Geezer Tribe: Just the short of it

by Linda Shaffer

Remember that old saying about “the long and the short of things?” Well, I do. Why? I am reminded of it daily because somewhere between the early 2000s and now I’ve lost four inches in height. For those of you who grew up and stayed up this will not mean much. For the rest of us who grew up and then began to mysteriously shrink, it means a lot. I still don’t know when or how those four inches got away from me but I have some suspicions.
For a lot of people getting old means getting smaller. It’s a scientific fact that your ears and nose continue to get bigger and that just doesn’t seem fair to me. It’s bad enough that your head gets closer to your navel. It’s pure awful when your nose gets in your line of sight and your ears begin to look like opened school bus doors. It’s also awkward that while the rest of your body gets small, your feet get bigger. On my journey from 5’7″ to 5’3″, my feet went from size eight to size nine and a half. I’ve come to believe that gravity has a lot to do with these issues. Where’s Newton when you need him?

I think heredity might have a role to play in this. I had one shrunken grandmother and at least one great grandmother who got small. General good health is probably part of this, too. It doesn’t help that I have osteoporosis and arthritis but I thought all oldies got those. As it turns out some of us age more gracefully and are alot sturdier than others. Mr. S is in this category. He grew up to be 6’2″ tall and still is. Yes, he also has osteoarthritis but sailed through a knee replacement and has kept his strength. This makes me one lucky duck. He is able to mow, water and do other work on the lawn and flowers that I can’t do any longer. Inside, he can reach tall things, slice, chop, peel and lift heavy pans. Without his handy work I’d be cooking out of cans. That’s because I am rarely able to open jars but I do have an electric can opener.
Gadgetry has become a lifestyle for me. I am constantly on the lookout for things that will make life easier. I recently found a really nifty air cushion. Mr. S blew that puppy up, I sat on it and it collapsed. For one joyous moment I felt tall in my chair. Turns out that not all nifty stuff is worthy. My cushion had a hole in it and it took three repairs and the discovery of another leak to get this right. Now I can sit tall for 12 hours or so before I start sinking and we are the proud owners of a vinyl repair kit. I can deal with a slow leak. It occurs to me that life is like that. You are born, you grow up, work, retire and get a slow leak sometime along the way.
My Little Grandma was 92 when she died. She had more calcium in her arteries than she did in her spine. I fear this is the path my body has taken. This means if I have inherited her traits, there are almost 20 of these ever-diminishing body years ahead. It also means I may be in a size 10 1/2 or 11 shoe. Get the clown car. I can’t even imagine how I will be able to balance my little body on those big stompers. Neither can I look forward to a time when I will be physically unable to look up at my beloved Mr. S and will have to talk with his belly button instead. I’m beginning to understand why some old folks just holler at each other from a short distance. It’s the only time they can really see each other.
I say, “Bring on the repair kits.” Have a great week my friends.