David Bruce: Old Age Anecdotes

Mother Teresa once visited a magnificent home for senior citizens in England. Each of its 40 residents was well cared for by the staff; however, none of the 40 residents smiled. Instead, they kept looking at the door of the home. Mother Teresa asked a Sister about this, and the Sister replied, “The same thing always happens. They are always waiting for someone to come to visit them. They dream of a son or a daughter, some member of the family, or a friend coming through that door to visit them.” According to Mother Teresa, “The poverty of having no one coming to visit them is the poverty that older people feel the most.”

When William Griffin was in the air force, he was in an accident that left him in a coma for several days. When he awoke from the coma, the only way he could communicate with the people around him was through laughing. Fortunately, he was able to almost fully recover from the accident. Once, Mr. Griffin’s friend and pastor, the Rev. David R. Francoeur, complained to him about how slowly God moves in answering prayers and how quickly he wished that God would move. He asked, “Why does God move so slow?” Mr. Griffin replied, “Because He’s older than you are.”

Author Michael Thomas Ford once spoke before a class of children. One child asked him, “How old are you?” When he gave the answer — 30 — he shocked the children, one of whom marveled, “You’re older than my mom,” and another of whom said, “That’s old.” Afterward, the children’s teacher explained that whenever the children asked her how old she was, “I just tell them I knew God when he was a boy. That shuts them up — except for the ones who want to know if he was a good kickball player.”

Opera singer Mary Garden’s mother died at the age of 93, but she stopped counting how many years she had lived at the age of 35. She once told her daughter, “Mary, I was never 36 and I never shall be.” The two sometimes traveled together, but Mary was sometimes embarrassed because according to her mother’s passport, her mother was one year old when she gave birth to her.

When she was an old lady, former heartthrob Sarah Bernhardt had an apartment at the top of an apartment building. A former suitor visited her and, huffing and puffing after climbing so many stairs, asked her she had her apartment so high up. Ms. Bernhardt replied, “Nowadays, it’s the only way I am still able to make men’s hearts beat a little faster.”

The aged conductor Serge Koussevitsky disliked the spiritless playing of a musician, so he told him, “Don’t play like an old man.” The musician responded, “You are an old man yourself.” Maestro Koussevitsky replied, “I know that. But when I conduct like an old man, I will give up the job.” The musician thereafter played with spirit.

In Melbourne, Florida, a speaker at the weekly Men in Motion luncheon at Central Baptist Church talked about forgiveness. The speaker stated, “The Lord has given me the command to forgive the wrongs of others, but He has not given me the ability to forget them.” An older man in the audience called out, “Just wait a few years!”

When Sir Ralph Richardson was 74 years old, Richard Eyre visited him in his dressing room, where he was surprised to see Sir Ralph using makeup to put lines under his eyes, the way young actors do. Sir Ralph noticed the look of surprise on Mr. Eyre’s face, so he explained, “Ah, I’m playing an old character, you see.”

Sir John Gielgud was in his dressing room after a theatrical performance when a man came in to see him. Mr. Gielgud said, “How pleased I am to meet you. I used to know your son. We were at school together.” The man replied, “I have no son — it was I who was at school with you.”

Some cultures value old people. The Dalai Lama once attended a Buddhist-Christian conference. At the opening ceremony — a tree-planting ceremony — the Dalai Lama noticed a very old monk in a wheelchair. He went to the monk and embraced him, saying joyously, “Oh, he’s old!”

Caesar Augustus, when he was old, once had a hard time making himself heard in the midst of a group of young men. He told them, “Young men, pay attention to an old man who when he was young won the attention of his elders.”

Young people sometimes told the German-Jewish actor Fritz Kortner that he was unable to understand their problems. He always replied, “You were never as old as I am; on the other hand, I was as young as you are now.”

Sandy Koufax was one of baseball’s best pitchers, but he was hardly a hitter. Before an Old-Timers game, he barely touched the ball during batting practice, then told his friends, “The layoff didn’t hurt. I haven’t lost a thing.”

Myron Cohen used to tell a story about two old people talking about sex. She asks him how often he has sex, and he replies, “Infrequently.” She then asks, “Is that one word or two?”

Lionel Barrymore was asked in his old age if acting was as much fun for him as it used to be. He replied, “Look, son, I’m 75 years old — nothing is as much fun as it used to be.”

Cloris Leachman played Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. According to Ms. Leachman, there is a secret to growing old: “Never read women’s magazines. All that advice will kill you.”

Someone once told Zero Mostel that he had changed very little over the years. He replied, “Geez, if you start off fat and bald, what the hell else can happen to you?”

Thales was a wise man. When a man asked him about the oddest sight he had ever witnessed, Thales replied, “A dictator who reached old age.”

In a nursing home, an elderly woman was advised to get a hearing aid. She declined, saying, “At 91, I’ve heard enough.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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