Saturday, February 28, 2009

Knocked Out

Several years ago, actually 12 years ago, my Mother told me she knew when she was old when she knew she couldn’t hoe that extra six rows of corn. My Mother was 72 years told at the time. My Father always had a vegetable garden on their three acres of land in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He lovingly worked that ground for over 40 years (since 1958.) Pop always planted more than the family could eat or can. Pop’s Garden (as we in the family called it) was his identity. He would start his seedlings early in the spring and put them out after the first frost. When my two younger brothers and I were growing up, he would rope us into weeding his rows and rows of corn. At that time his garden was in a field behind the Gindy Trailer Manufacturing plant in Downingtown.

My brothers and I eventually left home to start our own families. Pop continued to have his garden. He and Mom would do the weeding. Actually, Mom did the weeding by using her hoe. Well, this one summer day, she went up in the late afternoon to hoe six rows of corn. She finished and was wiped out. For the first time in her life she said that she knew she was old because she felt her body couldn’t recover as fast. This was unlike previous years that she could come home from working at shift at the Pepperridge Farms layer cake division, cook up a big meal for the men in her family, and then go up in the garden and hoe until dark. Oh no, those days were over forever.

I’ve often thought of my Mother’s realization of the day she knew she was old. I thought, “When would be my day of reckoning?” I think yesterday was the day. I have fourteen Pampas grass plants around my one acre of property here in beautiful Sussex County, Delaware. The time to trim the dead grass from last year is early spring. It is now early spring. I was waiting for a mild day so it wouldn’t be so torturous. Yesterday was such a mild day although the wind were high.

Wednesday I attacked the Pampas grass surrounds the generator on the border of my property and my neighbors the Murphys. That was a BIG job. My body paid the price with aches and pains for a few days after that. Yesterday, in spite of the 30 MPH gusts of wind, I decided to attack the Pampas grass adjoining my back deck and my other neighbor’s fence. For over two hours, I cut, fought, and bagged the dried tan grass stalks. At the end of two hours I was exhausted. I don’t know if it was because I was fighting the constant heavy winds or just all that bending over for sustained periods of time. All I know is that I was totally EXHAUSTED. I am still exhausted. Even after going to bed early last night (9 o’clock with is really early for me), I am still exhausted. I am telling you, I am WIPED OUT.

Maybe this is it. Yesterday I passed the Rubicon. I think I entered into the next phase of my life. For several years now the face I see in the mirror every morning is of some old man. Couldn’t be me. I blamed the haggard appearance on whatever stressful situation I went through the previous day. However, overtime I realized that the same tired, haggard face has been looking at me for years now. It gets harder and harder to take a good picture. This is something else my Mother has told me. “The older you get, the more you will find it is hard to get a good picture of yourself.” Oh how true. Those good pictures are getting harder and harder to come by.

But back to this exhaustion I am feeling now. I have three more Pampas grass bushes to trim. I really don’t know when I’m going to get around to cutting them back. Right now my whole body is aching, especially my back. All I can think about is lying down on my bed, reading a good book, and drifting off to sleep. I’m updating my blog now which I didn’t do yesterday because I was so tired. I have company coming over for dinner tonight. I want to be at my freshest and wittiest with my guests tonight. The only way I can accomplish that goal is to take a nap now. I remember something an old boss used to tell me “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” Well, I’m no sissy but I am getting old. Gone are the days where I could work all day and stay up most of the night and get up early the next day and do it all over again. Ah youth, it is indeed wasted on the young. I am now knocking on the door of Old Age.


  1. Ron,

    Two weeks ago in Sunday School our teacher made a remark about getting old. A lady in the class remarked, what do you mean getting? We've arrived.

    Last Christmas my dad made the comment that said he had too. he said, "I use to lift 400 pound bundles, now I struggle with 20 pounds.

    I have the same problem. Once I could press 150 pounds straight overhead, now lifting a forty pound bag of cat litter into the car trunk is a major effort and it takes double the effort to lift them out again.

    I came to my realization sometimes last year, I guess. I was doing yard work and after an hour had to sit down a bit, and after another hour or so had to call it a day and leave much unfinished. I came in, grabbed a cold drink and flopped on the sofa because that was as far as I had steam left to get. I sat there and thought i use to go out and do all the necessary, mowing, clipping, edging, trimming, cleaning and what have you in a morning. Now I'm lucky to complete the mowing in the same time.

    In my mind I don't feel old. But my body parts keep up a chorus of "hey youngster, slow down, you may not feel old, but this body sure does!"


  2. Thank goodness it is not just me! I never gave much thought about hitting the Old Wall. I guess the time has come to face facts, I just can't do what I used to and it isn't going to get any better. Like you, in my mind I don't feel old but my body parts tell me something different. Even at work, it wasn't that many years ago I could stand up most of the eight hour shift behind the front desk. Now, that is just impossible. Maybe two or three hours but the whole eight hours? No way.

    I love working outside in my garden but I definitely have to ration out my time. Maybe an hour of work then rest, then another hour or so. I have to plan my physical activity a day ahead. No more going out and working full tilt until darkness.

    When I go to bed at night it doesn't take me long to get to sleep. Then when I wake up in the morning I feel like I really had a deep sleep. Mouth dry, and feeling like I've risen from the dead. Actually, I have risen from a dead sleep.

    I used to go on long walks. I felt like I could walk indefinitely. Not now, sometimes I worry that I won't make it home. Actually, I do. I have never felt that before. And to think I used to walk from Gindys (after cleaning the offices) to my home in East Brandywine township every night. I used to walk from the high school, up Rock Raymond Road to Hopewell Road. I used to do that all the time. I can see myself trying to do that now....I doubt if I would make it. The old bod is giving out Lar. Father Time is winning.

  3. "good pictures" of yourself are not for you to judge. We are the worst judges of our own photos.

    It is how you look to friends as you are today that counts. The joy shows through and the way you carry yourself is how your images will be remembered.

    Don't be hard on yourself.

    When you see that image in the mirror look at it carefully and remind yourself that you are still here and survived the worst plague in history, and you survived with dignity and a sense of humour intact.

    That, my friend, is no easy feat.

  4. Well said my friend. And, of course, the same could be applied to you. Look at what you have survived, especially the past few years. From my vantage point you have emerged a stronger and more resiliant man. This was your test and you passed with flying colors. Of course you aren't swimming in $$$$$$ but hey, who is? I would have never dreamed that I would have a $100,000 mortgage hanging over my head at this age but hey, I'm living life and loving it more than ever. Thanks for your words of encouragement. They mean a lot.

    P.S. BTW, you look better than ever. A lean and mean fighting machine. You know what I mean?

    What was the motto that RFK had in Latin as his motto?
    "Non illegitimes carborundum"

  5. Here is more than you ever wanted to know about the phrase "Illegitimis non carborundum"

    (Phrase Origins)

    Yes, this means "Don't let the bastards grind you down", but it is not real Latin; it is a pseudo-Latin joke.

    "Carborundum" is a trademark for a very hard substance composed of silicon carbide, used in grinding. (The name "Carborundum" is a
    blend of "carbon" and "corundum". "Corundum" denotes aluminium oxide, and comes to English from Tamil _kuruntam_; it is related to
    Sanskrit _kuruvinda_ = "ruby".) "The "-ndum" ending suggests the Latin gerundive, which is used to express desirability of the activity denoted by the verb, as in _Nil desperandum_ = "nothing to
    be despaired of"; _addendum_ = "(thing) fit to be added";_corrigendum_ = "(thing) fit to be corrected"; and the name Amanda,
    from _amanda_ = "fit to be loved").

    _Illegitimis_ is the dative plural of _illegitimus_ =
    "illegitimate"; the gerundive in Latin correctly takes the dative todenote the agent. _Illegitimus_ could conceivably mean "bastard" in Latin, but was not the usual word for it: _Follett World-Wide Latin
    Dictionary_ (Follett, 1967) gives _nothus homo_ for bastard of known father, and _spurius_ for bastard of unknown father.

    The phrase seems to have originated with British army intelligence early in World War II. It was popularized when U.S. general Joseph W. "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell (1883-1946) adopted it as his motto. Various variant forms are in circulation.


  6. Yes, I had read that later after I posted my blog. Like most things in this world and life, things are not always as they seem to me.


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