May 20, 2020

Not Aging Well? Take a Number and (try to) Remember, You’re Next!

Discovering Cold Facts in a Warming Climate

By Ed Goldman

I don’t think I’ve been aging especially well. I mean, I still have most of my teeth and much of my hair and even after weeks of isolation and my renewed interest in cooking, my clothes still seem to fit. Or at least the no-longer-trim ensemble I’d started to buy when I gained weight a few years ago. (I eventually gave the I-used-to-be-trim set to charity, realizing the likelihood of my willingly losing 35 pounds anytime soon was on a par with my learning Lithuanian while I slept.)

Like many of you, I don’t mind change but I’m not wild about transition.

What I mean is, once things HAVE changed, I usually adapt pretty well. Like when I went from owning a four-story 4,800-square-foot home in the “Fab 40s” section of East Sacramento to buying my current 1,400-square-foot condo in a community a few miles away called Campus Commons (though because the average age of residents here seems somewhat north of 74, I refer to it as Cramps ‘R’ Common). 

But after my first month here, I stopped bonking into walls thinking there were additional rooms just beyond them. I’ve now been here now for more than three years, and I love it. The change has been good. Only the transition was painful (see “bonking into walls,” above). 

Transition is what this aging thing is all about. I don’t think I’ll mind being an official old guy (and have to admit that flannel shirts are starting to look more attractive to me). But getting there can be aggravating. 

Some examples:

  • After dusting and vacuuming my condo, I got a sneezing fit. Then I started coughing. Then CNN’s nightly terror-fest (oops: “town hall”) on Covid 19 came on. Symptoms were described and illustrated. I thought, “I’ve got it!”
  • In our daily phone calls, I try to impress my beloved Kim, who lives 500 miles away, by saying, “I was out running this afternoon.” My evolving maturity now demands I insert the words “some errands” into the sentence, just after “running.”  Apparently I’m now at an age where I’d rather strain my back than my credibility.
  • Wanting to continue reading a magazine article on Alzheimer’s disease I’d started the night before, I couldn’t find my glasses. I momentarily gave up the search and opened the refrigerator to get a soft drink. My glasses were sitting right beside a bottle of Coke. I thought, “I’ve got it!”
  • When I finally broke down and decided to join the American Association of Retired Persons, a friend looked over my application and said, “I bet you’ll be their oldest member.” Stunned, I realized I’d had a dyslexic moment when I filled out the form and said I was 96 instead of 69.

  • I rarely recognize the names of the celebrities listed in the daily newspaper whose birthdays are that day. Even when they stick an identifier in front of their names, like “Country singer Danny Gokey is 40,” “Actress Sasha Baresse is 39” and “Golfer Lydia Ko is 23.” Who on earth are these people? (I didn’t make up any of these names, by the way.)
  • Someone told me he was going to buy a new hearing aid and I said, “What?” He laughed. I realized in that instant that when I was younger, I’d have meant that comment to be funny. This time I really didn’t hear what he’d said.
  • I’ve started paying more attention to TV ads that target older Americans, and often suspect I have every medical condition the touted products can cure, even though they come with a laundry list of disclaimers (my faves being the ones that caution death may result from using said products).
  • Correspondingly, no matter what the malady is, when a friend tells me he or she has it, I find myself saying either, “Oh yeah I’ve had that” or “I know a guy who had that.” To my credit, when I say the latter, I employ the wisdom that sometimes accompanies age—meaning, I don’t add, “And he died from it.”
  • Even though I live alone (except for my beloved cat and boss, Osborn the Magnificent) when my phone rings I still spring from the chair and yell—did you see this coming?—“I’ve got it!”

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).