You’re getting older when …


Randy Riley - Contributing columnist



It takes a lot longer to get in and out of the car than it did a few years ago. Actually, it was quite a few years ago.

Back when I volunteered as a firefighter and EMT, I could jump in the car and take off in nothing flat. Getting out and responding at an emergency scene took even less time.

It is amazing the difference that 15 or 20 years can make. The grunting and groaning that now accompanies the process is embarrassing.

It is also obvious that once I am out of the car, I need to walk around like an old man for at least 10 yards until my joints and muscles have limbered up a little. Then, I can start to walk normally again.

Our grandson, Clayton, likes to imitate (or maybe mock) the sounds he hears us make. A few years ago, we noticed him grunting whenever he got up off the couch. Debbie said, “Listen to him.”

The next time I got up, I realized that I was the chief-grunter in the house. Debbie said, “I think he’s imitating you.”

Yep, he was.

I have decided that as we get out of the car we should try to grunt in harmony. Debbie has a great ear for music. She can harmonize immediately with anything.

I haven’t a clue about how to create harmony. That will be Debbie’s job. Maybe I can learn to grunt in bass and Debbie can groan in the alto range. We’ll at least sound better as we exit the car and head for the grocery.

About 10 years ago, following a severe spring storm, I had to get our roof shingles replaced. The contractor came over to provide an estimate. He climbed up onto the roof and measured all the roof footage. After some calculations in the cab of his truck, he came in with a few estimates.

The cheapest roofing material was guaranteed for 10 years. A better product was guaranteed for 20 years and the best shingle material was guaranteed for 30 years. At that time, I was about 60 years old.

I decided to get the product that was guaranteed for 30 years, simply because I would probably never have to worry about it again. I was delighted to think that my new roof would be guaranteed until I was 90 years old.

The last time I visited our family physician, we talked about my worsening vision and that my optometrist said I had a cataract in my right eye. Apparently, it’s getting worse as my vision in that eye is getting blurrier all the time. Now, I am scheduled for cataract surgery.

We also talked about some pain I was having in my right foot. It is being caused by a bunion or some-such old man sounding condition. Now, I am wearing a spacer between my big toe and second toe.

There is also an annoying bump on the side of my nose that isn’t getting any better. Tomorrow, I have an appointment with a dermatologist to figure that out. From what I have read about the condition, the only permanent cure is surgery. Now, I have that to look forward to.

All of this getting old stuff is starting to interfere with my golf.

My issues are starting to sound like a game some good Pappy might play with a toddler. Where is Pappy’s nose? Where are Pappy’s toes? Where are Pappy’s eyes?

There is an old saying that I find is becoming more and more true. “Getting old is not for sissies.”

I am trying to work my way through all of this without getting to too crotchety. We still love having little kids in the neighborhood. I love watching them learn to ride their bikes and play soccer in the street.

My hope is that I never turn into the really crotchety old guy who sits on his front porch and yells at little kids, “Get off my lawn.”

Nope. That’s not going to happen.

Debbie and I still enjoy planning future trips for whenever the coronavirus allows us to travel without worrying about quarantining everywhere we stop. We still love spending time with family and friends. We’ll certainly do more of that when conditions allow.

But right now, spicing up my life means adding another clove of garlic to the mash potatoes and sausage I’m making for dinner, or squirting some hot sauce into my tomato soup.

The reality is I’m nudging up close to seventy years old. I accept that everything is going to take longer. I started cleaning up my office six months ago. Today it is still a mess.

I decided this morning that I’m going to keep living and enjoying life until the top of my desk is visible and usable. By that time, my roof shingle warranty should be out.

Randy Riley is former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.

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Randy Riley

Contributing columnist