So the years move along …
I thought of my advancing age not long ago when I re-read Roger Angell’s’ marvelous essay, “This Old Man” in the February, 2014 issue of The New Yorker. In his nineties, he writes of prominent knuckles, blurred vision, shooting pains and health issues, but within that litany he stated, “I’m ninety-three, and I’m feeling great.”
I’m not going to disclose my age because as a friend once said, “When I look out, I feel thirty-five.” Well, though I don’t quite feel thirty-five, I have an edgy feeling that I can do everything I did when I was thirty-five. It’s an uneasy feeling, because when I look in the mirror while shaving, I see my father. When my father was fifty, I thought he was old, probably because in those days, he was.
Some years ago, I wrote of having hands like my grandfather’s. Not those heavy, gnarly and calloused of a working man, but soft and smooth; a reflection of a lifetime in one school or another. But their dorsal sides reveal prominent veins, spots and wrinkles that have crept into what once were unblemished mitts. They bruise easily and the bruises turn brown and linger. My knuckles seem bigger, but except for a small knob on the farthest digit of my second finger where I choke the pen to write, I have no calluses. Nevertheless, at least on the dorsal sides, I have hands like Papa’s, not gnarled or crooked, just aged from exposure to the sun.
I take a few pills, one prescription and some vitamins. My knees hurt after I play a round of golf; probably because I carry my bag. I have a strong ego and pretend I can do it with ease. My lower spine needs oil, so I try to loosen it with the groans of a morning stretch, thinking it will help me to hit the golf ball just as I did when I was younger, err… thirty-five that is.
Save for occasional premature beats, my heart behaves, plodding along in marching rhythm. I was once working alone in the gym, using the overhead lift, thinking I nailed it with consecutive reps. Two young men strolled by on their way to the locker room, one muttering to the other, “Gee, the old guy’s in pretty good shape.” I looked around. I was the only one in the gym. I was the ‘old guy’!
I can handle it. I look for the senior citizen discount. I go for the early birds specials. I enjoy a good joke and ply my writing pen with enthusiasm. I have become mellow with memories.
It’s OK. I realize I am lucky and appreciate it. I can take the aches. I can take those who call me “Sir.” I turn up the TV. But … I ain’t quittin’. Though I’ve been pretty lucky with my health, one never knows when the sword of Damocles might fall.
I like looking out.
*** Published in yesterday’s GoLocalProv