January 14, 2011

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Giving aid and comfort to the ‘enemy’

Cynthia DewesDoes the beginning of a new year find you feeling more like the old bearded guy in the baggy outfit leaning on a cane, rather than the cheery, diapered baby wearing a “2011” sash over his chest?

Well, if it’s the former, you have probably seen several, if not scores, of new years come and go. Either that or you’ve had remarkably bad luck!

As a case in point, I think of my college roommate who complained recently that she was making mistakes, something she never did before. She is indeed an extremely competent woman, whose life usually runs smoothly thanks to her ability to reason and focus.

She was actually indignant about it, and did not appreciate it when I laughed and said she should “join the club.” I meant the club consisting of members over 60 or more years for whom memory lapses are an unfortunate byproduct of aging. They cause all of us eventually to make silly mistakes. That’s just the way it is when we are human.

Somehow, the rest of the world knows who we are, and our mail becomes filled with innumerable catalogs of “comfort aids” to prove it. We are offered ways to hear better, be more mobile, digest foods more efficiently, and fulfill almost any other bodily need you can think of. It is embarrassing just to read the darn things.

We learn to our chagrin that when the Scripture tells us we must learn to be humble, it means humble as in humiliated. We don’t really understand what humble means until we are older. That new-year baby in diapers is cute, but we in our adult versions are simply humble. But that’s OK when we consider the alternative.

Who knew you could buy a 14-day pill tote that looks like a book? You can always pretend it is your Kimble or maybe your portable laptop. And how about those big-print items that would knock the socks off the normal reader? Things like the telephone dial and the oven timer and the clock numerals, not to mention the numbers on that 14-day pill tote.

We fondly remember the days when sleep basically involved just a comfortable mattress and a pillow. Now we have pillows shaped in every contortion imaginable to fit our knobby old bodies, necks, elbows, tummies—you name it. And we have cushions galore—for the car driver’s seat, the car’s back seat, your lounge chair, your dining chair and even the chair in that private room.

Comfort in clothing takes on new meaning in these catalogs as well with various apertures and fasteners designed to help you get in and out of things. Beauty, stylishness and tailored fit are not considerations in these items. For sure.

If we still have our original teeth, there are all kinds of whiteners, straighteners and what-have-yous to make them more presentable, and if we don’t then there are creative soaks, holders, refiners and patching devices to improve our false ones. This is but the tip of the iceberg of implements designed to restore what age hath taken away or changed dramatically. It is a wonder second only to God’s creation itself!

Personally, I am grateful to God 1) for life itself, and 2) for whatever help that I can get in retaining it in some usable and less annoying semblance. I truly appreciate what has been given to me, and also what I can manage to maintain by my own efforts.

Life is beautiful at any age—and in any condition.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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