Recently, for several reasons I have been depressed. I have had long stretches of illness, and then a serious fall resulting in a cracked hip, resulting in a general malaise. After all, in early September I will be 80, an age that even now seems very daunting. My mother's side of the family was very long lived, many into their 90s and (one) almost 100. But my father and his sister died in their fifties, both of heart disease.
I have heart disease, and I wear a pacemaker and a defibrillator, both for inadequate cardiac performance. Both devices seem to be doing their job and I feel okay, but will this be fleeting? Will 80 and beyond be a difficult time for me? As I am recovering from VA surgery for a fall and a cracked hip my anxiety seemed to have become depression.
More than this, what will old age really be like? Will it be dark, filled with limitation and anxiety? Will life be the challenge I have always found it to be? Will I become a burden for my wife Carole, after she has spent many months assisting my recovery from a bad fall? Will this be the first of many falls/
As a break, Carole drove me to nearby Sierra Vista for a massage which I have missed for several months, a twice monthly ritual.
The massage was wonderful. Better, my friend and massage therapist Susan Weisgram promised that she and another girlfriend were going to take Carole out more frequently for a night on the town.
Afterwards, as Carole picked me up a sandwich at a restaurant (Schlotzsky's in Sierra Vista, a chain that began in Austin, where I attended the U. of Texas) I noticed an older man at a table near the window beside the parking lot. He was reading a book, and seemed deeply absorbed. I could even see him turning the pages.
Then, he got up to prepare to leave and to visit the restroom, and I knew instantly who it was: John D. John is older than me, considerably I think. He is man I have long admired, a former close neighbor and still a good friend. He travels all over the world, he reads constantly, he teaches English in exotic places, and God know what else.
And suddenly I smiled; John D. had just taught me an invaluable lesson and a way to think about the years ahead.
Life is a gift, short or long, and anxiety about "The End" whether old age or death is a foolish waste of time.
So tomorrow I will crack open a new book, start reading and start living with the zest and delight that I see in a very old friend. And I need to become that old man I am going to love being with...myself..