Monday, June 20, 2016

It Ain't Easy Being... Old

Although I am not as old as some, I am a lot older today than I once was.

Back in my teens life was hard enough without having to think about ever getting old. 'Old' was my mother... already in her early 40s, her life [in my opinion] almost finished.

A few years later I was in my twenties and I still never though about getting old. I was too smart for that. For some reason my mother had managed to live past fifty, although I didn't have the time to bother to ponder the mystery of her elder state. I was single, married, divorced... all between 25 and 33... so I did not have time to dwell on my getting older, let alone anyone else's.

Then it was years of working menial jobs, getting better educated, and then working only slightly better jobs. I worked pretty hard too. My education was 'business' at DeVry in Calgary, which was a good thing in a way. I had tossed around the idea of becoming a vet technician and that might have been better, but fate sent me to DeVry, so there I went. I mostly learned about computers and after graduation, although I never did have the opportunity to work as a manager, I did get on as a secretary with the government. The secretary part was rather ironic since my typing teacher in high school had told me it was something I'd never be. I was good on computers though, and was diligent, smart, and hard working too, so of course I stayed at the lowest level for secretaries. Bosses in government places don't want a smart or hard working secretary. That might make them look bad. LOL

At any rate, I found myself, at the age of 55, laid-off with a bit of a settlement in hand, so I went into partnership in a laundromat. Let me give anyone out there a word of advice about investing in a laundromat... if it isn't in the middle of a low-income area in the city, it must be located close to at least one 'reserve'. Otherwise there isn't going to be enough money in it to support anyone. I was broke, living in a small town, and close to 60 when I finally realized I'd made it to older than my mother was the last time I thought about her age with any amount of interest.

My retirement was rather forced. I had given up my half of the laundromat, which didn't pay anything anyway. I couldn't afford to move and there were no jobs in the area. I was also struggling with medical stuff that begins to show up after 55 or so. For me it was high blood pressure and COPD. The high blood pressure is important to get the meds right but after that, it's pretty easy to live with. The COPD is something else again. Even with the right meds, it's difficult at best and damned hard when it gets bad. Breathing is rather important for a good life. Every change in the weather affects people with COPD for either good or bad. With all that, I became depressed. Which isn't helpful.

But of course that's not all that showed up after 55. Anything that you put your body through when you're young WILL come back to haunt you once you turn 50 to 55. It will get increasingly worse too. I wasn't a dare devil, but I had a few things happen. I broke my neck at 20 in a car accident (I was not driving), so I now have some headaches to contend with that I never had before.

At 29 I froze my knees when I had to walk out of the bush after the back axle on the truck I was in fell off in the middle of the forest in the middle of winter in northern Ontario. I was told that arthritis was going to happen later in life and it did. I might have been able to delay the bulk of the trouble for a long while, but my poor knees took a beating when I turned 50 and went whale watching. I haven't been able to kneel since. So washing floors on my hands and knees, washing the tub, and anything that involves getting down or squatting is impossible. Having a bath, for instance. I love baths but had to give them up after 50 because getting in and back out of the tub is really difficult and hurts my knees for hours after.

Eyesight is another thing. Yes, most people begin to wear glasses as they age. I used to have 20/15 vision so I wasn't expecting to have to begin to wear them until at least into my 60s. I never thought of floaters... never even knew what they were... but, although my vision is 20/20, I have very blurry vision because of the floaters. They ner completely go away. They are thick and heavy or lighter but always blurring my vision. Bright light makes seeing harder. They make reading, using a computer, driving, and just seeing a challenge.

As we age, 'stuff' continues to happen in our lives. My husband's little dog decided he didn't want me to groom him, so he bit me... hard. Fortunately I heal quickly. My white blood count skyrocketed and within a couple of weeks the wound was healed. Today (6 weeks later) there is barely a scar. All without stitches. But there is nerve damage and that hand is much weaker than it was. I can't close it completely... only sort of curl it. I have to do therapy and see if that will help to strengthen it. There is no guarantee it will help.

Being retired is nice in some ways, but not so much in others. I used to know what I should be doing every day. Even on my days off I knew what I needed to do. Shopping, cleaning, visiting friends... life stuff. Now it all runs together without structure. It's kind of nice at first, but after awhile the days don't matter. Especially where we live. Out of town in a house with no yard, only a little deck, and the view out the window. We face north, which makes the house cool in summer but not so warm in winter. I'd like to live in the city, but we can afford it here. Fixed income, they call it. Enough to survive. Not enough to live. We go nowhere for the fun of it and do nothing that costs extra. We have to save up for a birthday lunch. We buy our clothes at thrift stores. We stock up on groceries when they're on sale. We have no savings or investments

We are the baby boomers that no one bothers to mention. What people forget about most baby boomers is we came from LARGE families (6 to 15 children). So, if our parents do leave anything it is split 10 ways, not 2. And a lot of our parents spent or are spending what they saved... which is not something I complain about at all. They should spend it. But I do get tired of people assuming that all baby boomers are rich and are having a wonderful time tripping around the world sightseeing. That seems to be the bunch who follow us... you know... OUR children, the ones WE gave to. There are some who are rich... but not all baby boomers, not even most. 'Most' live like we do.

At any rate, as I age, life isn't getting any easier. Expenses raise every year and medical problems increase. Not because I was careless with my body. I never smoked, didn't do drugs, and hardly drank. Life just happens and there isn't a lot that any of us can do about it. You can try. You can think you're going to change it. But in the end, getting older is getting older. Your body will do what it will and you will die when you die. Of course, if you are stupid, you will likely rush things on a bit, but there's no guarantee about that either. I've seen smokers, druggies, and drinkers (sometimes all in one person) die in their 20s and live into their 80s. There doesn't seem to be any real rhyme or reason. You're born. You live. You die. The cycle of life. We live longer than dogs. Turtles live longer than us. No sense. No reason. Just life.

Have a great day!

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