The Challenge of Aging

I’ve lost touch with a good friend. For years, once a month, this man and I got together for lunch. When I was getting ready to move late last Spring, I told him I’d have to forego the lunches for a while until I got settled in my new house. A month ago or so, I emailed him that I was ready to resume our lunch dates. When I got no response, I emailed him again, then twice telephoned him. No answer.

My friend was close to ninety. It was obvious to me he was failing in several different ways. He was having more and more trouble getting around, walking, sitting, getting into the car. But my guess had been that he’d be with us a while longer. He had moved just before I did, and I don’t have his new address. I have no way of locating him.

My best guess is that he is sick or perhaps has died. That fits the pattern I see with growing regularity. Barely a week goes by that I don’t hear about another of my contemporaries who has died.

I accept that losing friends is a part of getting older. So is dealing with a failing body and the inability to perform tasks we’ve always done as a matter of routine. My hearing and eyesight aren’t what they used to be. I have a bad right leg, a bad left arm, lungs that don’t work right.

I see the effects of aging on friends and acquaintances. I see them in myself. The worst, from my point of view, is that the brain doesn’t work as well as it once did. I have trouble remembering names. I reach for words when I’m writing, and they’re not there. I have more trouble that I have ever had thinking in modes that I’m not skilled at.

None of this is easy. It puts new demands on my ingenuity and creativity. And I have to plan on taking more time than I used to do simple tasks.

I and others my age, in short, face new challenges that test our ability to overcome difficulties. Aging ain’t for sissies.

More tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “The Challenge of Aging”

  1. You’re so right, Tom. Aging isn’t for sissies. We all do it (hopefully) and yet it’s hard to watch the detrimental effects on our friends and loved ones. As a fifty-something person with many friends older than me, I also see advantages to aging, other than the obvious, wondrous gift of another day. My older friends seem to have wisdom and insight, taking a long view that some of us younger don’t have yet. They have an appreciation of living in the moment that I often have to remind myself about. What gifts has it brought you?


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