Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 30, 2005


I may be over the hill but I am not dead yet


      Does aging make life simpler? Let us examine this burning question together.

          Aging does simplify our desires. As I grow older, it takes less to satisfy me. Take food, for example. When I was younger, I wanted a big steak. Now I will settle for a bowl of soup and a few crackers. My ancient teeth tolerate soup better than steak.

          Teeth are funny, you know. They crack, decay, and rot over time, and if you live long enough, you lose your teeth. The dentist will make you a new set but they never seem to work as good as the original set.

          I still have most of my teeth left, but they are attached to 73-year-old gums, and showing signs of wear. A fellow must have noticed how yellow my teeth are; he asked me if I had thought about using some whitener on them. I told him no. My wife might not recognize me if I came home with pearly white teeth one day.

          Take clothes as another example. I have more clothes than I need, though I really need very few. I hate having to change clothes every three or four days. I only do it because my wife insists.

          Last week I wore the same pair of khaki pants for five days in a row. By the third day they were feeling really good. I wondered how long it would take my wife to notice. I think it was the smell actually that finally caught her attention.

          She gave me a brown sweater for Christmas. I love that sweater. I want to wear it every day until April, but she keeps insisting that I wear it only one day a week. Just where in the Bible does it say a man cannot wear the same sweater for a month? She says God may not demand it but she does, so like a dutiful husband I alternate the sweater with jackets.

          Colors matter to my wife. She will not let me wear my blue jacket with brown pants. What on earth is wrong with that? They are both clean and they look good to me. But no, I have to be sure my colors do not clash.

          Does God care about clashing colors? Look along the Interstate highway and there you will see wild flowers of many different colors growing together. See, God does not care.

          Travel is also simpler for seniors. Forty years ago I thought nothing about hopping on an airliner and flying to London or Rome. I wanted to see the world. My desire for traveling knew no boundaries.

          Now I am content to drive eight miles to Wal-Mart, especially if someone else will do the driving. And when we drive to Wal-Mart, I want to be home before dark. I need to get inside and lock up before the sun goes down.

          Driving is dangerous for old folks. Highway engineers do not like us. They design streets like they were creating a maze. This is especially true at new shopping centers. The other day, at a new shopping center in Montgomery, I turned the wrong way. I know that is hard to believe, as alert as I am, but it is true.

          My wife screamed like a banshee. At first I thought there must be a rattlesnake in the car. She is deathly afraid of snakes. Then I realized she was pointing at the two cars coming rapidly toward us. At last she got the words out of her mouth: “You are going the wrong way! You are going to kill us!” If she had said that to start with, I might not have gone the wrong way for three blocks. Women, who can understand them?

          I veered quickly to my right, narrowly missing two speeding cars. Why do people drive so fast anyway? They would have been mighty sorry if they had caused me to have a wreck. Why don’t people slow down and give people like me a chance to find the right lane to drive in?

          If it gets any worse, I guess I will have to ask one of our sons to drive us to Wal-Mart. They go there every day anyway, so it won’t be out of their way.

          Yes, life is simpler as we get older -- in some ways. However, it is also more complicated. There are so many choices that it makes me dizzy. You cannot buy a hamburger, fries and a shake anymore. The clerk starts asking questions. Do you want a little one, a big one, or a huge one? Do you want a small, medium, large, or extra large shake? Do you want to “super-size” the entire order?

          Electronic gadgets are increasingly complicated for seniors. All the bright young sales people assume you know how to use everything so they do not take time to teach you. I have a cell phone, a palm pilot, a DVD player, a laptop, a printer, and a photo copier, but I hardly know how to use any of them.

           I carry the palm pilot around so the young guys will think I am smart enough to use it. With a little luck I can find my calendar and I know how to use the calculator. The rest of it remains a mystery.

          As my hearing diminishes, I sometimes fail to hear my own cell phone ringing. When someone tells me I must have a call, I just say “Oh, it’s my wife; I will call her later.” The important thing, after all, is to try not to look stupid, right?

          My wife must think life is getting too complicated for me. She brought me hot tea the other day in a large mug. Three words are stamped on the cup: “Over the Hill.” What did that mean, I wondered? She used to bring me coffee in a mug that said, “World’s Greatest Husband.” She must have thrown that cup away.

          Well, I want my wife and the rest of my aging friends to know something. Even though the aging process is taking its toll on me, it is still a bit early to ask for my car keys. I may be over the hill but I am not dead yet!

          Now if someone will help me find my glasses, my quad cane, and my hearing aid, I have miles to go before I sleep. Wal-Mart is still open. + + + +