On Your Mark! Get Set! go!

My first post-retirement activity was probably not what you were expecting and I know that many of you pictured me sitting on a beach somewhere, a long tall glass of liquid refreshment in my hand and Donnie (aka Loverboy) spraying my back with sunscreen (SPF 80). Well, that scene may come in time but it was not the first place I landed. I spent a week, sleeping on an air mattress in my parent’s apartment at the Parkland in the Valley Shannex. Yup, I went straight from retirement to the old folks home!

This post-retirement stay at Shannex happened because my father, age 84, had a hip replacement. He has suffered with pain for several years but was reluctant to have surgery because he was fearful of leaving my mother alone to deal with things by herself because she has limited mobility. He has been her caregiver for over 40 years since a bad back surgery took the wind out of her sails, figuratively and literally. Once I announced my retirement a few months ago, my father, directly after congratulating me, told me he needed me to come and stay with my mother so he could have his surgery and he booked his date two days after I actually retired. He obviously was very anxious for the surgery! So much for rest and relaxation; that will come later I guess, since I now have all the time in the world.

Now Shannex is a senior’s residential facility with several buildings. My parents live in the residential suites because they can live on their own (with some assistance) and it is quite nice. I have not been to many senior’s homes but I have seen W5’s stories on the horrors that you might find at some so that is my context. Your meals are made for you in the “five star” dining room (five stars given in comparison to the food you might be served in prisons according to some of the residents, although I found the food quite tasty), there is limousine and bus service available for trips to Walmart and other exciting places and there are many fun games like bocci ball, bridge and backgammon. I hear there is even a mean game of forty fives played daily in the main lounge.

The biggest thing I noticed while at Shannex was the large number of walkers that are parked in the dining room at meal time. It is a virtual collection of every type of walker known to man. If you are not using a walker, you are in the minority. Thankfully, I am not yet needing a walker and will continue my walking and squats routine to ensure I don’t end up there in the near future. Anyway, while looking at all the walkers parked in the dining room, I got the idea that a walker race in the parking lot would be a great idea. (Darn auto correct keeps changing “walker race” to “walking race” – Apple’s employees obviously are not old enough to recognize the word “walker race” as a thing!).

I scoped out a start and finish line and plan to broach the idea with the residents once they put their hearing aids in – yup, I have learned that many of them also can’t hear well. Thankfully, I am not needing a hearing aid yet and will continue to keep my iPod at a reasonable volume while doing my walking and squats so that I don’t end up there anytime soon. I really think this race would liven things up at Parkland in the Valley and could even be replicated at other Shannex facilities around the province. It could even become a national pastime and maybe even an Olympic Sport. Of course, participants would have to sign a medical waiver and show that they actually need a walker (I know those not needing one might want to pretend and sandbag the whole shebang).

Can’t you just picture it? White haired ladies and bald men (whose hair now grows in other places) lapping around the parking lot, pushing those walkers with zest and zeal, the smell of Ben Gay permeating the air. Winning medals and then heading straight to bed to rest up for the next event, in a week or two. Anyway, I predict it will be epic. I am planning on heading back to Shannex later this week so I am going to take my proposal with me and share it with the powers that be. I am sure that it is something that will really interest them and will cause a lot of excitement among the residents. Can’t wait to yell through my bullhorn “On your mark! Get set! Go!”