Mark Twain might have said it best: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Well, Mark, lately it’s beginning to matter.
Yesterday I saw an old man staring at me through a coffee shop window. He looked sad and tired, so I waved at him. He waved back. Then I realized it was my reflection.
It takes me longer to do the same things I once did with so much more skip in my step. Ordinary things like getting out of my car, pushing my shopping cart, bending over to pick something up, all require much more time and effort. To be honest, I remind myself of my parents as they aged. Daddy with his walking stick and Mama confusing the names of her grandchildren are images etched in my mind, the unfairness of growing old. Of course, we shouldn’t take it for granted since the alternative is dying young. I am not without gratitude.
The last time I went to the gym, I was so proud of myself, first for not falling off the machine when the power came on, then for being able to release my death grip from the side bars without losing my balance. The sweat was pouring off of me, my shirt drenched from my exhausting 15 minutes of brisk walking when I looked back to see something you never want to see at the gym. No, not a donut, but just as bad. It was a young man who jumped, literally, onto the treadmill, set it on the highest setting, and ran like the building was on fire.
Never mind he was much younger than me. Forget that he looked like one of those Italian models. Don’t mention the fact that he never broke a sweat. On the way out the door, my reply to the perky attendant’s pleasant “How are you?” was a sharp, “I am old.”
If my mind wanders after the traffic light turns green, someone is kind enough to blow his horn. When I enter or exit the post office, more and more often young people hold the door for me. I am supposed to be the one holding the door open for old people. The guy at the pharmacy drive-through window is always happy to see me, probably surprised I am still alive. He calls me Mr. Creel, and I look around for my daddy when that happens. These are all gentle reminders that time keeps marching on, and that I am never going to be young again as I join my peer group having the early bird special at my favorite restaurant.
Our courtship with youth is fickle and transient at best. It will leave you. The small joys about being almost 50 are that I feel empowered to curse without apology, just once in a while, eat cotton candy ice cream whenever I please, go on a cruise just because I can, and sip cosmopolitans from a sugar-rimmed glass along with my early bird special, one day maybe even at lunchtime.
Do I dare?
Contact David at [email protected].