I feel the same about the words “Healthy Aging”. Why should I spring for “healthy” after all these years? The only things I have exercised throughout my life are my mouth, my mind and my fingers. Now, at 90, nothing else wants to move.
Down the road, around a curve and up a terrifying driveway lives Jackie. Jackie is 95. This five foot high woman is determined to get me to exercise. She guilt-trips me by tooting her car horn in front of my house on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at precisely 9:45. In her little red car we wheel down and around the mountain curves to the gymnasium on the valley floor. We sign in, grab a chair and join thirty or so other aging people who would rather be home in bed. We know that if we don’t do this our kids might check us into Shady Pines.
Margaret leads “Sit and Fit”. She’s good at it I like her. ...and I like the music. I’ve played most of it for years but haven’t moved to it. Many of our husbands had two left feet so this is as close as we'll ever get to ballroom dancing.
Margaret pushes the button on her tape player and a lovely tune lures us into gently waving our arms. This is a trick to make us think this half hour is going to be less strenuous than a stroll around Cub Lake. M. pushes the button again and some singer belts out “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree”. We’re up and movin’. ...then a Mariachi band pulls us into a mambo. Our slow-beating hearts speed up. Sinatra comes on with “New York, New York”. By the time ol’ Blue Eyes hits the final high note, we’re juiced up and have quit thinking about what we're going to have for lunch. ... then “YMCA” gets us strutting around the gym like we’re in a United States military marching band. Now, some of the marchers weigh in just under three hundred pounds. Glancing at them makes me feel, well, ... skinny.
Margaret doesn’t want us to die of a heart attack on her watch, so she begins to quiet us down with Bing who croons an Hawaiian Christmas song that deludes us into imagining we’re wearing a hula skirt, swaying on the beach at Waikiki. East Asian instruments draw us into quick back and forth head movements like a Geisha. Palms together, we sit in a lotus position. Margaret is decompressing us.
Class over, we stack our chairs, help one another to our cars and head home for a snack before shuffling to our bed for what may be a long winter’s nap.
Speaking of Christmas, I don’t. ...not until after my birthday on the 14th. I can’t understand why Jesus would be born so close to my birthday. For 90 years now all of the razzamatazz about His has all but eclipsed the importance of mine.