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Getting Older is a Funny Joke Life Plays on Us

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A few weeks ago I decided to take some vacation time, to get some rest. I was feeling exhausted. I mean exhausted beyond belief. Who knew spring would arrive during my vacation.

I can get back to walking again!  What a nice surprise. Spring is here and I took my first walk through my neighborhood  I heard the birds chirping and children playing in the school yard. I see other people walking or running and moms or sitters out with children in strollers. Everyone is going about their day and as they pass by me, they share a smile or a soft good morning.

I love walking. It helps me think better. It clears my mind and makes me feel younger and energetic.

As I walk, I think of all the things I can do now that Spring has arrived. I can sit on my porch or in the yard with a book or magazine. I can have some friends over for an afternoon cook out. Plant flowers and drive with the windows open. 

Spring makes me look forward to a Brewers game at the stadium, a drive by our beautiful lakefront or listening to music at concerts in the parks.

Walking clears my mind, helps me work through challenges and makes me think of times gone by.

During this walk I’m thinking how much I love Milwaukee. It’s a wonderful place to live. For me, it would be a great place to live forever if not for the cold weather in winter. I was born and raised in Milwaukee. My parents’ families moved to Milwaukee from the South. Mom and dad met in Milwaukee as pre-teens and graduated from high school here. My dad built his carpentry business here. I raised my daughter here. Even though she lives in Las Vegas, she still calls Milwaukee home.

I built my career here, all my friends and most of my family live here. Milwaukee holds wonderful memories for me. I only think about leaving Milwaukee when I miss my daughter and when it gets cold. I don’t do so well in the cold anymore. I don’t know that I ever did like the cold, not even as a child. 

When I was growing up my younger siblings would rush to play in the first snowfall. Really, they ran and played in all the snowfalls. I would bury myself in a book or have a tea party with my dolls. I was never the kid who would lie in the snow and make snow angels or make igloos and crawl on all fours until my hands and feet were beyond ice cold and red. 

I remember my brother and sisters couldn’t wait till it snowed, so they could grab shovels and walk up and down the block shoveling snow for neighbors to make money to add to their allowance. Not even the thought of making money could make me like winter. The thought of fighting the wind and snow slapping me in my face or knocking down my less than 100 pound frame was not appealing at all. So as a youngster I avoided the winter weather as well as I could.

So, today as I’m walking, I notice I’m not having any pain in my foot. Earlier this year, I was experiencing lots of pain in my big toe on my left foot. So off to see Dr. McIver, the foot doctor, I go. I explained the reason for my visit, “I’ve got lots of pain at the base of my big toe.”

Dr. McIver orders an x-ray.  About 20 minutes later I’m back in the examination room, looking at my x-ray with him.  He points to a crack in the bone of my big toe - the exact place where I’m experiencing emergency room like pain.  I’m thinking to myself, that’s where I broke my toe in my early twenties. Now I’m listening to him explain that I have arthritis in my toe. As he’s talking, I recall all those times my grandmother would say how her arthritis acts up when it gets cold. I just don’t remember her saying it was because of something she broke.

I can tell you, the cold weather is nothing nice on arthritic joints. It makes my whole foot feel crippled. So much so that some days I notice that I’m walking like my grandma, with a slight limp or at least it feels as if I were to limp it wouldn’t hurt so bad. The healing bounce back just doesn’t exist anymore.

Last fall, my daughter came home for a visit. She brought her Yorkie, Bailey with her. He was a puppy. Just this little bitty thing, he could fit in my purse. Well, I decided to take Bailey in the yard and let him off his leash. The moment I did that Bailey took off past my husband, who was grilling, toward the front of the house, headed straight to the street. Good grief, I thought. First I had to run after him, of course I’m yelling, “Bailey stop.” Quickly, I think, Lord, have mercy if I fall. And within seconds of that thought, I realize I’m going to have to tackle the dog to keep him from getting hit by a passing car or eaten to bits by the larger dogs in the neighborhood. Neither of which, I want to have to explain to my daughter or have her think I’m too old to dog sit. I landed on the neighbor’s front lawn, on top of Bailey, out of breath, just laying there, on my belly, looking like a fish out of the water, laughing at myself.

Then, I felt my knee stinging that meant I broke some skin; I started coughing, that meant the running and yelling activated my asthma. Now, I’ll need to get my inhaler and feel jittery and hyper for the next hour. As I’m walking back to my yard with Bailey in my arms, my husband asks “Are you alright?” I give him a sharp look, thinking didn’t you see me run past you chasing the dog? What about that looked alright to you? When was the last time you saw me run? How about never!  But kindly, I reply, “I’ll be fine as soon as I get Bailey back on his leash.”

After getting Bailey back in the house I retreat to the yard, with a scar on my knee, thinking - how do I get to be 50 and start acquiring scars?

 I color my hair to get ahead in the race to beat the gray.  I don’t eat any more spicy foods, fearful that the pills prescribed for acid reflux won’t work. They help me enjoy a glass of orange juice and lemonade. I use a nose inhaler and squeeze water from a bottle through my nose to control nasal issues. I’m in bed by 9:00 p.m., or if I fall asleep on the sofa in the den I may be too tired to carry myself up the stairs.

Soon I’ll be participating in a sleep study just so I can learn to sleep like a baby the way I used to before I reached middle age. My husband says I snore and talk in my sleep. I don’t know how he gets any rest. I break out in cold sweats during the day and while I’m asleep, thanks to ever changing hormones and I would love to sleep through the night without having to wake up to go to the bathroom.

As I’m coming to the end of my walk, I’m thinking, I’m older and there’s no turning back time. This getting older surely is not for punks. I wonder if sitting on the porch with a book would have been a better way to spend the morning…

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Faithe Colas is an expert in public and community relations. She is a partner in Von Communications, a public relations firm and is co-publisher and marketing director of Brain Brawn & Body. You can contact Faithe at


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Guest Tuesday, 23 January 2018