When you are 84 you are likely to think differently than you did when you were 22. But unless you are climbing a ladder with a bundle of shingles under each arm, you feel the same as you did when you were 22. I have kept diaries since 1949, and check from time to time to see what I was doing when Eisenhower was president. Sure enough, when I was 22 I was always so tired I couldn’t get out of my tracks back then, either.

Some things do change when you get some age on you, however, and this is one of them: The other night, as my wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, cleaned the dishes off the supper table, she smiled and said, “Are you going to finish eating the rest of the salad that’s on your shirt?”

A mature man finds that his relationship with his wife also changes – mellows with age, if you will, which is another way of saying that a woman learns that it is in her best interest to get by with less. Hear this. Until I was 15, I was raised in a home that included my grandmother, and it is certain that some of her practical frugality rubbed off on me. She had some kind of greeting card that she’d send to a relative for any occasion.

They sent the same card back and forth for years and it didn’t matter if it was Christmas or a birthday. They very astutely realized that it was the thought and not the purchase of a card that counted. Marsha and I have been together now for nigh onto 30 years and in that time we have penned each other countless little love notes. In the beginning, they were quite elaborate, with pictures and letters cut from newspapers and pasted together. But as time passed, a quick note scribbled on a small piece of note paper did the job. Last week, I improved on that, and took down my last love note from her mirror where she had stuck it and simply changed the date on it.

For a year or two Marsha has asked me to raise the refrigerator 6 inches to make it easier for her to get things in the bottom drawer. (And perhaps necessitate calling me for help getting things out of the top drawer.)

Last Monday, I measured the size of the refrigerator and had six swallows of cold coffee – left over in the pot from Sunday – to give me the strength to even think about this project that I have tried to work out in my mind for months.


The problem, of course, was how to suspend a loaded refrigerator in the air long enough to slide some kind of wooden pallet under it. Unlike my friends who can draw diagrams and pictures and know exactly how they are going to proceed and what it will look like when they are done, I am unable to come up with a concrete plan and have no idea what I’ll end up with. You’d think I was running the U.S. government.

If I lifted the refrigerator with a small tire iron, raising it a quarter of an inch on each corner and sliding in a small shim as I went along, I thought, it would eventually be high enough to slide something more substantial under it.

Then I could slowly lower it by pulling out the four corner supports, hopefully without having the whole business tip over on the floor and perhaps anyone under it. Because this 209-year-old house is crooked, I would still have to lift the new box 2 inches or so on the east side and shim that so the refrigerator will be level enough to run.

Filled with the courage that comes with a cup of cold coffee, I stretched out on the floor and looked under the refrigerator so I could see if there were any substantial places on the bottom where I could lift without bending something.

But before I could get to work, I found that I was stuck on the floor. I simply couldn’t get up. It took me a remarkable amount of wiggling and twisting and squirming before I could get up on my knees and finally back on my feet.

So I would suggest to you, my friend, that you have your life pretty well in order when you are 82. Because when you are 84 it’s going to take you a good part of the morning just to stand up.


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