Today, we depart for Portsmouth NH to attend the funeral of my Aunt Dot. Dot (R.I.P.) lived to age 94, which is pretty good by anybody's standard. She also got to live her last years in a nursing home environment that she really liked. We were happy for her for that.
But after hearing the news of Dot's death Libby said something shocking. She said, "You are now the oldest living Mills, and the oldest living Manser" (Manser was my mother's maiden name.) For a moment, that made me feel like I had a target on my back. The feeling passed when I realized that Libby forgot about at least one relative older than I. Whew. (Libby's maiden name was Lowber. She has been the oldest surviving member of that Lowber family since the 70s.)
But there can be no doubt that Libby and I are becoming old indeed. I believe that we are in better shape than the average American of our age (probably because of our active life style). We very seldom visit doctors. Libby can work hour after hour in Jen's gardens. I climb 220 stairs two steps at a time at the airport every morning, just for the exercise. We consider ourselves very fortunate.
But we aren't immune to aging. The weaknesses and the pains creep in year by year. Libby gets chilled very easily. I notice that sitting in one position for a long time makes my knees so stiff that I can barely stand up. I went on a kayak trip with Jen, and that sitting position caused me lots of knee pain. A mere 30 minutes sitting on the seat of our canoe does my knees in, and I almost need to crawl on all fours when exiting the canoe. To avoid it, I need to shift position or stand up frequently.
One of my dreams is inspired by the book The Complete Paddler: A Guidebook for Paddling the Missouri River from the Headwaters to St. Louis, Missouri. I hoped to do that 1200 mile trip with Tarwathie Jr. and with Libby. But unless I find a remedy for the knee problem, that dream is unrealistic.
Last year, Libby and I did a four hour canoe trip on the Connecticut River. This summer, we are going to try for a 48 hour Connecticut River trip with one overnight tent camp as a shakedown test for the Missouri River dream.