Old Geezers Out to Lunch

Old Geezers Out to Lunch
The Geezers Emeritus through history: The Mathematician™, Dr. Golf™, The Professor™, and Mercurious™

Sunday, August 14, 2016

No Time, Like Now

Since I am a Geezer, after all, it's no surprise that the last few years have put me face to face with various intimations of mortality. Recent years have seen us bid farewell to both my father and father-in-law at ages 83 and 90, respectively. Several good friends have become breast-cancer survivors, and even my recent knee injury, though little more than a glorified mechanical issue, has reminded me that the body physical is a resource that wears out eventually. Late last year, I turned 60 years old, and an instant later I'm now looking at my 61st birthday in a few months. It's not that 61feels particularly old to me, but it does remind me of the fact that when another 10 such moments or so, I will be 70 years of age, and at that point it becomes a little hard to ignore the reality.

All of which makes a Geezer consider quality of life and what goals and aspirations one should have when you can no longer pretend that you are not a Geezer.  I find the concept of a "bucket list" to be silly, at the very least; still, one can't ignore wondering where to put your energy and physical ability while the energy and physical ability is still there for the putting.

One of my best friends this week was faced with a medical decision as she concludes treatment for breast cancer. One option would have statistically increased the odds for a longer life, but only by a matter of low single-digit percentages. Following that course of action, though, would give her a 50-50 chance some rather serious side effects that could greatly compromise quality of life. Either way, these things are merely statistical odds, but she chose to think of the option as long life vs. good life. After a period of contemplation at the beach in Santa Monica, she is choosing to maximize the chances for a good quality of life at the possibility of making it shorter. With her good life, she wants to roam the country a bit with a camper trailer she owns, perhaps traveling with her granddaughters from time to time. She wants to write books, and meet people and see things she's not yet met or seen.

Which is a very admirable thing, I believe. And this makes me wonder a bit what I hope to do with the 10 or 15 or perhaps 20 decent years of Geezerhood ahead (for the males in my clan, 80 years of age is a pretty ancient patriarch).

The goals, I realize, are pretty modest and accomplishable. I want to spend some time roaming the southwest US, where the desert relaxes me and connects me to a sense of the earth's majestic age like no other landscape. I also want to spend time in the mountains again—either in Colorado, Canada, or Alaska, where I sense the incredible drama of time. To see some places I've not yet seen,  I want to travel some places with my bride, to other places with good friends. I want to be the daycare provider for grandchildren. I want to once again own a friendly dog.

And I want to walk every street in Minneapolis.

I'm not sure where this last aspiration came from, but I'm sure it has to do with the fact that I've been almost unable to walk for the last month and am thus reminded of how precious physical mobility is. I checked into this, and learned that there are just over 1200 miles of officially sanctioned streets in Minneapolis proper, and doing the math reveals that it should be easily possible to walk this territory over the next 10 years. A pace of 120 miles a year is, after all, less that 2.5 miles a week. In good times, I probably walk that much each day.

So on a pure distance basis, this is laughably easy, though of course in practice it means driving to various neighborhoods, some of which are not particularly safe. And it means doing it on minus-20 degree days in mid-winter. And on days when it is raining. And on some streets that are barely streets at all, but cruddy little alleys behind railroad tracks, etc. etc.  Still it's a modest goal, really.

My son and I were hanging out yesterday. He was, I think, still caring for the invalid in some manner. For the first few weeks of surgical recovery, the family was taking pains not to leave me alone, and with my wife gone for the day, he showed up at the house once again yesterday. I explained to him that I now have limited mobility in the bad knee, enough to let me fold the leg into the car and actually drive myself, but we ended up hanging out anyway, watching the olympics. Then we took a drive to get milk shakes and go to Barnes and Noble. On the way, I mentioned my goal of walking Minneapolis over the next few years, and upon leaving the bookstore, he glanced into my shopping bag and the street map I'd purchased. Shaking his head and said. "I should have figured. You're gonna cross off the streets on this map as you walk them, aren't you?"

There is no time like the present. Early this morning, I drove up to the far reaches of north Minneapolis and walked around three whole blocks, with knee brace unlocked for 30% range of motion. My speed should get better with time.