Whatever be the situation, old age is not the time for regrets
From hereon I’m living life smart—for my health, for my finances, for my relationships. And I’ll have smart fun, too.
These are very serious decisions, decisions requiring conscious living, strict prioritizing, and acquiring critical self-knowledge—just what, if you ask me, wisdom is about and what precisely one had better possess by now.
At age 76, in the last quarter of life’s game (yes, I’m also resolved to stay that positive), I can no longer afford to make unforced errors, at least not anything like those mindless ones I committed in my, thankfully, younger days. While it may be true that age is just a number, the concept, however positive, should be taken at this stage with particular prudence; otherwise, all my resources would be pledged to staying alive, leaving me nothing else to plan for.
Mercifully, I am myself not up against any major illness. Still, recent episodes have forced me to focus on my physical vulnerabilities; that little polyp in the uterus and these eye hoods and bags are the least of my worries.
On the advice of a caring friend, herself a doctor, I’ve put myself in the hands of a general practitioner (GP), an internist himself. He deals with me not in parts, as might specialists do, but as a wholly singular case, with my own genetics and lifestyle. It’s he who decides to hand me over to a specialist, and when.
For now, anyway, all my tests are fine. Nothing in my gut—my Achilles heel—is revealed that conscientious dieting cannot deal with; after a course of probiotics and proper hydration, and a kinder diet, I’ve been declared parasite-free. I’ve been taken off medications and prescribed no maintenance pills.
But I’ve been warned to take it easy on certain foods (foods I happen to love, but I’ve been left with not-so-bad alternatives), drink a lot of water, do regular but mild exercises, which for my unathletic anatomy means either walking for an hour or going on the treadmill for half an hour.
In effect, my GP has handed me full control of my body and made me realize that genes do not a prison make. I had anticipated diabetes from Mom’s side, until he reminded me I had two parents and, true enough, I have instead developed a block in my left ventricle, though, again, as part of the aging process. To be sure, Dad had his own heart troubles—stomach, too—but he lived to 91.
As good as things seem, however, I’m beginning to show intolerance for foods that in my younger years I consumed with abandon. The overindulgence is finally taking its toll; adverse reactions come quickly, almost immediately, and recovery takes much longer. Mindless munching of snacks, tempting especially on long trips, exacts its price on the road.
But I’m still ahead. Still, until the final bell rings, I have to play it smart, not lose my focus this late in the game. It takes deliberate action to keep my pace.
And so I ask myself, how did I get this far, doing relatively well—no great shakes, mind you, for health, finances and relationships?
I must have done something right; but, if I’m the wiser, it could only be largely for mistakes I learned from. And if I don’t myself hold back on criticism, it’s also because I’ve learned more from them than from praise.
I try to stay positive, not carry grudges and remain truthful to everyone, especially to people I care about. Honesty and trust are the basis of my relationships. I may have been dropped from the guest lists of only-for-appearances relatives and friends, and I feel the better for it.
I’ve learned to jealously guard my time, and grant others their own time out of mutual respect. Like my GP, I also look at the big picture, the forest, not the trees.
People of my generation ask me how I got so lucky with my second relationship. It’s by God’s grace and sheer luck. I found him in my perfectly unlikeliest age of early 40s, in the perfectly unlikeliest place and circumstances.
All I know is that things just happen, but I firmly believe that, as tired as the saying might be, for everything there is a season. There may be those, who, after 25 years or longer, are having second thoughts about having remarried, and others who can just laugh off having jumped into a second marriage and jumped out as fast.
There’s no foolproof recipe for love, first or second or third or whatever.
Whatever be the situation, old age is not the time for regrets. It’s the season for appreciating all that life has given us.
Look around you and remember that things could, but for the grace of God, be worse. What’s never too late is to make the decision to be happy. Get smart, have fun while you still can.