At 73 years of age, for a single man, to try to find a new love, is a very hard sell. I can understand why, given our youth-saturated culture. We place youth and vigor far above maturity, age and wisdom. If this were pre-revolutionary China, my age group would be revered, not thought of as nursing home fodder.
I had been seeing a woman who was very troubled, at least on the surface, by my calendar age. At sixty-four, she once asked me during a very sweet moment whether I was bothered at all by our age difference. I told her Not at all! I don’t think you are too old for me!
To me age is a state of mind, not a date on a birth certificate or a job application. It is how you feel inside and your outlook toward life that counts. I think too many people my age have listened to a society that tells them they are too old! Too old for what? To live…love and be happy? I guess this is the reason I feel much more comfortable with people younger than me. They seem to all be still so much alive and that energizes me as I feed off it.
Too many people my age and older seem to have given up their zest for life. I watched my dad give up after he broke his hip for the second time, dying at nearly 92 years of age. He had lost his freedom of movement and was confined to a wheelchair. It seemed to take much of the fight out of him though he held court with his fellow inmates until pneumonia took him in 1989.
Many of our so-call elderly have functioned and even flourished in their old age. The history books are riven with people like Jimmy Carter, actor Hal Holbrook, Bob Dole, and Henry Kissinger just to name just a few, who were or have been imaginative and productive all their lives.
The bottom line is that you have to take care of yourself. I did not for too many years and some of my numbers show that. In a book I got at the local pharmacy, I have learned that aging is natural but decaying is not. We can do a lot to eliminate decay.
Now I really watch my weight. I once weighed about 183 pounds some 15 years ago. The other night I tipped my scale at 153.8. My waist had dropped from 38” to 36” and now is 34”. Heck I think it was 32” when I was born! I am sending my tailor’s grandchildren to college on what I spend at his shop. When I graduated from Xavier High School in 1961, I weighed 150 pounds.
Now I also like to walk. My history of exercise since I turned 50 has been spotty. The most I had ever walked was about 2-3 miles maybe. At a local massage spa in November, my therapist told me that she spent the prior summer walking the Allegheny Trail. At first I thought she had meant the Pacific Crest Trail that Reese Witherspoon had popularized in her movie, Wild, based on the book, by Cheryl Strayed.
Michelle told me that the Allegheny was actually longer and she had walked about 1300 miles of it. I was so motivated by her personal achievement that I decided to make and walk my own trail. The first one I made, I christened the McKnight Trail, named about the very hilly road right outside my front door. Its round trip measured about 2.2 miles. I have walked that a number of times. I decided to add segments and variations to it, advancing to what I call it, The Horseshoe, a 5.6 trail that includes McKnight, Ladue and Price Roads.
When I walk anyone of my trails, I now feel free to wear my leggings or even my Yoga tights. I have 20 pair and counting. To me it is plumage! Sometimes I do more than my body can allow. One should always listen to what his or her body is telling them. As a person on the threshold of a cochlear implant, my body has to literally shout at me to stop overdoing it. Recently I could not hear it and my knees had to go to the orthopedist. Nothing to fret about, he said, just a little arthritis. Oh, to go with the little in my lower back? The irony of my situation is that I am killing myself, trying to stay alive. But not to worry! The ravages of age will not change my thinking… and I am finally back on my happy trail.
Recently after a Saturday Vigil Mass at a neighboring parish, their Youth Minister was outside recruiting young people for her ministry. I went up to the youth minister, a very cute gal, who looked to be about 12 to me. I asked her if I could join because I was young at heart. She almost fell over backwards, laughing at my latest witticism. As Old Blue Eyes reminds us all:
If you could survive to a 105,
Look at all you could derive,
From being alive,
And here is the best part,
You have a head start,
If you are among the very Young at Heart!