For almost two weeks, the floors of our house have been covered in toys, milk trails from toddler-sized sippy cups, toys, tiny forks and dishes, and lots and lots of energy. Having a grandchild in the house brings back memories of the busy, chaotic days of early childhood: the alertness, the energy, the giggles, the perils. It is a wonderful way to dial back from, as a friend of mine recently said, “talking myself into decrepitude.”
It’s very easy for a person of a certain age to hear of the death of another person and think, “Well, they lived a long, lovely life,” only to check oneself as realization hits that the deceased was only older by five or seven years or perhaps was even the same age. Is my energy level lower now? Is my back/knee/elbow hurting? How much longer do I have to live? Deadly decrepitude thoughts.
My friend and his wife are retired and are possibly near my age. The other night they went to an art mall/tavern/gathering place where they sipped bourbon and beer samples before dancing the night away to their favorite jazz trio. They were the only couple on the floor and the band accommodated them by playing music with 4/4 to 5/4 timing, allowing them to segue from Swing to Rumba to Chacha. (They are seriously good dancers).
The rest of the crowd sat at their tables, staring at their phones, oblivious to the life around them while my friends danced to music such as Mack Gordon and Harry Warren’s “The Chattanooga Choo-Choo.” Afterwards they went out to eat, ending a perfect night with a perfect meal. At the end of the evening my friend thought, “I’d rather be the only couple on the floor than to sit in oblivion.”
Reading about good music, dancing, eating and tasting adventures were good reminders from our friends, reminders that Dan and I also have frequently been the only couple on the floor. Chasing babies, dodging toys, mindless, peaceful joy were/are rejuvenation reminder gifts from our kids. Do my knees/shoulder/elbows hurt? Maybe. Do I have less energy than I’ve had in the past? Possibly. Do I think I am decrepit? No.
There is an active baby to play with, there is wonderful music to dance to, and there is too much good food yet to taste to remember decrepitude.
Friends and family are reminders that life is something to be savored, something to be enjoyed and enjoyed to the very last possible minute. In the battle between decrepitude and babies, a battle between remembering and participating in what brings you joy, babies and joy win every time. After all, the dance floor is empty and ready for action.
Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.