I had an epiphany of sorts the other day. Since I am now in a retirement community, I am around older people every day. A big majority of them either use walkers or canes to get around. There are over one-hundred independent living apartments in my community that share a common dining room. During each meal, but especially the dinner hour, there are almost as many walkers parked between all the tables as there are people.
When I noticed that a few days ago, I had a sudden flash back to April 2016. That was the month that my wife and I vacationed at Disney World for the first and only time. I remembered the picture above of all the parked stroller around the Magic Kingdom. Little did I know that I would see the same thing, except at the other end of the life spectrum.
My wife said “Disney World is for kids, not adults” and that convinced her that she was not going to have a good time, and of course, she didn’t. Me, being a kid who never grew up, I was having the time of my life. 🤪 I took in all five of the theme parks, but particularly enjoyed the Star Wars stuff. But, I’m getting, as usual, off track here. Let’s get back to my retirement community.
While I was eating dinner the other night it suddenly struck me that
We start and end out life on wheels
When we are babies, who have yet to learn to walk, we are in strollers. Then, when we get old, and can no longer walk on our own, we are on walkers. I find that kinda ironic and a little sad at the same time.
I will admit that all these walkers that crowd the dining room are a little depressing to me. If I don’t die suddenly from a heart attack, I will likely need a walker, but not right now, I am more active now than I was five years ago. Now that I am in a retirement community that has a two-third mile outside walking path, I regularly get two miles or more of cardio exercise daily, and I even regularly visit the almost always empty exercise room.
I just can’t help feeling that I don’t belong here, at least just yet. But, here I am. Did I jump into this too soon? I don’t know. None of us ever want to admit that we are old. Old is always at least ten year beyond our present age. My logical brain tells me that I need to be here, as there is no longer anyone to help for me with aging or with the hearing world. There is no longer anyone to help me if tragedy strikes.
When I used to think about a retirement community, I was dreaming of it being filled with active people who enjoyed each other’s company. You know, like all the smiling faces in the pictures you see at most retirement community websites. I just didn’t see a sea of walkers wherever I went. I guess I need to remember the old saying:
Things are never as good as you hoped, or as bad as you dreaded.
I just wish there were more 75-year-young active folks here besides me. Maybe there are, and I just haven’t discovered them yet… I gotta put that on my list.
4 thoughts on “RetComLife #11 – The Wheels of Life”
For the last several years of my mom’s life she used a walker that was nicknamed, Big Red. At my parent’s retirement community most folks had to take their walker right to their dining table.
I still remember the obstacle course feeling of weaving around them to get to the buffet area. It was a little disconcerting, but a necessary skill to learn.
Thanks for the insight, Bob. After reading the post again, I think I was a little rough on my view of walkers. Yeah, they are part of life. I should be looking at the folks instead of their walkers. I’m sure there many interesting stories of those controlling each one of those walkers.
Thanks for helping me understand that…
Those of us who feel we’re different, for whatever reason, also often have the feeling we just don’t fit in. Sometimes we celebrate that difference. Sometimes it’s tough. Sometimes it’s both. I hope that this time, your difference in this manner inspires some others to take to that walking path or use the workout room, in whatever capacity they can. Believe me, I don’t say that flippantly with no understanding of why they might not. In my mid-60’s, several medical problems combined to require me to use a cane for two and a half years. By the end of that time, just before a first brain surgery in 2016, I really needed a walker to be truly safe, as I was falling despite the cane. I worked hard then and after that first brain surgery and the second to regain my mobility and hang my cane up on the wall. No, you don’t fit that demographic in that manner, and I suspect you’d be in that weight room or tooling around that walking path in whatever capacity you could, no matter the challenges. But I think you’ve answered your own question after Bob’s reply: you can also look at the folks instead of their walkers.
Thanks, Linda, for the wonderful example of how we should be looking at the person and not the aids they need. You are quite a lady. Yeah, not fitting in has been my life like forever. But, in my case, it sometimes becomes more of an excuse than a help.