52 pickup

I used to play a card game with a kid I knew, and I called it 52 Pickup. I told him there were 52 cards in a standard deck of playing cards, then I asked him to hand me his deck of cards. I took the cards in one hand and bent them slightly backwards in my fingers as if I were preparing to shuffle. I then released the tension in my fingers, and the cards sprung out of my hand at him, landing all over the ground. I walked away, saying “now you get to pick them up.” The funny part is that he fell for the joke more than once.

–o–

Getting older means having a new perspective on things you once took for granted: your health, your brainpower, your balance. I have become unnaturally afraid of falling down and breaking bones. I had a fractured hip due to a car crash when I was 26, and I’m afraid it will break again someday. I actually think about falling every time I go down a flight of stairs. Maybe sometime soon I’ll start carrying the Life Alert thing with me (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) I’m somewhat joking, but it’s not very funny when older people fall outside and die of hypothermia because no one was there to help them.

When you’re young, you think that you will live for a very long time, because old people are so damn old. But as the years roll by, you realize you are closer to “old” than you are to “young”, and time is a one-way ticket on a bus to the future. People who talk about time travel always want to go back and be young and do things differently; no one wants to fast-forward to their old age. Middle-aged people don’t usually dream of skipping parts of their life and getting to the end any faster than necessary.

–o–

On my last birthday, I told my wife that if I fall down she might have to play 52 Pickup, except this time it would be picking up my 52-year-old ass off the floor. The funny part is that I had to show her what the original 52 Pickup was like, except she refused to pick up the cards. I guess the joke was on me this time.

Advertisement

in-laws

I’ve been thinking about the brevity of life. We have our loved ones with us for an unknown amount of time, and you never know when that time will end.

My wife’s parents are old, in their late 70s. I know they’ve been “getting older”, but “old” seems to sneak up on people. They both have health issues: my mother-in-law has atrial fibrillation and has a pacemaker, and problems with depression and anxiety; my father-in-law has various things going on with his eyes and knees and digestion.

They handle their age with such grace. They are endearingly stubborn, befitting their midwestern roots. They try not to complain or dwell on the daily aches and pains of getting old. But they don’t fool themselves, and they don’t avoid the fact that their twilight years have arrived.

Despite the longevity in both their families, I fear they might not be with us much longer. I think about how Anne might cope with their passing. I wonder how I will feel, because I will be just as sad.

I look at the in-laws as if they were substitute parents. When my adoptive mom died many years ago, before Anne and I were even married, they helped me deal with A-mom’s affairs and showed me kindness and compassion. They cared for me as if I were family, not just as a boyfriend of their daughter. I will be forever grateful for that.