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Sheila Stoll: My life as a codger

My dear fellow codgers, we have a great deal in common. We have all been around the block a few times. When a birthday rolls around, grinning youngsters declare we are so-many-years "young," not old. No one wants to hurt our feelings by implying we're old. They think we don't notice.

Any anecdote we'd care to relate to the younger generation better not start with "when I was your age . . . " We might as well say, "How about another dose of repetitive, boring reminiscence?"

All the music we like is great. We remember the lyrics to all of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, though we don't remember what we had for lunch. Today's whippersnappers' "music" is designed specifically to annoy us. We were the ones who embraced wonderful new music like rock 'n' roll. Not only was it fantastic and exclusively ours, it annoyed old people.

When someone asks us how we are, we foolishly tell them and it's usually not a pretty story.

Okay, lets have a show of hands — how many of you have been plagued with vision and/or hearing problems? Ooooh, that many! Driving at night becomes a little tricky, doesn't it? All those lights that become radiant stars of undetermined distance from the car you're in. And a honking horn inexplicably comes from every conceivable direction at once.

Find yourself apologizing for the volume of your TV while you're watching Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy? Been there, done that. Walk very slowly coming out of a restaurant at night fearing the curb may arrive underfoot before you've seen it? Do you ask people to speak up and then get annoyed when they either shout or say "never mind"?

Welcome to codgerhood. If you're at all mechanically minded, you know what a ratchet does. It's alarming when your knees do the same thing on stairs. If you sleep on your left side, does the sound of your heart beating keep you from sleeping? Do you worry that it's going too fast or too slow and/or sometimes misses a beat? Doesn't it bug you that stuff like that is no longer of little interest? You're a codger.

The problem is no longer picking up the kids from band practice, it's spending time strategizing exactly what is involved in getting to both the doctor's office and the hairdresser, or barber as the case may be, and back in time for a little nap. After all, you'll be worn out by the time you walk back in your own door.

People are worried about drivers who are apparently involved in contract negotiations on the phone while driving. I know I am. I'm certain that a multitasking up-and-comer is going to rear-end me as I cautiously eye my chances of getting from the supermarket parking lot back into the stream of traffic. What's their hurry and why do they hate me? I'm certain I need an armored vehicle, especially in parking lots. What if I need to cross several lanes of traffic to be able to make my left turn to home? How many multitaskers are going to blast their horns at me from who knows where as I try to change lanes?

Life does change as we "mature." Things I used to do without a second thought have become little, individual challenges. I love the victorious feeling of having done a normal day's errands and arriving home unscathed. Time for a nap, unless Jeopardy is on. A nice lunch out has become more appealing than traveling after dark to a place that will give me enough food on my plate to last for three days. Early Bird Specials are good. Especially when it's summer and the light lasts late.

I have learned that it's fruitless to try to live up to other people's expectations. I won't be guilt-tripped into travel I know I cannot possibly endure, especially if there is someone else's agenda at the other end. When I hear "It will be fun," I know that the person expecting fun that includes me does not know what fun, for me, is now. If they did, they wouldn't suggest an expedition.

So dear fellow codgers, your seniority has earned you the right to write your own rules, set your own agenda and enjoy the Twilight Years. There ain't nothin' wrong with naps. Your keys will turn up eventually. Your heart still pumps blood to where it's needed. Get out there and do some codging. Enjoy!

Write to Sheila Stoll in care of LifeTimes, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Sheila Stoll: My life as a codger 08/24/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 24, 2009 5:30am]

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