I saw firsthand how difficult everyday life was for my dad: how precarious were grocery shopping, going to the gym, bathing, putting on socks.
I have become my father. I don’t mean I’m short-tempered, overly particular about petty things or obsessed with finding cheap gasoline, although these are all traits he passed on to me. I mean I can’t walk.
Unlike my father, my condition is temporary — I fractured my ankle on an ill-advised descent down an icy hill on cross-country skis, landing me with a space-age boot and crutches. My father, on the other hand, begrudgingly used a walker for the last years of his life, as his balance became more and more tenuous and his legs progressively weakened from normal pressure hydrocephalus and spinal stenosis. In other words, he was old. And, like 12 million adults in the United States age 65 or older, he lived alone.