if you asked me what I want to do when I grow old, the answer would be: “I haven’t got a clue.” But, in one short year, I will turn eighty. I’ll be an octogenarian. If the years don’t make me old, that label certainly will.
Okay, here I have to be straight with you. As I consider my own future, I’m going to take you with me. Perhaps we’ll get a glimpse into what lies ahead.
And, there will be birdwatching.
When we are young and vital and strong, we never consider how growing old will change or limit our capabilities. Physical, mental, emotional. All of the above. Even if we are called upon to act as caregiver for a family member, we never picture ourselves in that situation. Perhaps it’s a good thing we are too busy and exhausted at the time. We should not wish to see too far ahead.
Aging happens. Period. The only way to escape it is to not be there for the experience. And that alternative is not acceptable. Its gradual nature probably is purposeful – to keep us on hand to be there for our own children and grandchildren. So, we are trapped for the duration. We make the most of our situation through phases of degeneration and leave behind love and words of wisdom. In my case, there will be mountains of love and many words, though perhaps a little short on wisdom.
Now we get to the birdwatching thingy.
With her love of words and her fantastic memory, Mother was the go-to family member for wildflower identification. Clyde was the one for birdwatching. Walking in the park close to their home, he would stop, listen, and in his soft voice, say, “There’s a …” And he’d name the bird and wait until you heard it, too. Out at the ranch at sunset or early in the morning, when he heard a quail, Clyde loved to make a quail sound back to it and get an answer. We learned a lot about watching birds from him. And over the years, I have become quite fond of the activity.
Flower identification often requires getting right down to their level, an activity which over time becomes more and more of a challenge. However, with birdwatching, things are always looking up. (Oops. Sorry for that line.) Whether it’s a humming bird or a sparrow out the kitchen window, or a nest of eagles or falcons over the internet, or a wading Great Blue Heron on a walk along Humboldt Bay, one never has to crawl around on the ground to watch birds.
So watching birds is an activity I will continue to pursue as I age. The walking I will do as I stalk a bird to take its photo will be an added benefit to an octogenarian’s health. This way, perhaps I’ll be around to be a nonagenarian, and past that octo phase.
Thanks for joining me.
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