Maybe you remember. (It was in “New Travel Companion,” four posts back.) The cardiologist gave me the green light on travel, as long as an oximeter went with me. So the oximeter and I went to Florida on a short trial run visit to a pair of grandchildren and their parents, one of whom is my younger son. I used wheelchairs to ease the airport ordeal. Once you swallow your pride about being pushed by another person, it sure beats waiting in lines for inspection and pulling a wheelie for miles and miles and miles. (Why does my gate always have to be the one that’s farthest away?)
But once I was home again, I wanted more. Something more adventurous. More distant. More memorable. I may be eighty-seven, but I’m still greedy. I mean, make hay while the sun shines and the oximeter numbers are good, no? And then, while I was debating with myself — France? Russia? England? River cruise? — and getting nowhere near a decision, a woman I know only slightly walked out of the Windrows dining room after dinner last spring and declared, to me and anyone else who might be listening: “I’m finally going to Israel!” She’s eighty-one (a mere youngster), but her late husband refused to fly anywhere. Now she’s free to wing it, while she can.
I expressed interest in the details. It was a late October eleven-day trip with Road Scholar, the organization that sponsored my jaunt to Dublin last year. The price included airfare, and was very reasonable. “And they have one single room left,” she added.
It was as if a scroll unrolled from the heavens bearing the commandment: “That single room is for you!” Bill had a niece I liked who lives in Israel. I had an old college friend who now lives in Israel. A WordPress virtual “friend” and blog follower lives in Israel. I could try to see them all. And if I fell into a-fib again from excitement, the cardiologist had given Israeli hospitals his imprimatur; he said they were very good. One more plus: apparently another woman from Windrows was going too. That would make three of us to do things together in the “free time” part of the program.
I hurried upstairs to nail that last single room before anyone else grabbed it. I bought trip cancellation insurance. I also threw caution to the winds because this trip is three times more physically challenging than the Dublin one. The Road Scholar catalog labeled Dublin “Take it Easy.” Israel is labeled “Keep the Pace.” We will have to deal with cobblestones, and hills, and “unavoidable” stairs. So I hired a trainer a month ago; my last session with her before departure was devoted to learning to walk with a (fold-up) cane.
It certainly takes the mind off old age and death. So I’ll do what I can do, and skip the rest. I spent two weeks in Israel twenty-five years ago and “saw” pretty much everything tourists are supposed to see; it won’t be a tragedy if this time I decide to skip clomping around the Masada ruins or putting on a bathing suit to float in the Dead Sea. What I really want is to see how other people live in other places, and feel for a while what it might be like to live there. I always did wish we could live parallel lives in multiple countries and not have to choose.
My bag and backpack are packed, and I’m off to JFK on Sunday. “On Being Old” is therefore closing down for a bit more than two weeks. I’ll try to take some i-Phone pictures. It’s quite an old phone but it’s got a new battery. Sort of like me.