My mother’s main wish in life was to never lose her mental faculties. She dreaded the idea of losing her memory or getting, as she called it, senile. That’s a rather outdated term in the post-modern era. With Baby Boomers approaching old age, the medical terms for “memory loss” have leaned toward a more politically correct rendition. We know more about Alzheimer’s and dementia, so we speak more specifically about them. But it doesn’t change the reality that a certain percentage of the population will eventually go senile.
Senile: (of a person) having or showing the weaknesses or diseases of old age, especially a loss of mental faculties.
Senile is a cruel word in a cruel world. Yet the jokes about going senile are pretty funny. Because one of the advantages of getting Alzheimer’s is that you can hide your own Easter eggs.
Well, maybe it’s not that funny. My mom died of cancer before she grew senile. And we watched my grandfather-in-law disappear as the effects of Alzheimer’s kicked in over time. He wound up at the end of a dead-end road with his pants around his ankles.
But we had guys on our freshman college dorm floor that had incidents like that. One of them got up in the middle of the night, did two turns in place, then stood by his bed and turned around to take a piss on his roommate’s face. Apparently, in his drunken or sleepy stupor, it felt like he’d made it all the way to the bathroom. He felt justified in whipping it out to take a whizz. He was only twenty years old at the time.
So you see, life has its bookends. It seems that we become like children the older we get.
Those of us who compete in sports try to fill the shelves with wonderful memories of how young and fit and eternally ripped we feel. Our goal is to keep running and cycling and swimming right through the elder years. With luck, we’ll finish a sixty-mile bike ride, go for a brick of two miles, finish it off with a sweet swim and then die happy in our sleep.
Scenes from the rest home
But if we do lose our noggins, the scene at the rest home might be pretty interesting. In that case, here’s a few scenes from the rest home when aging triathletes hang out in the Common Room raving about their needs and living in the past:
“Where’s my razor? I’ve got to shave my legs! Don’t you know it’s May!”
“I lost my goggles somewhere. (Holding Coke bottle caps up to eyes) Ah, here they are!”
“That walk to the restroom was too far! I’m on taper!”
“Does anyone know where I can find some bubble wrap! I’m doing Ironman in two weeks!”
“I just shit my pants. But you know, sometimes you gotta pay the price to keep the pace!”
“This isn’t Scratch! It’s Gatorade! That makes my stomach queasy!”
“Holy hell, you look good in those lycra shorts, Martha (She’s actually wearing black pajamas) Wanna go for a ride?”
“This damn mashed potato is not on my nutrition list. Too many carbs!”
“Do these diapers prevent saddle sores? I’m kinda hurting down there!”
“I don’t know how long I can hang around this training camp. They’re expecting me back home. But sure, I’ll go ride eighty in the heat with you.”
“Has anyone seen my wetsuit?”
Well, it will be interesting if it all comes to that. Because all that sugar and caffeine, aluminum and phosphates in our diet is rotting many a mind. The best we can hope for as aging triathletes at the point where we lose our minds is a quick transition to the other side. I guess some things never change.