Where I live, you can find yourself in heart-to-heart talks with perfect strangers pretty easily. Today it was at the supermarket. The woman behind the counter was talking to the woman in front of me about how quickly time passes and how did they get old? I arrived at my turn and said, “Don’t even talk about it.”
“Right?” she said. “I feel thirty.”
“I know,” I said. “My mom used to say that all the time. I shoulda’ listened.” I paused, and gave my mom a thought, “Never mind. Maybe not.”
“I don’t FEEL different,” she said. “That’s the thing.”
“I have two titanium hips,” I said. “I know how old I am.”
“Does the surgery work? Do you really feel better?”
“I can’t even describe how much better it is.” I felt tears starting, but I’m trying to be less weepy on this subject. “It’s amazing.”
“Both my hips hurt,” she said. “It’s arthritis, right?”
“Probably,” I said. “I got it early. I used to be a runner.” I don’t think I’ve used the term “used to be” in that context before, but now I’m OK with it.
“I have runner’s knee,” said the bag boy, a kid about 17 with a tiny gold stud in one nostril. Very cute, very innocent. “I have water under my knee cap.”
“Take care of your knee,” I said.
“I’m trying to.”
I paid my $$$ and left.
Yesterday I was thinking about the book review I wrote and the times that my former professor mentioned William Butler Yeats in the book. Yeats wrote about old age in a way that I understood in my twenties but see even better now. I don’t agree that I’m a “tattered coat upon a stick” and that schoolchildren laugh at me. At worst, I don’t exist in the eyes of younger people, but even that, I’ve learned, is kind of up to me.
And I don’t care that much.
It’s disability that’s my fear and nemesis.
As I walked out of City Market I thought of “Sailing to Byzantium,” the poem Dr. Richardson referenced in his book. I thought of my titanium hips and the future they have afforded me. I thought of the golden bird upon the bough… here
Once out of nature I shall never takeMy bodily form from any natural thing,But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths makeOf hammered gold and gold enamellingTo keep a drowsy Emperor awake;Or set upon a golden bough to singTo lords and ladies of ByzantiumOf what is past, or passing, or to come.
And I thought it uncanny that I am partly metal now, not hammered gold, but something less expensive and more durable, safer for its purpose, stainless steel, titanium, chromium, cobalt or some combination of these.
I’m so grateful.
- Fun Titanium Facts
- The word titanium originated from the Greek Mythological Titans, the first sons of Earth.
- Titanium alloys are used in situations where lightweight strength and ability to withstand temperature extremes are required.
- The metal is frequently used for components which must be exposed to seawater.
- The complex process of converting titanium ore into metal has only been commercially viable for a little more than 50 years.