Column: Aging may suit me; it's better than the alternativeBy BUSTER WOLFE,
When I passed my 50th birthday some years ago, I really didn’t have a celebration. I was in a tenuous situation and celebrating seemed out of place at the time.
However, I realized later how much I considered that to be the watermark for coming of age – old, that is. I’m sure I will get some backdraft on setting the age at 50; some might push it later. That’s OK, but I guess it’s different for different people.
For a 60-something newspaper writer, 50 seems pretty appropriate. I was in the middle of one of the seven moves I made in five years, so being hectic and disorganized also apparently is a part of my aging process. Not having settled in what animal shelters like to call my “forever home” by that time was discouraging, among other things.
Health also becomes a big part of the equation of aging. Of course, that also affects different people in different ways. A sedentary lifestyle doesn’t help, but I was fortunate to cover outdoors-related subjects at six of the last seven newspapers. I considered those activities – fishing, hunting, etc. – exercise.
The real health problem with aging is that some things don’t stand up to the process as well as you would hope. I figure there are at least three areas that can cause major problems: mechanical, internal and mental. Any one could bring serious complications.
One small complication that I decided to take care of last week was a lesion on my thumb’s lower joint that was growing larger. When I first showed it to my physician several months ago, it wasn’t a problem, just an ugly bump. He said, “Don’t worry about it. That’s what comes with getting older.”
That was hardly a comforting thought, as I imagined clusters of ugly bumps along the knuckles of my hands and feet by the time I was 70. For reference, picture “Elephant Man.”
When the lesion got so large that it was getting in the way and painful, I decided to take the surgical route. “Surgery” is also not a comforting thought, having had the calcium buildup on my heel removed several years ago. Cutting and removing internal pieces are not what people want to think about, much less endure.
Ironically, operations on my heel and thumb didn’t go as planned. More ironically, both excisions required the removal of more than was expected. Luckily this time, I won’t have to be on crutches.
I certainly don’t want anyone to think that I’m complaining about aging, especially considering I wish other people in my family were still in my position. Someone once said, “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.”
So, here’s to the next birthday, the next watermark and the next thumb lesion. Don’t just celebrate a time to start getting old. Celebrate every moment that comes along.
Buster Wolfe is a senior staff writer for The Hattiesburg Post, The Lamar Times, and The Petal News.