By Joe Rector
Nature enjoy a good laugh. If you don’t believe it, look at a platypus: half beaver and half duck. It’s also true that “man plans and God laughs.” This life has a funny way of jerking around those of us who think we’re in charge of everything. Take age for example. As the years pile up, things change more than any of us thought possible.
I’m a member of the Baby-Boom generation and, as such, many things now challenge me, things that I once completed without thinking. One is opening a stupid can. One night as I lay sleeping, something attacked by hands crippled them. I can’t turn the handle of an opener without excruciating pain; I can’t pop a top on a container because my fingers don’t have any strength. Once upon a time, I swelled with pride as I twisted off stubborn lids from jars. It’s even reached the point where I can’t remove the top of a child-proof prescription bottle.
Another thing that is now difficult is performing simple mathematical computations in my head. At one time in life, I could add long lists of numbers or complete multiplication or divide without using a pencil or paper. These days, I need a calculator, and that, too, is a chore since my crooked fingers often hit the wrong buttons. I’m not sure if my shortcoming is the result of lost brain function or inability to concentrate long enough to complete the task.
I gave up using a knife because holding one and being able to slice through anything other than my own skin became a dangerous proposition. I’d retrieve a cutting board to help with cutting jobs, but somehow anything I sliced still left the surface covered in crimson from a bleeding thumb or gashed finger.
Television viewing is another thing that’s changed. Amy and I have cable television, and because I want ESPN and the SEC Network, I’m also forced to have a couple of hundred other channels. A few programs are favorites; otherwise, nothing on TV attracts me. Amy and I flip channels on the remote with lightning speed, and when the list is completed, we look at each other and declare, “There’s nothing to watch!” That’s the same thing that most who have some age on us utter.
I used to be able to work outside all day to complete yard work or other projects. These days, my “hang time” is much shorter. Recently, I split wood from trees we’d had cut. After only a few minutes of swinging the maul, I had to sit and catch my breath.
Worst of all, I suffer after exertion. If I walk too much, the night is spent in agony as leg cramps and Charlie Horses hit whenever I move. My hips feel like an old dog’s that is afflicted with arthritis. Shoulders ache so much that finding a comfortable sleeping position is almost impossible.
My biggest woes come with another problem. As most people know, a trip to the restroom for an old codger can sometimes last for several minutes. I’m one of those persons who’s easily bored and distracted. All too often, I’ve left the facility, walked into the public view and realized again that I’ve failed to zip my pants. These days, my family just shake their heads in embarrassment and instruct me to zip up.
Mentally, I’ve never matured passed my teens or early twenties. I know that’s not necessarily something about which to be proud. Still, I feel young at heart and in mind. It’s the physical part that’s kicking me, that and memory. I can recall things that occurred when I was a child, but for the life of me, I can’t remember some things that took place just a few days or weeks ago.
Change is difficult for all of us to take. Slowing down and not being able to do what I once could are especially tough to accept. Still, I’m happy to be upright and mobile. I’m learning to slow down a bit and be a bit more patient with the jobs I undertake. Even with limitations, I am thankful to be on this side of the sod and am planning on being here for a long time.