A few evenings ago, somewhere around bedtime, I looked away from the TV and down the recliner, at my feet, for some unknown reason.
“Hey,” I immediately said to Lorna. What the heck is wrong with my ankle?”
Lorna came over and just said, “It’s swollen…” like I wasn’t aware of that. Yes, my right ankle was very swollen, but just on one side, and that looked pretty freaky to me. I’ve had swollen ankles before, but this was different. I didn’t think my body was morphing into an alien or something, but I wasn’t sure it wasn’t either. Actually, the swelling was just one more nagging sign that my body ain’t what it used to be. And what it used to be wasn’t that great in the first place.
Last spring, I had a visit with my cardiologist (Yes, I have a cardiologist) and he asked me how I was feeling. I said I seemed to have a lot of aches and pains. Without the tiniest bit of sympathy in his voice he replied, “You’re getting older. We all have aches and pains.” Evidently, he wasn’t much interested in hearing my detailed and growing list of nagging ailments, and I’m sure you aren’t either.
I had to admit that my doctor was right. Over the years, and especially in recent ones, things do change and have changed. The fact that my dear wife called me elderly several months ago didn’t do much to help. I took a little comfort in the fact that she’s three weeks older than I am. Ha ha on her.
It seems that my warranty is gone. That is my most recent conclusion about the matter. Just as with an aging car, things eventually begin to wear out on a person and just don’t work well anymore. I like tee shirt sayings and saw one recently that said: “MADE IN THE 1950s. ALL ORIGINAL. SOME PARTS STILL IN WORKING ORDER.”
“Well, I guess that’s me,” I mumbled to myself. “Some of my parts are still in working order. People aren’t made of wine or cheese, you know,” I mumbled on, “even though some of them might smell like they are. Humans don’t get better with age.”
The things people say to me, like Lorna calling me elderly, seem to really stick in my memory. (At least, so far, I have a memory.) One thing was an admonition from Lorna’s grandfather, many years ago. He told me, “Georgie old boy, when you’re almost 93 ya ain’t 16 no more.” At least he was talking about himself when he said that. These many years later, I can say that when you’re almost 70 ya ain’t 16 no more, either.
Another comment came months ago from the other end of the ‘age’ spectrum. It was from my now seven-year-old granddaughter, and I guess I asked for it. I had simply inquired, as she and I were rocking on the front porch glider, “Will you still come visit Grammy and me when you’re all grown up?”
Her thoughtful reply, after looking to the sky a few seconds, was, “I’ll probably visit Grammy, ‘cause you’ll be dead.” Yes, I asked for that one.
I don’t want to get old. I don’t want to BE old. I think that realizing what’s happening to my body is what makes grumpy old men, grumpy old men, and it’s probably making one out of me right now. I’ll likely start yelling, “Get off the lawn!” any day now.
One thing that is of some consolation to me is that this thing called aging happens to all of us at the same rate. We all get to become ‘old’ or ‘elderly’, whatever the definitions of those words are, in the same number of circles around the sun.
I have a few favorite poems. One is called “Desiderata.” If you’ve never read it, look it up. It’s awesome, (as my grandkids would say.) One line of the poem states, “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.” I have always liked that but do so even more lately.
On a less lovely note, with a less lovely quote, I also remember the words of some comedian I heard years ago. He said, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.”
And I guess that’s how it goes.