As I get older and my body sounds like Rice Krispies – snap, crackle, and pop, I worry that I won’t be able to see, hear, smell, and taste, much less ski, golf, hike, etc. It’s scary. So when those thoughts cross my mind, I beat them back by saying, “Someday I won’t be able to (insert ability I fear I’ll lose, like hit a golf ball without tipping over), but not today.”
We all get old, it just happens to some of us sooner or later. Wrinkles, lumps, bumps, chins that hang like a Shar Pei, brain that refuses to remember names, dates, how to get home from the grocery store.
After I’ve been sitting for a while and stand up, I can’t take a step right away because of aching knees that won’t go. It’s like when you drive a stick shift and you don’t put the clutch in all the way so the gears grind and growl. I’m pressing on the gas pedal but nothing’s moving. Someday my creaky knees will buckle like the scarecrow’s on The Wizard of Oz, but not today.
I’m afraid of losing my hearing. It’s getting harder to understand people, especially in a crowd. I have to fake hearing and hope I catch enough of the conversation to be able to say “uh-huh” when I’m supposed to, like an attentive listener. Sometimes people just look at me and I realize they’ve asked a question. Oh crap. “Hmmm I don’t know” I say, my standard response. “You don’t know if you have a dog?” That I hear.
When someone sticks their iPhone in my face to show me a picture of their giant zucchini, it takes me a while to focus. Tonight my mother-in-law showed me a black and white photo of my husband’s dad as an infant. I looked at the picture and saw a two-headed baby. “Is this a two-headed baby?” I handed the picture to my husband. “It’s a dog,” he said, handing it back. He can’t see either. I grabbed my reading glasses and looked at the picture. “All I see is a two-headed baby.” I will have to find my magnifying glass to tell what it is. Some day I won’t be able to make out anything in a photo, it will all be a blur, but not today.
One of the things I dread losing is my sense of smell. Right now I can smell a rose from ten paces and the stogey smoke on my husband when he comes in from outside. I can predict the weather, “smells like snow,” even before it falls. I told my kids I’d know if they’d been drinking or smoking pot when they were in high school so they’d better not do it, and they believed me. I think it kept them from being too wild, or maybe it made them better sneaks – who knows what they got away with right under my nose. Someday I won’t be able to smell pine trees on a warm summer day, the fresh air after a rain, or marijuana smoke wafting out of a car full of teenagers, but not today.
Come to think of it, losing these abilities may be God’s way of helping us to accept getting old. If I don’t put my reading glasses on, I can’t see all my wrinkles in the mirror, my arms don’t have divots, my knees don’t sag like an elephant’s skin.
And old people smells – yikes! They let gas slip and don’t know it (and don’t hear it either). Old folks homes and hospitals have a particular odor, kind of like Pine Sol, and that’s where us old people will end up most likely. Maybe not being able to hear will be okay, too. The nightly news is just history repeating its bad habits. The scandals. The wars. Same as back in the day.
But I’m not there yet. Someday I will be really old and things won’t function like they should, and I’ll forget how I used to stand up straight and tall and will start saying no to hikes and golf, preferring my soft sofa with a remote control in my hand, watching the clock to remember to take my next pill, going to bed before sunset. But not today. Thank goodness, not today.