Marilyn Monroe coffee table book, (I’m still a big fan, which also shows my age). I like to cook and bake, so I have received pots and pans, utensils, and “gadgets” which I find very useful.

I truly have loved every gift I received in my life, though I have to admit some I have never used or simply put away in a storage area. It truly is the thought that counts. I can’t wait to see what gifts come with reaching my seventies. If one of them is Viagra, that’s OK, but if I get adult diapers, I may lose it.

James Turnage

Reno, Nevada