It’s an old joke. But it still rings true.
It replayed recently in the newspaper comic “The Born Loser.”
The Loser was leaning on the back of a chair, saying: “How are you doing today Uncle Ted?”
Ted, sitting in the chair, replied, “I have a few more aches and pains than usual.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Where does it hurt?” asks the Loser.
Ted says, “It would be quicker to tell you where it doesn’t hurt.”
Not hilarious but you have to smile ... because it’s true for so many people.
When I was growing up pain was a hit-and-run. I remember the usual aches: tooth, ear and tummy. And that chipped bone in my wrist after I flew over the handle bars of a bike.
The pox. The measles. I had the usual, but I went through my younger years without a hospital stay.
Then there’s a line we all cross, after a certain age. The age varies, but we all eventually enter the pain zone, that time in our life when we learn to live with pain.
Physical pain. Emotional pain. It’s part of every day. It’s not something you talk about. It’s something you live with: muscle aches, rusty joints, hips and knees, fuzzy eyesight, and hearing full of static. And worry.
It’s not always excruciating. But for many, it is.
I watched my dad live with such pain. I didn’t know how much. I do now.
Now and then Dad kept a daily journal. He’d record highlights, always starting with the word “Thanks” — to God for another day.
There is a noticeable theme in his notes for 2001 and frequent use of the word “pain.” It was a rough year for him. He gave it a bad grade for these reasons:
“Bad weather. Bad fishing. Trouble with colon. Trouble with back. Bush too liberal. Gas too high. All in all ‘D’.”
There were many visits to doctors that year and the “bone bender.” It helped but pain never vanished.
“Still pain,” he wrote over many days. Often he added, “I’ll hope for the best.”
After a visit from his brother, he wrote: “We sat and talked for a little over 3 hours. My back and leg was really hurting, but it is hard to tell someone you want to lay down when they come out to see you.”
He jotted down this quote from a book: “Life is 90 percent maintenance.”
Maybe it’s a guy thing. Or his generation that stands ready to accept and tolerate pain – and hide it from others so it’s not their burden, too.
Dad weathered his storms until he passed in 2014. Cancer. In the bones. Pain.
He also noted all family gatherings and visits. He called those good days.
No doubt Dad – and most everyone else at those get-togethers – was enduring some kind of pain. He knew that.
I can see that now. It’s also clear to me why Dad often made it a point to give thanks for his family.
Family. He worked through all that pain for his family.
• Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, also was a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. His Paperwork email is email@example.com. Or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.