Ok.  Truth time.  This photo is wreaking havoc with my throat–it is lumping up big time.

Yesterday’s post ended with the resolve that I was going to specifically look for something that I don’t see in my daily life, like lake side visitors who so often miss the Queen Anne’s Lace near Beaver Pond.

I found something, alright.

I found my future.

Chair exercises at the  local  Senior Center.

I volunteer at this center but often walk right by this room which is filled every Tuesday and Thursday for two hours with seniors who want to keep healthy but have trouble doing ordinary exercises.

They put me to shame, not only because I’ve not noticed them, but because they accept their limitations and celebrate the mobility they do have.

One woman to the left of this frame sat in her chair but was unable to lift her arms after a brief try.  She comes twice a week.

My future includes their limitations for sure,  but will I have their grace?  The resolve to leave the house and put myself in the chair?

Or, shall I whine–eloquently, of course– but whine nonetheless?

So far, I don’t like my answer.  My clogged throat suggests I’d better work on this.

©Pat Coakley 2009


18 comments on “THE GRACE OF MY FUTURE? I'M ASKING.”

  1. You know, I may still be a spring chicken, but I think about aging all the time. I guess the fact that my grandfather has terrible Alzheimer’s has something to do with that. The fact is, longevity runs in my family (the men all live well into their 90s) and I’m probably going to experience the reality of aging in a very big way.

    The strangest thing about aging is that the whole thing is still quite a mystery to experts. Here are some of the more interesting theories (courtesy of Royane Real Publishing Co.):

    Hayflick Limit Theory – Two scientists in the 1960s noticed that many human cells would divide a limited number of times, then stop. If the cells were well fed, they divided faster. Body cells may have a built-in genetic program that tells them not to reproduce anymore.

    Free Radical Theory – Free radicals are molecules or atoms that have an unpaired electron. In order to be electrically balanced, these molecules or atoms will grab an electron from a nearby atom, thereby creating another free radical, eventually resulting in a cascading chain of damage to cells and organs.

    The Telomere Theory – Telomeres are special types of chemicals that seem to have some ability to protect the chromosomes inside our cells. Every time our cells divide, the telemeres become shorter and less able to protect the chromosome. This may explain why the cells eventually become damaged and die. Scientists are currently trying to find out how to repair telomeres and stop the damage to the cells.

    Glycation – When proteins in your body react with excess blood sugar, the proteins become damaged. This process is known as “glycation.” These sugar-damaged proteins may contribute to the breakdown of many other systems in the body. People who have diabetes or problems with insulin resistance are particularly vulnerable to glycation damage because of abnormalities in their blood sugar levels.

    I find the Telomere Theory most interesting. It does explain the sort of crumbling our bodies experience as we age. Like the effects of radiation on human DNA, I suppose.

    • Ok. I have to fess up, Chris. I didn’t read the theories. I think when you are younger like you are, theories are great. My age? Not so much!

  2. My mother is 89 and says getting old sucks. My mother in law is 94 and says getting old ‘ ain’t for sissies ‘ ( she’s a Texan ).
    We become invisible to a large part of society.
    Maybe in that comes emancipation. We don’t need to spin as hard to impress or care as much about every update to the evening news.

    There’s an expression here that says ” once a man, twice a baby.”

    Pat, I think you’ll take your grace with you like you take your camera.
    It’s part of you.

    As for the sucky parts………. a big dose of acceptance, and drugs.

  3. I’m not sure that age is a problem so much as illness and infirmity. Age can bring wisdom, but it is much harder to identify benefits of illness and infirmity.
    My wife and I recently realized that we are now beginning to see our contemporaries, both friends and acquaintances, starting to die off. That thinning of the ranks can be sobering and a source of melancholy and loneliness.
    Bonnie’s comment about becoming invisible has a ring of truth… I wonder whether in the future computer-savvy seniors will take over Facebook, Twitter and other cyber-venues to combat that sense of invisibility, rather than accept it as just part of life’s changes. We seem to spend a lot of time and money combatting the wrinkles.

    • Illness and infirmity are precisely the issues, Don. My “grace” potion is challenged by those, I’m afraid. The computers at the Senior Center are not all that well used in my town. I think it can combat the “invisibility” thing to some degree but nothing replaces the real time visibility that is so elusive.

  4. Always remember… the choral group “Young at Heart” is looking for recruits – singing ability is optional but your enthusiasm is manditory !! I’d like to see you do a remake of their famous “Yes, I Can, Can” video !

  5. Yep, growing old isn’t for wimps alright. I often look at very old people and think about my own impending decrepitude. I’m also reminded by what my mother has said to me about how she feels when she looks in the mirror, “I get a shock to see such an old woman looking back at me, especially since I feel that I haven’t changed mentally that much, from when I was 18”.

    I’ve noticed that as I get older that my joints are starting ache; my eyes need glasses for certain tasks and various other parts of my body are starting to fail. I too also feel that I’m still very young in the head and this helps me empathise with the elderly because I’m sure they feel the same but it’s just that their bodies are letting them down.

    What hurts me when I see a lot of old people is how isolated they seem. Loved ones and friends dropping off the perch left, right and centre. I’m starting to think that it’s good thing that I maintain a very large circle of friends, so at least I’ll have people to hang with later.

    Then again, friends have told me, because of the reckless way I’ve lived, that they think I’m the one in our group who will die first, so I guess I don’t have that much to worry about.

    I’m here for a good time………
    not a long time!

    Damn the torpedoes!
    Full speed ahead!

    • Yeah, in the States, the elderly are pushed to the side. Perfect example: When my cousin got married a couple of years ago, my aunt sat my grandparents in the back of the room. I couldn’t believe it. What was she thinking? And this from a woman who wrote a book about women and aging. Effin’ hypocrite.

      • Chris, Sometimes things like that are done unconsciously and, other times, deliberately. I always prefer the back of the room so I can get out when I want!! I’ll probably be that way when I’m 100.

    • Razz, the isolation is a big problem. I love to see the local senior center on certain days when buses are dropping off wheelchair bound elders, or those with walkers…they have the gumption to want to connect and once in the place, appear to feel like they are having a good time! So, maybe not all good times require non achy joints!

  6. A lot of people think about dying, but not so many think about growing old.
    I don’t mind the idea. (as an idea, I might change my idea later)
    Everyone, who’s lucky enough, grows old chronologically speaking.

    My 101 year old great aunt (with her mental faculties all working up until she died)said she had lived too long.

    I’m only 44; I don’t have any words of wisdom … I hope I have a new wrinkle on the subject at 100 though!

    • PR, the refrain, “I have lived too long”, I have heard many, many times and it has been said not in a poor me tone of voice but simply as a statement of fact. I believe these folks know something we don’t until we have lived as long.

  7. Maurice Chevalier once said, when asked about how he felt growing old; “old age is not so bad when you consider the alternatives”.

    • Drawing on PR’s comment, Razz…I think those who are very old or who have struggled for a very long time with debilitating circumstances consider “the alternative” not with fear as we do, but as a welcome path. My mother tried to kill herself at 87 so this is territory I am familiar with.

  8. My 85 year old aunt puts me (and all of us) to shame with her energy and sparking eyes. I sometimes dare hope I may have the luck to be like her. On other days I, too, have that clog in my throat.

    Pat, I know this photo is going to haunt me. There is something so tender and so sad about it . You do have an incredible eye.

    • Nava, yes, I hope as well! This photo has haunted me, too. I am going to use it this week in a caregiver support group that I help with in my town.

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