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Constance Alexander: From fit to spry in the blink of an eye — but assuring you, Paul McCartney lives

Two good habits, maybe three, are all I can boast: Wearing a seat belt, not smoking, and maintaining a regular regimen of jogging. Since these practices are part of my routine, I don’t think about them much. Up until last Friday, in fact, I considered myself reasonably fit. But now that has changed.

Please let me explain.

It was an annual wellness visit, and I was chatting with the health care professional administering a routine medical test. When the topic of aging and its challenges came up, our discussion drifted into the growing needs of aging Baby Boomers, of which I am one.

I mentioned the plight of many families, children and grandchildren so far-flung that their ability to assist ailing and aging loved ones may be difficult, if not impossible. For women like me, with no children, the prospects are even less rosy.

“Who is going to take care of us?” I asked as we were finishing up.

“Well, it’s a good thing you’re spry,” the woman replied.

As I retreated to my car, the word “spry” reverberated in my brain like the almost forgotten chant, “Paul is dead. Paul is dead.”

I had never succumbed to the conspiracy theory from the late 1960s that the Beatles Paul McCartney had actually died and been replaced by a lookalike, but now those words seemed to connect to being called “spry.”

Of course, “spry” is a perfectly lovely word, a bit terse perhaps, but it does its business efficiently. The trouble is – at least in my mind – that old people are spry. I am fit. Or so I thought.

Upon further reflection, however, I realized that in many meetings these days, I am the oldest person. I am careful not to say things like, “We tried that before and it didn’t work,” and have to bite my tongue rather than remind sales and service people “You’re welcome” is the appropriate response to “Thank you,” rather than the ubiquitous, “No problem.”

While I am still and always the youngest of five children, my nine nieces and nephews are getting older right along with me. One of them turned sixty the other day, and their children are getting married and having children. I haven’t even met some of my younger relatives, and now I’m on an advisory committee for my college class’s fiftieth reunion.

It feels as if I’ve gone from “fit” to “spry” in the blink of an eye.

Then I remember on my seventeenth birthday, my friend’s mother said to us, “A whole life seems to pass that quickly.”

We didn’t believe her then, but she was right. There is some comfort in knowing that Paul is not dead, and “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is still the best album ever made, but the best consolation is living to tell about it.

For current proof that Paul McCartney lives go to www.paulmccartney.com.

Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray, Ky. She can be reached at calexander9@murraystate.edu. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

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