Just took an end table to the basement for repairs and smacked my right elbow on a protruding object. Instantly I knew I was either going to have a massive bruise or a bleeding tear in my skin. Thin skin is a normal part of growing older, especially for men who don’t have as much body fat as women and are more susceptible.
Every time I mention this to someone they ask all kinds of questions and suggest all kinds of remedies. Well, I’ve spoken to any number of doctors and the truth is, bruises (along with sh*t) happens. There is nothing to be done but try being more careful and wear long sleeve shirts that offer a bit of protection.
While I don’t wish Alzheimer’s on anyone and certainly not myself or my wife, there are certain benefits. The one I’ve most recently noticed is increased television opportunities. I had set the bedroom DVR to record all episodes of a certain reality TV program. When I take a nap I will often watch several of these recorded episodes. Occasionally I’ll sense a little familiarity but for the most part I could be watching the same episode for the third time and not be aware of it. It’s that thing they say about Alzheimer patients, they meet new people everyday.
There seems to be a certain contentment with growing older. I can’t do all that I once could, don’t have the energy and ambition I once had, but I seem to have no trouble accepting these new realities.
I’ve packed a lot into my life, done lots of things, met lots of people, worked a lot of different jobs, been many places, and had more than my share of unusual experiences.
I’ve been a part of history on a few occasions, got to meet a couple of presidents, rubbed elbows with several important politicians, and spent an enjoyable evening with Mother Teresa in a Calcutta bar (Okay, that one may not be true).
I can’t remember how many senses a human has but I’ve been told, and know from experience that most, if not all, weaken with time. I have to wear hearing aids because my ability to hear high frequency noises has diminished from years of too much rock ‘n roll and playing with chain saws.
I’ve relied on reading glasses for decades but still recall the day I could no longer read the large print on distant bill boards. Bifocals hanging around my neck, always at the ready, is a constant part of my daily wardrobe as is having a pair of drug store reading glasses atop every table a part of our home decor.
My morning routine varies depending on what I have for breakfast. Frequently it involves making a cup of coffee into which I add a couple of packets of sweetener and two teaspoons of powdered creamer. I also frequently have a small bowl of raisin bran or hot oatmeal to which I add two packets of sweetener and a little 1% milk. On more than one occasion I’ve put all four sweeteners and the powered creamer on top of my cereal.
Now, if I were truly old I would be sufficiently frugal enough to go ahead and eat it. But, as a testament to my relative youthfulness, I just call myself a name, shrug my shoulders, say “shit happens”, smile, put it out for the cats and critters, and begin anew.
I recently spent all evening trying to recall a person’s last name. I knew the first name and had a clear mental image of the person’s face. I went to bed still not able to remember but when I awoke in the morning it popped into my head, the name was Davis. Then old age kicked in and I couldn’t remember the first name or the face.
So, if any of you are named Davis, I’ve been thinking about you.
When I turned seventy last April a friend of mine said the best thing about it was that now nobody could say you died young. By that comment she was, in part, saying I am no longer young. So, I’ve decided that I now should begin taking notes about what it is like entering the post-seventy phase of life.
Of course the things one notices don’t magically begin at a certain age, they slowly and gradually slip up on you and reach a frequency you simply can’t ignore. Nor, can you explain them away as having nothing to do with increasing age.
My first “note on ageing” shouldn’t gross any one out. But, be forewarned that not everything will be nice and sanitary. You’ve certainly heard that getting old and needing attention isn’t much different than being an infant and needing attention. After all, they make disposable diapers for both age groups.
So, let’s begin with the morning’s coffee. I have a Kuerig coffee maker and most mornings I’m perfectly capable of making myself a good cup of brew without mishap. This morning wasn’t one of them. Here’s what I did correctly; I turned it on, I checked the water level, I put a fresh single-cup dispenser in the machine, I placed my thermo coffee mug in the proper locale, I set the cup size correctly, and I successfully hit the “brew” button. When the machine stopped whirling and hissing I noticed a dark liquid on the counter surrounding the machine. Seems I had forgotten to take the lid off the cup before placing it into the machine and the coffee dispensed to the counter and not the cup. This would be but one reason they make paper towels.
This isn’t the first mistake I’ve made with the Kuerig machine. In the past I’ve forgotten to put a coffee pod in and ended up with a steaming cup of hot water, I’ve forgotten to place a cup under the spigot, I’ve pushed the button for a large cup when using a medium cup, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten other things but I have forgotten what they were.
Forgetting seems to play a major part in taking notes on ageing.
I was watching a series of YouTube videos on the making of a simple stringed instrument called a strum stick. It is mainly a form of dulcimer that you strum like a guitar rather than play on your lap.
The videos had been produced by a Scottish immigrant, living in Michigan, named Andrew Mackie. Mr. Mackie spend his life tending to cattle and his spare time in his wood shop. He was also an avid harmonica player and lover of Celtic music.
Heart problems forced him to retire so to fill his days he turned to his wood shop and began making his version of a strum stick. In the mid 1990s his medications were costing him about $600 a month and he felt they weren’t doing him any good. So, he decided to stop taking pills and live out his life doing what he enjoyed, spreading the gospel of music.
He took the money he’d been spending on medicine and began buying harmonicas to be given to the middle school children of his county, along with written instructions on how to play them. Before his death in 2011 Mackie had given away over 20,000 harmonicas.
Also, he began setting up programs in high schools teaching shop students how to build his strum sticks and pass them on down to middle school students where others would teach them how to play. With volunteers he was able to build countless additional strum sticks to give away and sell as fund-raisers.
Mackie and his kids made their way into the Guinness World Book of Records by assembling the largest harmonica band performing in a single location.
I just think this is an amazing story of a loving and caring person who put the future of others before his own. Andrew Mackie made this a better world to live in and set an example we should all learn from.
Back in the early 1970s comedian Dick Gregory said he never knew he was hungry until television became common. All he knew was a feeling of emptiness but he thought it was normal because everyone else in his neighborhood had that same feeling. It wasn’t until TV came along and he saw supermarket commercials displaying more food in thirty-seconds than he’d seen in his young life. And, “They never showed half a loaf of bread or a piece of a pork chop.”
On this eve of Thanksgiving Day there are many things we can all be thankful for. One of the most important, for me, is the knowledge that there are many in this world who, in spite of our failings, still hold out hope for a better tomorrow. Much of the evidence for this can be found in the many projects of Playing for Change. Project 71 is now available and consist of a wonderful rendition of What a Wonderful World performed by several of the globe’s childrens choirs and New Orleans legend, Grandpa Elliot.
The immigration experience is truly embedded in the soul of America and one never knows where it will pop up. I was reading a biography of Nicolas Mikhalevsky, the commanding officer of the USS J.P. Kennedy, Jr., in 1962. His parents were emigrating to America from Russia when they stopped in Yugoslavia for his birth. So here is a Russian immigrant who becomes a Commander in the US Navy and is a principle player in America’s foremost clash with Russia, his family’s homeland. It is currently estimated that over 65,000 aliens are serving in the American armed forces, most will eventually become citizens.
Read an article this morning about a veteran who has sued the VA because they subjected his penis to frostbite resulting in the loss of 5″. The man was in a VA facility receiving a penal implant and ice packs were left on his privates too long, thus resulting in the loss. I posted this on Facebook and one of my friends remarked, “They now refer to the guy as Frosty the No Man!”
I saw something today that I didn’t ever think I’d see again in my life. A brand spankin’ new tobacco barn (intersection of Briar Hill Rd and SR 41) full of burly tobacco hung up to dry. I’ve seen a lot of tobacco barns torn down in recent years but no new ones being built.
I remember the first time I defeated you like it was yesterday. My hands rusty and blistered, they became the primer for callouses I still have. Every time I rub my hands together I think of you. That tower, my Everest.
I had seen many other kids tackle you, but they had an advantage. They were older, taller, and stronger. I was tiny, but mom had always told me something about dynamite being in small packages. Momma was right. She was always right. She was small too, but ran the hurdles in high school. Dynamite.
I didn’t beat you with fanfare, in fact I was alone. I’m pretty sure Grandma saw me through the kitchen window, but she wouldn’t tell. She always had an eye on us, but she let us explore the world. It was comforting. She was our security blanket.
Several years ago I mentioned in a newspaper column about how much a conversation starter wearing a Bass Pro t-shirt or pulling a boat is. Tons of people fish and are always willing to talk about it. Pull into a gas station with a boat hooked to the back of your vehicle and you’re almost guaranteed a conversation and often some good tips on where to go and what to do. I’ve learned a lot about Florida fishing while getting gas in Southern Georgia.
My wife and I decided to take the grand kids on a mini-vacation during the Labor Day school break and we went up to Lake Erie for several days. The second day there we took the ferry over to Kelly’s Island and spent an afternoon. At the end we pulled into the village and while the family was touring the many gift shops I decided to recreate in a local tavern called The Village Pump. I chose this bar because it had the same name as a tavern that once existed in my home town.