With age comes wisdom

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, January 18, 2011

At the most recent meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners, longtime county citizen and political pundit Earl Rountree addressed the subject of age, among other items on his agenda that day.

He said that one of his grandchildren had a keen interest in dinosaurs and fossils. Upon asking his young relative to define fossil, the child innocently answered, “Something old, like you granddaddy.”

Like Earl, I’ve replaced many calendars in my lifetime. If he would sit still in age, it wouldn’t take me too awful long to catch up.

His discussion about age reminded me of a recent e-mail I received from a friend, and former co-worker, Pam Odom, formerly of Lewiston, now of Winterville.

The subject matter of that e-mail dealt with age; in this case, “Old Farts.” While using such a term to describe someone with numerous birthdays under their belts may appear to be demeaning, I don’t mind being called an Old Fart when the following applies:

Old Farts are easy to spot at sporting events during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. They will remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment. They know the words and believe in them.

Old Farts remember World War II, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Normandy and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing.

If you bump into an Old Fart on the sidewalk he or she will apologize. If you pass an Old Fart on the street, they will nod or, if a male, tip his cap to a lady.

Old Farts hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection.

Old Farts get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don’t like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies.

Old Farts seldom brag unless it’s about their children or grandchildren.

It’s the Old Farts who know our great country is protected, not by politicians, but by the young men and women in the military serving their country.

This country needs Old Farts with their work ethic, sense of responsibility, pride in their country and decent values.

And I’ll end this with a special word to Earl as well as all the other Old Farts out there. According to www.aolhealth.com, there appears to be proof to back-up the old saying, “With age comes wisdom.”

Most believe that brain cells die as people age, making them more forgetful. However, according to a recently published book based on several studies, the reverse is actually true.

New York Times deputy science editor Barbara Strauch – in her book, “The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain,” – says that not only do human beings keep their existing brain cells intact throughout their middle-age years, new ones also continue to form.

Strauch bases her arguments on research, including the Seattle Longitudinal Study, which has tracked about 6,000 people since 1956, testing them every seven years. That study has shown that participants tended to score higher on cognitive exercises in their 40s and 50s than they did in their 20s.

The older subjects performed better on vocabulary, spatial orientation, problem solving and verbal memory tests. They did worse when quizzed on perceptual speed (how fast they were able to push a button) and on their numeric abilities (how quickly they could calculate simple math).

We may struggle with setting the clock on our DVD player and have a hard time figuring out all the buttons – pardon me, the apps – on one of them fancy Blackberry phones, but we’re sharper than you think.

Fossils are best suited for museums. I’m not even close to being put on display.

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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