Lucy Jensen

The end of life is a funny old time, isn’t it. Not that we really know when that is. But, as your muzzle gets greyer and your eyes a tad more cloudy, there becomes a time when you can no longer be considered “middle aged” per se. Your physical condition has likely peaked and most of us around “middle age” have a few more creaks and aches than we would care to admit.

At nearly 60, I like to think of myself as — ahem — in the middle-ish part of my life, since, though I can now gratefully qualify for one or more senior discounts — thank you Soledad movie theater and Goodwill — I feel young inside my head and heart. I still get excited about the prospect of a pretty new dress, a good dinner out or days away with my girlfriends. I love spring flowers and the buzzing bees of summer. I can’t wait to swim again in any body of water and bask in the long days of early autumn.

But maybe that is not being “older” at all; that is just appreciating life more than I did as a youngster and that’s just normal. That is taking time to smell the proverbial rose and pause a little more on the life-ladder than I used to. Tomorrow is not a sure thing, and we all know that. I want to fill up today with as much amazing stuff as I can, while I can.

On the cusp of 93 and my father is still enjoying his “middle age.” He notably loves all the above, except for maybe the new dress, and he boasts a triple lifetime supply of new shirts from yours truly, so we won’t go there. Good company, food, wine, flowers, springtime, birds, fresh air, conversation, stimulation and sunshine — those are all highpoints in his life — and it really is a pleasure to behold.

I recall, moons ago, when he was a stressed-out businessman in the actual decades of his real “middle age.” I remember thinking he’d surely have to go up in a puff of smoke any day with the levels of apparent stress he lived with, but no. He outlived my mother and baby sister by many years and continues to enjoy a good quality of life, though he is no longer a stressed-out London commuter and there is surely something to be said about that.

I travel over to his home on the Isle of Man as often as I can — harping back to the no guarantee of a tomorrow maxim — but I still anticipate the next visit and the one after that. It’s how the human brain works, I guess. Full of expectancy, until we are not. I have even, cheekily, left a case of extra clothes at sister’s house full of outfits for all seasons; in the anticipation that I will make all the planned trips this year and into next.

My sister’s dog Monty is up there in the world of dog; 15 years old would make him 105 in human years and that’s even older than his grandfather! He often gives us a little panic attack (two strokes to date), which father has also done (Covid). Then he — the dog — gets disoriented and walks miles around the table, but that’s likely because his sight has nearly gone, and his hearing is a bit less than; so, he can periodically get himself a little fuddle-duddled (gotta love the invention of canine CBD and the assistance of anxiety thunder shirts and the like!).

But he still eats like a champ and enjoys the odd walk or two around the block and a trit-trot around his backyard. He’s also right there — blind or not — if you try to give his brother a treat that he’s not getting, since he only has two remaining teeth. Father’s sight isn’t so great either, but cataract surgery is just around the corner (modern medicine rocks!) and his various layers of clothing can definitely act as thunder shirts, when required.

The bathroom habits of old men and dogs can only be described as frequent and unpredictable. My sister and I recently could be seen making encouraging noises in Monty’s direction, as we feigned to cock our legs in the garden and make happy “let’s go pee-pee” noises in his direction. We were trying to leave the house at the time, and didn’t want to come back to a mess, as had happened in the past. Fair dos — my sister has new flooring. Who needs that after all the cost and installation of the perfect floor?

Monty, however, was more interested in curling up in his basket or peeking at us from around the kitchen door, laughing I’m sure, as we tried to pretend we were doggies, sniffing the appropriate patches of lawn in the garden and hoping he would join us. He didn’t. I’m sure there are times when old dogs can still have a really good laugh at a human’s expense.

I’ve always said that I will rescue senior dogs when the opportunity arises — with all their experience of life, they are truly amazing. The same can be said for older people. I currently have three older canines in my pack that I aim to please and spoil whenever possible, until I can no more. Regardless of any accidents on the floor or cloudiness of the eye, they have earned that position in our family hierarchy, and I shall hold them up in the highest esteem — again, until I can no more.

Join SCAR, Luigi’s and myself at Puma Winery and Tasting Room on the Gonzales River Road this Saturday, 12 to 3 p.m. It’s a benefit for our very own local animal rescue, South County Animal Rescue. There will be tri-tip sliders from Luigi’s, info about SCAR, silent auction items, wine tasting, live music and the first book signing of my new book “The Rose Bud & Her Brilliant Adventures.” Please join us if you can.

Old men and old dogs will be most welcome too.

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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