How will I know when I am old? At 76, I don’t appreciate hearing the adjective “old” spoken before my name. Even “good old Bill” makes me recoil. I am not denying my age. There is a gradually growing list of things I can no longer do. However, life is still an adventure. I am not ready to give up and begin making excuses.
Recently, during my annual physical, my doctor asked how I felt. My answer was direct and honest. “Doc, there is no answer for that question. I have no idea how I am supposed to feel having never been 76 before. It seems likely that what I feel is age-appropriate.”
In the recent past, injuries experienced in my early years have begun causing me some pain. A sore ankle, knee and hip can be traced back to playing ball and running. A trigger finger came from a broken hand suffered in a tug-of-war. Playing basketball resulted in a severely broken nose and now obstructive sleep apnea requires that I use a CPAP. Experiencing pain does not make me old. Pain is not the exclusive domain of the elderly.
If I live long enough, one day I may come to accept being defined as old. When that day comes there will be challenging questions that will need answers. Will I know how to act? Will I still look forward to anything? Will I become insecure and fearful? Are younger people still going to tolerate me? Until that day arrives, I will continue to avoid seeking refuge from the active life that I love.
As the years go along, we should all do less acquiescing and more accommodating.