Today I went to physical therapy a little earlier in the day than I usually go. Four weeks ago, I had my other hip replaced, not a big deal. It came on suddenly, ticked me off, and that was that. I was discharged after two days in amazing shape, went straight home instead of to inpatient PT, and except for my friends taking pity on me and coming to visit, have been pretty much isolated and housebound. Finally, last week the doc said I could begin going out to physical therapy.
I prepare for it as though I am going on a date. The therapist today commented on how color coordinated I am. Even my shoes matched. Jim drives me and waits in the car, like a suitor. I also have a student, a friendly and patient young man named John. He treats me with the respect and gentleness that one would give a grandmother. In some way, I like that, but in another, I want to slap him silly.
Today, instead of the other six approaching old age women who are usually there with me, I had to exercise with three young men. Their antics around the gym forced me to asked why in God’s name they were there and the student, in spite of Hipa, said ‘ they’re getting ready to return to sports’. Running up and down stairs, hopping from side to side over a painted line down the center of the room, and noisily throwing a ball against the wall, I was reminded of snow days when my son was a teenager and his friends would come to spend the day.
My exercises consist of gentle stretching, slowly raising my ‘bad’ leg up and down, and riding the exercycle with no resistance for five minutes. In the middle of taking a break from this strenuous activity, I notice, in paranoia, that the ‘boys’ are chuckling among themselves. The lone other elder there looks at me and just shakes her head. ‘They’re laughing at us.’ She says.
So now I am getting really self conscious. John makes me stand up against the wall and stand on my toes. Up down up down, it’s hard, damn it, and one of the boys, the one making the most racket, is laughing, holding his sides, and hysterical, looks over at me. Oh lord, I think, this is worse than going to the prom without a date. I lose track of the toe stands, and signal to John to lead me to the next thing. Please, I think, as he leads me over to the steps, not squats! I can’t do anemic squats in front of Charles Atlas, can I? But that is exactly what I have to do, and besides being nervous about possibly falling backwards, I notice that I am facing the mirror and Mr. Smart Ass is, too. So for ten each, times two, I squat and he is doing something with his pelvis that may be illegal in Arkansas and we are watching each other in the mirror. Mercifully, John rescues me and leads me to the table where he’ll ice my leg and I can go home.
The boys are being hooked up to some kind of nerve stimulator machine right next to me and start watching TV. Unfortuantely, Racheal Ray is on. The commentary from the next table is forcing me to clench my teeth rather than lash out verbally at these morons. It is truly amazing. For the first ten minutes of the hour I was there, I thought, what attractive, vital young men. Now, I just saw a couple of creeps. Then as luck would have it, Sarah Jessica Parker came on for a hair ad. I love her. I loved watching Sex in the City in the series, and then the movie, and everything she was ever in. She sort of breaks the mold for those women who have unconvential looks, I think. The ad is not lost on my neighbors. The loudest one, the cutest one, says ‘She’s too old.’ Having ten pounds of ice bags on my leg make it hard to jump up and strangle him. So I say, ‘She won’t look so old when you are fifty.’ All three of them look right through me.
I noticed just recently how young people seem to be immune to aging. Do they think they will never get old? It happens so fast, you are young, you have energy, are flexible and have no pain, and then you are old, live on Advil, but still feel the same passion and enthusiasum that you did in your youth. It just takes you longer to get there.
My mother is 81 years old, and three months ago, she decided to build a new house. She wants a smaller place with screened porches, on one level for she and my failing sister, and closer to my other sister’s house. Most evenings are spent pouring over house plans. I think it is so wonderful for her to still be in that frame of mind of adventure and most of all, future. She is looking forward.
I hope when she goes to the architect and the builder, they look at her and speak, and not to my sister who accompanies her, like the doctor does. Having grey hair and wrinkles doesn’t mean that her brain isn’t still quick, still able to process. She runs her own businesses, does her own complicated taxes, doles out sage advice to her children.
In the movie, Moonstruck, the old man confronts his son about taking some advice; ‘ I am old. The old are not wanted. And what they say has no weight.’ In a more enlightened society, or an alien planet, perhaps the body will be eliminated and humans will be judged solely on their intellect and hopefully the way they treat other humans.
Which brings us to Karma. Make it clear, I am a Christian. But Karma is such a provacative ideal, and if you eliminate the reincarnation aspect, it is very similar to Galations 6:7, the biblical principle that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” , closely related to idea of the retribution of positive and negative karma.
When the ‘boys’ age, as they will for certain someday, if they live long enough, they may be in a gym with young people and if these precepts are true, will provide fodder for a good laugh.