A great time to get old
“It’s a great time to get old!” That’s what my husband, Peter, says.
He’s right. And getting old is – as the saying goes – better than the alternative. I was thinking this while waiting for my father to get a pacemaker.
My father had no idea he needed a pacemaker until two days before he got one. They had been monitoring his heart because he was suddenly so tired that he was getting winded going up a flight of stairs. My dad typically climbs a lot of stairs, so this was not a good development. The monitor revealed that his heart was beating much more slowly than it was supposed to.
“It’s been a cold spring,” I told him. “Maybe you’re just going into hibernation.”
The cardiologist did not seem to think this was the case. She told my dad that he should get a pacemaker.
“Not interested,” my dad said.
My dad has avoided making major purchases since he turned 80 a few years back. He says he won’t live long enough to get enough use out of them.
He has not replaced the come-along that is missing a few teeth. He claims it was entirely user error when the come-along failed to catch and he applied his full strength to it when he was pulling his Bobcat out of the woods. With no resistance on the winch, my dad flew over backward and broke a bone on his ankle.
“You need a new come-along,” I told my dad.
“I’m not going to live long enough to buy a new come-along!” he told me. My sister got him one for Christmas.
So I was not surprised that his initial reaction to the pacemaker was that this was another extravagant acquisition he did not need. The cardiologist disagreed. She told my dad that it was no big deal. They could get him in the next day, and he would spend only a few hours in the hospital.
My dad relented. The procedure went without a hitch, and my dad’s heart is now beating at a more chipper pace.
“It’s a great time to get old!” I told my dad. My dad agreed.
I have noted that conversations with friends are now dominated by discussions of their latest ailments. It used to be – before GPS and when my friends were younger – when there was a lull in conversation, the favorite topic was: “The Best Way to Get There.”
“You came up 35, huh? I always think it’s a little faster to follow the river, and then when you get to…” And so on.
I remember thinking this was the dullest subject ever – comparing routes and trying to determine which one might shave 10 minutes off your driving time.
“You just wasted 15 minutes talking about it!” I wanted to scream.
Now there is little point in discussing navigation since we have relinquished those decisions to our phones. Instead, the most frequent discussions lately are entitled, “My Current Ailment.”
“Yeah, I’ve had that, too. And lately, I’ve been getting pains in my…” And so on.
Thankfully, I don’t have a lot to talk about. And my dad is an excellent role model. He says, “Everyone is going to have something go wrong with them, eventually. It’s just a question of what it will be.”
When my dad left his meeting with the cardiologist, he asked what he should do differently before the procedure.
“Just try to act like an 80-year-old for a few days, would you?” she suggested.
I think she was kidding. My dad said he would try.
Till next time,