As I sat waiting for the eye doctor to see me up at Casey Eye Clinic today, I couldn’t help but ponder the aging process. I was there because of a severe case of chronic dry eye disease which many people suffer from as they age, women more than men. I determined that growing old is not for the faint of heart.
Thinking of myself, my friends and my family who are all about the same age, those still with me and those that have passed, I began to think of the multitude of afflictions that they have had to contend with — afflictions that would certainly make lesser people whine and complain, but which everyone has suffered with grace and dignity. Cataracts, arthritis, hip and knee replacements, painful falls, and so many other age-related problems are just another day on the ranch for the aging.
Nobody wants to admit to getting older. We go along merrily feeling pretty good after we begin collecting social security. Then one day there’s a pain we never felt before. Pretty soon there are more aches and pains and a few trips to the doctor. Then you start turning up the volume on the TV set and during a conversation you constantly ask someone to repeat what they just said. Little by little the signs of old age creep into our lives like it or not. We begin to start worrying if our heart will stop beating during the night, and if it doesn’t, we wonder what ailment will befall us when we do get out of bed.
For someone that never went to a doctor, never had even a toothache, the ever more frequent trips for medical attention are a clear indication that I’m not as young as I used to be. But somehow, I still can’t admit to getting old. After all, my mind is still only 40 — not younger, not older. Forty was a very good age. Yet, with every ache and pain I feel somewhere on a daily basis, I’m not foolish enough to believe that I’m not growing old. All I have to do is look in the mirror, and that’s enough to scare me back into reality.
You may find that old people talk a lot about their afflictions. They aren’t complaining. It’s just that there are so many of them that it dominates a conversation when you ask, “How are you?” They are discussed very matter-of-factly like going to the grocery store. After all, aging — warts and all — is a simple fact of life. It doesn’t really help to complain. We have to take it in stride no matter how much it hurts.