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Even Young at Heart Feel Gravity's Pull
Oh, oh, oh! By the time this appears in The Banner, I’ll be seventy years old. Think of it: seventy! Surely it can’t be true. Inside, as long as my arthritic body doesn’t ache too much, I feel no older than I was in my fifties, forties, even twenties. How did I arrive at this station in my life's journey so soon? . . . Too soon, too soon . . . My train is drawing ever closer to the terminus. Much better not to speculate on how many stops remain.
There’s no denying that the old bod has changed. Gravity’s pull has caught up with me. Everything is inching downward. I was shocked when I was dusting a little mirrored table and saw the ravages that have been wrought on the underneath of my chin. My legs have become crepey. Sic transit gloria.
Someone said that we should think as life as a journey, rather than a destination. All of us must shuffle off this mortal coil as the Bard put it, but I understand what Henry David Thoreau meant when he wrote that he did not want to come to die and realize that he had not truly lived. Auntie Mame Dennis said it best with her one-word dictum, "LIVE!"
"Fight, fight, fight the coming of the night." Dylan Thomas
Growing old teaches hard lessons in the school of hard knocks. There are two extremes of dealing with it: to simply resign one’s self to it or to pretend it hasn’t happened and exhaust one’s self, trying to keep up with the self that one was twenty years ago. There have been times when I’ve been like a trapped butterfly beating its wings against a windowpane. I need to find a golden mean where I can grow old with dignity as did Knightstown’s beloved Jessie Nay Wagoner, yet still enjoy life.
Age has taught me is to put away the foolish pride that causes us to put limitations on ourselves so that we enjoy less and less of this precious life. As Steven Hilbert said, "This is not a dress rehearsal!" For all our medical miracles, the end cannot be postponed forever. However, we can make conscious choices to live as well as possible with what we have and to use the wonderful technology that makes life easier.
In nature, a mighty oak will come crashing down during a tempest while the willow bends and survives. Each stage of life requires accommodations. At least, I don’t have to wear dentures! Most people aren’t even aware of my state-of-the-art hearing aid that is so well crafted that I forget about it and must be careful not to jump in the shower while wearing it.
Next week we shall be in Paris with our twin grandsons. This will probably be our last trip with them as they will be entering engineering schools this fall. What fun it will be to watch them absorb the glories of that magical place.
Paris is designed for the pleasure of human beings. I feel sorry for those who take tours where they visit eight countries in ten days. I see the tourists in the buses with their noses pressed against the windows. Paris is beautiful to look at, but I want to do more than merely look: when I travel. I want to experience the place.
There’s no hiding my rollator which even has a seat that I can rest on. I hate having to use it because it brands me as week and old. However, it permits me to continue being active rather than sitting at home in a lounger watching the world via television. To savor Paris properly, one must go out and walk. I could not do this without the rollator.
Chris and Tony don’t know yet that they’re going to be the ones who have to haul Grandma’s walker up and down the stairs of the Metro! They also don't know yet that they're going to be sent off on a mini adventure by themselves--an overnight tour of the Normandy landing beaches and Mont St Michel. Bill and I shall have a gastronomic fling while they’re gone.
The boys' palates aren’t ready for pate de foie gras, breast of duck, mussels cooked with white wine, garlic and butter and raw oysters. Instead, we'll introduce them to the Crocque Monsieur (a yummy grilled ham and cheese sandwich), wonderful crepes sold by street vendors who cook them on griddles while you watch, and mouth-watering French fries. They love good bread. Breakfast in France consists of crusty bread, flaky croissants and/or pain au chocolat--rolls with a chunk of dark chocolate in the center.
I must dwell upon what remains rather than mourn what is lost. I’ll leave the strenuous stuff such as climbing to the top of Notre-Dame to them while I sip a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe and absorb the beauty spread out before me. Life is good!
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