I always thought growing old would be easy. You know, you’re walking down a Florida boardwalk somewhere with nothing to do and nothing on your mind, and you trip on a beer can or something. You break a hip and doctors or nurses take care of your every need while you look out the window at Sunshine State seagulls flying by. You have no worries! You are taken care of, and you have a perfect window view – even in the home they send you to after the hip mostly heals.

Man, was I wrong.

I thought romances, at my age, would be with one or both of the widows in room 208 just up the floor from the blood pressure machine.

I thought I would be done with kids except for the times when my child and grandchildren pay me a visit in a home somewhere near Boca Raton just to rub an old man’s worn feet.

I thought that, at my age, my only decisions would be whether to ask for prunes or apple sauce from the Boca-home food servers.

So far, I have been way off base. The easiest thing I have these days is the decision as to whether or not wash dishes. Just to balance things in my old life, I usually decide to throw dirty dishes in the trash rather than wash them. It’s easy, it’s clear, and I see gulls in my mind when I throw them away.

Thanks for putting up with the bull I just wrote. I think giving up on real life in favor of sea gulls in a hip replacement center is, at the least, undesirable and, at the most, unachievable right now. There are way too many younger man things to deal with. And that’s what’s so crazy. I am not a young man.

Crazy work stuff. Meeting and knowing new folks I often mostly cannot understand. Friends who listen and talk while some who listen disappear and reappear. And…new kids and old romances. I guess all of that is what keeps me confused, but certainly out of the Boca mentality. In five months, I will be Medicare age. And as if Medicare isn’t confusing enough, this younger man stuff just ads to the confusion of my older age. Honestly, I don’t know whether to hate it or to cherish it.

Guys like me enjoy kind of living by the seats of our pants, but we need order and routine as well.

The only order I have these days is when I decide to actually throw away the dirty dishes.

The only routine is brushing the few teeth I have left. My work has lost all levels of routine lately. That’s difficult for an old man.

I am meeting some new folks – in work and elsewhere. They seem to need this old man even when I do not understand what they are saying. I certainly need them, if for no other reason than for their abilities to understand my nonverbal and nonsensical head nods.

My friends. There are a few very important ones who don’t mind the things I tell them. My son is one those. They listen, they advise and they center this old man, if even for just a few moments. One such friend recently told me that we were in a “non – judgmental zone” when I told her some stuff only she needed to hear.

That brings us to kids and romance. Kids keep us centered. Usually. My son and my daughter certainly do. But no more so than their children. An older and troubled kid who used to stay next door from time to time kept me centered for a while. Kids who center old guys have no age barriers.

There’s another kid. A five year old I just met a few weeks ago. He centers me, too. He and I talk by phone almost every day and many times during each day. He’s a great kid. Smart, funny, fun and honest. And troubled, as well. He calls me, “Moon.” But many times after I talk with him, I become confused and wistful. He was introduced to me by a dear friend I have loved for almost a quarter of a century and the one who disappears from time to time.  She’s the little guy’s neighbor. She’s the “non-judgmental” friend.

I can handle crazy work stuff. I love encountering new friends. And I couldn’t survive without my old friends and my grandchildren. But I cannot help myself here. Why did this wonderful young and troubled guy come into my life the way he did? And why I am feeling so much in love with the long time friend who introduced us?  And appeared again?

She may be set in her ways, like I have been for years. But why did this happen the way it did? And can we change our ways after all these years? And bring sea gulls into our views at every turn?

I don’t know. I guess old men like me easily become confused enough to ask such difficult questions at such a late life stage. But, as long as we are confused and still fighting, I guess we are doing the right things, don’t you think?

Especially when the alternative easy way out is a broken hip in Boca.

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