Thursday, December 29, 2011

Putting the "O" in Mobility

I've been getting my share of knee jokes, "old age" jokes, and scooter jokes with the knee injury. When I hit age 40, I started getting the AARP cards in the mail. Those folks just don't give up. Given the liberal policies that AARP has supported, we will all be 70 before we can retire so I find that a bit ironic. I saved the last one I got, to send back to them in a personal manner.

Even worse, with the AARP card, came an envelope from the Scooter Store (with FREE mobility assessment). Actually this last week, I did use one of the store scooters at the big box mart as there was no way I could get through the store on crutches for what I needed for the house prior to doing the surgery thing. Although friends visiting offered to go buy everything I needed, I wanted to see if I could do it myself once we got there.

The scooter was sort of fun, though one of the greeters came over and asked if I needed help operating the controls (which consisted of forward, backwards, right and left). Granted it might be more difficult than the T-39 (which was built when someone was having a sale on Relays) but I was good to go, thanking them for their help. Speed wise it was a fair it less than the INDY 500 and more than a snail on demoral. But I was not only able to do a cookie in the chicken aisle, I found that the displays in electronic made for great S patterns at top speed. I also disovered that fat guys with carts containing 200 bags of Tater Tots can move surprisingly fast when faced with a redhead in a Springfield Armory T-shirt, converging at top scooter speed.

Dealing with the crutches and the scooter was the hardest part. I tried holding them up, but that made it hard to work the controls. I put one one out front. Jousting - WalMart Style. (if you can knock a Billy Bass out of someone's cart with it, it's bonus points). I finally gave in and let my friend carry them while I tried to burn rubber doing .02 mph watching that the WalMart manager was not involved in radar trail tactics.

So although it was handy, I will NOT be getting my own scooter and I wanted to make sure the scooter people realized that when I got my special scooter offer in the mail not long back.

The targets are set up. For my "mobility assessment" about 40 or so feet with iron sights.

BLAM! A shot first at a regular target at 30 feet to check for windage. .

Then it's time to put the "A" in "AARP".

Next the Membership Card itself.

"Nice Shootin Tex" I hear, as Mycroft, one of the IND bloggers who was there, wandered over to see what is going on.

And it's goodbye Mr. AARP Membership Card. The perforated card splintered into fragments and fell to the ground. The pieces will go in the envelope with the custom return address and be sent back to them.

Along with my "Free Mobility Assessment for the Scooter Store".
(I didn't quite get the shot placement I wanted, putting the "O" in mobility" but I think they'll still be surprised when they receive this back in the mail).

We all have things that arrive in our lives that remind us as to how quickly time passes. Shadows stir, the season shifts and before you know it, another year is behind you. The summer is past, with days on the run, and still evenings aloft, and all too soon you're herded inside walls, the routine of chilled mornings and dark nights, cold absolution for the time you spent out in the sun in months past. The days themselves were unchanged, but what you were able to do in them was, with mornings and nights passing in the immaculate intervals of quick daylight and long nights in front of the fire wishing for the cold to pass and Spring to arrive. Yet, when Spring does start, you think again of how quickly another season flew away, and of the last months you ask yourself - did you really accomplish anything to warrant the passing of precious time?

I remember one cold night in front of the fire pondering over Joseph Conrad's story "Youth", an old man's story of his perilous experiences as a young seaman on a storm-wracked coal liner. Having always been a headstrong girl, taking on one dangerous job after another, I empathized with what he said. "I remember my youth and the feeling that I will never come back anymore, the feeling that I could last forever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men".

How easy as a child, a teen, even into your 20's to think you are invincible. Certainly some of my adventures would indicate that I too subscribed to this vision. But with adulthood, not only comes responsibility, but loss. Suddenly, for myriads of reasons, aging, illness, war; the people around you, as reliable as the sunrise, leave. Someone I knew casually through work was ill, and terminally. All of us had been trying to visit and as I passed through the door after our last time together, she said. . "when will you be back?". I said, brightly, "soon" and the moment it was out I knew that I'd never see her again, and that we both knew it. We simply refused to give voice to it, as to do so, would be to admit our own mortality.

If I had the chance to be 20 again I wouldn't. Time and memory is what has made me who I am. Events in my life, even the ones I'd rather not repeat, all served to awaken within me a stranger who was strong enough to survive it, to grow, becoming someone forged new, honed sharper and stronger.
When I was a teen I thought 30 was ancient, now that I am past it I realize to get older is to be slowly born again.

I remember it as a childlike leap from a boat deck into pristine waters, as an aircraft frantic in a stiff wind over the Sierras, as a night camped out in the woods before a hunt with my black lab, pouring into my head every star, every smell - of newly cut grass and cordite, of black soil and wood smoke, baked honey wheat bread and deep red wine. I recall the breeze off the reserve, the cascade of air coming down Big Creek, the cleansing of a badly broken heart, the release of youthful rivalries and grudges, a discarding of impatient thoughts and anger, as in these last years I gained patience, persistence and trust. I've moved past the deception of Conrad's youth, to a place where my soul is still, my life is full and when I leap from a runway with the wind in my hair, I know I will not live forever on this earth.

But I still don't need a damn scooter.


  1. Infinitely apropos, as AARP contributes money to anti-gun causes, and believes their constituency is better UNARMED!
    When I had the crutches/leg brace, if someone was annoying, I'd just hit 'em with my crutch! I suspect a motorized cart would be even better!

  2. I was going to use my late Mom's scooter as a intermediate use vehicle. Between walking and using the car! I figure Officer Friendly isn't going to bust my chops the way they did when I used a golf cart or lawn tractor. Though the lawn tractor did establish who the George Jones fans were!

    Get Better Soon Brigid!

  3. Great post, although I doubt you'll ever be "old" in the traditional sense.

    Got my first invitation to join AARP on my 35th birthday (over 21 years ago, dang it), and thought it was funny. That was long before I discovered what a left-leaning socialist shill they are. No, thanks.

  4. You're so cool.
    Made me laugh out loud.
    Get well soon, doc.

  5. Glad to see the operation kept your keen wit intact! Get well soon!

  6. As long as there are two of something they will get raced, eventually.
    When I was testing the new radio in the Subaru the first song that got pulled off of the SD card was George Jones "I Don't Need Your Rocking Chair", kind of appropriate for today's post.
    Glad you are on the mend!

  7. As a physician I tell all my patients that 20 year olds enjoy generally good health no matter what they do. In their 30s their lifestyle will start to catch up with them. In their 40's, depending on their lifestyle habits, I start to see the "wheels fall off." Picturing you jousting in Walmart with your George Jones swerve...I might have to use a new analogy for fear of laughing during a serious health conversation!

  8. I loaded up my AARP return envelope with heavy washers, and business card magnets, and every other flat, weighty item I could feasibly fit into it.

    Postage Paid Payback. It's a little trick I learned from my Mom, God rest her soul.

  9. Have fun testing the reflexes of fellow shoppers. Funny, what you call doing cookies, we call doing donuts.

    Those scooters are seriously underpowered; there are a few folks in the neighborhood that drive them. They have trouble crossing the street without playing some serious chicken with cars. It probably doesn't help that the traffic is usually going 5-10 mph over the limit of 30 mph on our street.

    Get well soon gimpy.

  10. Guffaw - agreed!

    John B. - I like the lawn tractor idea.

    Rev Paul - My Dad at 81 said "I feel the way I did at 22, except all the names in my little black book end in M.D." I agree. I am wiser, I am stronger, I have lousy knees, but I am no different than I was at 25.

    Alan - best to you, your wife, and the wee one. Love you.

    Keads - there was a rough few days but my friends took good care of me.

    Larry - thanks, one of these days I'm going to race my truck against your mustang.

    WCW - oh, BIG smile there. Welcome and thanks for the laugh.

    Joan - GREAT idea.

    Mrs. S - a couple of folks have told me about "donuts". We always called them cookies, round and fast, still fun, whatever you call them. Big hug.

  11. cookie=donut? I guess so. Different lingo in my parts. The slalom test was good. Jousting was even better. And the shooting was the best.

    I enjoyed a range trip today, and it included and handful of X's but none so sweet as your dead-center shot. Nice work.

  12. Nice li'l Old Timer in the pix. Glad to hear you are healing up. Still like the single, wrist-braced stick though, over two crutches. Easier to swing at bad guys, no armpit trauma and you can cross-draw if needed. But, that is just me. Have a great New Year!

  13. You must be feeling better. Great post!

    I hope the scooter slalom was not performed while under the influence of your narcotic painkillers. :-)

  14. A fine essay/rant.
    I, too, find my junk mail to be a target rich environment.

    Hope you heal quickly and are able ot go out an kick butt while standing on your own two feet soon.

    ("Hi!" to Barkley!)

  15. Awesome. Glad to hear you're getting better. And thanks for the reminder to mind the time.

  16. When my big toe went out after playing monkey foot-grip while doing that drywall work up on the ladder, my mobility (or lack of it) really brought home how vulnerable a person could be. What it's like to be unable to simply run was an eye-opener. I almost got one of those knee-scooters, but the thing finally got better.

  17. Hi, Brigid!

    They may get me on a scooter someday, but it will be a Honda 4x4 with at least 400cc displacement.

    Also, just for reference, AMAC is supposedly a conservative alternative to AARP. They are at
    I signed up for a year to see if it was worthwhile.

    Best regards,

  18. I've "driven" those mart carts out of necessity (because the busted-but-healed-and-crotchety ankle wouldn't let me tool around the store bipedally) and because of my job (moons ago when I was a cashier at the local grocery), and speed is not one of their qualities. When a guy walking at an amble can speed past you...yeah.

    Here's hoping you don't have to use one again for a good long time!


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