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Saturday essay: Middle-age 'downsizing'

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Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

One expects certain physical changes with middle age, however unsettling. But some surpass expectation or preparation.

“Five-feet eight?” the incredulous patient inquires about his height measurement taken recently at a doctor's office. “You mean 5-feet 10.”

“No,” the nurse replies. “Five-feet eight.”

What the hey!

Since the teenage growth “spurt” came up pitifully short — 6-feet-something was the intended goal — 5-feet 10 always has been the begrudgingly accepted measurement. For every driver's license renewed, every probing medical form filled out, the vertical standard always has been the same.

When a herniated disc landed the vertically challenged in a chiropractor's “stretching” machine, there was hope, albeit unrealistic, for an inch added to the frame. Instead, and quite possibly a result of that back condition, the desired gain apparently became a discernible loss.

It seems the only physical “gain” accompanying middle age has been in girth, adding further insult to ego's injury.

But as the doctor explained, “downsizing” is not uncommon as life's chronometer advances steadily toward 60. Indeed, the same thing happened to Pop, broad and towering in his prime but reduced considerably in stature when he reached his so-called “golden” years.

It's just not expected to happen to you.

Still, looking up rather than down, one finds other measures of fulfillment in life that matter considerably more.

— Bob Pellegrino

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