You’re Only Old Once
And now it’s my turn (but yours will come)
One day you will read in the National Geographic
of a faraway land with no smelly bad traffic
In those green-pastured mountains of Forta-fa-Zee
Everyone feels fine at a hundred and three
’cause the air that they breathe is potassium-free.
Dr. Seuss: You’re Only Old Once: A Book for Obsolete Children
“Your trials remind me that you’re only old once. Capture it, write down, what it’s like to be that old only once,” urged the editor of this sheet, who methinks too old to suggest one is only young once yet not sufficiently aged to propose one is only old once.
Her thought came from the short You’re Only Old Once volume wrapped up by Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, on his 82nd birthday, which happens to be my age these days.
Is this a children’s book? writes Seuss.
Well … not immediately.
You buy a copy for your child now
and you give it to him on his 70th birthday.
Thus inspired, and with profound apologies to Dr. Seuss, my latest old-age lament in rhyme, I must confess, was pressed upon me with another unexpected hospital stay. Nothing like fresh memories to revive poetic vigor.
In the morning they come for my toe
I have to go with it, you know
But when I come back
My toe I will lack
I will have lost weight
My toes will be eight
The ninth one is bait
The tenth one I lost long ago.
The doc will tell ’ya,
Don’t worry ’bout the bill.
Take this pill, that pill all the pills
Straight from the mill, Bill.
And you’ll be pushing up
A daffodil …
It’s going to cost you
To get rid of another toe
Don’t buck the flow;
’cause wherever you go
it’ll be awfully slow
With that new missin’ toe …
You’ll need nurses to put on your socks
While the doc’s checking on his stocks,
Interns bustling about in their smocks,
Paying no attention to any of the clocks
Though I’d rather be waiting at the docks
Or anywhere there’s no locks …
The urinal you get
Is plastic, cheap ’n’ thin as a tin …
Complain all you want; you can’t win
After all, it collects only urin!
You can’t leave
Not on your own,
certainly not in that gown.
Could you escape downtown
dressed like a clown
why everyone’ll frown.
Two by two come bedside guests;
Before long there’ll be songfests,
Jests, the usual pests
Sans nests ’n’ family crests …
Which the patient detests,
But never suggests
How his patience the crowd sorely tests …
Physical Therapy’s part of the drill
Hopping on one foot’s not much of a thrill
Especially when it all seems uphill
So I’ll do my best to dance a quadrille
Testing the limit of all the goodwill
That I’ve built with the staff
By making them laugh
And talking of fishing
And fervently wishing
I wasn’t so over the hill.
The food’s very nice, with hunger for spice
The portions are tasty but very precise
On most hospital days, I’d order two trays
If the nurses I could but entice.
But my blood sugar’s tough to control
And the nurses are hard to cajole
So for now I’ll eat lightly, noonly and nightly,
And feast when I get my parole.
Granddaughter Mackenzie, never one to be shy,
Stopped in to tell my condemned toe goodbye.
No tears were shed, we told jokes instead
And she bounced on the bed.
With only eight toes, heaven knows,
There’s no luckier grandpop than I.
You’re only old once;
For others it might be twice
But they’re just being nice
Like weddings with rice
Or cats with lice
none of which is nice …
As a young Marine I used to state:
“All we hear is hurry up and wait.”
Sixty years later nothing has changed;
Logistics never are timely arranged.
It takes fifteen minutes my toe to entomb,
But another six hours to find me a room.
But the op was successful, I’m happy to say
I’ll be a bit gimpy but still here to stay.
They’re all very nice of course at a price;
They’ll send me home with lots of advice
And I’ll listen politely, noonly and nightly,
While composing this tome
And longing for home.
With doggerel written, revised and re-read,
I now can lie back and relax in my bed
And mutter my mantra: good night, Enough Said!