"Look at Me
I Am Old but I’m Happy"

For the past couple of months, I’ve written two essays about songs that have haunted me: Stumbling and Dreaming Interestingly, this essay has to do with the song, Father and Son by Rod Stewart. While I know that Cat Stevens recorded that song nearly a half-century ago in 1970, I thought that I knew what the lyrics meant. However, before writing this essay, I returned to the Internet to double-check.

As it turned out, it was to be a song in a play about the Russian Revolution. More precisely, it was about the conflict between a father and son. It seems that the son wanted to join the revolution, which overthrew Czar Nicholas II in 1917. After I discovered the history behind the song, I was fortunate to have done my research first.

Additionally, the play never went into any form of production due to Cat Stevens contracting tuberculosis in the late 60s. He nearly died from that experience, but it took him a year to recover from it. However, that has to do with Cat Stevens. As for the song, Father and Son morphed over the years into the broader issue of differences between generations in general. It fascinated me that the song now parallels Forever Young.

It's not time to make a change, just relax, take it easy
You're still young, that's your fault, there's so much you have to know
Find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry
Look at me, I am old but I'm happy

I was once like you are now and I know that it's not easy
To be calm when you've found something going on
But take your time, think a lot, why think of everything you've got
For you will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again
It's always been the same, same old story
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away, I know I have to go

It's not time to make a change, just sit down, take it slowly
You're still young, that's your fault, there's so much you have to go through
Find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry
Look at me, I am old but I'm happy

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside
It's hard but it's harder to ignore it
If they were right, I'd agree but it's them they know not me
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away, I know I have to go

Given the parallels with Forever Young, this essay took flight for me. I was well within my emotional venue. This single line in the lyrics of Father and Son defines who I am and where I am at. “Look at me, I am old but I'm happy” truly resonates within me. There is a long list of reasons for this phenomena. I large chunk of that emotional pull comes from my two dances with death. I hadn’t watched more than five minutes of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch before I really came alive. Everyone in the world older than five, knows that they will die someday. After I understood my dances, the emphasis is on the verb, die not on the adverb someday.

In addition, I love my three children and three grandchildren in the States. My children have become established and my three grandchildren either are nearly there or their family will assure their success. They were lucky to have been born in the States.

However, my three grandchildren in Myanmar are lucky to have very loving parents, but their country is slowly emerging into the 21st century. George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” In my mid-70s, I am creating myself…in my twilight years.

Look at me, I am old but I’m happy

I created my family five years ago in Myanmar. Actually, my creating my family was a shared event with Ti Ti while playing Scrabble with her. After playing the game, I realized that we are family. I don’t know, nor can I explain what exactly happened five years ago. It haunts me. I wasn’t looking for a grandchild, but I found one.

I can’t estimate the number of times that I have written about how my Weltanschauung changed when I left Ti Ti. Moh Moh, Ti Ti’s mother and my tour guide, took me to a preschool where Ti Ti’s younger sisters attended. Because of that moment in time playing Scrabble, those three girls are my grandchildren. A part of the attraction was that, in my twilight years, I saw the next generation emerging in an emerging nation halfway around the world. I wanted to help and care for them, because we are family.

So, you just read a true and loving story about my family and me. Donald the Dumb would tell me that they aren’t Norwegians. They aren’t Norwegians, but they are my family and I love and care for them just like I love and care for my family here in the States.

My essay should raise the question within you regarding who is your family? Is it limited to those whose DNA is genetically related? Donald the Dumb, when he isn’t obsessing about loving himself, will love and care for his blood relatives. And what about your family.

Playing Scrabble for less than an hour radically changed me. Or as the song states, “Look at me, I am old but I'm happy.” I am old and dancing with death awakened me to the reality to become active in the world. I know in my gut that my clock is ticking. Before there is no more ticking, I will do what George Bernard Shaw believes and will create my life in the time remaining. I will reach out to my family here in the States and in Myanmar. At least for me, my family doesn’t have to be as white as Norwegians. What constitutes a family is the mutuality of love and caring.

I have a suggestion to all my readers. Go to We Are Family. Read the introduction to that index page, especially my three requests.

1. I am asking you to contribute to the money necessary to enhance the Internet reception and purchase 1250 laptops. Consider contributing to the purchase of one or a hundred laptops and improving Internet reception.

2. My next request is to send this link, We Are Family, to ten of your friends and ask them to send it to ten of their friends…ad infinitum. Bobby Kennedy said, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” I am a dreamer, but my dreams will benefit my extended family in Myanmar with your help.

3. My final request is to consider returning with me to Myanmar with all the laptops for the two schools. The sooner that I raise a half million dollars, the sooner that we can go to Myanmar and see where your investment in laptops will benefit the education of the next generation.

I have traveled the world, but the two most important trips were to Myanmar. My three requests and actually my invitation to you to be truly happy regardless of your age.