I forget how old I am sometimes. I wake each morning to a day that gives me a few minutes to imagine I’m still in my 20s or 30s before reflecting my true age in the bathroom mirror.
I don’t complain of aches to anyone and I seldom find myself at a doctor’s office.
Sure. I know a strenuous day will tire me more than it used to. But I’ve never given my family reason to worry about my health or safety.
Until this weekend.
In one afternoon, I’ve changed in her eyes from “good old Mom” to “poor Mom”. Since that day, I feel them accessing my every movement for signs of deterioration.
And I owe it all to a lawn game.
We had a family barbecue. After the hamburgers and chips, we set up the Cornhole game for a little friendly competition. My daughter and son-in-law took turns tossing bags and talking trash; John and I competed with all the enthusiasm of Olympic athletes.
Now, Cornhole is the least strenuous of all games, slightly more taxing to the body than playing checkers. You throw. You make sounds of joy or disappointment. You bend to pick up bags. That’s it.
However, it does involve standing and walking. And that’s where I failed.
After several games, we decided to change positions…the sun was shining in one teams’ eyes and we needed to keep things fair. John and I agreed to go to the “sunny side” for the final match.
As I ambled across the lawn, my left foot caught on one of the tiny legs that held the Cornhole boards upright. What followed was a cartoon of chaotic motion. I stumbled forward in tiny prances; I’m sure I looked like a show pony trotting along in exhibition.
After about six steps forward, I found myself careening sideways. My arms whirled in a helicopter motion, trying to keep myself upright.
But it was inevitable. In the moments before impact, the consequences ahead flashed through my mind.
First, I thought of my hips. It is common knowledge that the framework of anyone over 50 will crumble if they fall. I tried to angle for a full-face fall instead of hip-slamming contact. My knees were new; mustn’t hit those.
But I knew the worst pain of this fall would not be physical. I knew what would happen. And it did.
“ARE YOU OKAY???” My daughter and granddaughter ran to my aid. I ended up on my side with a pain in my thigh and a mortified grin on my face.
“Of course I am!” I yelled. Even if I’d needed traction, I was not about to admit pain. To do so would be to signal my first descent into the “twilight years of dotage” that my family is sure will happen soon.
I took a breath and popped up, using my hand/foot/prop technique that gets me up nowadays. No need to get my knees involved.
I wobbled to the “sunny side” of the game and played with artificial gusto. And, all the while, I could feel the glances of concern and pity on my daughter’s face.
“She’s prone to falling now,” I could feel her thinking. “We will need to keep her off that kitchen stool and make sure her shoes are tied tightly.”