The Curmudgeonly Professor will be 80 years old in September, if he lasts that long. I do not relish being 80, but I am not ready to go to the great economics classroom in the sky, so to speak, either. I was always the youngest at everything: out of high school at 16, college at 20, married at 20, masters' degree at 21, Ph.D. prelims passed, mid 20's, full professor at 37. Now, none of that matters. I am just plain old, and it irritates me. That is what being curmudgeonly does to a person. Some one told me the other day, "It's not how old you are, it's how you feel."
I've noticed that old age is a common denominator, though. Old people don't really care that much about what you did during your lifetime or how many buildings you built, mountains you climbed, elections you won, how much money you made, how big your biggest house was, how many college degrees you earned, how many foreign countries you visited, or any other material or worldly accomplishment except as a possible item of curiosity. What old people care about is taking care of one another, being kind to one another, keeping track of one another, easing one another's worries and pains and suffering. Old people are all going through the same trials and tribulations, experiencing the same blessings and challenges, and they develop an empathy and brotherhood and sisterhood one with another which helps immeasurably to sustain them when the going gets rough, as it will, sooner or later, for everyone. We old people all belong to the exclusive fraternity of the aged and aging. This fraternity is a special one, filled with people who have raised families, worked in the mines, laid bricks, built buildings, taught children, mended sick people, watched their posterity grow, and worried about their own dwindling futures. We welcome all of you to join us somewhere down the road, and share the blessings and challenges that we have at this special time in our lives.