Jerry’s Journal

By Jerry Hogan Kasparek

In the mail the other day came a letter from an insurance company offering me an opportunity to buy life insurance. 

The letter began: “Dear Geraldine, as you approach your 80th birthday”… I read no further… 

I just can’t wrap my mind around it, Dear Readers, but yep, it’s true: In just a couple of weeks I’m going to be four score years old. 

But you know how it is, don’t you?  I’m still the same person I’ve always been – at least in my heart and mind!

In any case, living eight decades translates into a whole lot of ups and downs, accomplishments and failures, joy and sorrows – you got to be tough to get to 80 – and I’ve had a good measure of all of the above! 

I was born in 1934 to two lovesick, 16-year-old kids, David and Helen (MacDougall) McKinney, and they named me Geraldine Marie. Thus I became little Jerry McKinney.

I had a good family life and liked school a lot, but as a child living through  WWII I worried my whole way through it that “they” would come “over here” and shoot us!

I graduated from Good Old Fulton High in June of 1951, married Mike Hogan in December of that year and became Jerry Hogan. I had my first child in 1953 when I was 19 and had four kids in seven years and I loved, loved, loved being a mom — and still do.

In the course of a half a century, I once bowled in a couple of leagues, was a PTA president, a school crossing guard, and a sad mother and daughter when I miscarried a child and lost my dad to lung cancer only a few months apart in 1966/67.

I was a store clerk, learned to golf, became an adoring grandmother (11 times over), went to work in a bank, then became a college student (the year I turned 50), an environmental activist, a newsletter editor, and in 1998 became grieving widow when Mike passed away.

In 2001, I became a community volunteer, a great grandmother, and a happy, new bride and stepmother when I married Ed and became Jerry Hogan Kasperek. I’ve been very blessed. 

My latest endeavor, which I enjoy very much as you probably can tell, is that of being a columnist – one who promised herself to stay away from anything too controversial in her articles but here goes anyway (with the promise not to do it again any time soon): 

I wish our elected officials in Washington would work together for “the American people” instead of cow-towing to their political parties and big-business lobbyists. 

I wish our governor would bring some of those jobs he said he created and always bragging about in his TV ads up here to Fulton. I wish the Oswego County government would be more transparent and forthcoming. And, I wish our common council members would walk their wards — on foot, street by street — to see up close and personal the rundown and abandoned houses, un-mowed lawns, and piled up junk that demands better code enforcement throughout the city.

I guess it comes with age — to be outspoken — but people tell me to keep it up and that I “look good,” though I do wonder what an 80-year-old woman should look like and act like.  

Personally speaking, I like to “dress up,” yet still enjoy jeans and flip-flops for casual wear. But tank tops and shorts are a no-no for me in public (oh, those jiggly-wrinkled upper arms and fat legs!). 

I do try to act my age (whatever that means) and I don’t mind having white hair. 

I’ve had my share of illness and surgeries, a hip replacement, lumpectomy and radiation, and wear hearing aids and my eyesight isn’t that great (what would you expect from a person who has lived twice as long as any 40-year old kid!). 

I do feel good most of the time, take only one prescription drug and check myself out the first thing in the morning to see what’s going to hurt that day. 

Sometimes it’s almost everything — legs, back, shoulders, fingers, toes (darn arthritis, anyway!)

The most frustrating thing about getting old is trying to remember things. You can’t remember the names of people you’ve known practically all your life. Your 10-year-old grandson tries to show you how to use your new cell phone but it takes you awhile to get it while he wonders why you’re so slow at it. It’s the pits!

Well, take heart, all you “Golden Agers” out there. It’s not your age; it’s just that you “know too much,” a verifiable fact that came to me via email from my friend Ellie.

According to an article by Sarah Knapton, (Science Correspondence 20 Jan 2014) and I quote, “Older people do not decline mentally with age, it takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains, scientist have discovered. 

“Much like a computer struggles when the hard drive gets full up, so too do humans take longer to access information, it has been researched and proven. Researchers say this slowing  down it is not the same as cognitive decline.”

“The human brain works slower in old age,” said Dr. Michael Ramsecar, “but only because we have stored so much more information over time. The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.” 

So there you have it, folks, have a good laugh on me as I now share with you a few old age jokes I just retrieved from my computer file. 

  • Old age is when former classmates are so gray and wrinkled and bald, they don’t recognize you.
  • Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.
  • You know you’re getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
  • These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart says, “For fast relief.”
  • My memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory is not as sharp as it used to be.
  • Remember: You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.

Now here’s my caveat: Readers beware!

I write for fun. I am not a historian, nor a reporter. I write from memory and from what others want to share. Sometimes I look things up; sometimes I mess things up. 

I hope you have fun reading my stuff. Your comments, additions and corrections are always welcome. 

You may contact me at 133 Tannery Lane, Fulton, phone 592-7580 or email JHogan808@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

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