Know When to Fold Them

In 1978, Kenny Rogers released The Gambler, a song written two years earlier and recorded by several artists, including Johnny Cash. But it’s the Rogers rendition that’s been stuck in my brain this week. Early one morning, I awoke in one of those slightly dreamy states and thought about my age. Most of the time, I suppress thoughts of how old I am, but the more my knees creak and arthritis cramps my fingers, I know it’s age. Oh, and if I look in the mirror, I’ve no recognition of the face staring back!

One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is I need to learn when to hold and when to fold. I quickly found certain decisions were easier than others. I retired from the school board, I began accepting senior discounts at the grocery store. Prior to that, I had considered discounts as a form of stealing from young families and giving it to those who had adequate financial stability.

Then came my realization about ladders. Trying to change the burned out light bulbs on my 12′ ceiling fixtures became far too much of a stretch to reach. Next, I noticed my incompetency at cleaning my casa: I’d miss dusting part of the coffee table, the mirrors would have random water spots, and the windows were streaked. I attributed my shortcomings to needing new glasses. But my final insult, was the swimming pool, which I had religiously mastered its chemistry years ago. Mustard alga appeared in abundance, the pool cleaner failed to travel around, and the filter baskets were clogged with debris from the enormous amount of bad weather in the last two months. So three weeks ago, I undertook the task of pool maintenance. Everything was going “swimmingly,” until….

I flopped into the 45-degree water. That was it! Time to make some changes around here! And with that, I hired a pool service, cleaning crew, and a handyman. (I had already hired a landscaper after a previous incident when the weed whacker tossed a stone into my right leg.)

I suspect my next stop on this journey called aging is eventually hiring a cook, laundress, and caregiver. The trick is learning when to fold. A surgeon friend of mine counseled, “Sue, I hope I know when to retire–one surgery before I should have.”

“You’re so right, Dr. B. I, too, hope I know when.”

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