Medicare Mamba, Moving On Down

Last weekend, my husband and I drove up to L.A. to visit with two of his kindergarten classmates. Here’s a photo of him with his arms around two of his John Muir Elementary School buddies, Cheron and Jane.

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People have been amazed when I say that’s what we did last weekend—I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because the kinders are now elders, and still kicking? Maybe it’s because it seems incredible that people can stay in touch after so many years? The group actually reconnected during their 50th Reunion They created an e-mail group, which is in constant use so they’re in constant contact. A group of us (spouses, no matter what age, have become honorary members as you can also see in the photo) got together last summer and the summer before in Seattle. Jane lives in England a good deal of the time so she couldn’t be there. It was great that we could have dinner while she was in Los Angeles.

I’m finding as I age that I need the connection of old friends more than I used to. Shared history is irreplaceable. We went to a party on Tuesday night where we saw some folks we hadn’t seen in 20 years. Some people didn’t recognize me nor me them. Yikers! Stories flew around the table with lightning speed and gales of laughter. Episodes in our history we’d forgotten were brought up and mulled over. We caught up on children and grandchildren, too. And discussed the bizarre and frightening illnesses we’d had and the meds we now take. Seriously? There were more Stents in that living room than iPhones. That’s when I finally admitted we were getting old.

So what’s old now? I just heard that 80 is the new 50. Really? I’d love that, but truthfully, I was still very fit at 50. I believed then, I wasn’t going to have cottage cheese thighs or flabby arms. No, no—not me. When these body changes seemed to appear over night, I was in shock. How could it happen? Getting old was for others. It didn’t seem a realistic possibility for me. Ha, ha. Guess who the joke was on?

The good news is that I’m really getting into aging. Someone in their 90’s recently said to me, “Oy, let me tell you. Bette Davis was right. Getting old is not for sissies. Don’t get old.”

“Are you kidding? I want to get old!” I replied. “I don’t want to die young, for goodness sake!”

The older person had to turn down her hearing aid—I guess I was loud in my vehemence.

Being Medicarees, my contemporaries do have a tendency to be self absorbed. Small ailments we wouldn’t have noticed before are making us edgy. Have a headache? Better have an MRI in case it’s a brain tumor. Hands shaking? Better have a Pet Scan in case it’s a neurological disorder.

Also, we’re seeing that the yellow brick road doesn’t go on forever. There’s an end and it’s getting closer. A lot of us are trying to get trips in before we’re on walkers. I was always the timid sort, but lately I’ve been exploring my inner adventurer. We just returned from New Zealand, where we did a glacial landing on a heliocopter.

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Getting back to Moe’s kindergarten friends, Cheron, who is in green in the first photo, and her husband, Bill, just hiked the GrandCanyon. I want to do that, too. They did it in ice and snow with Crampons. (That word is so not part of my vocabulary, I thought it was spelled: Clamp Ons, like something you’d clamp on your shoes.) Unlike those hardy souls, I will be looking for a perfect Spring day. But I’m going to have to hurry. My time frame is getting narrower.

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