Age has come creeping up on me like a fox to the hen house. Not all that long ago—well, I guess it might have been a decade or two ago—my friend Marty said to me, “Growing old isn’t for sissies.” I scoffed at the time, but I’m not scoffing now: there is more snap, crackle, and pop in my bones than in a bowl of Rice Krispies!
This muscle hurts, that joint aches. Body parts creak: knees, hips, ankles, elbows, shoulders; can someone please bring me the Tin Man’s oil can? Arthritis blooms like a noxious weed in the night. Conversations with my circle of aging friends are bound to be exclusively about doctors, health care, surgeries, biopsies, sleep aids, cortisone shots, gummies, and a plethora of over-the-counter remedies. CBD are the new initials of choice. I know we stopped talking about politics a few years ago, but didn’t we use to discuss other subjects like the designated-hitter rule or the benefits of putting STP in one’s gas tank? These days, once my friends and I have exhausted the twin pillars of weather and ailments, it seems like there’s nothing more to say. The silence can be deafening. Literally!
Simple acts I once took for granted—tying my shoes, pulling up my socks, putting on a pair of pants, even walking up a flight of steps—now require practice or patience or both. These problems are compounded because in my mind, I’m not old; I’ve barely hit middle age. I’m still thirty-five or forty or maybe just fifty. But my body knows the sad truth of it. Ask it to hop out of bed in the morning and it laughs in my face. “Hop? Really? Are you kidding me? Why don’t you just sit here for another couple of minutes, old man, and we’ll see how things go from there.”
Now it seems to me there was one other aspect of growing old I wanted to discuss but I can’t for the life of me remember… oh, wait! I know what it was: memory! There are all kinds of vitamins or supplements that are touted to promote “healthy brains,” but I don’t remember which ones supposedly work. Moreover, while it may be true that memory loss is just one natural component of the aging process, it strikes me as ironic that while I can still recite all of my elementary school teachers’ names, I’m hard-pressed to remember where I left the car keys or why I just went into the kitchen.
Now where was I?
For all you statisticians out there, the official start of old age is 65. I looked in my rear view mirror for that year, but it’s long gone. Let’s just say that I’m well into my dotage, and while I might rue the truth of that cold, hard fact, what good would it do? Better to accept what is and aspire to adjectives like “spry” or “wise” than to go looking for pity or dressing up like one of the Katzenjammer Kids who finally got knocked out by Father Time in 2006 at the ripe old age of 109.
But don’t count me out just yet. Remember that wonderful song from “The Fantastics?” I still keep my dreams beside my pillow. Follow…follow…follow.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine. Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com