As I’ve done each year in celebration of my birthday, I took a few minutes to reflect on some of the events that helped me reach another year older. Overall, I’ve been lucky, aside from a few incidents that hindered otherwise perfect health.
As I’ve done each year in celebration of my birthday, I took a few minutes to reflect on some of the events that helped me reach another year older.
Overall, I’ve been lucky, aside from a few incidents that hindered otherwise perfect health.
Most notably is the fact that sometime between last year and this, my arms grew shorter — probably a product of the aging process.
I used to move items at arm’s length to read them, but now I have to wear my bifocal glasses because I can’t make a letter/newspaper/cell phone address book come into focus with my outstretched arm.
It seems especially strange since I still wear the same sleeve length in shirts.
The change in my arms has brought many smiles to my spouse, however, who now asks if she should go to the other side of a room to hold an item so I can read it.
It’s good to know my shortcomings actually are helping to enhance her livelihood, since scientists believe laughter leads to longer life expectancy.
Then there was the strange sound that began coming from my knee.
Up until this birthday, I prided myself in an ability to stay in shape.
I exercised, ran and even played basketball with a group of other guys who believed if we sweat enough, we would remain youthful.
But a couple of months ago, I began rethinking that logic.
The crackle greeting me each morning as I stood up suddenly included a sharp pain that rose through my leg and into my outstretched hand, where I held a clock I was trying to see well enough so I could turn off the alarm.
During my invincible years when I was 20-something, I never realized the necessity for health insurance.
But the ongoing leg trouble made me a believer and advocate.
There have been doctor visits, an MRI and a trip to a specialist.
The near future includes surgery to repair a variety of knee parts I didn’t know existed, let alone was able to pronounce.
At this point, my leg is more valuable than my entire retirement portfolio, and it still aches.
Even though the insurance co-pay is low, I still may need to eventually lease the repaired leg if I plan to retire anytime before my 96th birthday.
It hasn’t been all bad, however.
During the past year, I dropped a few pounds.
This morning, I weighed 16 pounds less than when my wife and I married.
It even helped me drop a couple of waist sizes, which meant I finally had use for the jeans I’d kept at the top of my closet all those years after the dryer “shrunk” them.
And, I hear straight-leg Levi’s soon will be back in style, so the timing couldn’t be better.
I spent a lot of time with family during the past year and finally took a couple vacations with them.
We got to see our oldest son in Florida and walked on a beach and stuck our feet in the ocean before the oil spill.
It means more now, even though at the time our lips turned blue because of an unusually cold December.
And, while I didn’t break any of my bad habits — which included eating fatty foods, chips, Skittles or ingesting several cups coffee each day — I measured success by cutting back on the quantities at each setting.
Now I graze instead of feast.
I didn’t get a new boat, but my wife entertained the notion I could check prices. That was clearly an important first step toward ownership one day.
In all, I counted at least 365 reasons why this may have been the best year yet, which helps me look forward to my next birthday.
And, who knows, if my arms get any shorter, perhaps next year my wife would even stand across the room with my birthday cards so I could see the words.
Of course, I still might have trouble reading them when she’s doubled over in laughter. …
Ken Knepper is publisher of The Newton Kansan and The McPherson Sentinel. He can be contacted at email@example.com.