On Aging: The Man Who Keeps Going and Going and . . . Or, A Model for “Old Age”

My husband (known here and elsewhere as The Husband) never ceases to amaze. (Yes, he also never ceases to irritate and annoy, but that’s to be expected after living together for thirty years.) He turned 74 in late October, and the following day, he took off for a couple of weeks in Asia: Hong Kong, Burma, Cambodia. On his own. No tour group involved..

 Abeyandana Temple, Myanmar

Abeyandana Temple, Myanmar

One of his Big Life Projects is to visit the planet’s “monumental architecture,” including at least some of the thousands of temples that dot the landscape of various Asian countries. He went to Cambodia a couple of years ago to visit Angkor Wat, but he wanted to visit again. And he wanted to tour some of the temple complexes in Burma. (And visit a close friend in Hong Kong.)

So away he went. By himself. 

His first day in Burma, he slipped on a wet portion of already slippery stone at a temple, landed on his hip, and won a nasty cut on his arm. No problem. He got up, tried to stanch the blood, and carry on, but realized that the cut was, well, bleeding. (And for reasons known only to himself, he had no bandages with him.) No problem! He found some locals, asked for directions to the equivalent of a pharmacy (for months prior to leaving, he practiced both Burmese and Cambodian) where he patched himself up and returned to the temple.

A few days later, he came down with a cold. That slowed him slightly: He took a couple of long daytime naps.

 Shwezigon Pagoda, Myanmar

Shwezigon Pagoda, Myanmar

Otherwise: onward, onward, onward, day after day, conquering his cold, his bruised hip, his aching arm. And the weather: Day or night, temperatures ranged from about 85 to 90, with matching humidity. No breeze. No cooling rain. Just . . . hot, thick, still air.

 Sulamani Temple, Myanmar

Sulamani Temple, Myanmar

No problem for this road warrior! He rented an e-bike one day. Rode a horse cart to a temple site another. Hired tuk-tuks (small motorized people carriers) on other days. He tramped through heat and humidity so that he could marvel at  a world of art, design, and architecture created centuries ago, as he remarked in an email, by people just like himself.

I picked him up at the airport yesterday. He traveled 43 hours door to door , arriving in Iowa exhausted, coughing, hacking, and wheezing, but exhilarated and inspired by what he’d seen and done.

Did I mention that he’s seventy-four?