By Robert LaCosta
After plunging into the pool by 6 a.m., octogenarian Allen Ballard would get himself a good breakfast, review his notes for the history class he taught at the University of Albany and be ready to hit The Civil War by 10 a.m.
It was a classic study in intergenerational bonding.
“If you demand excellence,” Ballard says, “that is what the students will give you.”
His routine was going strong until stenosis began to impair his right leg. When it became impossible for him to walk across the campus, the self-described “gadgeteer” looked into options. His solution came in the form of a rollator and an electric mobility scooter. Both made the dimensions of the campus smaller. However, the scooter didn’t give him the exercise he desired, so he switched to the rollator and got his forty-five minutes of movement in while traveling about the college. He pushed the boundaries of his disability right up until the time he was to retire at 85.
“I was in a drive-up line at Dunkin Donuts and my foot didn’t work,” he recalls. “I hit the accelerator and almost hit the guy in front of me.”
The incident drove retirement home, but it didn’t stop Al from doing one of the things he loved to do best: go mobile.
Before giving up on driving, he went to Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital where a specialist gave him a hand-control test with a special car. But that put stress on his shoulders and knees.
“The instructor told me, ‘That ends your driving career,’” he remembers.
However, nothing stopped his drive to remain mobile in his hometown of Clifton Park. As he adapted to an adult tricycle, the wheels in his mind began to spin his next adventure: a book on mobility entitled Keep On Moving.
(His exciting story will be continued in the next issue.)
Robert J. LaCosta has been writing about seniors for thirty years. His daily inspirational vignettes and books are available on robertlacosta.com. To suggest a senior for “Retiring Retirement,” write [email protected]