Saturday, March 29, 2008

A real steel magnolia

I met a woman named Maureen yesterday. Tall, thin, with a deep voice and brown hair. She had a walker but stood ramrod straight as we talked. She's 95. After a couple of minutes, she told me she had to leave. "To be frank," she said bluntly, "I have to pee."

"Then you better hurry," I replied.

She slapped the walker. "That's just the trouble. I can't."

"Then you need to plan ahead very carefully," I responded.

She moved off, guffawing.

I will look forward to talking to her again. I don't know what she used to do, but there is an air of command about her. She's a little bit scary. I think that is a great trait when you are 95.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A New Wrinkle in Society

A couple of days ago, I was trying to read the instructions on the back of my voter registration card on how to get a new one with my address change. The print was in six-point. (Newsprint, FYI, is 9-point.)So I pulled out my handy-dandy magnifying glass and proceeded as instructed. I predict that the sale of magnifying glasses will increase steadily over the next few years as the baby bomers age. Because of the price of paper and cardboard, I am less sure that the print will enlarge.

A friend of mine-quadraplegic-was instrmental in the national movement many years ago for wheelchair accessible walks and corbs. The ramped access is also a blessing for persons who have trouble walking up steps or over curbs. That too is going to increase in the population.

Contrast colors on the edges of steps is another change I hope will happen more. As we age, the eyes of many of us fail to discriminate a difference in ground levels in dim light. We see just fine, and we can see the steps in broad daylight. We just can't tell where the next step begins in dim light without some line of demarcation. The ledge stripe makes all the difference. And, of course, hand rails. Many houses built in the past decade or more are perched on a pile of dirt requiring many steps to the front door. I have been known to stagger like a drunken sailor in my climb to the front door. Often, these homes have alley access to the FLAT garage and my
subsequent visits are through the garage.

Hearing is a complicated neurological mechanism (reference, a best seller some years ago entitled "The Man Who Thought His Wife Was A Hat". Again, my hearing seems to be as keen as ever BUT the tuning mechanism, which allows me to focus on a single sound or voice in the midst of much noise, is not as keen.

Walking for any distance, and especially standing for long times, has become really painful. If I have to go to one of the better stores, I get what I came for and leave. And I really have to want it. Contrast this with pain-free shopping at Target or Walmart on an elecctric cart, which often leads to additional purchases. I heard last week the Penney's in my town is preparing to add electric carts, and I'm thrilled. Now if only Foley's and Dillards will follow suit. I don't know what percentage of the population uses this amenity, but with nn aging population, the number will only grow. I don't need my own personal scooter most of the time, which is why I don't have one. But it is great to have the option when it is handy. I know the state fair in my state has rented eclectric carts to fair-goers for years.

I know many other changes and need for them are coming. I have the advantage of being left-handed, which means all my life I have had to figure out how to function in a righthanded world. So I'm sure I am missing some glaring inconveniences for the less athletically inclined of us aging folk, but I apparently have adapted. As we have more older members of the population, though, more conveniences will come along. For instance I already know dozens of persons with knee replacements, and the artifical knees are getting better and better. So we'll see what comes. After all, there's money to be made in this. Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Move Evokes Nostalgia

My wrist is healed and I have moved. Lots of changes. I moved across town. I think of good friends who moved last year from Texas to Oregon, and I am awed. They are my age--mid-sixties--and say they are glad they moved when they did. They aren't sure they could have made it if they had made the move in another few years.

I think at my age a lot of people upsize to their dream house, or they start downsizing as I have done. Of course, there are the folks who simply stay put and will for the next 20 years or more, or move laterally, to another location with about the same space/cost.

More about that later.

One of the items I moved is a cheap, scruffy pottery plate which currently is sitting under my ficus plant in the window. But I smile when I look at it, because it came into my possession on New Year's Eve, 78/79, with the remains of the evening's baked Alaska on it. That was quite an evening. Beef tournedoes. Pouilly fuisse wine. dancing. and one whale of an ice storm. Memorable. and when I see or handle that plate, I remember it. Actually, the plant resting on it is from a farewell brunch at my old office. The brunch was a surprise, and I understand the food was great, but I missed it because my car caught fire on the way home and I was busy shopping for a replacement. 1)I learned that antifreeze thrown on an engine fire will put the fire out. 2)I learned car dealers will send a car to pick you up when you tell them you have to buy TODAY. A bedraggled ficus on a scruffy plate. See what rich memories they evoke! I could do complete and lengthy blogs on both stories, and probably I will later.

I've divested myself of a large number of personal belongings, sometimes painfully. I don't have much at this point, but there are memories associated with every single thing I have. My sons and daughter-in-law did the packing and moving (I was still exhausted when we were finished)and we all enjoyed looking at some of the photographs. I have some that go back three generations. Maybe more. We showed my son's 5-year-old daughter a picture of her daddy at about her age and told her it was him. She examined the picture thoroughly, then said decisively, "No, it's not."

This place is smaller than my last, and I am determined to keep every thing I brought somehow. I still have unpacked boxes and it has been more than a week. (sigh) But I can't unpack right now--I have to go exercise, and then a neighbor is coming over and then I have to fix supper, and I have to read sometime, don't I?

more later. FYI, the best keepsake from this move is the love my family has shown me, and I don't have to store that anywhere. I just keep giving it back, getting it back, and giving it again.