Most people don’t want to be reminded of the fact that, like it or not, we are getting older.
As I frequently tell my patients–most of them in the Medicare age range–there’s only one alternative to growing old, and that’s to die.
It’s not much of a choice, is it?
But for some of us, the aging process seems to be progressing more rapidly than for others. Sometimes, there may be reasons for that. If you live life hard, well, there’s bound to be some wear and tear; rust and dents.
But I never thought of myself in that category.
Then, about eight years ago, I was picking my son up from school–he was in kindergarten at the time. One of his little classmates came over to the door where I was standing while waiting for him to pack his stuff up and get his coat. She looked up at me with these curly blonde locks and bright blue eyes and asked me in this innocent little voice . . . “are you Cameron’s grandfather?”
I was aghast. Dumbfounded. Hurt. I was thirty-nine at the time. Really. I’m still only thirty-nine, but that has nothing to do with this story. I felt barely old enough to be his father, let alone his grandfather. How could she say such a horrible thing?
So what did I do? How do you respond to something like that?
I decked her.
One punch and down she went. Not bad for an old man.
I dragged her body out to the playground and left it under the swing. It looked like an accident. Well, close enough for our local authorities, anyway.
Then, about a month ago, a patient of mine was going on and on about how good I looked . . . for my age. She mentioned this multiple times and I’m not sure whether that was because she was truly in awe of my adonis-like youth, or whether she had early Alzheimer’s. There’s a fine line there. It could also have been macular degeneration.
But then she had to go and ruin everything. She had to burst the bubble.
“You’re about the same age as my son, I think. He’s 60.”
Alright, you can do the math and I am nowhere near 60. Okay, I’m closer to sixty now more than any other time in my life.
BUT I DO NOT LOOK SIXTY. I swear!
Maybe she meant sexy, not sixty? Could be aphasia. Old people sometimes get that. Her son’s sixty. That makes her . . . well, you do the math, because quite frankly, my mind isn’t as good with numbers like it used to be.
The coup de grace came today when my neighbor called. She was leaving her house for a while but was expecting a refrigerator to be delivered. She wondered if I could come over when the delivery van came so that her daughter and son weren’t alone in the house with strange men. My first thought was that I was strange, and so I’m not sure how that would change the situation, but then I realized what she meant.
So I agreed.
I went over. The delivery man came. He wanted to come into the house to see where the kitchen was and how they would best be able to make the delivery.
My friend’s daughter was cleaning out the refrigerator for her mom. I started helping her. She handed me a couple of bottles of beer and I quipped, “I’ll take those. Can’t let them go to waste!”
The delivery man laughed, and then–for no apparent reason that I can even begin to discern–he added . . .
“Are you her grandfather?”
I wonder if he’s gotten that bottle of beer out yet.