Today in My History
Melody Lingers On
THE GUILT OF BEING OLD
4 May 2020
Today's entry from As Time Goes By expressed eloquently what happens when you get old. She talks about how, as a young woman, when she got behind someone, on the subway, for example, who went slowly upstairs, one step at a time, taking time to rest after each step, she became irritated and rolled her eyes in exasperation.
She goes on to say:
As you get older, you aren't aware of the changes in your body, you just notice one day that you are old. I watch Walt walk down the hallway and I remember my grandfather walking that way. How old was he at the time? 80?
Any of the crime dramas set in New York, like Bull or SVU frequently have scenes of the characters going up or down the steps to the courtroom. There are no banisters to touch and they frequently run or take the stairs 2 at a time. They always make me feel guilty, for no logical reason. There is no way I can so easily walk upstairs, even short ones. I have to use a banister and I walk half a block out of the way at a theater in Sacramento so I can use the entrance that has no stairs. Yet I feel guilty because I feel I should be able to climb stairs like I used to. I used to be able to run up a flight of stairs, or take the stairs two at a time.
Sometimes I go to use the step stool or small ladder to get something too high for me (now that I am about 2" shorter than I used to be) and I stop and wait until someone can get the thing for me because I'm too aware that my balance is not good and unless I have something to hang on to, I fear I will fall.
I remember my father whenever we drove anywhere, especially in the country where there were no freeways, getting so angry with old people driving cars too slowly. Getting stuck behind someone who was going under the speed limit (then 55 mph) was enough to bring on one of his funks where he would be so angry he would stop speaking to the rest of us, as if it were our fault that he had to drive so slow.
When we were having our house built, I would drive up from Oakland on a Sunday morning just to see the progress. I always drove 70-80 mph (and amazingly did not get a speeding ticket). These days I will be on the freeway and look at my speedometer, surprised to realize I am driving 50-60 mph. There is probably some guy like my father behind me, rolling his eyes impatiently at me because I'm driving so slow.
I also can't carry heavy grocery bags or lift 5 lbs of flour off of the top of the refrigerator without being afraid that I'm going to drop it. This is similar to how my muscles felt when I had my "whatever it is" last year, but my blood work is all fine now and it's just...my muscles are 77 years old, not 35 years old.
As Time Goes by writes:
I'm so glad that Ned lives here because he is good for carrying groceries (or was when I could go to the store). Walt is good about carrying groceries but I notice even he doesn't do it as easily as he used to.
And then there are the knees, legs and hips. Whenever I stand up, all hurt. They don't hurt badly, but they ache and I have to stand and get steady before taking the first couple of steps. Probably if I look at myself, I, too, look like my grandfather used to look.
And then there are farts. Farts are funny. Everyone laughs when someone farts. The older I got the more I farted. I fart sitting down, I fart getting up, I fart lying down to go to sleep. Half the time I can cover them up, but the other half of the time I can't.
All sorts of things come along with getting old. I'm lucky that I have nothing seriously wrong with me, that I don't have any BIG pain, and that everything is just ... normal, I guess. But I still feel guilty when I struggle so hard to climb up or down stairs.
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This is entry #7316