The Missoulian has a history of commentary and opinions about "growing older" and the challenges of senior citizenry offered by any number of talented female journalists from Vi Thompson years ago to the more recent column of the late Evelyn King. I do take note of the lack of observations from the male perspective and so I humbly offer the following tidbits and erudite perspectives from a guy who's struggling to retain the title of a man in his mid-60s. I'm sure that as I approach my 68th birthday this summer I'll have to transfer my identity to a man nearing 70 or at least a guy in his late 60s. In any case, here's a few things on my mind:
If bicycles are to be viewed as vehicles bound by the same rules as autos, then how come they appear out of nowhere on the sidewalks behind me and my dog and startle the hell out of us? Maybe I'll start driving my Subaru on the same sidewalks and boulevards and see if I can enlarge my driving space.
Why is it that property management companies don't seem to consider lawns and sidewalks part of their responsibility? I know many university students lack the skills and motivation to operate lawn mowers, but I also see other landscape and lawn care specialists the same age as the university students who do great work on some selected properties in our neighborhood. I can sure help connecting property management folks with the men and women who do work with weedeaters and mowers, Give me a call. By the way, why can students almost get trash close to the receptacles and cans but not necessarily in the the right place.? Walking the alleys and byways does provide me with opportunities for waist/waste exercises. You'd think I'd get rid of my belly fat with the bending and stretching from trash on the ground to placement inside bins and cans, but not yet.
It seems getting older means increased visit to the hospitals to see friends and relatives confined to sterile rooms by an unending list of conditions from cancer to blood clots to accidents and frailities inflicted by the years and chronological tolls. These sadnesses are balanced by phone calls and visits and hand-drawn art pieces from grandchildren. Much more than religion or politics or the state of the economy, the subject of grandchildren and great-grandchildren binds us and make us members of a united organization, more meaningful and integral to my life than my AARP or Medicare card.
As I listen to my friends talk about their older friends and aged parents, it seems that at least some of the grouchiness and grumpiness comes from their loss of independence and autonomy. I know that if a temporary injury or constraint prevents me from playing racquetball or mowing my lawn, I get more irritable and complaining than usual. Just ask my wife, who seeks to honor my need to be "who I always was" while at the same time recognizing "I ain't what I used to be."
I see in the Missoulian (May 23) that the state of Nevada has banned people dressed in chicken suits from entering polling places. Just let Mayor Engen or our city council try to do the same thing here in Missoula. They'll have me to contend with or if you want, you can borrow my poultry suit.