When I was a kid, I thought that 77 years old was beyond ancient. Some of our grandchildren, even now call those years, “The Cave Days.” I guess some of this is payback for some of things I thought about old people when I was a squirt. My mother’s parents died in their late 60’s and early 70’s. My father’s parents died in their mid-70. So, what should I think about me, as a 77 year old.
Funny, I don’t think of myself as old in my head. My memory has not yet clouded and I can still do my walking without cane or a walker. I am not yet tottering, although I do find myself repeating some of the jokes that I have heard. Three Jews walk into a deli . . .
Yet, my mind goes in different directions once a year. It is in July or early August that we trundle on down to Ashville, NC to visit with my sister-in-law’s relatives. Her husband’s sister and HER husband live there for a good part of the year. Now let’s get this straight. My wife is 73, I am 77. My wife’s sister is going on79. Her husband is 82. His sister is 78 and her husband is 79. So, you get the picture. These are 6 people who are not spring chickens.
I could tell you a fib and say that we are spry for our age. That would be a load of bull. Some of us have canes. Some of us have to sit down after a walk. Some of us a partially deaf. Some need a nap in the afternoon and we all of live better through chemistry. Going out to dinner or some other place requires some planning. First of all, we all need to go in one car. Following each other is useless. Even if we were towing each other, we would not get to the same place.
So, one of us has to have a vehicle that holds six people. That would be Carol and me. We have a mini-van that sits six comfortably. The loading of the car is part of a silent movie by Charlie Chaplin. The first problem is having someone in the front seat next to the driver who knows where we are going. Once that is settled, we have the usual, “Do we have the sun screen, hats our wallets or our purses…” Do we have water, if we aren’t near any place that has water? O.K., now we are ready to load the other four people. Getting into the back seat, which requires folding the middle seat down, is the venue of small people. Unfortunately, we have 5 small people and me (a moderate sized person). There are discussions about who is going to get in first and can we please put up the air conditioning (it is 91 degrees). At last the back seat and the middle seat are occupied. I really don’t look back to see where anyone is.
I start the car, not realizing that I have the hand brake on. The car lurches forward and my front seat mate, Bob, says, I think the brake is on. All this as I am backing up close to the edge of a cliff that could send us down into perdition.
The next move is to get down a really steep hill. These folks have a house that could actually be an eagle’s nest. It is high up on top of a mountain (actually the Pisgeh Mountains). I make sure that my gears are down to the lowest and that I drive oh so carefully, because the road really does not accommodate 2 cars. I do this successfully and utter a sigh of relief when we get to the main road.
We lurch out into traffic and head towards a number of quilt shops that interest some of us. The male people are not so interested. We kind of wait outside these places or go to other places in the strip malls. We spy a Fresh Market store (like Whole Foods) and wander through. The prices are beyond high. It is obviously for folks who don’t mind overspending for olive oil and esoteric wines and pastries. I center on lactaid milk, some fancy cheese and a gluten free bread. All of these run me $28.01. I think I can buy a pair of shoes at Payless for less.
We finish the quilt shop tour in 90 degree heat and head over to a brewery that has become a destination place in Ashville. It is called Sierra Nevada. It really is a massive place and it is crowded up the kazoo. More to come.