Earlier this week, 86-year-old Leroy Luetscher temporarily became my idol. The Arizona pensioner was reportedly enjoying a spot of gardening when a freak accident left a pair of garden shears lodged in his eye socket. That’s right, his eye socket.

The sort of thing badass old people do. Picture: AP

The handle went past his eye and through his neck, eventually resting on his external carotid artery, leaving him to walk around like some sort of Edward Scissor-Face.

Luetscher, who is expected to make a full recovery, said he was “grateful to the doctors and staff” and left it at that. No blog. No finger-pointing. No attempt to use the incident to become a breakfast radio star or get a retweet from Snooki. The guy was all class and dignity. Elderly blokes like Luetscher make Jack “check out my one arm push-ups” Plance seem like no big deal.

Whether it’s a generational thing or something that has more to do with age and experience, older folk - both male and female - are just plain tough.

Those of us who are yet to spy a fleck of grey can only look at our soft hands and massage receipts and hope that we, too, can someday be as stoic as these tough old bastards.

Take, for instance, the elderly gentlemen who used to regularly appear at a popular Cairns nightclub, dancing shirtless with drink in hand and nipple piercings proudly displayed.

Sure, his Charlton Heston-meets-Xerxes look attracted a few odd stares, but it also drew a certain level of respect. There’s something distinctly and universally cool about the ancient art of “not giving a damn”. Something in his eyes said, “yeah? So? When you’re my age, I’ll be long dead. And I still won’t give a damn”.

Then, of course, there’s my Granny, who has steadfastly and inexplicably refused to consume even a teaspoon of yoghurt for more than 70 years, forcing my aunties to sneak it into various curries and deserts.

Whereas most people would have relented to decades of having yoghurt-filled spoons waved in their faces, good ol’ Granny still consistently responds with an emphatic and fiery “no”– and, on odd occasions, a random Swahili song.

These people don’t take to Twitter when they find themselves at the receiving end of lousy customer service, they extend a dry, crooked index finger at the fool in question and give them a proper serve, before using said finger to shoot imaginary Zeppelins out of the sky and win the war before Christmas.

Old people are badass. If a cloud dares float across the moon on a particularly pretty night, you can almost feel thousands of wrinkled fists shake at the night sky and hiss curses at the Bureau of Meteorology.

The old guy you see quietly sitting on a bench outside and nursing a newspaper outside Woolies isn’t ignoring you because he’s rude - he’s tired from a tough morning of “giving hippies what for”.

Personally, I can’t wait to be a stonily-silent old man. You can all look forward to me mowing my lawn in just my undies every single afternoon. And by mowing, I mean yelling at plants. I’ll tell babies to get haircuts and grown men to “stop walking around like some damn computer salesman”.

Of course, many among you will no doubt say that Gen Yers are destined to become whiny, self-indulgent wusses in their twilight years.

Well, just remember that many, many years ago, some tough old bastard said the same about you.

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    • Mahhrat says:

      07:01am | 01/09/11

      My grandfather was a Sergeant in the Polish Air Force during WW2.

      You can probably not even imagine what happened to him.  The only thing he ever really told me was that he spent six months of his life running around the SE borders of Russia with the remnants of his troop, keeping his boys alive and hiding under burned out trucks while Messerschmitts sought them out overhead.

      He just doesn’t talk about it.  Instead, he talks about how incredibly lucky he was to get picked up by NATO and taken back to England to recover from his injuries. 

      Once hostilities had moved on, he got back in touch with his two surviving brothers, who’s reply was simply, “Stay there.  We are ruined”.

      In the meantime, he’d met my nan (an air raid warden) won her heart, and stayed in England working in hospitality.

      This year is their 63rd year of marriage.  He’s now 91, she a couple years younger, and all the help they get is a community nurse visit once a month to make sure they’re okay.

      He is an absolute legend, exactly because he doesn’t make a big deal of any of that.  I just try to be the best person I can and I live in awe of this man.

    • Sarah says:

      08:28am | 01/09/11

      @MAhrat. Thankyou for sharing that story, it was a lovely way to start the day. My best wishes to your grandfather and grandmother.

    • Fiddler says:

      09:02am | 01/09/11

      great story, however NATO wasn’t around then, think you mean the Allies

    • Mahhrat says:

      09:24am | 01/09/11

      @Fiddler, quite probably right, and I probably projected NATO.  As my pop tells it, they actually had no idea who had found them (except they weren’t German, of course) - nobody could speak each other’s language.

      He only relaxed when they took his troop back to camp.  They were ushered into a large tent and provided a blanket and a cup of hot tea.  He turned to his boys and said, “We’ve found the poms!!”

    • centurion48 says:

      09:32am | 01/09/11

      When talking about tough it is hard to go past old Poles. They are the pinnacle of hardy. They are the sort of guys that run around alpine areas in a pair of shorts and Dunlop Volleys in mid-winter - and seem to be enjoying it!!
      @Mahhrat: I hope you get to spend some quiet time with both of them to talk about their lives.

    • gonzo says:

      11:56am | 01/09/11

      ye bloody legends.

    • marley says:

      09:12pm | 01/09/11

      Great story Mahrat.  You’ve got good genes.

    • Fiddler says:

      08:00am | 01/09/11

      True to all this. What we need is another war to toughen everyone back up.

      There are still plenty of tough young people, and I’m not referring to “The Situation”. It’s just the tough people don’t feel the need to prove themselves whereas the squeaky wheels get all the grease.
      Having said that I also can’t wait to be an old hard bastard. I am in training now and when introduced to people, even some older than me regularly tell them to get a haircut and start sentences off with “young people these days”.
      Can’t wait until I’m old school enough that like one old guy out my way I go to the gym in a suit and hat.

    • Mike says:

      09:54am | 04/09/11

      “What we need is another war to toughen everyone back up.”

      Geez, don’t we have enough wars already??? 

      I wish my son hadn’t had to go to Afghanistan…

    • James says:

      08:27am | 01/09/11

      Jason, always a pleasure reading your articles. Very entertaining.

      @Mahhrat I’m in awe of your grandfather as well. Sometimes people forget how lucky we are and how easy we have it.

    • Mahhrat says:

      09:25am | 01/09/11

      @James, truth spoken mate.  I never forget how luck I am.  I probably don’t have all those details right - like I said, pop doesn’t talk about it much - but he wouldn’t lie about that either.  It’s just inspiring stuff, to be so nobly quiet about the whole thing.

    • Anne71 says:

      12:39pm | 01/09/11

      Mahhrat, I totally agree. My dad was a Royal Navy commando during the war, so you can only imagine the experiences he would have had, but like your pop, he never spoke much about it. To be honest, I think he just wanted to forget about it.  He didn’t even take part in Anzac Day parades or ceremonies.
      He also took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 - he took his father’s fishing boat across the Channel, along with hundreds of others, to help bring the Allied troops back. He was only about 14 or 15 at the time, and we suspect that was what made him decide to join the Navy as soon as he could pass for old enough (in the end he lied about his age and was barely 16 when he joined).
      Yep, that generation was awesome in every sense of the word.

    • Yuri says:

      02:51pm | 01/09/11

      It does seem to be a common theme that older generations never complain or talk about the war.

      My grandfather spent a few years in a japanese POW camp (I always forget the name of the place) and when he made it back to Australia he weighed less than 40kg.
      He spent his later years on his farm in the middle of nowhere and passed away at 90 after a year battling lung cancer. Not once did he complain or mention the war.

      The family only found out the details of his time in the war was from a short interview in a documentary released after his passing.

      On a related note, my grandfather’s grandmother was friends with Ned Kelly’s mother, and some of her belongings somehow ended up being passed down through my family.

    • jecomans says:

      09:34am | 01/09/11

      My neighbour (quite old to my spritely 20’s) was gardening and fell of her balcony. She put her head through a wall, grazing and fracturing her cheek, and broke her hand. She still did the last hour or weeding she needed to get done before driving herself to the hospital, so as to not disturb her sleeping husband.  What a legend, I think I would have cried.

    • Jade says:

      10:23am | 01/09/11

      What a champ, I would have done more than cried! lol

    • SD-IRE says:

      10:23pm | 01/09/11

      That sounds a lot like my Pop, tough old farming guy. When in his 80’s partaking in his hobby of carpentry he accidentally ran his middle finger right up a circular saw, cut right through his finger past the nail, grinding out a bit of the bone and leaving his finger split.
      He wrapped it in a hanky and finished off a lovely red cedar lamp for my Mum. That was the only medical treatment he had for a few days until my Mum, a nurse physically dragged him to the local doctors.
      I’d be unconcious on the floor hoping someone would call the Ambos.

    • Frank says:

      09:52am | 01/09/11

      at 86 I would think the only thing he’d want to do is go back to his gardening and not want to worry about showing off and making a fuss thanks to ‘reality’ or reality-based TV Gen Y seem to want to get a paycheck for being stupid ala Jersy Shore, well being a Gen Y’er I find such shows annoying and fake and would be happy to see the end of them really.

    • Luke says:

      10:51am | 01/09/11

      Old people are awesome! I only had one grandparent who i knew, but he passed away 9 years ago.  My partner though, her grandmother is mid 80’s, living by herself, still cooks an awesome corned beef, and does all her gardening.  If i can only do half of that by the time i’m im my 80’s (if i am lucky enough to get there), i’ll be a happy man!
      @mahrat, great story mate, your grandfather is a legend.

    • j says:

      10:55am | 01/09/11

      There are the people who just got on with things, they didn’t spend their lives bitching about the little things. 
      My grandfather told stories of growing up in the bush, where in the middle of winter he’d be out helping his father round up the cows for milking before dawn and finding fresh cow poo to go stand in to warm his feet (as they were too poor to buy shoes) he spent his life working VERY hard for very little money and raising 7 amazing children, i can’t ever remember pop complaining about anything even when he was on his death bed dying of cancer, (which is something that will stick with me to my last day on earth) he was stoic and strong, i can only hope that i am half the man that he was.

    • Darren says:

      11:04am | 01/09/11

      I like to think I’m pretty good when it comes to not craving the limelight, but I know it’s something I want from time to time. I do get upset every now and then when others get put on a pedistool for doing not much and think “I’ve done more than them”, but then I pull my head out of my arse and realise that, while I may have done more than them, I still haven’t done enough to warrant being acknowledged in any big way.

    • dancan says:

      11:58am | 01/09/11

      My great aunt was a battle axe.  She had two hearing aids, if in the middle of an argument she got fed up all she’d do is switch off both hearing aids and sit there ignoring you.

      My great aunt was also cheated out of a good piece of her land by a property developer, when she died it was written into her will to provide the developer with 30 pieces of silver.  We did this but only fake silver because that was all he deserved

    • Debbie says:

      12:50pm | 01/09/11

      Nah .. old people .. that is those over the age of say 50 are completely useless .. I certainly wouldn’t employ anyone of that age .. their minds are closed so they could never learn anything new .. they all have so many ailments they couldn’t do a decent days work if they tried.  Throw them on the scrap heap I say.

    • Sandle says:

      01:46pm | 01/09/11

      Oh look… a bridge….

    • Eddy says:

      10:24pm | 01/09/11

      Daer Debbie, I’m an “old” person, to which you refer to as over the hill and can’t learn anything new.
      I’m quiet happy to compare my skills at computer assembly/repair to yours any day, just PM me here and I’ll arrange a date time, so you can show me up how useless I am.

    • Mike says:

      10:01am | 04/09/11

      I’m an “Old Person” too.  Got a computer or stereo you need fixed?  Got a wireless network you need installed or secured?  I can do all that.  Can you?

    • stephen says:

      04:34pm | 01/09/11

      Where’s his brain ?

    • Ghost says:

      05:14pm | 01/09/11

      Obviously you aren’t a surgeon.  Any idea how X-Ray works?

    • stephen says:

      06:21pm | 01/09/11

      Yeah, it’s a PGR version of a solar-ray.
      And as for surgeons finding the answer to my question ... yer gotta have a brain ter see one.

    • Nick says:

      10:46am | 17/05/12

      As inspiring and heart-touching some of the stories are, I cannot help but think of the counter arguments to why (typically) this elder generation act the way they do.
      I mean growing up without the technology and advancements in society (in theory anyway) has resulted in a stubborn and even perhaps fearful generation which make up this populace today. So although I admire the strength and perseverance of these people, I’m still left wondering why they are being ignorant to the help and care that a lot of them need.

 

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