Growing Old: It’s Not for Wimps

Written by Mart Allen for The Adirondack Express

mart allenSometimes life is hard. John Wayne said it’s even harder if you are stupid. Sometimes I wonder about that when I see how some people fare. Otherwise, where did the old cliche, “Ignorance is bliss” originate from? I tend to believe life is hard throughout its many stages if you live it right.

At 85 I am awfully close to the final stage. Nothing about my personage is operating as well as it did in the past. I was prepared for and cognizant that the physical aspects would be compromised but not the short term mental phases. I have witnessed and been well aware of the various stages of mental lapses for years but never thought mine would be impinged the way they are now. I have just recently been aware of the fact that I have arrived at a point consistent with old age and memory lapses.

I am not being entirely honest with myself when I stop and analyze the above statements because I have tried for years to stave off the inevitable vicissitudes of old age for as long as possible. I have long been a proponent of the old adage, use it or lose it, when it comes to our physical attributes. I began writing and putting my thoughts to paper on April 18, 1995 for two reasons. I was in the early twilight of so called retirement and determined to sustain my quality of life as long as possible. I knew that writing was one way of adhering to the use it or lose it concept. The other reason was a way of letting my grandchildren know the tenets I lived by and knew to be true otherwise they would never be aware of. My father never knew who his father was and because of that fact I never knew who my grandfather was on that side of his family. It was important to me and I would have liked to know.

From the amount of humorous blogs I receive from contemporaries about old age memory lapses I can see that in am not alone. It’s a common affliction of people in my age bracket. Fortunately most of mine and those of most of my friends have caused few if any serious consequences. Mine infuriate me no end with myself and no one else.

I am very aware of the fact that I have an established pattern that is fast becoming the rule rather than the exception. I misplace or lose almost every item I am dealing with. It amazes me that I can be working in a small confined space and have a problem locating something I have recently laid down within arm’s length.

I have reached a point where all I can do is try to find some humor, in what are becoming everyday perplexing problems. I am past the point where I tell myself that it’s just that I have too many other more important things on my mind to remember trivialities. The biggest draw back in the whole scenario is the angst it causes to my helpmate. Some days she is at her wit’s end.

I well remember my mother going through the same process with my father. One thing that sticks out in my memory and I have to laugh at today was the time they were exiting the garage and he pulled the garage door down on the top of her head. I would have liked to have been there and seen and heard that reaction. Come to think of it I have been guilty of a few of those faux pas but this or no other time is a good time to bring them up.

This is one column where I have not had to keep a running list to gather enough occurrences to use as examples. The following all happened this past week. I opened a pint of half & half. Threw the cap in the trash and laid the seal on the counter. Our pickup day is Tuesday. I got the trash all the way out to the curb and as I was setting it on the curb my wife hollered to me. “Mart, today is Monday.” I have had to use a cane more and more frequently because of a knee problem. I have an heirloom that was given to me by Don Dauer of WSYR TV fame. Old timers may remember him as the, “Only hired man in the northeast” a title he inherited from “Deacon Doubleday” long time early morning newscaster farmers friend after his retirement. I was shopping at Wal-Mart over in Lowville and could not find it after returning home. I called Wal-Mart the next morning as well as inquiring at the local Runway Shopping Mart to no avail. Later in the day I pulled into the car port and before the vehicle got all the way in the wife crows, “There it is. Hanging on the wall.”

I have saved the best for last. I was preparing for a funereal and could not find my dress jacket or Pendleton wool slacks. I realized I had taken them to a local cleaner’s weeks earlier and forgot about it. Through a check the next day I discovered they had gone out of business and they were irretrievable. I wonder how many old people with senior moments have lost items or money because of it.

I need a hearing aid and refuse to buy one. A man was telling his neighbor about a new state of the art model he had purchased for four thousand dollars.

“It’s perfect,” he told him.

The neighbor replied, “Really? What kind is it?”

“12:30,” he replied.

I have heard this lament from too many old friends to risk buying one myself. Besides I maintain the Army ruined my hearing and they refuse to acknowledge it. I was in a 105 MM Howitzer Battalion where we fired hundreds of rounds with no ear protection what so ever. I was told I make too much money to qualify for veteran’s aid. Can you believe it?

The thought for the week comes once again from Thomas Sowell: It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.