You know that there are things that finish old men. Here are some of them.

Because one of the children is coming, Marsha absolutely has to have out of the outside freezer: chicken, broccoli and squash. She doesn’t need it tonight but will need it in the morning.

For reasons I have yet to understand, I can barely walk to the kitchen in the morning, but can even load the washing machine in the evening. So I ventured out to the deep freeze, in my pajamas, which I put on after my shower.

I pulled the light chain in the library and sparks flew. The cord had been yanked so hard the old-fashioned light socket had pulled apart. It’s been there since probably 1922. I’ve lived with it since 1970 and have learned that you don’t yank on things.

I found chicken and squash and a basket load of mixed frozen veggies, but no broccoli. I staggered back to my work space and oxygen to reconnoiter.

I couldn’t leave the light the way it was because the short might either blow a circuit breaker or possibly start to burn. Who could we get to fix it at this time of night?


I got my little flashlight and went back to the library. Pulled out a milk crate. Knew that if I fell off it I’d crack like fine china. Went out to the deep freeze room. Ah. The small step ladder was in its place, folded up and hanging on the wall. I bought three or four of them from widows who were about to be evicted from their Florida homes during the last recession. A buck fifty? I have no conscience.

After dragging it into the library, I got it open and clambered up on the thing. By holding the glass light shade I figured I’d avoid getting a shock, which would not be good in my condition.

For once, things went the way they should. I was able to hold the flashlight and the glass bulb shade and the chain that came down from the ceiling – and squeeze it back together. A happy ending.

I staggered back to my chair and oxygen. Putting the meter on my finger, I read 87 for a blood-oxygen mixture. I don’t know how low it can go before it doesn’t come back up again, and I don’t want to know. But I know that just by sitting with oxygen it peeped for a while before getting up to 94, which is when it stops peeping. Peeping is bad news. The last time I saw it so bad I had walked down cellar to look for something.

Old men push the envelope. They know better, but doing things they shouldn’t do can’t be avoided because there is no one else there to do them.

You’ve heard people say that the leading cause of injury in old men is old men thinking they’re young men.


That is not true in my case. It might be true of men who are 68 or 74. They are at the age where they jump about until they fall down and break or injure a shoulder or knee.

Every time I take on a project I know I’m taking my life in my hands, be it carrying the clothes basket from the bedroom to the washing machine or going out to the deep freeze to get some item for Marsha. Every time I leave my chair, I hope that it is not the last thing I ever do. Not that I mind making the bed, because there are two of us under this roof, and I’m the only one who can walk.

I’ve come to the point where I know it would be foolhardy to walk out to the mailbox or feed the crow friends when it is near freezing. But there is always something here in the home that will someday be too much for me. It might be stooping over to take a pie out of the oven or bending over to open a bureau drawer. It might be either one of those things, paired with helping Marsha get to her feet without a short rest in between.

You might know that in only a year and a few short days I’ll be 90, which anyone who is 90 attributes to luck and clean living.

I plan to attend my 71st high school reunion on May 25. To guarantee I make it, I’ve already paid.

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