By the time you hit 60 on up, you will have a parts problem. It’s the Inner Jalopy emerging. Are you becoming a clunker?
Well, I guarantee you will miss some physical part of yourself, something you used to enjoy (maybe a great head of hair) or something you just took for granted—creakless knees, for instance. And this evaporation of your parts or their function has probably made the heart grow fonder. Oh, how you miss the good old days of a bladder that would sleep through the night or a member that was always present and accounted for, not AWOL.
I know which parts of myself have gone missing—I miss just getting up from a chair, instead of unfolding—but I was curious about others. So I asked some of the women I went to college with—my social convey as we head together through the rougher waters of age. And I polled the men I know well enough to extract some truth.
Well, some of the women missed the hands they used to have.
Slender, unknobby, no pain, could open bottles and jars and peanut packages on airplanes. Others noted that their hands are becoming their mother’s hands. I know when I look down I wonder for a second who my hands belong to. They are not mine. Anybody here missing hands?
Others missed their hair. They felt betrayed by their follicles. If we older adults gave a stage show now, it wouldn’t be called Hair. It would be called Bald. No more the Age of Aquarius. More the Age of Rogaine.
Then there were those—most of us—who missed their waistlines. Old waistlines never die, they just expand. And if you read the health news, people who have large waistlines do die earlier than those with Scarlett O’Hara waists. (That statistic is hard to remember when someone hands you a piece of chocolate cake.)
Still others—women only—missed breasts that pointed straight ahead. Gravity will have its way with the mammaries and frankly, just when we could use a lift, some of us are tired of wearing the harnesses called bras. Don’t be surprised if you see a news photo of a woman burning her bra down in the parking lot of the senior center.
That would be me.
And then, among the most missed body parts were knees that worked.
People who used to run can’t do marathons anymore. Too many years of pounding hard surfaces. But and however, many I know have enjoyed the miracle of a knee replacement—which should be done only by a highly experienced surgeon who comes well-recommended. The hospital itself should have much op and post-op experience with replaced knees. I know you didn’t ask about this, but so many people march off to surgery in a state of blind trust. Part of the process of growing older should be pre-surgical homework and part of the process of writing a diary is that you can interrupt yourself.
Now brains came out a big winner in the missing parts division. People said they missed their formerly acute memories. This causes much distress among older people. My guess is it’s not so much the pain of not remembering names at a party—been there, done that a lot. It’s the fear of losing more memory.
The Ghost of Alzheimer’s stalks our halls these days. Tonight’s news announced a new test—a spinal tap—to see if you were likely to get Alzheimer’s. But do we want to get our spines tapped in order to learn we will get a disease for which there is no cure?
Anyhow, I don’t think there is one older person who doesn’t miss some part of his or her former self. Still, people seemed either resigned or cheerful about their situations. I know for me there are great benefits to having a bit of age—just like a cheese or a wine.
I am not as hurried. I can say what I think and write this Geezer Diary for instance. Most of all, I know more about people and the world. Some may call it wisdom. I call it just living long enough.
Oh, heck, go ahead. Let’s call it wisdom. Something has to make up for the knees.