Friday, December 09, 2005

I Grow Old

And how should I presume? And how should I begin?

"I grow old, I grow old,
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."

Actually I only wear jeans. My good clothes are being held for ransom by our former maid, as any of you know who've troubled to read this saga. But age, age, yes--these last two years have aged me precipitously. I have developed high blood pressure. When we got back to Mexico last December with only a liter of gas and five pesos, my pressure was 190/110. As BP meds are over-the-counter here, I have tried Cardizem and Zestril with varied success, but I know I need to stop drinking altogether as that is my highest factor. When I give up drinking the only drug left to me will be caffeine. Thus I'll end up like all my Nordic relatives in Minnesota, who invariably ask for coffee at cocktail hour. Our own Chaffin family tradition is to get "half in the bag" at cocktail hour and then decide whether to exercise the "full bag" option later, which our father frequently did. To find him early in the morning curled up in a fetal position always seemed so strange--that such a large and loud man could look so much like an infant. But "The child is the father to the man."

The newest delay in our court case was explained to me yesterday: The civil judge did not know what felony to charge, so he passed the case on to the criminal judge, who increased the felony charge to "extortion," which carries a mandatory prison sentence. Now we wait for the maize-grinding wheels of justice to slouch toward Bethlehem. And as good Christians, Kathleen suggested we visit Maria in prison, if we stay that long.

I did give up drinking for five years around age 40. In looking back I don't think my life was any better or worse, though my health was. And I was definitely less social during that time.

To give you an idea of how I've transitioned into old age, I was playing chess with a friend last night and we were comparing blood pressures with different machines. He's a 65-yr-old former dentist who claims his frequent use of herbal smoke keeps his pressure down; I told him he'd smoke it even if he didn't have a BP problem, but that he sure has a good excuse.

If I play chess and compare blood pressure with my friends, can shuffle board and feeding pigeons be far behind? Then diapers would be a convenience, as I wouldn't have to get up at night. When I stop drinking maybe I won't have to--at least for a while. And I, too, would someday like to terrorize shopping aisles with my souped-up electric wheelchair--my, those hot-rodding chairbound geezers are a public menace!

"Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season,"

Thine if you'll have me,



  1. Reading, sympathizing, commenting.

    Sounds like slow justice is at least pointed
    in the right direction now. As for your aging
    issues… well, what can a 24 year old say
    that wouldn’t just piss you off. If you’ll recall,
    youth isn’t always all its cracked up to be either.
    At any rate, I’m rooting for you
    and I wish I had something dazzling to say
    that could cheer you up.

  2. I love that poem, but unlike Eliot, I don't think you're shrinking.

    I must have gotten the MN DNA -- I like to drink weak coffee with my meals. Uff da.

    As for aging, it is inevitable, but you do need to get out of that hellhole for your health. When I think my waist is getting fat, I remember what Anne LaMott's friend, dying of cancer, said to her when she asked if her jeans made her butt look big: "You don't have that kind of time." We don't.

    Give Kathleen a hug for me -- I hope you will be back soon.

  3. Thanks, Jarod and Elisa.

    Yes, vanity has never been a big issue with me, though I do look slimmer now as I have controlled the amoebas better this trip.

    What's really strange is that my disability insurance company has not responded to me in writing since July, and I requested parameter for how often I am required to see American doctors. My six-month follow-up with a pain specialist is due in February, but they won't say anything. I think I spooked them and they fear legal reprisals.

    Oh well, I like Annie LaMott and yes, think about the important things. Watching television makes one think we should all look like Barbie and Ken. But who wants to be a doll? Give me character in a face and strength in a body and I'm happy.

    Craig Erick


Please share your opinion!

Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008 ON SALE NOW!