There is so much to learn about getting old – almost as much as it takes to get from childhood to adulthood. The hardest part, and often the last truth to be accepted, is that you made it. You really are old! It takes a lot of evidence before it sinks in, to admit that your whole darn body is falling apart; vast sections of your brain, too.
It’s a 40 to 50-year process, starting as early as your 30’s; you try to duplicate a teenage stunt, like hopping over a parking meter, something you might have done with ease when you were eighteen, but now find your attempt has you walking funny, sporting a skinned elbow, a twisted knee and a bright red face.
This sort of thing happens again and again as you speed through time – you can’t eat two Big Macs before bedtime without getting a stomach ache – you catch the football your ten-year-old granddaughter threw to you but you can’t get it all the way back to her. The list is endless, yet denial of the aging process holds fast. Eventually, the real deal (the truth) hits home. I had two new eye openers this year. I tossed a baseball in the air and tried to hit it with a bat, something I could do with my eyes closed when I was a kid. Not anymore – 15 tries; 15 misses. Then, I tried to skip a rope, thinking I could do it for time on end. It took half dozen attempts before I managed to jump over it just once. I finally made it to ten and had to quit. I was exhausted and on the brink of toppling over.
Wake up calls like that prove your declining physicality are just part of the picture. There are also the mental lapses that become all too commonplace. Like, the day you realize your two most frequent sentences are, “What’s that guy’s name?” and “What did I come into the kitchen for?” They just keep coming, those physical and mental bits of evidence. I added a new one when I rode a horse last fall for half an hour and ended up with a blister at the bottom of my spine. A week or two later, my old friend, Arthur-itis, came for a visit and moved into the middle joint of my left index finger. No big deal, I thought, I’m right handed. Until I discovered I needed this finger to open jars and bottles, especially the twist caps on beer and soda containers. I had to ask my niece, Ashley, to do it for me at last year’s family Christmas Eve party.
I’m on a new quest now; I need a human rotisserie for my bed. When I sleep in my favorite position (on my side) my shoulder and hip ache after an hour and wake me up. I’m forced to rotate to a new position. Corporate innovators could make a lot of money if they would shift a little of their focus away from self-driving cars, drones, video games and phone Apps, and start working on the geriatric population’s needs. There are 44 million people of my age group in the country. Many have the same need for a bed rotisserie as me. It’s a big market. I’d do it myself, but first I need to get a good night’s sleep.
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