Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Downside to Adding Up the Years

I vaguely remember the old folks – my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – sitting around the dining room table, lingering over coffee and pie while discussing their aches and pains, past and future doctor visits, and whispering when news was particularly bad.

Fast forward a few decades and the old folks are my friends and I. The scenario came to mind during a breakfast at a local restaurant.

 Every few weeks my yoga class, composed mostly of retirees, gathers for breakfast. We walk into the restaurant, still stretching and massaging sore muscles, sit around a table, a dozen or more of us, and order coffee and fairly healthy food. I don’t think anyone wants to appear a glutton and, for instance, order potatoes with their omelet–a side of sliced tomatoes will do. Work hard in exercise class; cancel the benefits with a satisfying meal. My routine, but most of my yoga friends have more motivation and willpower than I.

Conversation ensues. “Getting up early, going to the gym, sometimes I just want to turn over and go back to sleep. Not today. Looked forward to breakfast.”

“Me too, once in a while I don’t make it. But the exercise helps ward off the evils of osteoporosis, or so I’m told. Probably just another old wives tale.”

“You know what, if you don’t come every week nothing much happens. On the other hand coming religiously will not make you beautiful.”

“But not coming ever will make me stiff and fatter, I know…”

A handful shun eggs due to high cholesterol concerns. The ordering initiates a discourse on how best to lower cholesterol-foods to eat, foods to avoid, meds to try, meds to avoid…

The conversation over the course of the morning encompasses a variety of topics, from good reads to bad movies, current events and politics, kids and grandkids, holiday plans and recent travels.

Health-related issues dominate dialogue when setting a time for the next breakfast.

On the first date suggested the conversation proceeds generally like this:

“I hate to admit it and it took a long time to come to terms with this, but I have cataract surgery that day, so can we get together another time?”

“Let me see…I can’t make it either. Dentist. Need a cap.”

The next date proposed a couple of folks pipe up:

Outpatient surgery. Nothing major…”

“Follow-up from hip surgery.”

And on the third date, voices heard:

“Big day for me. Never mentioned it before because it definitely means I am OLD, but a few months ago got shingles. Mild case, but have to wait six months to get the vaccine. Marked the momentous day in red on my calendar. But I can go after breakfast. It will be a kind of celebration.”

“Hair appointment. Time to color the gray–again.”

“Since we are on the subject…any of you wear hearing aids? I know I need them but don’t want to spend the money. I’ve heard mixed things about how much they really help.”

“By the way, can anyone suggest special exercises for my arthritis?”

“I just started meds for high blood pressure. Tried keeping it down with diet and exercise, but didn’t work. Doctor said some people can’t fight genes, and aging.”

“OK, we have a date!”

“Wait, I missed that discussion. When is it?”

“Have to put it in my calendar now or I will forget.”

“I’ll remind everyone in class the week before. And the day of.”

“What’s the date? Didn’t hear it…”

“Don’t remember it…”

“Anyone see my phone?”

“See everyone next week…S**t, where did I park the car?”


  1. Sounds like a good time. Wish I had a group of friends like that to share our aging.

  2. Meryl, your post reminded me of when I used to go off to lunch with my mom and her friends from the Senior Center. It was hilarious fun... as most had hearing problems and the conversation never made a lot of sense as people answered what they "thought" the conversation was about. Now mom and her friends are gone... and my time is here. Hope others get as much enjoyment from my conversation as I used to get from mom and her friends.

    1. I have a feeling other restaurant patrons get a kick out of our motley crew.

  3. Fast forward a few decades and the old folks are my friends and I.
    Oh, how sadly true that is. I got quite a chuckle out of this post because it is so relatable.

    1. Thank you! Sad but true...but I guess it beats the alternative.

  4. Sat around with old friends for coffee a few weeks ago. We didn't really sound all THAT old. Then again I've already had parts replaced or removed.

    1. My granddaughter says I shop at old ladies stores and do old ladies stuff. But some of that 'stuff' - like hanging out with my friends at the coffee shop - is fun!

  5. Of course we talk about our health or diminishing health, whatever the case may be. Isn't conversation made up of what is in our experience? I find it encouraging that you all are still going to yoga; you're still managing your health with exercise and diet. You're still socializing. You're still making plans for the future. We need to talk about how we manage our lives as we age. Ageing is not negotiable but what we do with it certainly is.

    1. So true, we need a positive attitude. A 94-year-old woman in a class I take at a community center is always asked how she keeps going and stays healthy. Her reply, "I have to keep moving. If I stop moving people will think I'm dead."