Never Too Old

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I have a nasty cold and feel like a dandelion seed floating around in the breeze. Thoughts and ideas swim around in my head and meld with each other. This morning I was blessed to have a meeting with business coach, Bill Gilliland of Action Coach, and I really hope he didn’t think I was a complete ditz. He gave me some excellent concrete ideas on ways to attract more customers to the shop, and I will implement these right away. I recommend his services to people who want to increase the productivity of their businesses. One thing he said made a strong impression. He asked me about future plans, and I hemmed and hawed. “Too old… blah blah, blah.”

Colonel Sanders was 67 when he started the fried chicken business, Bill told me. Then I remembered that my grandfather was starting new businesses into his eighties, and my father was cooking up schemes for me to pursue until he died at 98.

I must set the record straight from the get-go, though. Both my grandfather and my father were scoundrels, and didn’t mind bending, if not outright breaking, the law. After he died we learned that my grandfather had  married several women simultaneously, and that he had children up and down the East Coast.

My father had a million ideas about how to get rich quick, but the only one that panned out was marrying his second wife. She had married a very rich old man who died off quickly and left her with a thick portfolio of blue chip stock. She wanted my father to be her companion beside their pool, so he quit whatever job he had and spent the rest of his days hanging out with Phyllis drinking and turning their skin to burnished leather.

He had made his fortune by marrying up, but concentrated on turning me around from my shockingly honest ways. He told me time and again that I was a disappointment to him because I was a “f-ing do-gooder.” He then dreamed up ways I could get rich by cheating other people.

When I was trying to set up a nonprofit to help juveniles transitioning out of juvie prison, he was elated. He encouraged me to bill the government for items and services I couldn’t produce. He advised building bricks and mortar buildings for which I would over-bill the folks from whom I was requesting funding. The wheels in his mind were spinning out of control. He was more disappointed than I was when I couldn’t get even meager funding for this project.

Later, he came up with thousands of schemes to make money through the internet. By then his eyesight was gone because of macular degeneration, or, he assured me, he would be making millions off the web. One such plan was to go out in the yard and bag up grass clippings. Then I should sell these bags of grass on line for $5 a bag. “Idiots” would think they were getting a deal on marijuana, and I would be rich.

He was another Willie Loman who had dreams of grandeur and who didn’t allow reality to dampen his enthusiasm. Luckily for him, he was cared for in the lap of luxury by Phyllis until he died. He wrote his autobiography for the newsletter of the swanky senior living facility in which he lived, and I didn’t recognize the successful millionaire he had become. He had an Ivy League education, was an investment banker, and had spent time in the CIA.