This month I celebrate my 66th birthday on this planet. Given the fact that both the Earth and I travel some 584 million miles each year as we orbit around our sun, I figure that to date, I have rolled up some 38.5 billion miles of travel in my lifetime. Impressive, right? At least until you realize that no commercial airline, or even NASA, will honor your frequent flyer miles.
I never really thought too much about getting old but perhaps I should have. After all, like the song by the Five Man Electrical Band back in 1970, the signs were always “blocking out the scenery...” right in front of me, staring me in the face.
Shortly after I turned 30 my dark brown hair rapidly turned white over a period of weeks. In and of itself that wouldn’t have been too bad, but it soon got a whole lot worse. Just prior to the color change, on a dare, I had my hair permed because I was told it would make me look like Mike Brady, the father of the Brady Bunch on television. Unfortunately after my hair turned all white, I was simply told my new found “do” only reminded everyone of a Q-tip farm. It took me three months to grow out of that fashion indiscretion!
The eyes were the next to go. I have always been an avid reader but suddenly I found that my arms, even when fully extended, would not serve to help focus the printed word. So what? Reading glasses are no big deal, right? Everyone uses them. At first it was magnification 1.0, then 1.25, then 2.50 and so on until today when I can only get my reading glasses from the guys at NASA who made the Hubble Space telescope.
Then, adding insult to injury, I finally hit the half-century mark and my very first birthday card comes from AARP, an organization that has hounded me ever since trying to sell me life insurance to help “defray final expenses.” I keep writing them back telling them in no uncertain terms that once I am gone, any final expenses are between them and Hillebrand Funeral Home, don’t bother me!
Next in line was my hearing. Slowly I have come to realize the words most spoken to me in the household are “For the love of God would you turn the volume down, they can hear that in Howard Beach!” At the same time I found my most often spoken words to others are now “What did you say?” My family keeps urging me to have my hearing checked but I quickly realized that when you live in a home with three women, a dog, four cats, a guinea pig, a bearded dragon and two turtles, there’s a lot to be said for not quite hearing everything that is going on around you.
One mini stroke (TIA), two back operations, a bad gall bladder, a hernia, skin cancer, a broken foot and a bum right knee now makes it difficult for me to walk any significant distance without discomfort. Last year at Disney World in Florida, I finally relented and took my family’s suggestion and rented a motorized scooter to transport me around the parks. Initially I was totally embarrassed until I discovered that I could drink my way around the world at Epcot Center and nobody was the wiser!
Each morning now I follow my late mother’s sage advice to routinely check the Irish comics (the obituaries for all you non-Irish out there) to ascertain if I still remain attached to this earthy realm. It’s really not hard to do as they tend to list everyone alphabetically and I simply go right to the “M’s.” When I don’t see my name among the departed, I remain very grateful for a family that loves me, friends who put up with me and for everything else I enjoy each day here in our Broad Channel community.
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