The Coastal Post - March, 1997

On Growing Old

BY JOAN REUTINGER

My mother used to say she felt just the same inside as she always did, although her face was lined with age. I have found this to be true, that although your face is wrinkled, you feel just the same as you always did, underneath the wrinkles!

Another old saying I have found to be true is, each time you have an illness, you lose a little resiliency. I had a stroke in 1991, and my speech has been affected. I say "No" instead of "Yes," and I have difficulty speaking. I know what I want to say, but it just doesn't come out as I want it to. But, thank God, I have no difficulty in writing; the things I want to write come out right. Recently I have had an infection in my leg, which has set me back a little, but I'm determined to overcome it, although I walk now with a cane, and I guess I'll need it for a bit.

As I look back on my life, I've had T.B. and cancer, but I've recovered from them both. I used to resent being pushed around in a wheelchair when I had T.B., but that's life. To most of us comes a little embarrassment, a little resentment, other side one hasn't lived. And when one has had adversity, one has lived.

To say that one doesn't live until one has adversity is true. Into every life a little rain must fall, and some people have a life much severer than I have. Some people are born blind, or deaf or crippled, and some die early. At 81, I have lived a good life-some people would say a lucky life-and I've always recovered from illnesses. And as I approach 82, I am thankful.

I have had two bouts will melanoma, that dreaded skin disease. With the first, a doctor, not looking me in the eye, said, "It's melanoma, and I wouldn't wish that on anybody." With the second, I had a skin graft on my leg (also melanoma). A nurse from Stinson Beach Clinic, Susan Kelley, came up every day for two weeks and clucked when she thought the skin graft wasn't doing so well. I walked on crutches after that, and I went up the back pathway, time and again, because I was determined to walk again. I did, and I again walked on the beach, something I hadn't done for ages. I can't wait for my leg to heal from the infection now, so I can walk on the beach again. And I will, I know I will.

Each time I get sick again, I use all my resources to get well. And each time it works.