William “Bill” Zaner passed away on November 22, 2015.
A true Boerne legend, Bill was also a world-renowned landscape artist whose art was simply breath-taking. A self-taught artist, Bill also turned the tables and began offering art classes in Big Bend where he taught countless others to create art under his watchful eye. Bill had a beer named for him at the Dodging Duck, was a self-proclaimed “Geezer” and the walls of his studios were wallpapered in his hand-written notes, sayings, quotes, and sketches. Bill was passionate about life, and refused to slow down as evidenced by the fact that he was riding his Harley well into his ‘80s.
Bill was married to his wife Elaine for over 6 decades, and his friends counted in the thousands. If you have been in Boerne for any length of time, you knew Bill. If you haven’t been here long enough to know him, you certainly missed out.
Upon learning of his passing, we stumbled across this old gem that he had written several years ago for EXPLORE and it made the entire staff smile….and we thought it might make you smile as well.We’ll miss you Bill. The world is a little less vibrant without you in it.
BIRTHDAY’S ON: The interiority of old farthood
Originally printed February 2011
One is told as a would-be writer that to be successful at it, one must hold forth on subjects that are familiar to one. This is to say, writing about things one knows nothing about, or has not experienced firsthand, will lead to naught but disappointment for both author and reader. In fact, writing a sentence such as the preceding proves itself – the writer is undoubtedly a bag of wind.
Be all that as it may, this author does have surpassing familiarity with two aspects of his life- at least two: one, ART. Two: Birthdays. He has indeed experienced a lot of both. When one has reached the official age (81) which causes his acquaintances (family and friends) to refer to him as one of the following, it has definitely come to pass: He is an old GEEZER. He is an old DUFFER. He is an old CODGER. He is an old FART.
It’s always been my contention that if one is lucky enough to achieve such an elevated level of antiquity, and wishes to be the BEST old fart one can be, one must PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. It doesn’t just happen. No, if one expects to be the best at anything, one must TRAIN oneself. I myself began training for geezerhood at about the age of 22. The handwriting was right there on the wall – I COULD POSSIBLY live long enough to actually ripen! Who knew?
Well, I suspected. I did have all these forebears who were genuine codgers – grandparents, great-grandparents, all living into their nineties, although in the days of my twenty-two-hood, nobody gave a thought to life expectancy, or genetics. You just went ahead and LIVED. It behooves me to say right here, though, that I do believe genetics has much to do with achieving old farthood. I’m not by any means meaning to offer any kind of “advice” or divulge any “secrets” about living so long. I got lucky, that’s all there is to it, but for one other thing:I KNOW how lucky I’ve been:
I have a loving wife/companion for 56 of
I have work I love and don’t have to retire from.
I enjoy being an old fart.
(I told you I started getting in shape for this eventuality 60 years ago.)
Young people (under 65) make jokes about old people such as: you’re old when you talk only about your ailments, or health insurance, or doctors, or what medicines you’re taking, or you constantly complain about the bad behavior of young people (under 65). The bad thing is, much of what those whippersnappers joke about is TRUE, much as it pains me to say it. We DO talk about our ailments, doctors, drugs, etc. We feel like we’ve earned the right to do and say whatever we please. It may be true, too.
All I can say about that is if you behave the way young people (65 and under) say you do, you probably qualify for geezer-hood. Keep in mind those youngsters don’t have a clue about what it’s like to be old, but you, on the other hand, know EXACTLY what it’s like to be young. (Unless, like me, you’ve forgotten most of it.)
I have a saying I love repeating endlessly: “I don’t need a memory – I have an imagination.” I’ll tell you what that means to me personally here in my dotage: If I don’t remember it, I’ll make it up. And, believe me when I tell you that I every time I make it up, I get better and better!
So one makes the most of old farthood – one enjoys the “interiority” of the condition by laughing at oneself, if one can possibly find some humor in it. One says what one’s own grandfather used to say – “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” Or “Keep on doin’ what you been doin’ and you’ll keep on getting’ what you been getting’.” He was a really good old fart. Lived to be 90, joking his way through most every day.
Ok, so I don’t really know, in response to all those well-intentioned New Year’s greetings from those polite folks whether I had a good year or not, but I do know for sure I’m having a really good day TODAY.