This episode is painful and I, Joan, am writing it at Buck’s request.

Growing old isn’t always funny…in fact, there is much that is downright rotten!  How you handle the tough parts depends on attitude and, thankfully, Buck sees the funny side of most everything…even senile warts.

But some things just aren’t funny.  Getting pneumonia on the way to Minnesota for a 75th kindergarten reunion and the subsequent week in hospital is no joke.  And it is impossible to laugh at the deaths of a sister and a best friend in one week.  Nor is it amusing to look down on your hometown as it vanishes into cloud knowing you will never see it again.

Worse…the death of our 54 year-old son, Mark, while on a motor bike adventure in Laos with his brother.  Gus’s determination to bring his brother’s body home by bribing their way down the Mekong.  Three agonizing weeks waiting for their arrival.  A five-day hold-up at Australian customs.  The funeral.  The expectation that Mark will walk through the door and the realization he never will.  The dreadful, nagging grief.

The mourning will never completely disappear but six months has diminished the agony and allowed Buck’s sense of the ridiculous to emerge.  So…


Today I made a sojourn to my new doctor.  The ‘old one’ retired, along with my dentist, optometrist, podiatrist and lawyer…all in a matter of weeks.  By now I should be used to such ‘retirements’ as it has already happened to me twice; once in Canada, once before in Tasmania and now again at our new village of St Helens.  Life goes on and we must prepare for the glitches of ageing.  This one today has been particularly trying.  I suppose I should be somewhat pleased because none of the new professionals know my tired old jokes, not one knows who I am and they are all far too young for me to have taught them in some institution.  With anonymity goes forgiveness of sorts. 

Goodness! How young people are getting nowadays!  Today it was the new doctor who appears to be hugely younger than a grandson, now grandly turning thirty.  He seemed to be a nice little fellow, perhaps a bit callow, somewhat gormless it appears and apparently kind of feckless.

But that is really unfair.  My new doctor was very good…in fact excellent.  I am just buzzing inside with deep irritation for what he discovered.  No other doctor ever did.  It is just that as he looked at my bald pate he said I had…yes, he said, “You have senile warts on your head and some on your shoulders.  Shall we take them off?”  Immediately I panicked a bit and thought he was going to remove my head to get at the warts but, upon rapid reflection, I knew it was just the @#$%^& warts he wanted to kill. 

‘Senile warts!’  Why senile?  That hurts.  Why not call them ‘Merry Christmas Warts’ or ‘Mother’s Love Warts’?  Or even better, ‘Chocolate Warts’?  To call me senile is one thing and sometimes possibly slightly true…but to call my warts ‘senile’ is one trestle too far and not very kind to warts.

People OOO! and Ahhh! when they see an eighteen month old child stumble as they walk.  Why not call them ‘doddering’ or ‘wobbling’ or at the very least, ‘staggering’.  But No! Those words are used for those of us who have ‘senile warts’.  When a teen ager gets acne or pimples they are referred to as, ‘youth spots’ or a ‘skin condition’ or, at the very least, a ‘smudge’, a ‘speck’ or a ‘dot’.  We must not hurt their youthful sensitivities as it will possibly cause deep psychological problems.  Well, how about MY deep psychological problems?  Who cares about Great Grand Dad’s mental health?  Nobody who says I have senile warts.

So, today my ‘youthful blemishes’ on head and shoulders, were given the ‘Snow Flake’ Treatment.  Snowflakes were removed from a silver flask and held to the offending imperfections.  Young Whatshisname said the offending ‘growths’ will disappear in maybe a month.  The real problem is who is going to last longer, me or the warts?

But, today George’s Bay and tomorrow Beerbarrel Beach!  Let’s roll out the fun while we can.  Senile warts…HA!  Off with their heads!