It wasn’t that long ago that we viewed a 70-year old as…well…pretty old. Visions of an elderly person rocking in a chair, sedentary come to mind. Not sure if it’s the central Oregon “bubble” or perhaps the greater Pacific Northwest or just that lifestyles have changed in general. But they’ve changed in a BIG way. Now, I have friends in their 70s surfing overhead waves and jumping out of planes. A huge leap from the rocking chair!!
I’ve taught water aerobics for decades and with that experience I’ve gained a lot of insight to what can be done to maintain wellness as we age. It’s given me a different “take” on aging, than I had when I was a teen and young 20-something. Thank God!! Now, it seems I’ve gotten an even bigger glimpse into what (hopefully) will be my senior years. I’ve seen the other side too. Is it all luck of the draw? I hope not.
This summer I’ve started regularly teaching an intro to whitewater paddleboarding clinic. In each session I’ve had someone in his/her 60s (or 70s) getting after it. I’m impressed, as this sport requires strength, flexibility, balance and agility. It also takes a fair amount of daring, even in the “frisky ripples”. Let’s face it…it’s still a river with current, rocks and strainers. The people I interact with seem to have great physical health and sharp mental acuity.
During this realization of opportunities as we age, I’m living a parallel experience–one that is a big “F@%$k you” to my theory that if you stay in shape and have the eternal spirit you’ll continue hiking those mountaintops and paddling the class III’s. I understand many humans go through this, but “my suck” is the reality that is my dad, living with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. My father was an adventurer and athlete. He was an intelligent and funny dude–in fact, typically the life of the party. My sister and I never questioned his future. We assumed, because of his strength and physical fitness that he’d live a long and wonderful older age. Especially in contrast to my mom who didn’t exercise, and seemed to always be tired or sick. So it’s a strange dynamic that my mom has been caring for my dad, in-home with very little help (her choice, not ours) for years now. Her strength has bubbled through, caring for him even through her own battle with breast cancer, for about a year and a half.
I don’t spend a whole lot of time asking why my dad got sick. Nor do I wallow in the “if only’s”. Unfortunately, his situation isn’t all that unique–seemingly healthy people can become ill with any number of horrible diseases.
We all have to figure out our own path. For me, I live with gratitude for my health and my graced life. So many people in the world are suffering and I don’t take that for granted. I try to live a life of moderation. Get sleep as best possible and avoid toxic things…food/beverages, people, behaviors. Am I perfect? Far from it. We can only do our best and hope for the best. Right?
Every day is a gift.
Thanks for listening…