Literature

Over 85 is Dangerous Territory

By former U.S. Rep. William Lehman, a Democrat who served
South Florida ably in Congress for 20 years.

Beyond 85 (give or take a couple of years),
Is an alternate universe
Perhaps a parallel universe.
But not the same universe as before.
It’s a “no man’s land”
Between being truly alive and the unknown.

A person is what he or she does.
A day trader trades daily.
A coal miner mines coal.
A rap singer raps.
Those after 85 do nothing,
So we are like zip.

Or perhaps doctor goers,
Or grocery shoppers.

All is different-two legs become
Three or wheels.
Eyes are plastic implants,
Ears are electronic,
Joints are titanium.

After 85 exists because
Of advances in modern medicine
From chemotherapy to open heart surgery
And all the antibiotics that float
Us to the 85 mile-marker.

Mobility is from bedroom
To bathroom, no longer from sea to shining sea.
We are no longer or shouldn’t be
In the driver’s seat-people who do drive
Become our closest companions.

Sex is hardly there, but, funny,
One thing that’s expected
To be missed is not.
But recreation like tennis
Or fishing or movies or biking are.

Dozens of pills each day.
We are legalized drug addicts.

Appetite is a sometimes feeling.
Food is swallowed but seldom enjoyed,
Most of the taste buds have evaporated.
The appetite went where the Pepsodent “yellow went.”
Eating becomes a necessary effort.

We bleed and we can’t recall
when we bumped our dry, thin epidermis.

Blood pressure and red blood
Cell count are more important numbers than
Profit or stock market figures.

We read the obituaries
And write condolence letters
Instead of letters to the editor.

We say “God willing” or something
Equivalent when we plan
F or even a few weeks ahead

Podiatrists are more in
Than hair stylists.
The Is more important than
The body shrinks.

The tall are no longer six-footers.
The once-average height are little old people.
Old soldiers do just fade away.

Lesson learned: Patience, from point A to B
Was 5 seconds, now 5 minutes.
Waiting on people to come to drive
or fetch or fix
Is a way of life.

In dreams we are
Always younger, and the
Proverbial rude awaking.

Over 85 is dangerous territory,
More perilous than any jungle.

Advanced age is a problem
Without a pleasant solution.

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