Mike Powers

It may not be politically correct, but almost 10 years ago I started using the phrase “Old Man Disease” to describe the process of growing older.

With Medicare and senior citizen status on the horizon, now reached, I began to watch and make note of the evolution of men and women going from middle to golden age.

I reached conclusions based on observation and personal experience. While the process has been reassuring, aging is scary. Getting out of a chair isn’t what it used to be. Neither is my hearing. Or my memory. Forget about it. But what I have seen gives me hope to enjoy the ride.

My inspiration is people who are charging forward and not looking back. I’ve recently written about coach Larry Padilla and SilverSneakers superstar Cathy Lee, both going strong in their 70s.

My best buddy, Ron, is still laying tile at nearly 66, and playing guitar in a half dozen bands.

Where would high school sports be if referees silenced their whistles at 60? And what about the guy always running through the neighborhood, a hoodie pulled up over his head? He has that Rocky Balboa look, maybe cutting weight before a big match.

That’s 70 year old Tom Torres, the Belen native and Los Lunas coaching legend. After 30 years at LLHS and five state wrestling championships Torres retired at age 52. It didn’t stick. Not enough action. It was back to the wrestling room at the brand new Valencia High School.

Torres retired again eight years ago and now says, “I love it. I get to see my wife a lot, our kids and grandkids, too. I have more freedom.”

At a svelte 170 lbs, staying healthy is a passion.

“I do weight training in the morning about 5 a.m.,” focusing on specific areas of the body. On other days, Torres runs four or five miles, listening to classic rock. “You have to work on the heart, too.  It’s all combined together.”  He suggests keeping a strict schedule.

Was Torres needling this pudgy reporter when he encouraged good nutrition like fruits, vegetables, lean meat, wheat bread? And absolutely no fried foods.

“Come on, Tom, give me a break,” I pleaded. No sir. “Those things you got to put away. File it away. Lock it away. You won’t see it again.“

As for our mental health, there is Lillie McNabb of Bosque Farms. At 82 years old, McNabb carries a positive outlook and a big smile wherever she goes. If you are down in the dumps McNabb says, “Put on something bright and beautiful. Comb your hair; think positive thoughts.”

The motto for McNabb, who is a world class volunteer? “To serve the people. Every day of my life I contact a senior. We all need a human voice, human connection-we are so blessed to be able help someone.”

That human connection leads back to “Old Man Disease.” While working out of state away from family, sometimes the only conversation I had on weekends was in the McDonald’s drive-thru. Think of someone who is stuck at home with no family. No wonder we sometimes talk to ourselves or are a bit chatty when we get the chance to yak.

This new job at the News-Bulletin has me working with a staff that challenges me. And I’m covering young people again. It can be a magic elixir; a shot of adrenaline.

Like teenagers, seniors’ bodies and minds change. It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves. I’m trying to fight it or adapt. Friends say you need a hearing aid? Listen to them. Need to lose a few pounds? Shed them. My hairstylist asked me if I ever considered waxing my ears? No, but I am now!

Driving out of Missoula, Mont., recently, my comment that this was the last time I would see this beloved place drew an immediate verbal slap from my wife, Pat. “Don’t think like that! You don’t know. Quit that!”

Message sent and received. I am now aspiring to look forward. Be positive and patient. Stay healthy and young at heart. Share compliments and “I love yous.”  Old Man Disease, be damned.

What’s your Reaction?

Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.