Get Smart

If you’ve read my blog in the past few weeks, you know that one of my cousins passed away recently, and we attended the funeral. He was 73 years old. While 73 might have sounded old and far away when I was 25 years old, it now makes me squeamish and causes me to have an urge to look over my shoulder to see if the Grim Reaper is lurking.

For the most part, up until now, we have attended the funerals of our aunts and uncles. We are butting up against time, however, and this death will be followed by others of my generation in the years ahead. Gulp. It makes me want to eat my spinach and cut out my high cholesterol treats. Of course, I don’t want to do anything too rash.

One of the cousins who attended the funeral is somewhere in the neighborhood of 92 years old. I didn’t ask her age because I was brought up to be polite. I am fairly certain, however, that had I disregarded my mother’s good teaching and asked that daunting question, she would proudly have responded truthfully. While she is now our eldest cousin, she outthinks most of us handily. She is a proud (and vocal) conservative who writes a regular column in her little town’s newspaper. Woe betide anyone who disagrees with her point of view. She doesn’t mind if you’re a Democrat. She will just try to set you straight (and probably pray for you in church the next Sunday)……

Bill’s family tends to live very long lives. His mother was three months shy of 100 when she passed away a few years ago. His father suffered from that awful Alzheimer’s disease, but even so, he lived to be 84 or 85 years old.

My family, on the other hand, tends to die much earlier than that. According to one of my cousins, it depends on whether you take after Grandmother Micek or Grandfather Micek. Apparently the Grandfather Micek side is the winning side. The list of ailments we enjoy is quite lengthy: circulation problems, cancer, heart issues, stomach ailments (given my stomach problems — yikes to that one!).

I have decided I want to be my 92ish-year-old cousin when I grow up. She must favor the Grandfather Micek side, and I’m cheering for that team. Mostly, I want to be as tuned in to what’s happening in the world if and when I become a nonagenarian. It will take some work, because I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I know far less about what’s happening in our world than my nonagenarian cousin. I don’t beat myself up too much, because I’ll bet even she can’t tell me the name of the president’s press secretary.

The Silver Sneakers Newsletter that I regularly receive often gives me ways in which I can exercise my brain. After this recent time spent with my cousins, I am taking their suggestions very seriously. With near desperation, I started this puzzle day before yesterday…..I have dusted off the Sudoku app on my iPad and plan on defaulting to that game as opposed to Solitaire (a game that requires little use of my brain because I cheat and look at the answers). Silver Sneakers even made suggestions on anaerobic exercises that strengthen your brain as well as your muscles. There’s a lot of complicated hopping that you have to remember. I’ll give it a try, though, if you’ll recall a recent blog post, I have trouble remembering my grandkids’ names.

While it is unlikely that I will live to be 100 like Bill’s mother, whatever years God gives me, I want to at least be able to remember my name. As for the other ailments, is it a problem that I experienced an esophageal spasm even as I wrote this blog post?

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