These two are more proof that holding to the belief that aging diminishes the mind is just about as foolish (and tragic) an undertaking as one can find. I am at the laundromat because the belt on my dryer decided to break (perhaps boredom resulting from going round and round in one bloody direction for years caused it to snap, who knows.) when I am approached by a delightful couple who ask, "Is that your Rav outside?" They are asking about my Toyota Rav4.
"It is," I say.
"How is it?" says the man, "We’re thinking about a new car."
"Let’s have a look," I say, and the three of us walk out to the car.
We introduce ourselves. They are Joe and Jean. He is 81, she is 82. They are both bursting with life, vitality, rapier sharp intelligence, and the kind of warm good humor and kindness you wish were present in all people. They met at the University of Connecticut. He was studying business, she was studying nursing. Joe is from Hastings on the Hudson in New York, just north of Yonkers. Like me, he is a Yankees fan. Jean is from Seymour Connecticut and seems to be Yankees fan as well.
Soon they are sitting in my Rav, front doors open, as I explain the ins and outs of the vehicle. Next we three are simply standing and talking, the conversation delicious with content, curiosity, and the gift of mutual listening.
As we talk I realize I could be friends with these two in a heartbeat, and so I give each one of my cards and urge them to stay in touch. We talk aging. All three of us are well aware of the importance of exercise, though they are clearly more diligent about exercising than I am.
"You know what they say," Joe says. "You just walk a few blocks every day. Then add on a little at a time."
"When we’re home and watching TV, I just don’t sit there," Jean says. "I get up and walk around during commercials, keep moving."
"I like to park far away from the supermarket so I have to walk," I say. When they both nod their approval of this I want to hug them. I like these two.
"Building muscle is important too," Joe continues. "This fellow I read talks about fat being the fuel and muscle being the engine that needs the fuel. You build up some muscle, it draws from the fat. Even after you’re done, it keeps doing this until you get back to, well -"
"Your baseline," I say.
"Right, your baseline."
During this conversation they ask if I’ve heard of Sally Fallon and I say no. "She’s done a lot of writing about processed food," Jean says. "They take all the good stuff out and put bad stuff in."
"Stay away from dried cereal," Joe says. I make a mental not to read up on Sally Fallon and avoid dry cereal until I learn more.
When I leave the laundromat we say our farewells. I feel a sense of sadness when I drive away, the little boy in me hoping they will write to me. I’d like to know them and spend more time with them.
At any rate, if you are one of the far too many who by choice and deed marginalizes the seniors in this country, let me say two things to you. You should be ashamed of yourself and I bet you eat too much dry cereal.
For all Seniors, keep on walking and the hell with the naysayers.