Senior Stories

When Does It All Start?

I have a friend, Joe, with whom I trade magazines, books and stories. We run into each other every week or so.

Recently I had a magazine that Joe always looks forward to getting. I intended to put it in the car before I left to meet him.
But I forgot.

When I arrived and saw Joe all I could do was shrug and say, “Your magazine is in, and I’m keeping it safe on my desk at home!”

“Senior moment, huh?” Joe asked.

I just shrugged my shoulders.

“I had one the other day you won’t believe,” he continued. “I thought I had lost my glasses and looked all over the house for them. Then I walked by a mirror and there they were — I was wearing them. Would you believe it?”

Sure I would believe it. But I am not sure exactly when it all started with me — drawing blanks that is.

One early instance I clearly remember occurred on my 65th birthday 11 years ago. I had a dentist appointment early that morning and made it. When I walked outside to get in my van and go on about my birthday, I couldn’t find my keys. Then I looked through the window and there they were in the ignition.

I lived in the Florida Keys at the time and had a personal relationship with a local locksmith. I owned a business and every time we had to let someone go they would take their office keys with them. Then we would have to have all the locks on the business rekeyed.

I called my friend the locksmith, a couple years my senior. When he showed up he started laughing. When I told him it was my birthday he said he had a present for me. He picked the door lock on the van, jumped into his work truck and ground me out a spare key.

“Put this in your wallet, and never leave home without it,” he said. “Welcome to the senior world.”

I still carry a spare van key in my wallet and believe it or not, have had to use it occasionally.

Joe and I get a good laugh out of our little instances of forgetfulness. The common link between us in our relationship is the fact we both served in the Army on Okinawa back in the 1950s.

We have no trouble swapping tales about our old days on Okinawa. We can remember most of the details of the places we hung out and the people we associated with.

But I cannot remember from one week to the next that I need to bring Joe a book I owe him, or vice versa. The thought just drifts off into the ether.

I laughingly refer to it as “early senility” but realize that is just a put off. What is really happening is that I am aging. My mind, while still fairly functional, is not quite as quick as it once was.

That’s not all bad. It works to my advantage once in a while. Like when my mind is just drifting. Then someone asks me a question and wakes me up. I have no clue what the subject is many times, but have learned that grunting is a great escape mechanism.

“Helluva deal!” is one of the best verbal disguises I duck behind. Remarkably, it works all too well too often.

Actually I’ve been pretty lucky by managing not to cause any great disasters as I lope through my aging process. Luckier than a friend of mine. He had a nice light twin airplane we used to fly back and forth to the Bahamas for an occasional play day.

I didn’t see him for several years. One day I ran into him and asked him how the plane was doing.

“Don’t ask,” he smiled and then continued. “I put it in with the gear up last year.”

Now that’s major forgetfulness, especially in landing an airplane on whose dash are three red lights to tell you the gear is up. One of the last things you report to the tower on final approach is “Three in the green!” That lets the tower and air traffic controllers know your gear is down and locked properly for landing. My friend simply forgot it and the tower didn’t catch it until he pancaked on the runway. Thankfully only the plane was damaged.

Luckily I gave up flying solo a few years earlier when vertigo became my bugaboo. There is usually some early warning sign of changes to come if we can figure it out.

Younger people enjoy making fun of us, creating humorous quips about “the oldster”, much the same as we did about those who went on before us. Their time will come.

Making fun of the aging process, and the little things like breaking wind that come with it, are nothing new. The Japanese have art that depicts senior winds blowing away foreigners that date back a couple thousand years.

It looks like we’re stuck with this aging thing whether we like it or not.

The best defense I have found to this insidious aging process is to just fall in step with it and press on regardless.

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