Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Standing up and moving

On the Bright Side

I was loading groceries into the back of my Escape the other day when a pickup truck pulled into the space beside me. A woman roughly my age stepped out of the cab and just stood there a minute.

"I've got to just stand here," she explained, "till my knees settle."

Ha! I knew exactly what she meant and told her so. We commiserated a moment or two about how we needed to get our bodies ready to get going after any period of time sitting.

I remember those days when I could just get out of the car and take off with no thought, when I could swing my legs out from under a booth table at a restaurant and scoot right out and get going. When I could get up from any chair without having to wait a few seconds till everything had fallen into place and wakened up and the ol' bod was actually ready to take a step.

That lady in the parking lot and I are not alone. I know of a woman who always gets up from her seat at restaurants and immediately sets her purse on the table and rummages through it briefly. She doesn't really need anything in her purse, she just uses that time to make sure her body is lined up and the legs are ready to move before she turns and actually takes a step.

At restaurants, I myself just sort of heave myself up and stand there as tall as I can until I feel able to move. Sometimes I'll jiggle things in my pockets for a minute (I don't carry a purse), sometimes I'll pull my phone out and look at it like I'm checking my next appointment. Sometimes I'll take that time to study the bill and leave the payment and tip.

Growing older is not, as we know, for sissies. It takes grit and determination sometimes just to get out of bed in the morning. But we also know that whatever it takes is just what we have to do, and it's much better than the alternative. Getting up from a chair or out of a booth and standing up and moving may take more effort than it used to, but that effort is worth it.

I do have friends in my age range who can pop right up off a chair with no seeming effort at all – heck, they can even sit on the floor and get up with no trouble, and then do a little dance step. I have friends who can still lift and carry with the best of them, and who can jog and leap and stand and work all day if necessary. I say more power to them!

But for many of us it's comforting to know we are not alone in our struggles to keep going as we age, and our bodies seem less able to respond as quickly as they did for so many years. And it's sometimes funny how many different ways we try to hide that reality, especially when we get up from sitting in a public place. I'm sure younger people hardly notice what we're doing anyway, and older people, if they do notice, just nod knowingly. There is no shame or embarrassment in doing whatever we need to do to keep doing anything at all.

That also goes for canes and walkers and other aids we may eventually need. Even knowing what I know and feeling the way I do, I often resist using a cane or a walker, which would, at some times, make things considerably easier for me.

And that's just it. If a cane or a walker will make it easier for me, will keep me going, keep me out there doing things I love to do, keep me mobile and able, then why not use them? I applaud the people who do use the aids that help them keep going.

Oh, and just to let you know: The lady in the grocery story parking lot was ready to start walking when I finished loading my cart, so I gave her my empty cart and off she went. We both called that a win-win – I didn't have to take the cart to a cart corral and she had a handy aid to get herself into the store. I love it when that happens (when I am on either side of that story).

So however you do it, just keep standing up if you can and move right on and be glad you can. It's worth repeating: There is no shame or embarrassment in doing whatever we need to do to keep doing anything at all.

© 2022 Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local writer and photographer, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at [email protected].