The Elderly Man Turned and Smiled
by Kathy Newman
Two hours of walking Alice, the Aussiedoodle and then, Gordon, the Westie, left me in need of a cup of hot peppermint tea, a cozy chair and a good story. However, as soon as I gave in to that cozy chair, my osteoarthritis told me to get up and move again.
So, I comply and stand up to practice the F Key chords on my new ukulele. Barry Luft, the incredible Duke of the Uke, is my instructor and said that playing the ukulele will take one’s mind off aches, pains and worries and he is right! Learning new chords while singing familiar songs is completely absorbing and much better than Absorbine Junior for my aging, physical education teacher joints.
Keep moving and keep thinking while having fun seemed to be the motto of the Skyline Hikers too. When I was a fit forty -year -old, Marquita, my teaching partner and I challenged ourselves to a week of mountain hiking with the Skyline group. Half-way through the week of daily excursions, I learned an important lesson when the elderly man ahead of me on the muddy, slippery trail stopped, turned and smiled at me. Out of breath, I stopped too and whispered, “I am glad that you stopped. Uphill in mud is hard work and I need to catch my breath.”
His response was one that I will never forget, “Oh, I just thought that I had better let my pacemaker catch up!” He was in his eighties and still loved hiking in the mountains even though he had undergone heart surgery!
Evening campfires were part of the mountain hiking fun too as stories were told and songs were sung. At the end of our fresh air week, our oldest hiker at 95 years young, gave this announcement: “This will be my last Skyline Hike. Next summer, I am joining the Elder Hostel group as they sleep in real beds at night. Camping on the hard ground, even with a good foamy just isn’t working for these old bones.”
Another lesson well learned. When physical limitations interfere with past fun, then find a new solution but don’t stop moving! Turn your life around and Smile! Dogs are relentless task masters so I walk and tea will have to wait!!
Photo: Skyline Hikers