KIRBY: It’s an old story about an old story

Getting old is not for sissies.

 

– Bette Davis

 

There’s a familiar joke in which an elderly woman awakes one morning, becomes aware of her surroundings then shouts “Oh, my Lord. I must be dead!”

This rouses her startled husband, who looks over at her for a moment, shakes his head, then replies. “No you’re not. Why would you say such a thing?”

“Well I must be dead,” the woman insists. “NOTHING HURTS!”

Some of us know how she feels.

That’s because we navigate each day with the ailments of age, a growing number of companions who keep inviting friends to the party.

Take hearing.

I went with my parents to their Sunday school class a few weeks ago. Most of its members are great-grandparents several times over. The class is both social as well as theological. So when the lesson lagged, two women in the back decided to whisper between themselves.

Only they weren’t whispering. They were talking, despite thinking their chatter was barely audible. Soon their conversation had a better audience than the man at the lectern. Most of it not what I think they wanted to share.

Then there’s vision.

Ever wonder why we have large-type paperbacks, but the print on most prescription bottles requires magnification? Which is more likely to cause problems?

There are also few crueler ironies than forgetting where you put your eyeglasses. That’s because you have to look for them, but can’t see as sharply. If someone ever invents a “Clapper” device for glasses … or TV remotes … or house keys, he or she will make a fortune.

Speaking of memory, I can recall a football score from seventh grade, my high school prom date’s birthday and the state capital of Montana. But I often pause a moment to remember what day it is.

Newsrooms often work on the future – the next week’s news package. A pending holiday (Thanksgiving, for example) is always a challenge, so you get a little confused on the present.

It’s even worse, I have noticed, for many retirees, no longer anchored with the duties of the work day.

Thank goodness football Saturdays and Sunday school classes (see above) give them a weekly reset.

Finally there are the routine aches and pains. In recent years I have brought my own complaints to the attention of my longtime physician, and he shrugs and says, “old age.”

Yes, even if we stay healthy, we are being worn down by the passage of time. It’s death by calendars.

They might not call mine the “Greatest Generation,” but at least we know we’re the latest generation to ‘not go gentle into that good night.’ We gather our ailments each morning like reliable reminders, proof that we are still here, and with confirmation, should behave accordingly.

If I could just find my Clapper …

Reach Bill Kirby at bill.kirby@augustachronicle.com.

 

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