The Old Coot is ‘okay’

A kid racing around like a wild maniac falls on his face and the parent (at least in my day) immediately says, “You’re okay!” Usually the kid pops up and goes off running. Thinking he is okay, and learns to accept a level of pain or discomfort and moves on. Football, soccer, baseball, hockey, basketball, and other coaches use that same technique. 

“Walk it off and then hop over to the bench and we’ll tape you up.” (And, push the bone that is sticking out back into place.)

It works with kids. I still see a lot of moms and dads using the “you’re okay” technique. It doesn’t work with old coots. When we stumble, we’re not okay! Yet, we still engage our inner-child when someone rushes over to ask, “Are you okay?” Whether we’re okay or not, our embarrassment overpowers reality and we respond, “I’m okay.” We have not accepted our aged infirmity and state of fragility. 

I fell flat on my face while walking on the beach last year. I claim I just stumbled, that my foot caught in the sand, and in spite of using a walking stick to avert a fall I went down so fast I didn’t get a chance to use it. A nice young couple rushed over to see if I was okay and to offer to help me back up. 

“I’m fine, thanks,” I said, and mumbled, “I just need to sit here for a minute.” When they were out of sight I started the process of getting up from a bed of soft sand. It was a perfect imitation of a newborn colt standing for the first time. It’s an engineering marvel to raise an old coot from a horizontal to a vertical position. Something we coots don’t want anyone to see, if we can help it.  

When I got back home I told my wife I had a close call, which by then I’d increased its severity to a nearly fatal fall on the beach. Her response, after hearing yet another of these incidents, was simply, “You’re okay!”

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