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Sunday, May 7, 2017

The "Old Age Isn't For Sissies" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sitting in my tan, leather recliner with my trusty MacBook Air laptop, striking the keys that will hopefully tell the story I have stirring in my head.  Decided to call it "Old Age Isn't For Sissies" after reading a similar story in our local newspaper a few days ago and then just recalling that title while sending an email to good friends in Sint Maarten.  The story in my local paper was written by a gentleman who is a pastoral psychologist and family therapist who specializes in geriatric issues; the perfect combination for me!  Robert tells, as he began his story, that he always thought retirement was a wonderful thing and an opportunity to enjoy activities that were previously put off because of other responsibilities.  Bingo!  My exact same thoughts.  He then went on to say he never suspected that his elder years would require toughness and fortitude.  Well, I have been finding out all about what is necessary during my "elder years", as Robert calls them.  If I had known that my "elder" years would be as physically challenging as they are, I might have opted to bypass them.  I know .... you can't do that, but if you could, I would have thought hard about bypassing them.  Now, I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me, because some of what I have to say I probably brought upon myself, but after a couple of hernias, three spinal surgeries, a bout with shingles that has caused numbness and pain (yes, you can have both at the same time cause I know) in my leg and foot, various hand surgeries, eyes that are starting to not see as well as they used to and now prostate cancer.  Why on earth would anyone want to live to be "elder" where your desktop calendar has a medical appointment on just about every weekday?  All but the eyes, shingles and cancer could have been because of me making bad decisions while working, but they still tax your mental health.  And, they all seem to be striking home in my "elder" years.  Now, Robert tells me in his article I have to face the prospect of downsizing.  How on earth can I choose between my favorite batik paintings and my Wallace Nutting photographs?  How will I decide between my old wooden desk that I used in my classroom for over thirty years or the modern glass-covered desk that now holds my larger iMac computer.  What about all the island paintings which Carol and I have bought over the past twenty years and the two original Ansel Adams black and whites?  What about the dozen plastic tubs of holiday decorations and the two cedar chests I made for my wife.  If we ever decide to move to a retirement community, what comes with us.  Someone "elder' shouldn't have to make decisions like these.  Robert ends his article telling me that I eventually will have to deal with stress as I make decisions about end of life problems.  He does tell me that he has some suggestions on how to cope with these decisions.  First, stay as healthy as possible.  OK, what's next!  Mediate and pray to absolve emotional issues and physical pain.  Believe me, I have been heavily into that the past couple of years and it has been a blessing.  He hit that one right on the head with that suggestion.  Finally, develop a strong faith and spirituality to face life with a positive attitude, a joyful acceptance, and a loving compassion for those around you and your community at large.  You know ... I have attempted to do just that way before I reached my "elder" years and it has been a blessing as far as I'm concerned.  Friends really matter!!  And, I have been blessed with some of the best friends an "elder" person could have; some young, some old and some "elder" as I am.  I guess I'm not ready to check out yet.  But you know ... "Old Age Isn't For Sissies."  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.     

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