Two months ago, I looked in the mirror and saw an old man. Me? Old? Yes, me. Change that to “older.” The truth is that on June 22, I will be 80 years old.
But looking in the mirror came as a huge shock. I’m the supposedly energetic young guy of almost legendary account. I was a Depression baby. Economic times were tough when I arrived.
It is possible that my parents took one look at me and became really depressed? Their son was sickly, almost died, and recovered only after being given a middle name in memory of a relative who had lived a very long life. My parents had little money in 1934, joked that they were so poor that they couldn’t afford to give me a middle name; thus the addition of the name of the deceased relative, later on.
Exposing a myth
Let’s disprove one myth. You are not as young as you feel. You are as old as you feel. However, I prefer the term “mature adult” to “senior citizen.” Mature adults most often develop aches and pains, have not just one physician, but a variety of specialists; the accompanying prescriptions dispensed by the doctors can become numerous.
And thank the powers that be for medical research that has made living more comfortable for we mature adults. Visits with friends invariably lead to conversations that include organ recitals; how’s your heart, what about your kidney, did they remove your gall bladder?
There are a variety of aging hints that are more subtle. One day I seemed to zip up or down stairways with almost wild abandon; suddenly a railing at the stairs makes me feel far more steady. Jogging becomes laborious, and fast walking is now more tiring than just a year or two ago.
Other hints of change
One’s eyes are now bigger than one’s stomach, and for many of us, our height is shrinking. For years I blamed pants manufacturers in Third World countries for a lack of standardization of length; I stood 5 feet 11 and ¾ inches tall, but pants bought with the appropriate length had to be shortened with every purchase. Only recently was it determined that I now stand 5 feet 8 and 1/2 inches tall. The old hit song refrain “ain’t no reason for short people” was suddenly ringing in my ears. At this rate of speed, I may disappear. My apology to all those pant manufacturers I had defamed.
It seems to me that mature adults must learn to grow old gracefully.
We ought to change our pace of life. Physical activity that was once a snap may now be stressful, if not impossible.
Some elderly people lose patience with other folks or situations. When in a long check-out line at the market, movie theaters, and banks, I may become irritable if the line doesn’t move quickly. This is especially true at my post office branch. As a long line keeps growing, two of the three or four postal clerks suddenly depart; it’s time for a break or for lunch. I try to explain that I’m aging fast, and don’t have extra time to stand in line. After all, I’m living in the fourth-quarter of the game. Grocery market cashiers belong to the same club.