You're only as old as you feel

By Helen Row Toews

August 9, 2017 2:28 PM

Am I getting old? Hang on—before you respond and are never forgiven, keep in mind it was purely a rhetorical question not needing an answer. 
It’s just—this week in particular I was made keenly aware of my years. However, as they say, age is only a number.
For example, Julia (Hurricane) Hawkins is a 101-year-old lady who won the 100-metre dash at the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships this July. What a woman.
Apparently, Hawkins has always been a cyclist and likes to live simply but healthfully.
The most amazing information was, apart from, as she said, “…running from the garden to get the phone when it rings…” she only began this journey in track and field one year ago, when she turned 100.
This woman is an inspiration. She certainly didn’t let her age dictate her ability.
However, for me this week began its downward spiral with a commercial on TV the other night.
I was happily preparing a salad for supper but glanced up when the announcer said, “Seniors 50 and over can take advantage of new transit…”
Listening in growing horror, my lettuce dropped to the floor as the scene unfolded.
Images depicted frail, white haired ladies shuffling out to the door of a gleaming new bus where some guy with a smart suit and insincere smile took their arthritic hands and guided their stumbling feet aboard his craft.
All movement was slow, calculated and deliberate.
They sported sensible orthopaedic footwear, elasticized slacks and pastel cardigans edged in lace.
“Are you kidding me?” I said aloud in amazement, “Fifty?” My indignation grew by the second as I retrieved the offended greens and thrust them angrily under the tap, “I might be persuaded to drive the bloody bus, but you’d never catch me riding in it,” I growled savagely.
My decline down the slippery slope to premature aging escalated when, injuring my back picking raspberries last week, simple activities became insurmountable; stuff like walking and standing up.
Then, the very next day, I had to go pick up my girl from the lake. Leveraging myself behind the wheel, with effort, I drove to a nearby town to fuel up.
It took me five minutes and a lot of whimpering to get one leg out the door—while employees at the gas station watched in fascination—then another five to put it back once I realized it couldn’t be done.
They raised questioning hands to accompany their puzzled looks as I nodded self-consciously to them on exiting.
Once home again I sat, a prisoner of my vehicle, staring at the flight of stairs up to my deck. Could they be conquered?
The viability of installing an Acorn Stair Lift crossed my mind and I could see myself gliding effortlessly up the steps with a saintly smile plastered on my face just like those happy folks on television.
But, first things first, how the heck to get out of the car? By increments I inched myself around and was tentatively extending a leg when every muscle seized, I slid from my seat with a screech, and tumbled heavily to the ground. I lay prone upon God’s good earth, pondering my fate.
Where’s the Littlest Hobo when you need him?
The Hobo would trot purposefully to my side with a small step stool or perhaps a strong wooden cane gripped in his teeth.
Then he’d lay patiently by my side offering moral support and quiet strength until I was able to arise. Or maybe Lassie would appear! Lassie would take one look at my miserable prostrate figure and run for help, her long, freshly brushed fur flowing in the breeze.
She’d grasp some unsuspecting person by the hand and with several low “woofs” lead them to my grateful side.
Our own dog, Chili, sniffed hopefully at my pockets for anything edible, then finding nothing, stepped over my motionless body and trotted briskly off down the driveway to visit the neighbours. Bloody dog.
Thankfully, in time I was able to crawl pitifully into my house and expire on the living room floor.
My 87-year-old father assured me, through a phone call from the tractor, he’d come haul me up if need be, but would rather get in a full day’s work. Sigh.
He’s another spry, fit one.
So I lay sightlessly staring at the ceiling using the time to consider my immediate and somewhat bleak future.
To add further insult, later that night, as I hunched painfully off to bed, my beloved granddaughter Anna suggested the immediate purchase of a walker.
Summoning every bit of strength at my limited disposal I raised an arm to throw something at her, but clearly it’s too late for me.
Save yourselves people, I’ll just lie here quietly waiting for the first snow to cover me up.
You’re only as old as you feel and man – do I feel old.

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