Golden Years, Golden Tears, The Power of Laughter….

I have had a fun week. You know, the kind of week when you cringe at the news, so avoid much of it, and revel in the humor that surrounds you during that hectic week before everybody exhales on Christmas morning. One of my kid sisters sent us a text this morning with a picture of my brother-in-law busy assisting one of my nieces assemble a Christmas surprise for one of their kids. The instructions contained not a word of advice, just pictures and I had to chuckle. He is a construction manager, having overseen the building of motels and other major projects yet was concentrating mightily as he worked on the toy. Laugh with me for a bit……

My old friend arthritis continues to humble me. I reported for an MRI this week, to further explore the mystery of this malady as it relates to my lower back. The nurses manning the MRI shop were all younger (seems everybody is these days) and full of life. After removing my clothes and donning a pair of scrub pants and one of those lovely gowns, I placed my clothing and shoes into a locker and slipped the key onto my wrist, which was then removed while I enjoyed the ride through the noise filled little tube listening to some of the oldest Christmas music in existence. My cell phone was left with my clothing, and while I enjoyed the hammering, squeaks and hums of the MRI not synchronized with the sounds of cave men singing White Christmas, the phone was busy dinging away as my sisters enjoyed a robust text chat session. After the session, I returned to the cubicle, retrieved my belongings and was greeted upon opening the curtain, by a 20 something nurse who remarked that I surely had many text messages to answer, judging from my cell phone activity while I was gone. I replied the messages were likely from my many girlfriends checking on my well being. She calmly looked me in the eye and suggested, with a wink, that I keep them apart this Christmas or I would be wearing a lot of sweaters at the same time on Christmas morning. You know, sweaters, the gift of choice for old people. We shared a laugh and I walked out with another reminder that at nearly 70, you’re fooling no one.

I hobbled out to my pick-up and smiled as I reflected on the changes over the years. I remembered fondly my first pair of glasses, single vision to “help” with fine print, which evolved into bifocals to render road signs a little sharper and finally, morphed into trifocals to help with seeing anything. I was still smiling as I considered the noises in the MRI which are muted by the earphones you wear while you are reposing in the tube. It was good to get out of the contraption and replace the earphones with my newer digital hearing aids, another sure sign that I have lived a great life, as most fun things in life involve noise to some degree. As a footnote to this visit, I shook my head as I thought about the receptionist who looked over the pre-MRI questionnaire and carefully asked me what I had written in response to a number of the inquiries. This seems like a good time to apologize to my administrative assistants over the years who have developed twitches and headaches as a result of deciphering my penmanship. I can’t imagine the angst of folks today who try and read the same blocked hieroglyphic, arthritis modified, script that I generate occasionally.

I wear a hat, a lot. Back in the day, when the campaign hat was an essential part of my being, the removal of the hat was done in such a manner as to not disturb the carefully maintained hairstyle that I wore. Today, the hat keeps my bald pate warm. In a careless moment of vanity, I stopped in to talk with a “barber” (they call them stylists today) and inquire as to what I might do with male pattern baldness that I am afflicted with. She carefully studied my head and compassionately offered her opinion. She suggested several brands of multi-blade razors that would stay sharp through the every other day total head shave, which she opined, was my best option. Her soft smile is likely my last remembrance of being in a barber shop, forever denied access to the latest gossip and manly banter that men love. I’m going to buy myself one of those long, horsehair brushes that barbers douse with talcum powder before they whisk the hair from your neck. To be sure, it will be messy, but another advantage you enjoy after life in the carefully fitted, super straight appearance of the uniform, is the freedom to be messy. In fact, I am getting good at it. A little talcum powder won’t hurt anything!

At my age, Christmas shopping takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of having very little time to find that perfect gift for those you love, you have all the time in the world to walk around and eat stuff! (Starbucks, having relied upon the stoned opinion of one of it’s coffee chemists, has developed a Juniper Latte. I asked for a sample. It tastes exactly like of a shot of Pine-Sol carelessly poured into a cup of coconut milk and coffee. Stay away unless you are enduring some sort of fantasy weight loss or Christmas induced health regimen. It is exactly as bad as it sounds). At our age, everybody we know has everything they could possible want, leaving us to buy electronic stuff we know nothing about for the young folks on our lists who know precisely what they need. So, we eat. The restaurants are offering up one special after another, the bakeries are operating in overdrive mode, and we are in a Christmas induced festive mode. The Highway Patrol is responsible for our atrocious habit of eating out, almost daily. They required us to eat one meal per shift in a public venue. Old habits die hard and old people love their chow. Before leaving the shopping thing, old people are very much convenience oriented. One word, Amazon. A keystroke delivers Christmas anywhere you want it delivered, often before you finish the last course at your favorite eatery.

Social media has been a blessing in many ways. I have made, and enjoy, many “friends” that I likely would never have known, albeit through pictures and discreet peeks into their mental processes. While it cannot possibly replace the warm holiday handshake or hug, it can remind us that we are never really alone. My prayer is that we are all still here next year to share in the revelry and mystery of the season. To my young friends, remember that today is the memory of tomorrow. Enjoy every minute that you can, smile, laugh often and never make an enemy that you don’t absolutely have to. This is the perfect season to begin eliminating regret…….an unforgiving guest as you get older.

To my old friends and many new friends, Merry Christmas! I thank God for each of you……

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