Old age, old memories, and some hope

The quiet amid the storm. An Israeli soldier guards a young boy at the prayer wall in the old city of Jerusalem. (Photos by Doug Thompson)
The limitations that arrive as one gets older becomes a deterrent and a need to ward off depression and try to keep a positive outlook

A bout with COVID-19 still lingers, in part because of my age and also because of chronic bronchitis that kicks in whenever a respiratory illness sets in.

I have trouble walking, tire easily, and am behind in too many household chores, including repair of a lawnmower that locked up after using a bad batch of Ethanol-free gas from Express Mart (a problem that others report they have suffered as well). Our yard looks like a wilderness area, and I doubt we will be able to mow it until sometime in July. Maybe a farm might want to cut and bale the flowing grass.

My health problems limit my ability to cover news for The Floyd Press. I managed to cover Circuit Court this month, but that is about all. Declining hearing can’t be fixed by hearing aids, and doctors are continuing to search for possible surgical solutions.

Whoever calls this the “golden years” has a sick sense of humor. A major concern is keeping anything close to a positive attitude without sinking into depression.

Maybe it’s karma, or at least some of it is “coming ’round” as Willie Nelson says in a song. I’ve survived far longer than most expected and have been riding on a lucky streak for a long, long time. Such things usually wear out.

Still, Amy and I have had a long, fruitful, and interesting life. We have traveled to places where many only dreams about, do things that occupy scrapbooks and been the subject of news articles and broadcasts.

How many who might read this have been to both the North and South Poles, flown on Air Force One, witnessed Space Shuttle Launches, and investigated one tragedy that killed seven astronauts? I covered 9/11 at the Pentagon, worked for a President, and three members of Congress, and have shot photos that have appeared in newspapers around the world.

Amy was an accomplished actress who also acted on stage and in films, appeared in commercials, and directed plays. She worked with Al Pacino on a tribute at the Rockefeller Center for his acting mentor, Lee Stausburg.

FloydFest in 2018. Back when I had the energy to photograph such events.

I began working full-time for The Floyd Press in 1962 while still in Floyd County High School, and became the youngest-ever full-time reporter for the Roanoke Times at age 19, later spent 12 years at The Telegraph in Alton, IL, and covered all 10 years of The Mississippi River Festival in the St. Louis metro area. One of my photographs of a concert by Credence Clearwater Revival, I’m told, still hangs in the home of John Fogerty.

Our 23 years in the National Capital Region of Washington, DC, provided more than two decades of adventure and learning. In Israel, Amy and I explored the Old City of Jerusalem, walked among the ruins of Masada, and talked with the refugees of Palestine. We flew into one of the country’s most secret military bases and talked with soldiers about living in an embattled nation.

In Taiwan, I could not understand why many of the Chinese were staring when we ate at restaurants. Our host explained that the children there were taught to use their right hands only, and American eating with chopsticks in his left hand was considered “evil.”

So many memories from over the years. A strong possibility that I will suffer early-onset dementia because of a brain injury in a motorcycle crash in 2012 worries me because I don’t want to lose those memories.

At age 74, we buried too many friends who died earlier, with less age. This weekend, I hope to shoot some photos and videos of Fourth of July activities, if I can. Perhaps some Floyd Country Store’s “Honky Talk Thursday” rockabilly music tonight.

Let’s hope.

© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

1 thought on “Old age, old memories, and some hope”

  1. Here’s hoping along with you, Doug, for more photos and memories from both of us! Born a week after you, I started in newspapers few years later, left the deadline business a bit sooner, stayed closer to home (“travelled a good deal in New England,” to paraphrase Thoreau), mostly avoided danger and drama, but like you I also find myself enumerating aches and pains, and wandering through sometimes erratic memories. Best wishes on route to 75.

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