Monday, June 13, 2011

GETTING OLDER

I am at an age now where my body reminds me everyday that I am not what I use to be.  It tires easily and can't go at full speed on a summer day or a winter day for that matter the way it use to.  I abused my body through out my youth without realizing it.  It is something we all do.  It is part of the human condition that when you are still in the morning of life, your body goes as if it has had a full refreshing rest.

It is odd however that when I was small I did tire easily much as I do today.  It is those teenage years and young adult years that fool you into thinking that you are indestructible.  I remember playing when I was young and being told to take a nap, which I didn't think I needed and find myself falling asleep no matter how hard I tried to stay awake.

During the teenage years and young adult years I would work in the yard a full day on Saturdays.  I use to have a meticulous lawn at my house after we first moved in.  I would get up early on a Saturday and mow grass, trim things up by hand and be finished in enough time to play some pick up basketball or baseball in the afternoon.  I could stay up most of the night and be up and fresh the next morning at work or at church without feeling any weariness at all.

Times change though and soon you start to feel the pressures that time has placed on your body.  I use to pride myself on not buying any special tools for yard work or house work.  I had a handsaw for cutting wood.  I had some hand hedge trimmers to keep the hedge and bushes neat and trimmed.  Slowly it came to pass that I cannot use those anymore.  It came to the point where if I wanted to finish a chore I would much prefer power tools.  If I tried to do it by hand I would run out of time.

Why does time play this cruel joke on us.  It doesn't.  We do it to ourselves.  My first indication of my carpel tunnel problems occurred one Saturday while I was painting the house.  Brett was fairly young then and so I was up on the ladder.  I would haul a gallon can of paint up the ladder with a paint brush and paint as much territory as I could.  When I had covered that patch I would take the gallon can and climb down the ladder, mover it over a few feet and haul the can of paint up the ladder with me again.  My legs did not seem to tire and I was doing okay until suddenly the paint brush fell out of my hand falling to the ground and almost hitting Brett.  When I got down from the ladder I had no power in my hand to grip the brush.  I think that was the first time I felt like my body was giving way on me.  Since then I have put vinyl siding on the house so I don't have to worry about painting anymore.  Part of me misses the painting of the house.  It use to be a quiet relaxing time.

Now I have a difficult time walking up and down the basement stairs to do laundry.  My legs tire so easily it is almost painful just to think about it.  Even though I did have surgery on my wrists, the carpel tunnel seems to have returned.  I have a difficult time using the power tools now because the vibrations then send out cause my hands to go numb after awhile. Mowing the lawn has a double effect on me as my legs tire and my hands go numb while I am trying to cut the grass.

The medicines I take do not help much either. I tend to get over heated when I do any kind of physical labor.  I begin to sweat and feel hot no matter what the temperature is.  The medicine is for anxiety and my depression and I do not like them, but they are necessary for me to go from day to day.  I can be in the air conditioned luxury of my home trying to vacuum the floor and be sopping wet and tired by the time I finish.

I have witnessed the effects of aging on others in my life.  When grandma and grandpa began to slide it was sad to see them not able to do what they use to.  Grandpa was a strong man who could and would work in the toughest of hot or cold weather.  Towards the end of his life he could not breathe very well and had a difficult time walking.  The strong man that I had worked with sided by side in the garden while I was growing up was gone and soon his body gave out on him.

As time has passed it has now taken its toll on my parents.  I see the same pattern slowly take shape that I saw in my grandparents.  The thing is, they are not that much older than me in the grand scheme of things.  Mom and dad are a little over twenty five years my senior.  Twenty five years is not a very long time and it becomes more apparent that twenty fives years is not that long the older you get.  When my parents brought me into this world they were young and vivacious, much the way I was in my mid twenties.  Little things start to come to my attention when I visit them now.  Neither of them have given into getting older yet.  Dad still tries to get out and work in the yard and mom goes out and helps him.  But it takes longer now and there are some things that their grandchildren do for them so they don't have to.

Aging is not a fun subject to talk about especially when your body is showing the effects of that aging.  When you are young it was fun to age.  You look forward to turning sixteen followed by looking forward to turning eighteen and getting out of school.  Then you look towards that magic twenty one where you are a full adult and responsible for everything you do.  Then there comes a time when you look back on turning twenty one and wonder what the hurry was to get there.

Now I see my own generation starting to show the effect of old age as my two elder sisters start to enter into that arena.  I am still in the parking lot of the arena but find myself inching towards it much the way they have.  I just had to throw in that sentence for their benefit to see if they read my stuff or not. 

Pete Townsend wrote one time "I hope I die before I get old."  Pete is close to seventy now and still playing rock and roll but age has progressed on him as well.  When I was young and listened to that song I thought it was a joke of sorts.  Now I am not so sure.  I think that you can take that line as saying getting old is acting old.  Showing the signs of getting old.  You can be seventy and still not be old.  When my parents were seventy they certainly weren't what I would consider old and for the most part I don't see them as being old right now even though there are some signs starting to show.

I suppose as long as we are able to exist we are not old.  If we can still communicate and somehow enjoy life then we are still young.  The last night that I saw my grandfather, he was joking and having a good time.  It is hard for me to see that man as being old.  Older maybe but not a definite old.

I do sometimes wish I had the stamina that I use to have and I do miss it at times.  But I am still able to move, still able to think, and still able to communicate.  I am not old.  I am getting older and will continue to do so until the day I die.  Only then will I consider myself old no matter what my age.

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