Thursday, October 1, 2015

Who wore a cane and derby hat

At this point of his middle-aged man fit life, I have a hard time imaging that one day things might be different.  

Yes, there may come a day when doing something simple like walking from here to there could be a challenge.  They say people generally lose their balance when aging.  But is this true?

A few years ago, Dr. Anthony Komaroff of the Harvard Medical School, was asked this question:  “Why does balance decline with age?”

He replied there are several changes that come with aging that can affect our balance.  Inside our ears is a balance center called the vestibular system.  It’s connected to centers in our brain that control our balance.  As we age, cells in our vestibular system die off and this affects how accurately we detect our position in space.

He further added that declining eyesight, blood pressure, and our loss of muscle mass and strength are contributing factors.

Finally, our reflexes and coordination generally slow as we age.  Thus, we’re both more likely to stumble and take more time to react when we do.

Closer to home, this middle-aged man finally witnessed his father swallow his pride and confide that he needed a cane.  My father was dying a slow and painful death from a rare cancer and after taking a fall one day; he realized that his fragile and weakened body needed some balance assistance.  It took a fall for him to finally buy and use a cane which he used until the day he died.

Fast forward to the present, my mother now uses a cane but it took knee replacement surgery and some kind coaxing to get her to acknowledge that using a cane might not only be helpful but very wise. 

Now if only my wife and I can convince her father. It’s time for him to own and use a cane, not only for his physical safety but our own peace of mind.  The macho male in his octogenarian psyche thus far is stronger than his need to be physically-safe from the perils of a fall that seems to be just a matter of time.

So just like the stubbornness observed in both my father and father-in-law, who am I to think I’ll be any different?  Will my jokester-like behavior of saying how I see a 16-year-old kid when looking in a mirror fool and seduce me into really believing it? 

Just because I can chew gum and walk at the same time now, and even with my eyes closed, doesn’t mean that I’ll be able to do that in ten, twenty or thirty years from now if I've blessed to still be living.

What’s the old saying?  Here today and gone tomorrow.

Well maybe my lack-of-balance day of reckoning will never come but if it does, I hope I learn of it the smart way and not the hard way.  I hope I’ll do a good job of acknowledging that my time has come; that my balance isn’t what it used to be and that I’m at risk for a fall that may cause me an injury that could be serious.

If and when that day comes, then maybe I’ll do so in style like Bat Masterson, the yesteryear western television show character played by now-deceased actor Gene Barry.

Like Bat Masterson, I’ll then one day be known as a former middle-aged man with a little bit of old-man style, who wore a cane and derby hat.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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