“Look at this,” she said proudly. She held out a shoe hanging from the end of one of those cane-like, pick-up devices. Called a Long-Reach Grabber, it has two mechanical fingers with little, black suction cups that open and close at the press or release of a button.
Christmas came early at our house last month. Some of you young folks may not know, but for older folks Santa may drop off some things early to lighten the load come Christmas Eve.
For us, Santa dropped off the mechanical arm. You see, she’s been down with her back and unable to bend and pick things off the floor easily. Santa also dropped off for us a shower chair to make things easier there as well.
Gleefully showing off the new mechanical arm and the retrieved shoe, she reminded me of myself when I got my first tricycle on Christmas Eve many, many years ago here in the hometown. That was a turning point for me. The tricycle from the old Sears catalog store in downtown Elkin made me more mobile. The tricycle made me a big boy.
And the sight of her with the mechanical arm struck me as another turning point. We have become less mobile. We don’t and/or can’t get up and go as we once did. It is incumbent for us to make some necessary adjustments.
We’ve become old folks.
I’m going to need some help in learning how to be an old folk. I’ve never done it before. I’ve made some preliminary inquiries, about health care, Social Security and such. Over the years I’ve watched my elders and took mental notes as they aged.
Now it’s my turn.
“Be sure you have something to do,” a friend advised. Good advice.
I’ve heard more than one of my elders over the years comment that they were busier in retirement than when they had the paying job. I’ll start with some long-neglected house painting.
My prior big turning point was marriage. I tried to stay calm and cool and expected it would just be a placid extension of dating. It was not.
Before that, there was the turning point of leaving school and embarking on a career in newspapering. I tried to stay calm and cool and expected it would be a casual extension of school and writing for the school newspaper. It was not.
Before that, it was leaving the hometown and high school for college. I was not so calm and I was far too cool and I expected it to be pretty much like high school. It was not.
So will the turning point into old age be placid, simple or much like before? I doubt it. Just as with the prior turning points, there will be challenges ahead.
I’ve seen some struggle with old age. But I’ve also seen some appear to thrive.
I’m aiming for thrive. After all, those other turning points turned out quite well.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.
Back In The Hometown