Frank retired from 30 years in the navy and at age 52 started a second career as a deputy sheriff in San Diego county California. He worked in the county jails for the next ten years. Frank had been a runner since high school so he was able to keep up with classmates half his age during a very physical Sheriffs academy.
Now for Frank’s little rant on aging which was written some 8 years after he became a deputy sheriff.
Pain? Every day in ways large and small. Pain is just the punctuation. The narrative is dropping things, or missing altogether. It's not whipping around the guy driving at exactly the speed limit in the middle lane, head up, hands at 10 and 2, wearing a sanctimonious expression worthy of the Church Lady, because you no longer trust your once quick reflexes to always be there. It's using a small hand-held light to read the newspaper in ambient light the younger deputies could use to thread a needle. It's applying Bag Balm to both heels under a large band-aid and expensive paper tape so your dried out heels will last through 12 hours of walking, with some running thrown in just to keep you sweaty. It's running to a cover call knowing that every bruise you get will take three times longer to heal than any the younger deputies acquire. It's responding to a radio call of, "11-45" and hoping you don't look like a fool for showing up with a shroud cutter because you keep getting "11-45" (attempt suicide) mixed up with "11-47" (Injured person). It's carrying a laminated list of phone numbers because, after five years in the same jail, you still haven't memorized a lot of them. It's writing a crime report that gets read by the Sergeant during his brief as an example of a good one, then getting your next one back with twenty corrections. It's reaching for a letter and not finding it when you know exactly where you last put it down. You find it two days later on the back of the kitchen counter and realize that you are the only person on the planet who could have put it there. It's reading the obits and noting that a fair number of that day's harvest were younger than you.
A lifetime ago, I worked for J&J Construction on a pipeline crew in Oklahoma. The lead peon always made sure we had a working radio in the company truck so we could listen to Paul Harvey during our lunch break. One day Paul was talking about his summer home near a large lake. By eight AM, the lake was overrun with water craft equipped with loud smelly engines. His group always went to the water very early so they would be gone when the noise and exhaust fumes arrived. Because, he said, “One should enjoy the pain free years." I recall wondering what he was talking about. Now, sadly, I know
As someone who has suffered with fibromyalgia since my thirties, this really hit home with me. I am just amazed that someone as fit as Frank would be able to express my feelings so clearly. We do truly think alike.