Our friend, John, who is sitting at the head of the table on the left, gets up and walks down to Zaf, who is sitting at the head of the table on the right. As he approaches, he lifts his pant leg to show his knee replacement scar. Zaf stands up and shows him his scar. Mike and Jerry, who are also seated at the table each call out: “I got one too! The Scar Wars began! The talking becomes animated as each guy tries to share their knee-replacement experience. We women laugh at their antics. And then, after a beat, my sister says: “Well, I had hip surgery 2 years ago…” and boom, we are now talking about our ailments too!
The funny thing is, as we begin to make plans to go out to dinner, someone always states “we are not going to talk about our medical issues – we will talk about other things that make us laugh”!” We all agree and hope for the best. Sometimes we are good at it and sometimes we just fall back to our old habit of discussing aches, pains, medicines, procedures, doctors, insurance, walkers, hearing aids, etc.
I told Zaf I didn’t want to go out to dinner with them anymore – it’s too depressing – he said ok. But he knows better. Hanging out with our crowd is a good thing as we are considered the “younger ones” even though Zaf is about the same age as the other guys; he works full time though, so he hasn’t “graduated” into retirement yet. Besides, who else understands what we are going through other than our friends who are in their sixties and seventies. We are going through this stage in our lives together. Children and grandchildren are thoughtful and kind, but they are clueless as to what it means to get up in the morning and ache all over. The kisses they give us are a good remedy though!
On our recent vacation to Aruba, we were relaxing on one of the many patios of our hotel; a woman walks up to Zaf and says: you had knee surgery? – as she points to his knee. Zaf said yes and she took off like a rocket about her upcoming knee surgery, her fears, her doctor’s experience, pain medication, etc. While we wanted to assure her that all would be well, we couldn’t get a word in edgewise….as we finally broke free, I told Zaf not to wear shorts again. 😊
Indeed, we are on our way to being retire-agers and we have the scars to prove it. Some are visible on the outside and some live on the inside. Some we got on our journey so far (hard-earned and well-deserved), some are newly acquired (aging) and I would venture to say, there might be some in store for us in years to come (more aging!).
I find it interesting that a few people I’ve met try to cover up the scars and several others wear them with pride. It seems to me that this is based on how you feel about yourself. Typically, on one day we could be confident about who we are and the very next day, we find ourselves on the couch, the back of wrist lying on our forehead and thinking “who am I?” This makes us all very human.
By retirement age, we should be past this. Exploring how it would be if we didn’t focus on our back twinges or our stomach discomforts, would be a good way to begin. Each time I sense a throbbing sensation on my left leg, (disc is out of whack), I take my medicine and keep moving murmuring to myself “I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay”. Somebody once said to act a feeling until it becomes real…and so I do it. There isn’t any other way to tell the tale that you are still alive and succeeding with this aging thing.
We are on it!
Picture of Zaf’s scar from The Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
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