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DOUG LEWANDOWSKI: The far shores of life

“What the . . .!” No, this not an emergent language from the tech world or popular culture. It’s not even a slip of the tongue. Rather it’s a response to the insult of aging.

At the start of a “normal” day, a cup of coffee still comes, required for anyone who requires a minimum of focus. Instead of a Mr. Coffee automatic brewer/alarm clock encounter, a more up-to-date alternative requires putting a little plastic cup of premeasured caffeine into a holder and letting Keurig get the job done -- kind of. A latte generated by a “roommate” of 44 years, fresh roasted beans finely ground and packed into a portafilter seems a much better alternative. The hiss of frothing milk makes for an elegant caffeinated experience.

Recollections from years gone by as you sip the robust stimulant bring back to consciousness how you used to leap out of bed in the morning to take on a new day. Well, alright. . . sorry, maybe not leap, but at least ease out of rising slumber. Now, that same moment calls for marshalling resources, both mental and physical, accompanied by groans and mutterings. The rotator cuff hasn’t gotten better overnight. The left leg used as a prop to swing your rear end into the driver’s seat of the Camry yesterday, appears to have taken a vacation from offering support. The tendons that offered assistance to the weak knee made a strange noise as a pivot was made onto the seat leather. “What the . . .?” along with a supplementary expletive for effect, seemed entirely appropriate. Now, “Vitamin A” (Advil for the uninformed) in therapeutic doses, appears to be the course set for the road ahead. Don’t forget the ice.

Narrowing of perspective is also a frequent by-product of diminished physical capabilities. Can’t run that half marathon anymore? Can’t drive to the Cities and back in one day without paying a price for the next three? Stamina recedes over the horizon, not a precipitous departure, but a slow leave-taking, a leaking away of what once seemed like limitless energy, where “I think I can. I think I can,” becomes, “I sure hope I can get home before it gets dark!”

Clarity of vision as eyesight falters also calls for adjustment. Floaties, those little chunks of protein that break off inside the eye and drift around create havoc. The eye Doc says, “Can’t do a thing about them. You’re gonna just have to get used to it.” Humph. . .! Sometimes it’s as hard to tell if those mice that seem to be zipping across the hood of the car as I drive down the interstate are rodents or age induced hallucinations. Must not be mice,I guess. Don’t see any cheese stuck under the windshield wipers.

Then there’s circling the target phenomenon of trying to recall someone’s name at morning coffee by going around and around who it is, but not being able to hit the bullseye. It goes like this. “Bill what’s his name. You know, the guy that lived over by the Cenex station, the guy who drove that old Cadillac with the bashed in passenger door, the guy who had that black lab with three legs who leaves for Sun City in August. You know who I’m talking about don’t you?”

Keep circling dude. At some point you’ll nail it.

Get used to the “What the . . .!” At least you’re breathing.

More of Doug’s writings can be seen at