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Sat, Jan. 25

The prices we pay

A slipping memory could be one of the prices geezers have to pay. (Adobe Images)

A slipping memory could be one of the prices geezers have to pay. (Adobe Images)

Oh, the indignities we geezers have to tolerate! Getting old is not for the faint hearted.

All our lives we prided ourselves on our independence and our self-sufficiency. Now we routinely have to tolerate insults and invasions of our privacy, and we are supposed to do so with some modicum of grace. About the only way I know of dealing with these insults to our dignity is to try to laugh them off. There is no point in whining about it. All of our geezer friends are in the same boat and don’t care to hear our lamentations.

A simple activity such as grocery shopping is fraught with embarrassments, such as being offered help carrying out a single bag of groceries … by a slightly built young girl who looks all of 15 years old. Heck, I have socks older than she is.

Visiting the feed store for a bag of chicken food can be humiliating, too. As I am looking down at the bag, trying to figure out just how to get hold of it without hurting myself, a young fellow carrying a baby in one arm, says “Here, Sir, let me help you with that,” and with one hand he easily and casually picks it up and puts it exactly right in my car’s trunk. Before I can sputter my thanks, he’s jumping up on the loading dock in one bound. My face was red enough to be used as a traffic light.

Getting into the realm of medical care is embarrassing just to talk about. If there is a less dignified process than a visit to the doctor, I’d like to know about it. You can take your pick as to which of the procedures is less dignified. When the doc asks if I get enough exercise, I describe the strenuous trek to and from the mailbox and then the trudge to the kitchen several times a day for more coffee. Then there is that journey all the way out to the street for the newspaper. How about all the frantic scurrying around the parking lot while pushing a heavy grocery cart after shopping and trying to remember where I parked the car. All that and the miles traveled at night to visit the bathroom. Isn’t that all exercise? Now we get to the real bother. Isn’t it enough to have to submit to removing your dignity along with your clothing? Now we have to endure pokings and probings and the penetrations that we don’t even want to admit to knowing about. Then come the gatherings of samples and specimens that are either painful or degrading or disgusting.

On a slightly less sensitive subject, how about failing vision? How many pairs of eyeglasses do you have for different occasions and needs? Sun glasses, driving glasses, readers, shooting glasses, safety glasses? Can you find the one pair you need when you need it? Or is there a frantic search to find them so you can go on with your day only to have the spouse say oh-so-sweetly, “Why, Honey, they are right where you last put them, hanging around your neck?” This is funny as heck ... when it happens to someone else.

Do you ever see your image in the mirror and recoil, having an instant moment of embarrassment when you realize that you really do look exactly like that? Or, you put on a favorite garment only to find that it has somehow gotten really saggy or unbelievably tight and you think that you wore it only a short time back and it fit well then? Then the spouse tells you, “that old thing hasn’t seen daylight in two years.” Now, that’s funny. I distinctly remember wearing it just a short time ago.

Oh, yeah, these are the “Golden Years.” Golden as in having to lay out gold and more gold to pay the innumerable unexpected costs of price increases in everyday things such as coffee. Why is it that almost every year we are warned of impending price increases because of a “surprise freeze damaging the coffee trees in Brazil?” How about the price of beef going up because the corn once used to feed beef is now being used to make Ethanol auto fuel? Or a new tax to fund a study of one-eyed alligator fish in the Congo?

Is it really supposed to be golden when we try to rise from a squat and it sounds like breaking sticks and footsteps in gravel? That is, if we can rise at all with the only help being from a nearby solid support. If we are on our knees doing the inevitable plumbing repair, what is golden about having to get on all fours and get the rump up first so the front end can slowly and painfully rise? When we get on that treadmill for our heart health, why do the knees have to sound like marbles in a can? Is it golden to wake at 3 a.m. and be unable to go back to sleep? Where’s the gold when you run into a familiar face in the grocery store and you frantically scratch and dig through your memory to recover a name to put to the face? So you go on at length with “How’s the family?” and “How’s the cold weather working on your knees?” When you just cannot remember, you chicken out by saying “Oops, gotta run. It’s pill time.” You wave goodbye and go find the spouse and complain about not remembering the person’s name, and the spouse says, “Well, Dear, that was your cousin, Henry.”

Then there is the unforgettable time when you get in the car and calmly and happily drive 60 miles down the road, humming happily to yourself, enjoying the pretty day, then … Uh-oh! The cellphone rings and it is your other half, very forcefully reminding you that the pleasant drive was supposed to be taking her to the doctor.

Why did no one warn us geezers that these “Golden Years” are the penalty phase of life?

This is the price we have to pay for the carefree and frivolous lives we once led and can now only remember with fondness.

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