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Saturday, April 02, 2005

In Praise of Older Men

It is 0730 on Saturday. I have just returned from a 5 km walk during a glorious sunrise. The best part of the day, by far. Now it’s black coffee with grilled banana on toast, liberally laced with fresh ground black pepper. No, I’m not insane, you should try it sometime. Goes very well with all the blood pressure and cholesterol tablets for which, dear friends, you pay.

The RLWNews at 0600 told us the Pope is near death and news outlets the world over provide wall to wall coverage of every morbid detail.

As I walked, I could not put out of my mind the remarkable juxtaposition of yesterday’s top story.. The passing of two Church leaders - one, an insignificant and fleeting blot on the Churchscape of New Zealand and the other, a colossus of the Catholic Church.

I have not closely followed the career of the Pope but my peripheral observations indicate he has done a pretty good job for his Church and has faithfully and loyally served his God. His last days on earth however, have been particularly impressive. There could be no better example of devotion to duty, of physical death with dignity and of scorn for the easy way out.

An 80 year old protestant minister friend of mine, suffering from cancer, will die in a couple of days time. During his life he displayed all the same qualities as did the Pope.

They will both receive a smile and a pat on the back from their Maker with a quiet “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

It’s easy for us to write off older men. (I wonder how many of the myriad internet shouters about Capill and Peron have yet seen thirty summers.) Yet some of our best leaders have performed their greatest deeds well past our supposed retirement age. Churchill, Reagan, Menzies, Savage, Holyoake,

Then there was the 81 year old retired and widely respected Hereford breeder from North East Victoria (that’s Man from Snowy type country) who was brought in a few years ago to judge the cattle at a local A & P show. After a tiring day he finally got to the end of the catalogue and was heading for the bar with the President.

“Oh, just before we have a beer” said the Pres “there’s one last line of stock that was a late entry.”

“Fer Gawd’s sake, I hope it won’t take long, I’m bloody thirsty!” replied Chief Judge.

He was taken out to the arena where the local young ladies were parading in bathing costumes. It was the beauty contest. Undaunted, the old bloke approached the microphone, cleared his throat and addressed the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen. In my long and distinguished career I’ve never been asked to judge a line of stock with the covers on.”

He didn’t have to wait long for a beer.

Posted by Adolf Fiinkensein | 4/02/2005 09:14:00 AM