I'm getting older. It started several years ago when total strangers behind the retail counter would refer to me as "Sir." It was exacerbated when my co-workers started calling me "Mr. Nelson," instead of by my first name. What happened in between these times continues to be a mystery to me, mostly because I can only remember about half of it. One evening, while watching "Judge Judy," I caught myself holding a dog biscuit in one hand and a Klondike bar in the other. There was a pause until I could figure out how to match which hand to which mouth. All this demonstrates to me that my memory isn't as sharp as it used to be, and my ability to multi-task is diminishing. I really miss that.
I started losing hair in all the places where I wanted to keep it growing, mainly the top of my head. Then I started growing hair in places where it is least attractive: ears, nose and back. (Those rotary nose clippers you see advertised in magazines really work, by the way.) I am continually pestered by these long, curly, weird hairs that spring up on my eyebrows seemingly overnight. Too thin to pluck with tweezers, I end up cutting them off with cuticle scissors. I used to do this about once a month, now I find myself doing it every day.
Something I'm not particularly proud of is that I use handicap restroom stalls, when they are available. Aside from the open spacious feel that appeals to my sense of feng shui, there is a practical side. More room is available to place my shopping bags, more space to turn around while I take off my jacket, taller toilets, and the best part, the hand rails.
Some Thursday nights, I make tentative plans to go out to see what the rest of the world is doing after dark. At approximately 9:30pm, I tell myself that I should start getting ready. At 10pm, I'm still on the couch because I want to see the end of Doc Martin. The local news comes on, and I stay for the weather which starts at 10:20. Then at some point I just fall asleep, because I always wake up to Charlie Rose. It's a darn shame when I can't get my body to do what my mind tells it to do.
My biggest concern is what will happen in the not-too-distant future when I can no longer take care of myself. With millions of my comrades needing extended care at the same time, what will become of us? Will the end of my life look like the beginning when there were hoards of us crammed into those hastily constructed, post WWII public schools? I remember 40 to 50 kids in my elementary school classes in the Los Angeles suburbs.
There was waiting and more waiting. Bathrooms lines, lunch lines, and waiting to get a pencil sharpened seemed to occupy most of the day. There is a chilling vision in my mind of all of us back in those campus schools, only this time we're in our 80s and the schools have been turned into "Retirement Zones." We're still waiting in line to use the restroom. I can't imagine the stress this will create on my already enlarged prostate.
There is a bright side though. I can always ask for senior discounts. I gloat and snicker when I go to the movies and only have to pay $7 while my younger friends fork out more than $10. I don't have to please everybody anymore. There's no need to put on airs. My life is not defined by who I hang with, my career, and how much money I make. It is now defined by good eating habits and regular doses of Lexapro, sprinkled with an occasional Xanax. The later keeps me from falling into a pit of anxiety over a high PSA level, a recommended biopsy or any medical procedure I've never experienced. Aging has a host of both emotional and physical challenges whether you're 20 or 90. It's a shared experience though, which means that there will always be someone who has gone through whatever I'm going through at the moment.
All of you have had challenges and might be anxious about what is yet to come. This is my story. Tell me yours.