It’s the last day of the year 2018, and I’m still here, all 140 pounds of me! I wonder, could I, like mom, break 150?
Oh, how things have, indeed, changed for me! Looking at my buddies—happily, most of them are still around—I find sweet consolation in that we’re all somehow in the same boat.
Changes may have come to us in different forms, the least and most common of these, I can assure the younger seniors, is fatness. But contemporaries who have gone ahead got fat first, before eventually succumbing to terminal complications.
As I myself live on, despite having gained 35 pounds in 58 years, approaching my 80s, words of writer Red Smith’s eulogy for a fellow often come to mind: “Dying is no big deal; the least of us will manage it. Living is the trick!”
The immediate trick, as I see it now, is coping with the challenges of ripening to old age.
As it is, like many peers, I’m already physically challenged, by an undiagnosed swelling in my heel that refuses to go away and does not allow me to walk too long without hurting. I climb down—yes, down particularly—like an old woman.
I have yet to see a foot doctor, although I’ve already done rehab, which helped some. As long as I keep doing my water exercises three times a week—I’ve been at it fairly religiously for three years now—I’m convinced I’m doing something at least about some challenges.
I do worry as well about financial challenges, afraid that if either of us gets seriously sick, our little nest egg, reserved optimistically for comfort and little joys in old age, could be wiped out.
Fortunately, although Vergel is taking it easier now, he still earns. I do my part by looking out for safe investments, if there remain any such things in this bleak and uncertain political environment. I keep myself informed about safe short-term placements. After I have done my homework, I check with Vergel for a final decision.
I always invest in insurance when we travel. While he’s not yet uninsurable like myself, generally, I’ve taken out life and medical insurance for him. Anything that happens to my body now would surely have been caused by some “preexisting condition,” the insurance phrase for a perfect excuse against a payout.
Alas, I’m also technologically challenged, thus unable to maximize the use of any electronic gadget to my advantage. There are simply too many passwords to remember to complete any online transaction. I have noted down my passwords somewhere, but, where?
I do use a laptop to write my column, e-mail and save pictures, etc. I also wear a Fitbit watch; it requires nothing from me except to remember to wear it the correct way, and it’s on its own.
It’s made an active person of me, moving every hour and hitting my self-imposed target of 6,000 steps on the days I don’t do my water exercises. It’s made me sleep better, close to seven hours each night.
It can do more complicated things, I’m told, but I don’t want to push my luck. Remembering to wear it again after my bath, which is the only time I remove it, is challenge enough!
Most importantly—and this is what I dread the most—not a few of us are showing signs of becoming mentally challenged! A dear friend who used to have the memory of an elephant recently took a test for dementia for her own peace of mind, and she now wonders why her children refuse to show her the results.
I myself wonder how important it is to know. I took dad to the same test, accompanied by my mother, who was five years younger, and, untested, the doctor thought her the better candidate for all sorts of tests, which offended my mother.
Dad outlived mom by three years.
Another challenge is the loss of one’s spouse—if he or she happened to be the sort the other could not imagine living without. Many friends precisely have been going through such a challenge. I can count on one hand those of us who still have our husbands.
How does one prepare for that? It’s one of those realities that, for all the pain it brings, unfortunately doesn’t kill you. So, you go on with half of you gone forever.
If we should be so blessed, Vergel and I could best accept the realities of old age together, laughing at ourselves and at each other. Before we get there I’d like to be able to accept our new realities as dad did. Being asked how he felt was enough to trigger fits of giggling.
“Kiddo, many things I can’t remember, one of them is how feeling well feels. If you have doubts whether God has a sense of humor, try growing old!”
That’s exactly what is happening to us, for which we had no way of preparing. We grow old only once, we better do it right.