Faith Eradicates Fear

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The sound of silence last night provided me the serenity needed to think about a friendship shared and the impact or imprint it continues to hold for me.  The last two months have gone by very quickly.  Maybe they even unfolded into the third month, but not by much if they did.  It almost seems surreal.  One day he was here and the next day he was gone. 

Despite the timeline, the grains of sand falling through the hourglass went by far too quickly for my liking.  But as they say: “So it is with the days of our lives.” Of course, I’m looking at it from my perspective rather than the frame of reference experienced by my friend.  Our friendship spanned the course of well over fifty years.  We met in college and somehow managed to stay-in-touch and maintain the connection over the next five decades. 

There were gaps in the connection. Sometimes there were very long gaps in the connection, but whenever we talked by phone or visited in person, we picked up at exactly the same place we left off.  Isn’t that the litmus test for real friendship; the ability to not skip a beat and move forward as though it had only been day-before-yesterday when we last talked?

Last year when I sent him my books, he called almost immediately and said: “I can’t believe it.  What you’ve written is a real book. I couldn’t stop turning the pages.  What you’ve written is too good to put down.  How did you do that?”  I took it as a left-handed compliment.  What other kind of book is there other than a real book?  But I get his point. Normally, you expect a writer to be someone other than a friend you’ve known for decades.   

He called a couple of days later saying: “I have a friend that could benefit from what you’ve written.  She’s going through a tough time right now. Do you mind if I share the book with her?” Of course, I saw that as a compliment of the highest order. There was nothing left handed about it. He did sense that the book had value.

I remember a subsequent recent phone call as though it was yesterday.  He had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He wanted to talk.  We scheduled a time to visit the following week.  By the next week he telephoned to change the location of our meeting.  He had been hospitalized at MD Anderson. 

When I walked into his hospital room, he didn’t spend anytime with small talk. I guess when you have the sense your days are numbered you get right to the point. He was forthright.  He thanked me for coming and said: “Lets get this out of the way first.  We can then talk about other stuff later, but this is a topic really important to me. We both know that a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer normally doesn’t end well.  If that proves to be the case, would you conduct my funeral service?  It would mean a lot to me.”

I was honored and agreed immediately to carry out his wishes. However, I had no idea that the timeline from then until now would be so short.  He said, “I have two requests.  The first is that you read the Scripture that includes the statement: “the greatest of these is love?”  I asked, “Are you talking about I Corinthians 13 – Most often it is referred to as the “love chapter” of the Bible?  He said, “Yes, that is it.  I want you to read that.”

His next request wasn’t something I couldn’t answer from off the top of my head, but it was with little difficulty that I subsequently located what he requested. He said, “I don’t remember the name of the poem, but I remember the concept.  I think the poet was Alford Lord Tennyson.  He said something about the impact of others in one’s life.  I should remember the way he phrased it, but I don’t.  It has to do with being the sum of what others have contributed to my life”.

I wasn’t familiar with the poem or the line to which he was referring, but the concept my friend shared with me is based on Scripture.  Romans 5:8 says: “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord, to them that are called according to his purposes.” 

For the next few minutes he and I talked about how God uses everything that comes our way in life including hardship and disappointment to eventually orchestrate it for our own good. That was exactly what he was talking about.  He said: “My life has been enriched by others.  I don’t know how many people will attend my funeral. Across the years, I’ve been fortunate to have many friends. Please thank them for coming and let them know their presence in my life contributed greatly to who I am”. 

Like I said, “It was with little difficulty that I located the poem.  The first line of the poem is also the title. “I Am Part Of All I’ve Met”. My friend’s memory was intact. The poem was written by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

My friend’s approach to the problem of broken health was very much like the psalmist who said: “Yea thou I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”.  He explained it to me like this: “What I’ve discovered is that faith eradicates fear. Though my illness is not the path I would have chosen, my faith in God has equipped me to deal with this chapter of my life. 

 

Subsequently, in short order, I saw it expressed in his life.  He refused to give up or to retreat to bitterness or to fall prey to lasting depression.  He knew that God would take care of the tomorrows, and he was intent on living the todays.  I like the concept: “I am part of all I’ve met”. I’ve learned a lot from my friend by watching him yield to the final chapter in his earthly existence. I look forward to one day reconnecting with him on the other side.

 

All My Best!

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Don

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A Celebration Of All Things Don!

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I have the unique privilege of being surrounded by a host of family and friends who are consistently thoughtful and kind. Actually, that has been true for the entirety of my life. I’ve done nothing to deserve it, but folks consistently surround me by putting their best foot forward.

 

In retrospect, I have to confess that I was a little anxious about yesterday’s retirement party in my honor at Miracle Farm in Brenham. When my boss mentioned hosting a party several weeks ago, I thanked him and immediately pushed the thought outside my mind.

 

Yesterday morning as the General and I made our way toward Brenham, she said: “You are a little uncomfortable with this aren’t you?” I responded, “It’s not that I’m uncomfortable, I just hate to be in a situation where I am the center of attention.” She reassured me that I’d be okay and we continued our journey while I silently attempted to get the butterflies in my stomach to fly in formation.

 

Maybe I’m weird, but I have the same response to birthday celebrations or anything else where I’m the center of attention. It is always a little uncomfortable for me. It is much easier for me to host a party for someone else than to be the honoree.

 

As I drove, I had the thought: “I should have formulated some kind of script related to comments I’d want to make at the end. I don’t handle impromptu well, but knowing that didn’t motivate me to play it out differently. I guess I simply defaulted to the “que sera sera “ – whatever will be will be mindset.

 

So what would I say? I honestly didn’t know apart from my telling myself that I’d embrace some semblance of humor and attempt to orchestrate a laugh. Even that got short-circuited when my boss mentioned in his introductory comments that he had invited several folks to speak and imposed a three-minute time limit. He also reminded folks speaking of the ground-rule: “This is not a roast”.

 

I immediately felt my anxiety rising. I thought to myself: “I can hold my own with a roast”. I am one of those guys that can both dish it out and take it. I actually like the banter of back and forth. Sure, I could handle the roast, but that possibility was no longer on the table-so-to speak.

 

Fear immediately replaced my anxiety. What would I do if something shared tugged at my heartstrings and my eyes filled with tears? Awkwardly, I remembered leaving my boss’s office at some point after having made him aware of my plans for retirement. I simply made the statement: “This is proving to be a lot harder than I ever imagined”. I then attempted to exit stage right before the tears came, but I didn’t make it. He too, was teary eyed. Consequently, the whole business of timing around retirement is a tough and emotional issue.

 

“Greatly humbled and honored” is probably the best description of my experience yesterday. For one thing, the number of people who came amazed me. I was expecting a very small group at best. Seriously, yesterday was billed as having the possibility of being the hottest day of the year. In addition, people are busy. For the vast majority of those invited to the celebration, getting to Miracle Farm and back to their location of origin would be a time-consuming process. It wasn’t just down the street or across town. It was a sacrificial gift on their part to simply show up. Yet they did show up and it proved to be a large gathering. Wow! What a thoughtful and sacrificial gift of their time.

 

The folks who spoke were flawless in their delivery and the heartfelt wonderful things they shared about our relationship and friendship tugged at my heartstrings. I was teary eyed more than once, but I decided to simply enjoy the affirmation that I am loved. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

 

My boss also colored outside the lines and unbeknown to me, had invited my son to speak. In Craig’s introductory comments, he said: “I took a quick poll during lunch and discovered that folks generally fall into one of three categories: (1) They are here to congratulate my dad on a successful career and wish him the very best in retirement, (2) they are here to make darn sure that he is actually retired, or (3) they are just here for the free lunch.” He then added, “That was just a poll of our family members”.

 

He also added: “So, who is Don Forrester? He’s a husband, a father of two exceptionally gifted and talented kids, he’s a Granddad, the King of Adventure, an author, blogger, pastor, friend, and self-described ‘old child welfare worker’… So what fuels an old child welfare worker that spans the better part of five decades? For my dad it has been the guiding principle that it shouldn’t hurt to be a child. Not only has Dad provided a loving and supportive home for his own family, he’s dedicated his life to providing that same experience for many others.”

 

Craig also thoughtfully added: “Though today’s festivities are primarily focused on my dad, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my mom as well. Though it sounds a bit cliché to say that behind every good man is a great woman; Mom has been there beside him providing the love and support that he needed every step of the way. She’s ensured that our household ran like a well-oiled machine while Dad was out saving the world. We love you both and are excited to see what the next chapter brings.”

 

Honestly, the day and celebration exceeded my expectations or frame of reference as to what it could even hold. It could not have been more affirming or more positive. Being surrounded by folks that I respect, love and value as friends was the perfect formula for a retirement celebration that will be permanently etched in my memory.

 

All My Best!

Don

What Am I Forgetting?

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So what am I forgetting?  Trust me, I know there’s something, but for the life of me I can’t remember.  Consequently, I’m barely out of the gate with today’s blog and I’ve already confessed to the accusation the General often makes. Actually, she expresses it differently. She alleges that I don’t pay attention.   Did I mention that the General is back? 

She was a little later in arriving yesterday afternoon than I anticipated, but then again I failed to remember getting an early start is no longer her modus of operandi. Prior to leaving for Odessa two weeks ago, she reminded me that I needed to get my truck registration taken care of before week’s end. My registration expires at the end of this month.

One day last week, I picked up the envelope containing the registration material and headed out the door for H.E.B.  I have the General to thank for that. I had no idea that you could pay your vehicle registration at H.E.B.  Wow! The convenience is incredible.  At any rate, before I got to H.E.B. the lights came on in my head and I recognized that I would be unable to register the truck without a current inspection.  “Hello Houston, We’ve Got A Problem.”   The General took my truck to Odessa because I had to get the oil changed in her car.

I anticipated she’d be back in time yesterday for me to take care of getting the truck inspected.  As it turned out, she did but just barely.  I met her in the church parking lot at 4:20 and we hurried to Central Garage in Dripping Springs.  Gratefully, one of the bays was open. I walked to the counter to ask if they had time for an inspection. 

The young man who waited on me has a great sense of humor. He answered: “Obviously, we don’t have time. We are swamped.”  Initially, I thought he was being serious, but when he smiled I realized he was joking. It really was pretty funny.

Earlier in the afternoon yesterday I realized I had another problem. I was hopeful the General’s brother could help.  He is pastor of the First Christian Church in Johnson City.  They have a baptistery in their church. We are Baptist and understand the ordinance of baptism, but we do it seasonally in the creek. Consequently, I wade into the water wearing causal clothing and get as wet (well almost) as the person being immersed.  For thirty-eight years this system has worked well for me. 

At Henly Baptist Church, we definitely don’t fall into the category of high church. We are a country church that makes do with what we’ve got. We don’t have an indoor baptistery, so we do it the way then did it in the New Testament – outside in the river.

My two grandson’s are being baptized in the morning at First Baptist Church in Sealy. Thoughtfully, they asked if I’d participate in the baptism with them. Pastor Robbie at First Baptist Church is a gracious man.  He was more than willing for me to grace the baptism pool with them. 

It didn’t occur to me this week that I don’t have what I need for an indoor baptism  Pastors generally wear waders and a robe and manage to get through the experience without having to change clothing before the sermon.  I didn’t want to embarrass my grandson’s by being the hick preacher from the country that didn’t have the appropriate attire.  Consequently, I reached out to the General’s brother to see if I could borrow his waders and robe.  He graciously consented.

At any rate, I called the General and asked if she’d meet her brother at the First Christian Church in Johnson City when she came through town.  She gladly agreed, but then called me once she was in Johnson City.  Her brother couldn’t find his robe at the church. Did I want her to go back to his home with him to look for the robe, or did I want her to expeditiously head my direction to get the truck inspected. Obviously, I voted for the truck.

Long story short, by day’s end we got it all done and the General’s brother delivered the robe.  We actually, met them at my daughter’s house.  We were keeping the dogs last night.  Generally, we would have kept them at our house, but our house is on the market.  Consequently, I voted to keep them at their on house.

There is a lot to the story, but as a retiree, I’ve got a lot to get done, so I don’t have time for all the details now.  I need to head toward Brenham in the next fifteen minutes to attend a retirement party in my honor at Miracle Farm, the boys ranch program affiliated with Children at Heart Ministries. 

Wow!  It is going to be a busy weekend. Who says you have to slow down in retirement?  Not me, I’m going full speed ahead.

All My Best!

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Don

An Accurate Dose of Reality

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I had the thought: “Why didn’t I think of that?” When I was bemoaning the fact that I had misplaced my car key and a replacement key was $380.00, a friend from Oklahoma countered: “Don, look at it this way, at least you know the key is lost. ”

 

His message was as riveting as a bolt of lightening striking me on the shoulder. Selfishly, I had the thought: “I should have thought of that on my own, but I didn’t.” His words of wisdom reflected profound insight on his part. He is really a smart man! The guy is from Oklahoma and I’m singing his praises. (Sorry Texas fans, I couldn’t help myself) Why not give credit where credit is due?

 

The subtle undertone or maybe it was the overtone of yesterday’s blog was my innate fear that I was beginning a steady decline. Call it the long green mile if you want, but retirement isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. After all, I’ve only been away from the office for three months and the days of the week are already running together and I can’t decipher from memory what day of the week it really is.

 

I no longer begin my day determining what I’m going to wear that will look great. I don’t need to dress for success. God forbid that I would wear a pair of railroad train pajamas all day long, but it could happen. Actually, it couldn’t happen. I haven’t had railroad train pajamas since I was a kid. In addition, I’m not at risk of waking up with chewing gum in my hair.

 

As I’m getting dressed for the day, I look at my freshly laundered and starched shirts hanging in the closet and they each represent $2.45. Why mess up one of them when I can put on a T-shirt and shorts and live the life of Riley? Now that I’ve discovered Keen sandals through the generous gift of my brother who is from Oklahoma, I now know what I’ve been missing. Presto, I’m outfitted for the day and the maintenance costs are almost nonexistent. Water is cheap. All I have to do is throw my shorts and T-shirts in the washing machine and I’m good as new except that it is not a new look. It is the same ole “I’m retired look”.

 

I’m retired, so the need to dress for success has come to an end. The General is so accustomed to seeing me wearing a pair of shorts and pull over T-shirt that she probably is beginning to think I don’t have any long pants.  With the exception of Sunday, every day the way I dress looks the same. I’m in the midst of a “Groundhog’s Day” kind of experience where one day looks just like the preceding day and a prediction of what tomorrow holds.

 

You may remember the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. In the movie he is an arrogant Pittsburg TV weatherman who figuratively draws the short stick and is assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA. He was less than thrilled with the assignment. It was beneath him. He also predicted the blizzard would miss western Pennsylvania. He was wrong on that one and found himself snowbound in Punxsutawney so to speak. Left in a time warp he couldn’t escape, he choose to re-examine his life and his priorities and it provided him the freedom he needed to move forward and do life differently.

 

Speaking of “short stick”, did you ever use that method to determine who would receive the dreaded task of doing whatever? My mother was the one who introduced the concept to us as children. Sometimes she’d determine who got the assigned task by asking us to draw a stick. There were only three sticks to choose from. Ronnie, Larry and I got to draw one. Actually, the last to draw only had one choice, but it seemed like a fairly equitable way to determine the owner of the task she wanted accomplished. As I recall, I think we mostly chose our selection from three toothpicks she held in her fist. Of course, they would have been broken so none of them were the same length.

 

Even that is a tangible example that life can be filled with variety and that everyday experiences don’t necessarily have to duplicate one another. All you have to do is mix things up and purposefully choose to do it differently. If you are tired of same ole, same ole, get out of the rut and go for it. Isn’t that what seeking the adventure is all about?

 

Solomon is credited with saying: “There is no new thing under the sun.” Same ole, same ole or repetition of what has been sometimes seems like the only thing on the menu. I want more than that. Consequently, I’ve got to choose to make it happen.  If it worked for Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, it can work for  me.  Doesn’t choosing  to re-examine one’s life and priorities provide freedom to move forward and do life differently?

 

When you’re caught in a time warp where every day looks the same, it can play havoc with one’s perception. Take for example my not knowing what day of the week it is or my not remembering where I left my car key. The repeated experience subtly put me on the edge of a homemade pity party. What else was there to think? It seemed like I was going full speed ahead toward the final curtain and was on the precipice of cognitively losing it. Thankfully, a bold man named Larry hit me up side the face with a refreshing dose of reality. He thoughtfully commented: “At least you know the key is lost.”

 

“At least you know the key is lost” – It was like music to my ears. I’m not making this up. The wisdom in his message was as refreshing as I anticipate I’d find in a morning rain shower. It is really hot and it is really dry in my part of the world. A good soaking rain in the midst of the day would be like inhaling fresh air. Recognizing the simple truth once it was pointed out to me, “Don, look at it this way. At least you know the key is lost” was as poignant as a freshly cut bouquet of expensive and rare flowers.

 

By the way, I have an eye exam scheduled in Austin at 8:00 a.m. this morning. Day before yesterday, I had a 7:15 a.m. appointment with the retina specialist who did my eye surgery a few years back. In case you’re wondering, I’ll be wearing long pants and a starched shirt that button up. I’ll even opt for shoes with socks. This is a big day for me. I’m getting out of the time warp.

 

All My Best!

Don

Thankfully

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Historically, I’ve not had a lot of luck recovering things from the “Lost and Found” department in any kind of setting. It seems like it was only a couple of years ago, but in reality it was probably closer to four or five years ago. It may have even been six or seven. For whatever reason, I’m not a good judge of lapsed time. The General and I had flown to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and rented a car to drive to Camp Lejeune.

 

Our return flight out of Raleigh-Durham was mid-morning at the end of the week. Consequently, we left Camp Lejeune before daybreak. At some point, the sunshine was bright enough that I needed my sunglasses. Historically before cataract surgery, I never wore sunglasses. Since the surgery, I never leave home without them.   Even though we were driving west, somehow the sun coming up in the east was bright enough that I needed the shades for comfort even though I wasn’t driving into the sun.

 

Universally there is something characteristic of every parking garage I’ve ever driven into to park. If you’re wearing shades, you can’t see anything. Obviously, I discarded my sunglasses before the hood of the vehicle was completely covered with darkness. I promise you, I put the sunshades in their case. I’m as OCD as the General when it comes to my glasses.

 

We were back in Austin before I realized that my sunglasses didn’t make the trip. It didn’t take me long to figure it out. I had left them in the rental car. The General would tell you that if my head wasn’t sewn own, I’d lose it. Maybe she’s right. I do have a history of not always carefully managing to keep up with everything when I travel. The same is true for when I don’t travel. At least, I’m predictably consistent. On the other hand, that obviously isn’t always a good thing.

 

I have left belts, shoes, my computer charger and several other things in hotel rooms. Of course, I always discover early on the error of my ways. When I call housekeeping, they promise to check immediately. In short order or way late, they call me back and confirm that they did not find my misplaced item. Of course, they will let me know if it surfaces. Predictably, it never does. I always find that a bit suspicious, but how can you prove they didn’t?

 

The sunglasses I left behind were prescription sunglasses. Consequently, apart from looking really cool if you put them on, anyone finding them wouldn’t be able to see anything out of them. They were my glasses. They were made to correct my vision. When I picked the frames out, I had no idea who Versace was or that he was a fashion designer killed by a close friend. The way I see it, “If friends don’t let friends drive drunk”, they certainly don’t kill them either. That simply is unacceptable! Versace’s name appeared on the earpieces of my glasses, but I bought them anyway simply because it was a good look. I had never heard of Versace.

 

Across the year and a half that I wore the sunglasses before I lost them, folks periodically commented on the glasses. Generally, they were being complimentary. They really did look a lot better than the Ray Ban frames I’m currently wearing. At any rate, the car rental place never notified me that my glasses were found or subsequently returned them to me. I’m still wondering “why?”

 

Until yesterday morning, my only positive lost and found story relates to an experience that occurred without my realizing that I had lost anything until it was subsequently returned. I had taken shirts to the laundry and when I went to pick them up, the person working at the cleaners also returned $60.00 to me. The cash was located in one of my shirt pockets. That was back in the good ole days prior to retirement when the General doled out my allowance (aka – lunch money). The amount was set in stone for the past fifteen years. It was $60.00 a week. Now that I’m retired and seldom out and about, the amount has been reduced by the in-house banker to $40.00. I thought it was a bit unnecessary for the General to be so stingy, but I’m better served to do it her way.

 

In the early morning hours yesterday before I got out of bed, I replayed the issue concerning the missing key to the Miata over in my mind. I am the only person that has ever driven the car. Consequently, if the keys are lost (and they were), I am responsible. Before I drifted off to sleep on Monday night, I had concluded that I obviously took trousers to the laundry and that the keys had to be in the pocket of something I had taken to be washed or dry cleaned. Could it be that the key is in their lost and found? Doubtful? “Yes”, but I had literally looked everywhere else.

 

It was a long shot, but it was on my mental list of things to accomplish yesterday. The other thing was my resolve to look really carefully through everything this time. I had previously looked here and there, but I was determined to leave no stone unturned. Interestingly, I even prayed: “God, I really need your help to find this key. Please help me.” Did I selfishly pray that prayer or did I feel led to pray that? I think it was the latter. I try not to attempt to use God as a Genie in a Bottle.

 

Okay, so I started on the top rack of my closet and went through every suit or sports coat that I own. I hadn’t looked there before primarily because I don’t normally wear a suit when I drive the car. Of course, there were a couple of Sundays I drove to church in the Miata. Maybe, just maybe, I had dropped the key in the inside pocket of one of my suits. Sure, that had to be it. Doesn’t that sound plausible? Disappointingly, it wasn’t.

 

When that figuratively didn’t pan out, I went through the pockets of all my casual slacks. From there, I checked all of my dress pants. It was futile. The keys were nowhere to be found. I actually had walked out of the closet and found myself saying again, “God I really need your help.” I walked back inside the closet and opted to look on the other side of my casual slacks. There was three pair of walking shorts on hangers. I had several pairs of shorts folded and laying flat on a shelf. They are the ones I most often wear. I had already checked them. What about the three pair hanging in my closet?

 

I emerged from the closet singing the Hallelujah Chorus. The key to the Miata was in the first pair of shorts I took off the hanger. The heartfelt expression, “Thank your Lord” genuinely came out of my mouth. It really was an answer to prayer.  I am now ready to roll and I have a choice of which key to use.

 

All My Best!

Don

What Day Of The Week?

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One of the things I’m discovering about retirement is that every day seems like Saturday. I find it a little uncanny. Actually, if we can be candid, I find it very disturbing. From a mental health standpoint, I recognize the importance of being oriented to time and space. Yet, without the need for a calendar, I’m finding that more and more I need a calendar.

 

It’s strange. I post a daily blog and I generally save it on my computer by the date. Actually, I always save it on my computer by the date. The date simply gives me the day of the month. It doesn’t provide me the day of the week. I’m on uncharted waters here. I’ve never struggled to remember the days of the week before.

 

Don’t mistaken what I’m saying. I’m not saying that I don’t know that Monday follows Sunday and precedes Tuesday. I’ve got the days of the week down by rote memory. What I struggle with is remembering where I am in the process of experiencing the week. When each day looks and feels like the preceding day, I’m finding that it all runs together. Does that make any sense to you?

 

Who knows, maybe I should join the Rotary Club. Don’t they always eat lunch on Thursday? In the antiquated pages of my memory, I’ve always thought of them as being old men who drove Buicks and smoked cigars. However, I realize that times have changed. There are probably as many women Rotarians as there are men and I doubt that many drive Buicks. As far as being old, I don’t think that is a criterion any longer? Of course, I was forming my opinions in young adulthood and I may have made my assessment based on faulty information.

 

Now, I think I’m beginning to recognize why some of my friends play golf on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. For all I know, they may hate the game of golf, but it helps keep them oriented to what day of the week it actually is. I hate to say that I need a crutch, but I’m struggling with figuring this out.

 

The General says that all I do is sit in front of my computer. If all you’re looking at is a computer screen, the day is irrelevant. It all feels the same. I don’t like wondering if it is Monday or Thursday or maybe even Friday. I should wake up each day with anticipation of finding the adventure in the midst of the day. That part I’ve gotten down. I’m looking for the adventure and when I find it, I always find it in the midst of the ordinary. That’s the neighborhood where I live. Plain and simple is fairly descriptive of my life, but I am having fun in the process. I would just feel a little more settled if I had a better grasp on which day of the week I am experiencing.

 

I visited with a friend by phone last night. Before I hung up, I said, “Have a great weekend”. He laughed and replied: “Don – It is only Tuesday.” “So it is”, I said. I get that. I was in church three days ago. At least I’ve got the Sundays down. I always remember Sunday. For that matter, I always remember Saturday. Saturday is the day I make-ready for Sunday. I think about Sunday throughout the week, but I make my notes for Sunday on Saturday.  Can you imagine the mess I’d be in if I only went to church at Christmas and Easter? Actually, the mess would probably be a lot more than just wondering what day of the week I was experiencing. I could probably make a sermon out of that, but I’ll let it go for now. People read my blog for something other than religious instruction. The closest I get is simply sharing the transparency that I’m a fellow struggler. I need the lifeline I find each Sunday to help me sort out the interim between that experience and the next one. Surely, you know what I’m talking about?

 

So my question for you folks who’ve been around the block a time or two in retirement is whether or not my disorientation related to remembering the day of the week is normal?   In most other areas of my life, cognition doesn’t seem to be a problem. I’m still pretty good at remembering names. If I meet someone and repeat his or her name three times, it pretty well sticks in my brain. Consequently, face and name recognition come pretty easily for me most of the time. When they don’t, I can get by with saying: “Please forgive me. I’m having a senior moment. Can you help me remember your name?”

 

Unlike the General who initially turned to jigsaw puzzles to keep her synaptic connections vibrant, I’d prefer to carve out word pictures and paint a scenario with words that you can see in the resources of your mind by reading what I’ve written. When my stories remind you of your stories, I feel like I’ve hit a home run. I wasn’t good with baseball. My grandkids are and so I guess you could say, I’m vicariously experiencing what I missed as a kid through them and I’m grateful.

 

I stopped by my daughter’s for a brief visit last night. I would have stayed longer, but I had some unfinished business I needed to complete at home before bedtime. One day last week, I discovered that I had misplaced one of the keys to the Miata. That probably wouldn’t have been as disturbing as it was if it was uncharted territory for me. After all, don’t missing keys always show up eventually? I would say “Yes”, but the same thing happened with my truck about a year ago. I haven’t seen the key since.

 

I have looked everywhere in the house for the key over the past several days.   Yesterday morning I determined to leave no stone unturned.  I looked again for the key but to no avail. By happenstance, the salesman who sold me the Miata called yesterday afternoon wanting me to bring the car in for service. After all, it had been three months. Can that really be possible? At any rate, I responded: “You said to bring it in at 3,000 miles.” He confirmed that my memory was accurate. He seemed surprised that I’ve only driven the car 800 miles since I purchased it. If he knew me better, he’d know I don’t want to wear it out. Consequently, it stays mostly in the garage and I’ve yet to drive it over two miles without the top down. I told you I was big on finding the adventure.

 

Since the car salesman had me on the line, I asked him for the cost of a replacement key. I had the thought: “Why not go ahead and get one?” He didn’t know the cost, but said he’d talk to the parts department and call me back. Are you ready for this? The missing key will cost $380.00 to replace. You bet, I had unfinished business at home last night. I looked everywhere for the missing key. My morning report to you is that I went to bed last night with the key is still missing. The General drove my truck to Odessa. There is a slight outside chance I could have left the key to the Miata in the truck. How’s that for grasping at straws?   Maybe I’ll find it there.

 

It was a move of desperation on my part. Before I went to bed last night, I started drawing clock faces. You know, a perfect circle with the numbers 12 , 3, 6 and 9 written clockwise on the clock face. Actually, I added those numbers initially and then filled in the other the numbers one through eleven around the face of the clock just because I can. My ability to do that provided great comfort and reassurance. Folks with Alzheimer’s have great difficulty with that assignment. They can’t do it.  I can, so consequently, I’m ruling that one out even if I am clueless regarding where I put my keys.

 

I am pleased to report that I know today is Wednesday and before it is over, I may even find my keys.  I am fervently praying that I find the key to my car.  The one thing I know for certain is that I’m not paying $380.00 for a new key. Regardless, all is well in my world.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

 

 

 

Walleyed Fit

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When it comes to anger, I really don’t have a short fuse. At least, I like to think that I don’t. I’m not the guy that is going to make a big deal out of something inconsequential in the total scheme of things. Mine is more of a “live and let live” mentality most of the time. At least, that is the way I like to think of myself.

 

If I order prime rib in a restaurant rare, I expect to get what I ordered. However, if the server sets a plate of well-done prime rib in front of me, I’m not the guy that is going to throw a walleyed fit. I’m not going to talk to the waiter like he is a stepchild that I really detest and demand that I settle for no less than what I ordered. Actually, I’m not going to call attention to the fact that the order is unacceptable. I simply will choose not to go back to that restaurant.

 

It is not the end of the world if someone gets the order wrong. I’ve been to dinner with folks who see it differently. Embarrassing is he only way I can describe the experience. The guy who ordered the prime rib rare was not willing to settle for medium rare. It was as if he personalized the error of the chief’s ways and was verbally assaultive to the waiter. I felt sorry for the poor kid! He was a college student working his way through school by waiting tables and dealing with inordinately rude people.

 

Okay, so I’ve set the groundwork to pass myself off as “laid back and easy going”. Yet when I took the General’s car to the car dealer at the end of last week for service, the experience proved frustrating. The frustrating part happened before I even got out of the car. There were two very long lines of vehicles waiting for service.

 

I am not used to waiting in line for service. I always schedule the first appointment of the day. Having a 9:00 a.m. appointment was unusual for me, but that was the only time available. Never again! It is a zoo that time of day. So I was parked behind an unoccupied vehicle and the service personnel had failed to pull the car up causing a fairly large gap between the car in front of me and the next car in line.

 

I’m not making this up. It happened. Three cars that arrived after I did pulled out of the line to the right of me and forged themselves in front of the car blocking me from being able to pull up. My frustration didn’t reach the point of anger, but it really didn’t set well with me.

 

Fortunately, all it took was an apple muffin and a steaming cup of chai tea to totally erase the experience from my mind. Why let something so inconsequential mess up the quality of one’s day? It wasn’t worth it.

 

Yesterday, I had a frustrating experience of long duration. I needed to talk to someone at a state agency in another state. I dialed the number and was greeted by an automated attendant. Did I mention I don’t like automated attendants? For one thing, I usually never know the extension of the person I’m calling. I also didn’t know their name. Consequently, don’t offer me the opportunity to spell it on the keypad on my phone. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve had that same experience. I expected it. I anticipated it. I knew it was going to happen. Guess what? It didn’t.

Instead I was greeted with something close akin to: “Thank you for your call. Your call is important to us. Currently all of our assistants are on other lines. Consequently, you will need to call back at another time. Thank your for your patience and understanding.” After that brief message, the line went dead.

 

Put my call on hold until you can answer it, but don’t hang up on me! I really don’t like that. Did I mention that I called back repeatedly for over two hours? I have set a new record of having been hung-up on. It was enough to try my patience and I found the experience extremely frustrating.

 

Of course, there is a method to their madness, once you finally get through and hear the instructions, “We are temporarily putting your call on hold. An attendant will be with you shortly”, you are so relieved that your forget you’ve just wasted two hours of your time.  Of course, even then you are in for another fifteen minute wait.  At least there was elevator music on the line.  The line wasn’t dead.

 

When I finally talked to real person, she had a kind “grandmotherly voice.” I didn’t even explain that I waited half a day to talk with her. I almost asked if I could put her on my Christmas card list, but I don’t have a Christmas card list. In addition, she had not received the form that I had mailed to her office two-and-a half weeks ago. She explained, “If you mailed it to the post office box instead of the street address, it usually takes three or four weeks to get to us.” Okay, according to the instructions on the form, unless you were sending the form certified mail – return receipt requested, you were to mail it to the post office box.

 

Like I said, “She had a kind grandmotherly voice”. When she told me to call back at the end of the week, I didn’t go into a rage. What was I thinking? Actually, I was thinking the only person who loses when I go into a rage is myself. Suggesting that two hours wasted waiting to talk with a real person leads one to question the efficacy of state government, doesn’t serve me well. It also doesn’t put me high on her order of folks she wants to help. I needed her help, otherwise I wouldn’t have called. I know her name and she kindly gave me her number. Only time will tell.

 

Actually, the point I need to make is that I have the capacity to have a walleyed fit. However, I’ve learned that it doesn’t serve me well when I choose to do so.

 

All My Best!

Don