Sunday, October 20, 2019

Suddenly Old

A funny thing happened to me after my 86th birthday. I got to be 86….suddenly.  It’s been a cruel seven months. Up until my birthday I was thirty-nine, plus or minus. I used to play basketball in the park on Sunday. Now if I tried to slam-dunk I probably trip over the foul line and bang my head on the bottom of the backboard.

Aging knows no grace. It doesn’t inch or creep; it leaps, precipitously. One day you’re vertical and next, diagonal. I look at people in the restaurant with walkers as kindred folk. And they nod back as if to say you’re one of us now. Get over it.

Of course I’d always known about decrepitude but surely that didn’t apply to me, did it? I had pluck and spunk but that was then. When I go marketing now the first thing I do is search for a shopping cart (my walker) in the parking lot….even if I’ve come only to pick up a bread. 

In terms of endurance, agility or brisk walking, this is the age of subtraction.

What did you do yesterday?
I threw out the trash.
What else?
I changed the paper toweling.

About six weeks ago I went to sit down and I missed. It was in the E.R. when Peggy was brought there in the early morning hours. I had a newspaper in one hand and a cup of water in the other. My balance deserted me. I thought nothing of it when I landed on the floor apparently with my shoulders taking the impact. If I had given it any thought I would have landed on my face. A rearrangement of my nose, mouth, cheeks, etc… could do no harm.

In that nanosecond if you are granted a multiple choice do not opt for shoulders. They get nasty when insulted. They’ve served me well all these years and we’ve grown emotionally attached. Now I can’t reach or tuck in my shirt or even scratch my head without wincing. I can still shrug all right but I’m not in the mood for shrugging. The pain gets particularly loud when I’m trying to sleep. Hush, I say to my aching upper arms. I never knew it had such a low threshold of pain.

Add to this malady my neuropathy which has been mostly dormant for decades. It seems to have coordinated a frontal attack in my upper regions causing an enervation of the musculature in my lower extremities.  In addition my right knee and left ankle are arthritic along with a bone spur. Not one of those fake ones for people who live in towers but a real one for which there is no remedy.

To say that ambulation has become a challenge is like saying the Trump presidency gives one pause. In baseball terms if I hit a ball against the centerfield wall and the two outfielders ran into each other, then one woke up and threw wildly back into the infield……….I might or might not make it to first base.

Now I must return to my exercises, jumping to conclusions and running off at the mouth… if I can only get up from this chair. I must learn to act my age; something I thought I’d never have to do. 

Yes, I agree. Nothing is more boring than hearing about someone else’s woes. I’m putting myself to sleep with all this self-pity. It must be time for a nap.


  1. your complaining is not boring. hope things get better

  2. Many thanks. As Emily Dickinson put it, "Hope is a thing with feathers." Let my bird return.