Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Secret Life of My Father (Part 1)

My father’s words resounded in my head last night while I was playing indoor “no rules” hockey at my weekly exercise class. This hockey game, which I think is the favourite part of the class for all participants, is played with plastic hockey sticks (but it still hurts if you get a good whack with one). The goal area is painted on the wall. The group is part of the Green Community. Why green I have no idea. It is government funded through Sport Northland. Costs a gold coin to take part. But to be part of the group you need a Green Prescription from your doctor, which is very easy to get. Just ring the surgery and ask for one and a nurse will write it out for you and forward it to Sport Northland. My interpretation is “this person could do with some regular exercise, let ‘em join.”

A staff member from Sport Northland sets the group up, by advertising it through Seniors Groups. When it is up and running they find a local person to take over. Grant, very fit, somewhere around 40, is our local leader. Our group are mainly over 60, a couple younger, most closer to 70 or 80. Hence the hockey is ‘no rules’ – very few of us would be capable of remembering them!
Just add a few years - like 40 or 50 - and you've got the picture!

82 year old Tom is one of the hockey stars. Old Tom, who does a 20km bike ride every Sunday come hell or high water. If you want to feel ashamed at your lack of fitness, just try marking Tom. Harold, hard to guess his age, looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, 70 something I would guess, is a bit slow to get to the puck but when he does he sure can whack it and is aim is terrific. Alex is fiercely competitive and can get a bit rough. Alex is to be avoided if bruising is undesirable. Occasionally Grant has to tell the group to slow it down a bit, be careful, accidents lead to a mountain of paperwork for him. I’ve come away with bruises and blood has flowed during this game. I know I’m competitive but wouldn’t really be considered so by the majority of our oldies.

Most of the ladies in the group mix it as best they can with the men who make no allowances for gender. Although there is an upspoken rule to back off and give the older and more infirm a ‘fair go’. Lovely Fay (who last night was wearing her pearls to the class and really isn’t in very good shape but is prepared to have a go) scored three goals! And I suspect most in the class do what I do, mark someone about my own age and level of fitness.

Last night I marked a newish lady to the class (don’t know her name yet, must remember to ask her) and during a tussle I got the puck clear and was set up for a sure goal. Except I knew I was on a bit of an angle to the goal mouth and I guess even my eyes don’t work as quick as they used to. I lifted those old eyes to check the angle and, damn it, clear missed the puck when I took my ‘dead cert’ shot.

That was when I heard my father shout - Don’t take your eye off the ball! Sorry, Dad. I hope I didn’t disturb your heavenly rest for too long!

Anyway, this little aside was meant to be an introduction to the Secret Life of my Father. But I'm still on my sewing bender and have other things to do, so the rest can wait till tomorrow.

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