Like infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and middle age, I couldn’t appreciate how Old Age would feel ‘til now. Still, despite the feeble body and befuddled mind I hope to hang around a couple more decades.
Understandably, and perhaps just as well for the rest of us, folks in wheel chairs, nursing homes, hospitals and hospice seem evolved into another species. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want that either! Secretly knowing if a heart attack, cancer, drunk driver, or some fool with an Assault Rifle doesn’t take me out, if I don’t kick the bucket first, that’s the best can hope for, I “whistle past the graveyard.”
Dr. Murray Banks points out that seeing aged bodies, slouched, asleep, a school principle who doesn’t know his son, a brain surgeon drooling onto a bib–Life’s survivors, the lucky ones!–some might may say, “I don’t want live past ninety.” They’ll say that until they’re eighty-nine. I don’t want to die, not today, not now, not ever! But grow old, silly, sick, senile?
Experiencing a eighty-two-year-old carcass, I’m convinced anyone past the allotted three score and ten hurts. When an old woman or man appears slow and stiff she or he is not faking. It’s said some oldsters are, “Sharp as a tack.” No one past seventy is mentally as quick as they were thirty, twenty, ten, even five years ago. We who appear “sharp as ever” fake it. Trust me.
It’s Biology 101: Like car engines, gears, transmissions and tires, human muscles, organs, joints, and skin wear out. Worn-out cars are recycled or go to the junk yard. Physical bodies end up in the crematory or marble orchard. For me, acknowledging, if not really feeling comfortable with the facts of Old Age, provides as much consolation as anyone can ask for.