Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Column: A fall can teach vivid lesson about aging

I'm pretty sure I've tripped and fallen a few times in my life, but I can only remember a couple (perhaps the result of my latest tumble).

The first was during a family vacation a half century ago, when my dad wanted to introduce us to the family of a colleague in a town where we'd stopped to spend the night.

Mom dressed my sister and me in our Sunday best, and dad proudly ushered his girls into his friend's home — mom, sister, then me.

As I made my entrance, the toe of my patent leather Mary Jane caught on a scatter rug in the entry hall, and I stumbled, flailed and finally sprawled in the middle of their living room.

I was only 8 years old and still pretty close to the ground, so nothing was injured but my pride. All I can remember is sitting up and giggling semi-hysterically for a long, long time.

The trip and fall 10 days ago wasn't quite as funny. I was strolling down my driveway with a scooper full of oak tree wool (those fuzzy things that are covering everything right now) when the toe of my Easy Spirits caught on an errant paver.

This time, there was no flailing, stumbling or arm-waving. I fell face-forward, straight as a tree felled by Paul Bunyan in a secluded backwoods. One moment, bolt upright. Next moment, flat on face. No time to brace myself, no time to prepare, no time to tuck and roll.

Up. Down.

Until then, I'd been pretty cavalier about my activities. I'd shinny up my 6-rung ladder to clean the gutters, clamber onto my roof to pick figs or sweep off leaves, teeter on the lip of the door frame of my car to wash and wax the top and balance on the seat of a bedroom rocking chair to retrieve or put away items in the top of the closet.

But, as a bump the size of half a boiled egg bloomed on my forehead, my hands swelled and ached and my knees turned blue, green, purple and red, I suddenly became as cautious as a born-and-bred Southern girl navigating an icy Wisconsin road in a pickup with failing brakes.

Once-friendly area rugs started looking as dangerous as the edge of the Grand Canyon. An electrical extension cord that has long wormed its way across my dining room floor suddenly looked as threatening as an anaconda snake. The threshold of my walk-in shower began to look like Mount Everest.

I was no longer amused when my cat Snickers would decide to play "Weave Around Her Legs" as I walked through the house.

For the first time ever, I began heeding the advice of friends and family to keep a phone nearby when I take a bath or do any work outdoors.

I've let the rain gutters fill with leaves and don't even care.

I look at the floor as I walk, avoid carrying anything that blocks sight of my feet and keep my hand on the handrail when I go up or down stairs.

I've started attaching the safety stop string to my lapel when I'm on my home treadmill, stopped reading The Week Magazine as I keep up with that revolving belt and sand-papered the soles of my new leather shoes.

I think this all means that I'm finally facing my own vulnerability, perhaps even my own mortality.

Another birthday is no longer a joke about wrinkles and sketchy memory. "Over the hill" has taken on new meaning, a little piece of shorthand that says I'm going down the other side … of what?

I think it's just about here that I should talk about stopping and smelling the roses and valuing friendships and all that other stuff.

But here it is, 10 days later, and my legs and head ache, I still have a greenish bruise the size of an avocado on my forehead, and my knees and legs still look like a Florida sunset following a summer rain.

On the other hand, nothing is broken, and despite my initial terror that I'd be another Sonny Bono, Michael Kennedy or Natasha Richardson, who all succumbed to seemingly minor head bumps, I can quote my favorite song from Stephen Sondheim's most wonderful musical, Follies:

"I've run the gamut, from A to Z

Three cheers and dammit, C'est la vie

I got through all of last year, and I'm here...

I'm still here!"

Column: A fall can teach vivid lesson about aging 04/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 16, 2010 5:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Outback Steakhouse sees growth in U.S. and Brazil markets in second quarter

    Retail

    TAMPA — Restaurant sales were up at Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill during the second quarter of 2017, but Bonefish Grill continues to lag at Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands.

    The Outback Steakhouse, on 4088 Park St. N, is showin on July 26, 2017. Restaurant sales were up at Outback Steakhouse  and Carrabba's Italian Grill during the second quarter of 2017, but Bonefish Grill continues to lag at Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  2. Florida education news: #HB7069 lawsuits, budgets, teacher's union tussle and more

    Blogs

    #HB7069 LAWSUIT: The tally of Florida school boards taking legal action against the state has risen to five. On Tuesday three school boards from Bay, The Pinellas County School Board meets in August 2015 at district headquarters in Largo.

  3. Brooksville man threatens couple with samurai sword in road rage incident

    Crime

    BROOKSVILLE — A Brooksville man is facing multiple charges after he threatened to kill a couple with a samurai sword during a road rage incident Tuesday afternoon, according to the Brooksville Police Department.

    Daniel Franklin Seymour, 43, of Brooksville, is facing multiple charges after he threatened to kill a couple with a samurai sword that he pulled out of his vehicle in a road rage incident Tuesday afternoon, according to the Brooksville Police Department.
  4. Parents of Plant High cheerleader urge others to learn from her death by heroin overdose

    Crime

    TAMPA — Since their youngest daughter died from an overdose of heroin, just weeks before her high school graduation, Dawn and Cliff Golden have searched desperately for something to do about it.

    Devastated at the death of daughter Katie from a heroin overdose, Cliff and Dawn Golden have gotten busy to turn the tragedy to good. Among their causes is aiding a new organization that works to make teens comfortable seeking help for mental health problems. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  5. Survey shows employees praise, fear Hernando School Superintendent Romano

    Education

    BROOKSVILLE — Two years after Hernando school district leaders suggested an employee-based evaluation of Superintendent Lori Romano, the results — showing feedback both positive and not so — are now public.

    
Hernando County School District Superintendent Lori Romano received an  evulation from people she supervises during a school board workshop Tuesday. In the survey, employees both praised and criticized her performance. She is shown here in a workshop three years ago as she was completing her first year in the job.