Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Running Into Old Age

My favorite definition of old age says that “it is my current age plus ten years”!  That understanding assures us that none of us ever will reach that dreaded stage of life.

However, it was about ten years ago when I first noticed it!  About the time I retired, I discovered that an afternoon nap cured the after-lunch drowsiness that had plagued me for years.  When I began indulging in a regular afternoon nap, that’s when my life began sliding slowly downhill!

A few tasks I used to be able to do without a second thought gradually became difficult, like getting up off the floor.  Days that used to contain 24 hours seemed to have shrunk in length as they flew by because every task took longer than it used to!  Night-time trips to the bathroom increased in number.  Wrinkles puckered up my body in strange ways, and the mirror reflected back images of graying hair.

What was happening to me?  I was running into old age!  The aging process only rarely wipes us out all at once.  It’s more gradual.  Today my back aches; yesterday it was my knees.  Last week I was short of breath; today I have an earache.  Next week I’m scheduled to give an hour’s lecture on my favorite subject, but today I can’t even remember whether or not I’ve taken my morning pills!

Those were the days when I had run into some of the previews of old age.  But, once in awhile, old age runs into us and nearly knocks us over!  This year was one of those days!  Energy was nil; another abcessed tooth had to be pulled; pain problems I thought were solved long ago  came back to haunt me.

A long series of medical tests on my soul-mate revealed nothing serious despite original concerns.  We were grateful, of course.  But that whole temporary confinement in the healthcare system reminded us both that someday the pain might not get better, and the diagnostic tests might reveal a real problem!  We paused to consider the long-term probabilities of these “health-scare” events.  We had run into old age!  Now what?

As we began our annual spring pilgrimage north from south Texas to the mid-West, we noticed that certain tasks were taking longer than they used to.  Setting up in a new campground each afternoon and packing up each morning to get on our way seemed more like work and less like the fun it used to be.  The miles seemed longer; the potholes deeper; the truck seats harder, and the nights shorter.  Even the scenery was not as beautiful as it had been over the years.  It was time for a change.  We had run into old age, but we were determined not to sink silently into its depths!

So, as soon as possible, when we got to our destination in Ohio, we found an RV Park close to a lovely MetroPark, and we started walking.  Morning and evening we walk; sometimes only a mile and a half but usually three miles each time.  We can’t really run anymore, but we walk briskly, steadily, and regularly.

We take time as we walk to enjoy the wildflowers, the deer, the bison, the little garter snake sunning itself; the “croak” of the bullfrog hiding among the the cattails; the red-tailed hawk sitting high on a utility pole; the cotton-tails of the rabbits startled by our footsteps.

As we’ve walked, we have bought a condo, shopped for furniture, planned for a smaller new vehicle, worshiped with a new church family, and visited twice with our son an hour’s drive away.  Sometimes we discuss the problems of the world as we walk, but we haven’t solved any of them yet!

No, we’re not really running into old age but neither are we letting it run us down!  We’ll keep moving ahead at our own determined pace into whatever old age has in store for us in the days that are coming.  Oh, and by the way, our new condo is located on a bike trail, so we may soon speed up our journey into the future.