Anytime I worry about aches and pains, I think about my Uncle Ray.
Aches and pains are just an annoyance to Ray — something he has to overcome to play softball.
Oh, did I forget to mention that Ray is in his 80s?
Ray is one of my mom’s amazing siblings. If I hadn’t met these guys, I wouldn’t believe these stories are true. But I’ve met them and I’m amazed.
Ray and Jack and Mel are all a bit sports crazy. But they aren’t the kind of guys who sit on the couch for March Madness. They are athletes and they aren’t going to let a little knee pain or a sore shoulder send them back to the couch.
Only Mel has retired from the ranks and that’s because he’s an in-law so just couldn’t keep up with the Arlands. He suffered a heart attack while playing softball a few years ago and asked the doctor if he could go back to playing. Sure, his doc told him. I could give you a pacemaker and when it stops, they could restart it.
So Mel doesn’t play anymore.
But Jack and Ray are still in the fray.
Ray plays softball, volleyball and tennis.
But doesn’t that hurt your joints, I asked him.
Sure, but when he had swelling in his knees, the doctor gave him a pill to take and the swelling went right down.
But isn’t tennis painful?
No problem, Ray said. “Well, I did have rotator cuff surgery.”
Evidently, that doesn’t count because he said it the way I would say, “Sure, I’ve got a splinter.”
Ray likes to bike, too, he said, but his wife doesn’t like him to do it on Sunday, which is apparently the only day he can fit that in. I’m guessing he doesn’t do an easy ride around the neighborhood. I’m thinking time trials.
So as you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, hoist a glass to my 100 percent Irish-American uncles. Drink to their good health and the safety of their joints because I want Ray and Jack to be able to hit that ball for another decade or two.