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JIM “PAPPY” MOORE: Geriatric Jeopardy!


While writing this weekly column I have gone from my mid-fifties to my early seventies. In our fifties we can still kid ourselves as memories of our recent fitness linger. By the early seventies we are experiencing the vicissitudes of aging.

Many of us have watched Jeopardy for many years. We know that our answer must be in the form of a question. Sometimes I imagine myself playing a round of what I like to call Geriatric Jeopardy!

“Alex, I’ll take ‘Strange Bruises’ for $500.” 

Getting old means having bruises you do not remember getting. Or you do recall getting but didn’t think they’d be that bad. Sometimes you realize that large, dark bruise on your forearm is really noticeable. “When did I get that?” As you search your memory, you think back to times getting into the car, or out of the car, or helping the kids at the playground, or carrying in the groceries. Oh, wait. I bumped into the shower door. It never occurred to me at the time it would bruise.

Remember when we used the expression “thin-skinned” metaphorically? Those were the good old days! Now it is an actual condition. The skin becomes thinner, almost like strong tissue paper. Doesn’t take much to rupture those capillaries lying beneath the surface.

Alex, I’ll take “Things That Make My Back Hurt” for $800.”

When I was a teenager working at Massingill’s Meat Market, I routinely lifted 250-pound quarters of beef, carried them 40-50 feet, and hung them on a hook. Many times each week.  Strained and struggled, but got the job done. Now I have to limit my lifting to about fifty pounds. I can carry eighty pounds if I use both arms. It doesn’t take heavy lifting to hurt my back. Here are some answers I would rather not tell on myself, but will anyway: sneezing; coughing; leaning over to pick up something I dropped on the floor; standing on one foot while reaching to get something from the top shelf; stepping into or out of the car.

“Alex, I’ll take ‘Worrying About Things I Never Worried About When I Was Younger’ for $1000.”

A good friend and I sometimes talk about things that worry us now that we never worried about when we were younger. Driving, for example. Heavy traffic makes me nervous. I used to drive in heavy traffic in Houston almost every day of the week. Merging onto highways, getting off of highways, always having traffic that was routinely driving over the speed limit, at all times of day and night. Now it freaks me out when anyone is driving more than 5 MPH over the speed limit. 

Then there’s driving at night. I used to love driving at night, making great time with less traffic. I could drive 1000 miles in 18 hours and be fantastic at doing so. Now it’s daylight hours almost exclusively for me. I like to be able to see in broad daylight all that lies ahead, all that is behind, and every vehicle as it approaches intersecting with me.

The cushion I like around me while driving has enlarged. Give me a hundred yards in front of me, behind me, and beside me on the highway and I’ll be just fine. Crowd me and I’ll be looking for a way to make some space.

One of the most important things about getting older is coming to terms with your limitations. As Clint Eastwood said as his character Dirty Harry “a man’s got to know his limitations.” To use a phrase, we grew up with “don’t bite off more than you can chew.” Pace yourself. Don’t lift too much. Don’t strain too hard. Don’t hurt yourself trying to prove to yourself you can still do something you could do ten or twenty years ago. 

We are beings which peak physically and then go downhill over time. Accept what you must and keep your body doing its job as best you can. But do not overdo it, or you’ll end up injured.

Life is pretty good. Savor each year. 

Copyright 2021, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.

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