I have a lot of trouble getting up, after I’ve been sitting for awhile. My job has me working in the field, and it takes me an hour to get to my first stop. When I get out of the car, I have to hang onto the door handles and slowly inch my way to the back door to get my briefcases. Then I hobble for several feet, until my legs get used to walking again. I asked my boss to do an AIDS walk with me today, and she told me that she didn’t think I could make it. It was only 2K. I have been walking a little over a mile in the mornings. It takes a few minutes to get stabilized, but then I’m OK and I actually walk fairly normally.
But lately I’ve been wondering…how long, old legs? How long will it be before I need a wheelchair? I’m not TOTALLY worried about that, because I can still work. If I get a lightweight wheelchair, I can get up and fold it up and put it in the backseat, and walk to the driver’s side. It won’t stop me. But, I can already tell that people’s perceptions of me are declining. I can’t do the AIDS walk. Then, tonight I went to a fundraiser at the church and I was trying to help with cleanup. They were arranging the chairs back into the sanctuary. I was trying to lift the chairs from the top of the stack and they were very heavy. Consequently I tipped them and the hymnals stored under each chair fell out. Finally, a couple of women younger than myself told me, “We’ve got this.” I felt discarded. I know that I was just making more work for others, but when does it become more useful to push somebody to the side? Churches are full of older people, and not all of us are physically capable. But aren’t we morally obligated to help them feel useful?
At work this week, my boss told me that I was one of the best at covering my caseload. She said it is remarkable, since I just started this job 3 months ago. Lots of people that have been there longer, aren’t as good at covering all of their clients. I felt proud. It is necessary for me to work. While my husband has a very good job, plus writes books and has many additional moneymaking opportunities, we made a family decision to pay for the best colleges that our children could get accepted into. My son’s choice was in California, but my daughter went back East. Then, I decided to get my doctorate and even though I continued to work, I entered the realm of costing money, instead of making money. So, I figure that I will need to work until I’m 100, in order to pay everybody’s student loans. That used to be an easy decision. I was fit and healthy and had enough energy to burn. But, when Artie came to live with us, I started to wonder, “How long, old legs?”
I’ve been thinking about buying a beautiful, classy walking stick. You know, one of those gnarled wooden ones, buffed to a shine, like you might use on the trail. I want a young walking stick…one that befits a woman of my presence. A woman that laughs, and creates, and is inquisitive. A woman that helps to support her family, plus works to help those less fortunate. No stodgy cane will do. Maybe, with a walking stick like that, someone will walk the AIDS walk with me next year. Image is everything…and right now, I think my image is lacking. I need to reach down inside, and get myself back. Artie is trying to block me…but I’m stronger than him…I think.