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  • Writer's picturePamela Higer-Polani

Pay it Forward...

It can be said that certain ladies in our community may have more plastic in their bodies than what is found in their wallets. The water aerobics class I joined recently definitely proved that not everyone needs flotation devices to stay buoyant. That was just one small insight that the session provided.


At 41, I was diagnosed with stenosis, degenerative disc disease and told that I have 2 herniated discs in my lower back. Strenuous exercise on my beloved stairmaster was not recommended any longer. So I searched for alternative ways to release stress and stay fit.


            All of which is how I arrived at an aquatic center early one morning, doing a water workout.


            As I was, by far, the youngest member of the class, I was eyed with a lot of suspicion and wariness. Some thought I even might be the instructor. Since back pain is not something that others can notably discern, the “Regulars” questioned my intent at participating.


            I definitely felt like the new kid on the block and was instantly reminded of being a young teenager, starting class at a new school.


            There was the “in” group, of course, who wore brighter, more “modern” bathing caps than the others, and let me know right away not to touch their equipment: it was reserved for them. A few shy participants smiled timidly in my direction. A group of “misfits” annoyed everyone with their splashing and loud conversation.


            Amongst this, I was the athlete, and if you know me, that is unbelievable. I was watched with outright envy and disgust. What a feeling! I admit enjoying the appreciation and all was going great until I suffered a “Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction”, while doing jumping jack movements.


            The shame was overwhelming until I realized no one around me had their glasses on and probably did not see what happened!


             The point is that no matter how old (or young) we are, social interaction and inclusion remains integral to our identity. Getting older does not make that feeling of wanting to be important disappear. Actually, the opposite happens.


            The whole episode reminded me of how as we get older, sometimes we feel as if we disappear from society. No longer young and pretty, many older individuals complain of not feeling wanted or needed. Family, work and our community as a whole needs to embrace this incredible resource we have in our senior population, taking advantage of the time, patience and experience each person offers.


            So for the lady in the pretty, blue-ruffle bathing suit, thank you. Many thanks for winking and looking the other way when that embarrassing moment happened. I appreciated your kindness and plan to pay it forward. Just not at water aerobics.



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