I’m not exactly sure when the change took place, but somewhere over the last five or ten years, I was transformed from a vital, athletic, middle-aged man into a stumbling, fumbling, bumbling old man. But the good news is: I’m okay with it. I’ve come to terms with the aging process, even embraced it to some degree. Let’s take a look at a typical day in my life, and pehaps you’ll understand why.
When I get up in the morning, the first and only thing on my mind is food—not for me, mind you, but for my cats. I start every day by providing sustenance for my feline companions. This is not as simple a chore as you might imagine. We have two cats: Callie and Cassie. Callie lives to eat. Cassie couldn’t care less. Both receive some canned, wet food, as well as a serving of dry food.
Since Cassie has lost most of her teeth, eating, for her, is a chore. We use a small food processor to grind the canned food into a paste. I generally give Cassie slightly more of the canned food, but very little of the dry. Callie gets extra dry food to compensate for her smaller portion of wet. Are you getting all this? Good. There’ll be a quiz.
Anyway, after the cats have eaten, it’s my turn. On most days, breakfast consists of either dry cereal with yogurt and blueberries (or steel cut oatmeal), a serving of turkey sausage, and a glass of juice. What? No eggs? Since my stroke, I have limited myself to two servings of eggs per week. Every Thursday, a group of us senior citizens meet at a local breakfast joint. There, we discuss and eventually solve most of the problems currently facing society. That is Egg Day Number One. Egg Day Number Two can either be Saturday or Sunday. It all depends upon what I ate on Friday night. If I gorged myself on popcorn, chocolate, or other goodies, I will deny myself the comfort of eggs until Sunday, based upon my level of guilt. On whichever day I choose to indulge myself, however, the routine is always the same.
After I’ve fed the cats, I take my morning regimen of pills, one of which is a thyroid supplement. It requires that I swallow it at least one full hour before eating. Perfect. That gives me time to check my emails, browse the various rants on Facebook, and discover whether or not I’ve sold a book or two the previous day. Next, I prepare my home fried potatoes. I slice and dice the spuds and onions, and start them cooking in the cast iron skillet I reserve specifically for that task. As they are cooking, I pour myself a glass of low sodium, vegetable juice, set the table, and take out the eggs. I want them to achieve room temperature. They cook much better that way. Utilizing my hard earned timing skills, I methodically microwave turkey sausages, toast an English muffin, and fry my eggs (in light olive oil, of course). If everything goes according to plan, all elements of my Egg Day breakfast are ready at once, and I devour them at a measured pace—all while watching FOX News.
With breakfast out of the way, it’s time to begin my day in earnest. On alternate days, I dress in my finest sweat clothing and make my way to the gym. Thirty minutes of grunting, straining, and socializing and I’m done with the body improvement. Next comes my walk. Depending upon my mood (and the weather) I load my smart phone with the most current podcast or two, and it’s out the door. I have several routes I enjoy. One takes me from my house to the sign at the entrance to our community and back. That’s just under a mile and a half. Child’s play. That’s the choice I generally make on “gym day.” On off days (no gym), the route can be any one of three: a two-miler; a two and a half-mile jaunt; or the daunting three and a half-mile excursion.
After my walk, it’s time for a quick shower and a change of clothing . . . then lunch. After that, it’s anybody’s guess what the day will be like. I might watch a movie on TV, or I might write a blog post, or I might just play card games on my computer. The most important aspect of all of this is that it is never accompanied by any feeling of guilt or anxiety. After all, that is the ultimate reward of aging. Guilt free living at its best.
Around 4:30 in the afternoon, Becky or I will start preparing dinner. This can kill anywhere between thirty minutes and an hour. Eventually, it’s time to eat. No matter what time it is when we eventually sit down to eat, we always watch an episode of Wheel of Fortune (recorded in advance) while we enjoy our dinner. Again, there is no sense of urgency, just two old people enjoying each other’s company and doing our best to solve those mindless puzzles served up by hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White. We use the 30-second, fast forward button to avoid the annoying medical commercials, and concentrate all our attention on problem solving.
After dinner, whoever didn’t cook washes the dishes (okay, loads the dishwasher), while the other plays games on the computer. Then it’s time to explore our options for evening entertainment. If the choice is unanimous as to which TV show or movie we want to watch, we will descend into the basement to enjoy it on our big screen, surround sound system. If there is a divergence of opinion, one will retire to the friendly confines of my office with its 47” set, and the other will opt for the basement facility. It just depends on who wants to be where.
Occasionally, we will eschew the big screen entertainment for a game of cards or Scrabble. In that event, the locale will be the kitchen, where we can monitor the day’s news events on the screen of the little TV located alongside the eating counter, as we pursue victory on its surface. Those evenings are usually an adventure. At some point, one of us will ask the other the inevitable question, “popcorn?” followed by the only natural rejoinder, “frozen yogurt?” And so it goes. If this existence seems a bit boring to you, I assure you it’s not. There are always doctors’ appointments, Googling questionable pieces of information,and unexpected events like the birth of grandchildren to break up the monotony. It’s never dull.
If you are approaching that magical threshold between middle age and old age, fear not. It’s not as daunting as it might appear. Do as I did. Look forward to it with delight, embrace it when it arrives, and enjoy it while you can. After all, you deserve it. (God, I hate that phrase!)
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