The older (and more, ahem, mature) I get, the more I acknowledge that life in the fast lane — thank you, Eagles — might be hazardous to your health. Some term the “golden years” the “new 40,” but 9 p.m. is now the new midnight, one more reason I usually fall asleep before the 11 o’clock news or “Tonight” show hit the airwaves.
Even though wife Anna and I have ambled into our 11th year of retirement, we don’t need an alarm clock — at least I don’t — to rise (where’s my Barcelona forklift when there really should be such a contraption?), to glow like I’ve just imbibed a glass of warm cream soda and then to stare at the sign on the bedroom wall, “Pants first, then your shoes.” I remove the hose from the mask of my C-PAP appliance, check the machine’s critical sleep analysis and tell myself, “Yes, I finally got eight hours of restful sleep … took me three days, but whatever.”
Yep, it’s the start of another brand-new day — er, what day of the week is it, anyway? — and I’m off like a herd of turtles (that’s being generous to the turtles), snap, crackle and pop down the hall to the Powder Room, thankfully for only the second time this night.
Meantime, I look forward to returning to my Wellness Center that is reopening to non-residents of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center (VMRC), affectionately called “The Home,” where I’ll again try to keep my head above water while pooling my (limited) resources, soaking in the spa (what a wonderful whirl) if it’s open and wondering if I’ll be able to do 10 double chin-ups on the water apparatus. I walk around poolside, checking whether I’ve already removed my hearing aids — I SAID — before getting my head wet. It becomes even more difficult to converse across the watery way with my hearing aids removed but hopefully not resting at the bottom of the pool.
And, isn’t it a big wide wonderful world we live in, foolishly thinking that there’s a ray of hope shining into our bloodshot eyes, assuring us that the pandemic is slowly becoming a bad reminder of the dreadful year that we managed to survive … only to be smacked up side our numb skulls with scenes of long lines of vehicles lining up to be priced-gouged by a so-called gas shortage?
This past week, I tried refueling my Miata at six different stations between the ‘Burg and Weyers Cave while on the way to pick up grandson, Jacob, for our weekly get-together. Finding gas proved successful at the last place we tried, less than a mile from home; by then I was all too ready to pay nearly double the usual rate for a fill-up.
I had my patience tested. Turns out I’m negative.
I hope we’re not about to return to our former “new abnormal” routines, half afraid to venture far from home for fear of latching on to a nasty virus, sitting by the roadside with an empty tank (your vehicle, that is) or being subjected to the latest earth-shaking revelations of the Kardashian clan’s mindless maneuverings.
So, if you happen to meet me in public and ask what I am doing today, and I say “nothing,” it doesn’t mean I am free. It means I am doing nothing — other than my systematic exciting visits to WalMart or Walgreens Pharmacy or on a fuelish search for open gas stations.
At this purportedly alive and aloof stage of life, I find some of the most stimulating parts of the day to include: watching the motion-sensor lid of our new kitchen trash can open and close automatically, taking out the garbage and giving the impression I just cleaned the whole house, anticipating the almost daily enticement from Publisher’s Clearing House (four separate mailings from this persistent firm one day earlier this week) informing me that I’ve already made the final list of big winners of $5,000 a week for life (I suspect the company already placed bets on how long I’ll still be around).
Nevertheless, I persevere.
In conclusion — ah, you were waiting for this — don’t bother walking a mile in my senior shoes. That would be boring (and exhausting). Spend 30 minutes in my head. That’ll freak you right out.
Such a pursuit suggests the need for a GPS device that shows me my destination and also tells me why I’m going there (and that I’ve used this line before).
Uh, where were we going? Oh, that’s right — to the Wellness Center at The Home.
Me, I plan to run like the winded.
Jim Bishop lives in Harrisonburg. He welcomes your comments at email@example.com