It turns out 65 is the awkward age of aging: older, but not yet old. I’ve got all the energy necessary to hurt myself.
Earlier this season, I had a wonderful week gardening. I dug out and moved four junipers and sawed down a dozen or so small trees. I felt invigorated, until a few days later when muscle spasms in my left thigh sent me screaming to the doctor.
“What were you thinking?” she inquired. “It was no problem; I felt great,” I replied. “At your age,” my doctor countered, “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”
Problem is, I’m not learning. Ten springs ago, I strained something raking.
“You need to work up to jobs like that,” the doctor admonished. “What am I supposed to do,” I asked him, “get in shape to garden?” Apparently, yes.
Naturally, Mark Twain said it best. When asked how it felt to be 70 he answered, “I recognize it, but I don’t realize it.”
It’s like feeling occasionally older in spots—nothing predictable, not enough to keep me out of trouble, just enough to point out what I shouldn’t have done, after I’ve done it.
This is the Twilight Zone of aging. It is where attitude and expectations have not yet adjusted to the body’s evolving limitations. Where you have the energy and attitude that get you just far enough out a limb for the fire department to be called to get you back down again.
Funny how different aging is than I anticipated. It’s easy to see how much older other people have gotten, but I look the same as ever. Sure, my complexion has a grayish tint to it, there are more wrinkles (everywhere), the paunch is a bit more noticeable, and there can be a shuffle to my gait by the end of the day. Yeah, my knees go snap-crackle-pop when I get up out of a chair and I have to climb down to the ground and back up again when I pick up the newspaper.
Does that mean I’m old or just aging in place? It’s no accident, but it sure as heck can come as a surprise!
Scott Funk is Vermont’s leading Aging in Place advocate, writing and speaking around the state on issues of concern to retirees and their families.