Eye on the ball: What to do? Write a column!

COURTESY PHOTO | Anne DeStefano feeding the giraffe, with Bob Jr. and the columnist behind her.
Anne DeStefano feeding the giraffe, with Bob Jr. and the columnist behind her.

I am finding that one of the things that comes with age is having the time to just sit around and think.

As I sit here in Florida, this column will prove that although the weather is just about perfect, I have very little to do.

So, as I start my second week of a two-week vacation, what I have to report is — I’m writing this column.

My family and I are comfortable in our time share, a place called Westgate. We purchased this time share 35 years ago when our children were young. With a location next to Disney World, needless to say, we got our money’s worth along with a lot of enjoyment.

The place is great, roomy and beautiful, and we’re fortunate enough to have invested in a place that’s kept improving every year. This year we were also fortunate to have our son Bob and his wife Elena join us at least for the first week.

When you’re in Florida, it’s about as diverse a lifestyle as it could be from Shelter Island. For instance, there are more people living in just our little development than the total population of the Island this time of the year. Down here, compared to living on an Island with no traffic lights, I grit my teeth waiting for lights to sometimes change three times before I can pass through.

Naturally, the main difference this time of year is sunshine and outside temperatures. After leaving the Island with 2 feet of snow and single digit temperatures, you can imagine what I thought when my first day in Florida the warmth needle hit 90 degrees.

Speaking of changing, nothing has changed more than the aging process affecting Anne and me. When we first purchased the time share, we spent almost no time at all hanging around the house. Since our location is within 10 miles of Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World, we found ourselves out all day. In those days, this beautiful “villa” was just a place for us to sleep.

Of course this year, with Elena and Bob, they reminded us of old times as they were on a non-stop merry-go-round of parks and entertainment all day, every day. Even though we can no longer keep up with them, our enjoyment comes from watching them have a ball. We found that roller coasters and heights leave us so dizzy that the rest of our day is ruined. Of course, later at dinners we always proved that we could still eat with the best.

I guess my point is that Anne and I sometimes look at each other and wonder what happened. How did we get to this age so soon? In our minds, we’re still the same people we used to be, until we have to actually do something. All of a sudden we have all these new elderly rules dropped on us. We are told that we can no longer sit in the sun too long and soaking in the hot tub at the pool— where I enjoy meeting so many new folks — should be limited to 15 minutes. With all our aching bones and muscles, the walks have gone from 4 miles to a current trip around the building.

I know it’s better than the alternative and we are on the right side of the grass, but I really don’t like getting older. If somehow I was running the show, I would increase the good years and shorten the old ones. I never really thought much about aging and what goes with it — things like all the new aches, pains, stiffness, sickness, doctor visits, gray hair and wrinkles. But the thing that I will probably never come to terms with is going on as my friends and family are passing away.

I also don’t quite understand how these children can do so many things with computers, cell phones and games while knowing so much about music, bands, movies and television. I know I am not, but I just feel like a dummy asking all these kids how to do things. I thought when we got older, the kids were supposed to be coming to us for wisdom.

Now that I have your attention, here’s a piece of unsolicited advice. When you get older, you really don’t want to work anymore, but you still need income. Nobody gives you anything, the money you saved goes fast, you can’t live on Social Security and the bills keep coming in. If you don’t have a pension, what do you do?

My advice is something I started to do at one time but I idiotically stopped and decided on a different route. When you get up in age, you still need a steady income each week. If I had it to do over again, I would have invested in property that provided me an income. If I owned 10 income-producing properties that netted me $1,000 each a month, I would have nothing to worry about and have something of value to leave for my family.

Anyway, I did have a great time at Busch Gardens this past week as my family and I, for the first time, fed a giraffe some lettuce. Easy for anyone of any age, since they have a tongue that comes out that’s at least a foot long.