…AND ONE MORE THING
Keeping pace with growing older
A good friend walked up to me through a crowd. I saw that she was limping slightly. She appeared to be listing to one side like a boat ready to sink gracefully into the depths. The usual sparkle in her eyes was missing and I hesitated not sure what to say.
Fortunately, someone else standing next to me noticed, too. She came to my rescue and I was off the hook. She waded in and inquired.
It turns out that our mutual friend had been weeding her gardens on her hands and knees the day before.
Ouch! It had been an all day chore, although it was one of her favorite hobbies. She was proud of her accomplishment. Her yard looks lovely every single year, and we know how much effort she puts into maintaining its beauty.
“Oh, I get it,” the other friend said to us. “You don’t have that 24 hour turnaround anymore.”
We all giggled. Yes, that was the reason why she was dragging this morning. She was dusted — beat, or plain tuckered out. Her body couldn’t keep up with a new day’s commitments. Already at 10 a.m., she was working on overload. You know how that feels.
The conversation quickly turned to our collective aches and pains along with the diminished stamina that follows along routinely with such talk. We hated to admit it. We were sounding like our mothers and it was going to be a relaxing day for all three of us. Downtime would be necessary and a little restoration would put us in better shape for another week ahead.
With older age comes a change in how much you can do — or even want to accomplish in a day and week. People on the far side of 50 find that having a full day means it is wise to recover the body and mind the next day or two.
Schedules get planned out much more carefully and overbooking is frowned upon. The main activity of the day is the focal point. Sometimes the newspaper and a cup of coffee are the high point of the morning, especially if the crossword puzzle is a tough one.
It reminds me of Victorian novels where there is always a middle-aged female character in her boudoir for hours at a time. She sits propped up in bed on lacy pillows having her breakfast, and perhaps lunch, too, preparing for a formal dinner with family in the evening. She puts no thought into movement, other than opening her numerous social invitations.
Then there is the new mother hospitalized for a full week after giving birth post WWII. That was a routine practice until some sense came into the medical world. Delivering a baby did not make you ill. It was normal. Getting up and moving the body around was right for circulation.
Younger folks will have a hard time relating to this conversation because they are in a constant whirl of activities. Bless them! A young mom and dad are in motion from one day to the next. Their energy is at peak performance and it is their game. The ‘energizer bunny” routine is their natural clock.
Not only will they spend Saturday working in the yard, they will alternate driving one or other child to game practice at school, grocery shop and have several couples over for a barbecue and drinks. NBD—“no big deal” is what they say.
On top of all that, an unexpected calamity such as the dog requiring emergency surgery at the vet’s office, or the roof collapsing in on the outdoor shed would not stand in their way. That would be the entire day for a more seasoned person. Oh, my goodness.
Sometimes it is difficult when the two age groups—young and old, mix and match for a time. Each sees the other in a new light. That’s not all that bad, though.
When parents visit their adult kids and grandkids, they grow weary and bedtime is early like it is at home. The grandkids make too much noise. The all-day excursions and late dinners don’t quite make it for them.
Certainly their hosts want to cram in as much as they can during the visit. They plan an agenda like a cruise ship director with limited downtime permitted. As soon as the parents get home, it takes a few days to get back into their usual routines.
It works the other way, too. Younger adults come home to visit parents and they complain that it is boring in the neighborhood. Things appear in slow motion.
No wonder they left town to seek their fortunes elsewhere. It was required as part of their make-up, and they weren’t meant to live in their hometown. What is a person to do after nine o’clock when the sidewalks shut down? Where would they possibly meet someone? Well…
The about-face or 180 is one of those facts of life marching on in all us. The 24 hour turnaround can put you in a spin—dancing past midnight if you are able, or on the sofa cuddling with Ben and Art – you know— Bengay, your faithful companion soothing your arthritis. There’s no sin in that my gardening friend says.
Kay Thomas has lived in the Genesee Valley most of her adult life arriving as a SUNY Geneseo student and never leaving. After a successful teaching career, she is pursuing her lifelong love of writing. Check out her blog on remarkable people and places in the Finger Lakes at overaroundhills.blogspot.com.