As we all have heard, “getting old isn’t for sissies.” I’m certainly no sissy! But I am getting older. And it is discouraging. Both Dave and I have had our share of health issues, and we expect them as a normal part of being human. However, as we are home today, on the 4th of July, I admit that it is easy to begin to feel sorry for ourselves. We should be celebrating with family and friends today, but Dave has had a second round of pneumonia which is sapping his strength and I am still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. So, home we remain.
I remember quite clearly when we were in our 30’s and 40’s, and feeling invincible, how much our parents and their generation had begun comparing their aches and pains. Wow, is that all older people have to talk about?? Arthritis seemed to be a prevalent topic of comparison. Along with bursitis, back pain, neck pain and other health issues. I remember about 25 years ago when I mentioned to my dad that I had a pain in one of my finger joints and he correctly predicted that it was just arthritis and that one day the pain would be gone and in its place would be a hard bump. My parents were both plagued by arthritis, but amazingly Dave’s parents didn’t seem to suffer from it. Heart issues and cancer were their demise. I know ‘Arthur” can be a hereditary thing and I seem to have received a double whammy. My husband does have a bit of it in his back and neck, where he has bulging discs that have damaged his spine, but not in other typical spots.
We have had to let go of some activities that we took for granted when we were younger, like skiing, softball, hiking, biking, helping friends move, extensive gardening and for me even going on long walks (due to a painful foot due to a softball injury.) We have downsized, eliminating the treacherous staircase on which I had fallen down twice because of a bad knee. We simplified our lives by locating to a home with no lawn and minimal landscape to take care of. Gardening is in my blood and I still like to dig in the dirt a bit and enjoy growing beautiful flowers, herbs and vegetables.
But I digress. Getting older means that our friends are also getting older. We have always gravitated towards people who are several years older than we are, although we have plenty of friends our age as well. I play bunco and pinochle regularly with ladies and I am the “kid.” One of our ladies had a stroke and has had to move in with her daughter in Tacoma, so I won’t be seeing her anymore. I suppose living in an over 55 community means we will be seeing more illness and death of those we care about. I love these ladies and wouldn’t trade this quiet environment for one bustling with loud children and partying teenagers.
Once again, I digress. It isn’t just health issues that showcase the aging process. It is the ever widening gap that we witness between our children’s generation and ours. I love it when our kids and their families are all together. It is so satisfying to see that they like each other and choose to spend time together. Conversations are lively and animated. Our grandchildren are a joy to be around and we love playing with them. However, while the younger generation catches up on the latest news and stories, we find that we have little in common. They don’t know many of our friends and though they try to listen to what we have to share, they really can’t relate. It is really no one’s fault! We certainly don’t blame them. And I don’t blame us! They are young and on the go. We are old and getting slow. One on one is a different matter altogether. There seems to be plenty to talk about. We have each other’s undivided attention. But when our kids and their friends are together, we rather feel like we are on the outside looking in. I remember when my parents went through this same phase of life. They couldn’t relate to the much of the conversations because they really weren’t a part of the younger generation’s lifestyle. I know we are not the only ones who feel just a tad bit “out of it” as we have heard from friends that experience the same things.
When I was young, I could go into a store and have someone right there to ask if they could help me. Oh, yes, I still find that people ask me that, but if there are two or three of us who need help, it is generally the younger ones who are sought out first. I call this “being invisible.” Maybe it is because the younger people usually have more money to spend. And this reminds me of the movie “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts is turned away by an employee in a high end clothing store because she looks like, well, actually like a hooker, which is what she was. Then, after successfully spending oodles of money at another boutique comes back, dressed to the nines, carrying several bags, and says “Remember me? I was in here yesterday and you turned me away. You work on commission, don't you? Big mistake….big HUGE mistake.” I guess old people really aren’t the only ones who are invisible. Besides, many retired folks have plenty of money to spend.
So, as you can see, the aging process can take a toll. Yet there are those who seem to breeze through these years and are still going strong well into their 90’s. Sadly, that isn’t us. We admire them and sometimes get a twinge of envy, but the reality is that as we are aging we do experience health issues and sore and worn out joints. Statistics show that an estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States reported being told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. Misery loves company, and I am in good company since statistics show that from 2010-2012, 49.7% of adults 65 years or older reported an arthritis diagnosis. Hallelujah, I guess I’m normal!
Please don’t think that I am whining about our lot in life! Both Dave and I consider ourselves mature enough to realize that the process of living means things can’t stay static. We accept our limitations. I can still hop in the swimming pool and soak up the sunshine. We are reading way more books than ever. And we just purchased a Weber kettle charcoal grill. After all, we do have time to wait for the briquettes to get hot! We live a leisurely life and find great joy in this slower pace. We get to spend quality time with friends and family, eat scrumptious meals at home and one day soon we hope to get back to golfing. My knee needs a few more weeks to heal. God has been gracious with us, as we move through this stage of life. Life isn’t over…..it’s just different.
There is one thing that I hope to purchase soon. Dave has been reluctant, but I want a recliner! I think he is seeing the value of having one these days. One of us could sleep in it when the other is in bed having coughing fits. And recovery from joint surgery would be much more pleasant if I could lay back in one and ice my knee more easily. HA! And I bet we will get helped right away by a sales clerk when he or she sees us looking at recliners!
We all need to learn how to age gracefully….I think I will have Dave make me a margarita and relax on the patio with a nice book. And hold the salt. I don’t need high blood pressure on top of everything else! Here’s to my fellow baby-boomers and beyond!