How synchronous that in the week in which I am to celebrate my 69th I get prompted to write about Old Age.
I am not sure if 69 is old or not. I mean when I hear something on the news about something or other befalling a 66 year old, in my head I think "That's old." Then I realize that I am that age and older. On the other hand, many people are living and thriving into their 80s or beyond, so against that standard, I'm not yet old.
As I sit here and type this, I don't really feel any different than I ever did. In a very real sense, we don't age inside our heads. Whether I am 18, 25, 32 or 40 in my head, I can't say for sure. But I can say that looking in the mirror can be shocking. And last weekend I had to try twice to get out of a low chair at the cottage and thought to myself, "I didn't think I would feel this old this young."
So there is a bit of an age discrepancy with me anyway, depending on the moment and whether I am being called upon physically or not. I have things going wrong with me in terms of my skeletal framework: knees, shoulders, and that blasted foot, for example. On the other hand, I have had no reports, yet, of things going wrong inside. My blood pressure has always been good, and no one gets too concerned over my triglycerides and such after my annual bloodletting.
Aging is a highly variable thing. My three brothers-in-law have all been fitter than me, at least after my lumbar problems that occurred 22 years past and which limited my physical activities ever since then. But they have all had more significant health problems than I — so far anyway.
Larry, at 4 years older than I, was taken a few years ago at the age of 72 by a genetic blood disorder which caught up with him in older age, Bill, who is my age, is presently being treated for an aggressive brain tumour. Brian, six years younger and extremely fit, has already had a valve replacement. If not for that, I suppose he would have reached his expiry day by now. Instead, due to the miracle of modern science, he is able to run for miles and take on various projects. Meanwhile I, the least fit of the brotherly group, limp (literally) along in life.
The limping comes from a very bad ankle sprain which occurred 30 years ago but then behaved well enough for the next 20 years. About 10 years ago, however, I started to have problems with that foot, and we discovered that I was missing some cartilage and also had bone chips. They could fuse the joint in question, but I wouldn't then be able to bear weight on that foot for six months. Since I can't imagine hopping around on the one other leg with its wonky knee for much time at all, I decided not to take the surgeon up on his kind offer, especially since it would be difficult to predict whether I would be much better for it.
So, I hobble about, not really as badly or as noticeably as I am making it sound right now, and do my best to take regular walks. But mainly I'm not optimally active, and I also eat too many potato chips, and, consequently, I am anything but fit. It's now time to lose the same 25 lbs that I have lost before. At least, I am not putting on 25 pounds on top of previous, multiple 25 lb gains, so I can take some comfort in that.
The craziest thing, or at least a crazy thing, is looking in the mirror and wondering who is looking back at me. Without being too proud or overstating things, I was not the worst looking fellow on the planet. Now, I see a very bald, somewhat scarred face with drooping eyelids staring back at me through dark circles. I know it's me well enough by now, but it still makes me want to put a paper bag over my head.
I wrote (a little) not too long ago about losing my nouns and fumbling for words. Especially with an introvert's brain where information can be harder to retrieve (or so I think based on things that I have read), I do tend to draw a blank when searching for some words, especially names. Thankfully, they usually if not always come to me within a few seconds, which is something that I find reassuring. Still, it makes me feel like a senile old fool when I stumble audibly during a conversation.
So these have been a few pithy ruminations of old age from the point of one 69 year-old. I expect that everyone has a somewhat different story, and I am still not sure if I am truly old yet.
I do know this, however, I have never been as old as I am right now.
And in the light of all this, please excuse me for being presumptuous and wishing myself a ...
Now I must hunt for 54 more candles.