Tom has a song in his collection called “My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went.” I probably heard it twenty years ago. I listened to it with human interest then. Yet now I am experiencing a sad ring of truth in it. It is not necessarily for my health, because I have always been weak and delicate—sickly really—even as a youth. Then and now, my health is about the same.
I am looking at Tom who had so much energy, so much endurance. It was only nine years ago he would work twelve-hour days to renovate our Chicago home to sell. This went on and off for a whole year. He was fifty years old then. In our earlier years, he would work all day, come home, and work on never-ending old house projects, play with the kids and still carry so much responsibility for the church.
I look at him and my heart aches. He still should have decades left. He still works a long day for church-related literature work. Yet he is not able to do much. His back pains him. Standing hurts. Then I feel so sorry for myself. Everything I want to do is very much tied to his health. Like simple things such as going for a walk on a beautiful day, going shopping, traveling, visiting... For so long I was the limiting factor, and I have always been. That was okay because I had Tom, who was my energy and my cheerleader.
I only remembered the title to the song, but Tom gave me the words to the whole song:
MY GET UP AND GO HAS GOT UP AND WENT
by Pete Seeger
How do I know my youth is all spent?
My get up and go has got up and went
In spite of it all, I'm able to grin
When I think of the places my get up has been
Old age is golden, I think I've heard said
But sometimes I wonder as I crawl into bed
My ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup
My eyes on the table until I wake up
As sleep dims my vision, I say to myself
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf?
But nations are warring and business is vexed
So I'll stick around to see what happens next
When I was younger, my slippers were red
I could kick up my heels right over my head
When I was older my slippers were blue
But still I could dance the whole night thru
Now I am old, my slippers are black
I huff to the store and I puff my way back
But never you laugh, I don't mind at all
I'd rather be huffing than not puff at all
I get up each morning and dust off my wits
Open the paper and read the obits
If I'm not there, I know I'm not dead
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed