By Steve Walker
Yesterday I celebrated my 69th birthday. Who knew I would live this long? I am the same age as President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, and my friend Jaime Martinez who is only 8 days older than me. I have written about my walking the picket lines with Jaime in La Prensa more than once.
Growing up I was told on many occasions I would not live to be 30 years old if I didn’t change my ways. The good news for me is that most of those people who forecast my premature demise are no longer with us, God rest their souls. I must be doing something right I guess.
For those who were convinced of my untimely death, or said that things would not go well for me in my life should I survive to old age-- I say to them, like a little kid who sticks out his tongue and puts his thumbs in his ears and wiggles them, “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!!” (Growing old gracefully?) I happily say they truly misunderstood me and underestimated me as well.
When I was in 8th grade at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Balcones Heights, I remember being told to stand up in front of the class by the nun who asked my fellow students to pray to St. Jude the patron saint for hopeless cases! She informed the class that I needed spiritual guidance to turn my life around and grow up to do something worthwhile. That was a self-confidence builder that is an incentive to grow old gracefully.
Since my family life expectancy is not all that long in of itself, heredity not being favourable, the future would appear to look bleak.
My father passed away at the age of 62 suffering from diabetes. Before he passed he lost some of his extremities in the process. His parents both died at 65 so I have out lived both my father and his parents, not so graciously.
My mother’s father and mother both passed away at 40 due to my grandmother’s tuberculosis and my grandfather’s cancer. At least my mother made it to 81! But despite all that I am expecting to continue on and if all goes well, I will make it to one hundred years old! That is my goal, God willing.
Apparently the prayer to St. Jude was successful as I did graduate high school against all odds, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas Wesleyan University with a teaching certificate. I went on to earn a Master’s degree from the University of the Incarnate Word in Education. I was even voted “Most Likely to Succeed” from Wesleyan in 1969. How about that? Who would have ever imagined? Not me!
In 1981-82 I served as the President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce during President Ronald Reagan’s visit to San Antonio during our national convention as guest speaker after the John Hinckley assassination attempt. I have written about that experience for La Prensa in 2013.
From there I served 8 years as a Balcones Heights City Councilman, the only one to date who attended St. Gregory’s. Thank you St. Jude once again! Prayers do work.
Then of course I served as a Justice of the Peace for four years. I wrote the “Ask the Judge” column for two of those years for La Prensa, before writing “Just a Thought,” for the last two and a half years.
I am getting old, but the question is, “Am I growing old gracefully?” You be the judge of that. I am slowing down a little bit like most old folk, but I am still moving forward. I can still hear, see, walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time on most days. I even converse with myself when no one is around. Some of those conversations are pretty interesting. (Just kidding)
As I continue to age and apply heavy doses of Oil of Olay moisture cream on my face daily to look younger than 69, I hope I appear to be “graceful as well as gracious.”
Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Judge and Journalist.