Over the years, I have declared many Family Emergencies. The first one involved a broken green crayon. My Father was very soothing but formally ruled that this was not an Emergency. When my six year old brother/roommate Jamie broke many of the miniatures in my prized collection, this too did not qualify as a Family Emergency. My petition for a Wall to be built down the middle of our room was denied in the lower Court of Dad. My appeal to the supreme Court of Mom to deport my brother to another room was also rejected. My silver quarters went missing. No emergency. Clearly I was not a sympathetic victim. As I grew older, I began creating the emergencies. These incidents received more attention but did not make me popular. I was barely reelected oldest child when I hit one family car with the other one in the driveway. I now realize I set my sights too low. I should have gone over the heads of my parents and declared a National Emergency. Apparently anyone who is a National Disgrace can declare one of those.
My brother retired about a year ago. Since then he has had a few minor surgeries (they would be classified as major if undertaken on me). Catching up on deferred and emerging medical, dental, and vision issues can be very time consuming. Many of us ignore warning signs or preventative maintenance strategies when we are too busy working. We either collapse on the job or luck out and make it through each day without a trip to the Emergency Room. Now my brother jokes that he would not have retired if he had known he was trading work for so much time enduring medical appointments, procedures, pain, and inconvenience. The fallacy that makes the joke is the reality that you can still have all the medical hassles even if you remain employed. Still, I know for certain that everyone who retires goes on to die.
I often lecture my seven year old granddaughter when she complains about going to school, taking extracurricular classes, or trying something new. I preached to my kids that half the secret of success in life is just showing up. If you are not present, you limit the chance of ever being in the right place at the right time. I had perfect attendance in school from sixth through ninth grade. I scheduled being bedridden with rheumatic fever for the three months of summer vacation in 1962. If I knew the other half of the secret, I coulda been a contender. I went snowshoeing last weekend in Leavenworth after helping push my granddaughter into her ski lesson. She had enough fun that afterwards she wanted to try tubing with her older brother and two of my sons. My boys began to pressure me to join them. One benefit of aging for me has been avoiding scary rides at amusement parks. But now my granddaughter is practicing what I preach and looking up to see how I am going to respond. My sons love seeing me pinned down by my own advice. The rope tow ticket is for six rides, so I committed to going down that chute a half dozen times. We were in a queue with high school students too busy flirting to notice the hold up to rearrange me when I sat backwards in the inner tube for the first ride uphill. And I struggled each time to exit the tube at the bottom but at least I proved my advice was sound.
One thing my Mom and I had in common was weighing ourselves daily. I now own her beautiful tall scale that stretches over my head if I pull up the height stick. You move the weights around until they balance like I remember from going to the doctor. I am not sure of all my Mother’s reasons for a daily weigh in. She was very disciplined but I could never trust myself. I cannot catch weight gain on a daily basis without a scale. I can rationalize away weight creep unless I see it. If you are trying to lose weight, little victories can also provide incentives to keep going. You have to accept that daily ups and downs do not mean anything unless a trend develops. I get good at predicting. If I go out for Thai food, I now know I am going to gain weight that day even if I stick to salad and rice. If I do not run the day before a long race and carbo load, I can gain over three pounds in a single day. My record loss is five pounds in one day but it requires food poisoning. And I always gain that weight back as my body tenaciously fights for its life whenever I do not feed it.
I was starting to write a Blog about the altar boys who were detained overnight by Spanish authorities last year when they got caught putting marijuana in the incense burner. My source was a forwarded link my daughter-in-law Asia sent me. Then I noticed the next two articles on that site. One was about how 27 women got pregnant from the same swimming pool. The other one headlined that Meghan was asking for a divorce from Prince Harry because she discovered he was not the oldest son. Why do I never learn and keep opening these links? Do not be surprised if you start getting emails from my hacked account asking you to wire ransom money for my release from a Nigerian Narcissist retreat. And I will not be surprised when you fail to wire the cash.
I do not remember if I could ever touch my toes without bending my knees. It was somewhat embarrassing when I could not do that stretch in my thirties while warming up to run marathons. Now I can barely touch my knees but my age absolves me from embarrassment. I am only envious of the limber people because they can cut their toenails. It was always difficult for me but last year’s knee injuries do not allow me the luxury of twisting or contorting my leg in strange yoga positions. I find it odd that I can snowshoe or do a straightforward walk or run but cannot make any tennis movements. I have had to give up dunking a basketball. I cannot ski but that is what people said about me when I did ski. I gladly abandon those activities but mourn that I am unable to cut those darn toenails. Wearing ever longer shoes seems to be affecting my balance and I cannot go barefoot because my feet and toenails scare little children. Luckily my legs feel fine when I whine in a sedentary position.
The math.stackexchange site explains the difference between a sound argument and a valid argument for anyone who did not take a logic course or who slept through it like I did. I do not have the attention span to follow that trail. The distinction has no practical significance for me since I deal only in unsound and invalid arguments. YouTube says that plants and animals share a common ancestor from 1.6 billion years ago. Humans share 99.9% of their genetic make-up with each other, so the Kill Cannibals hate group makes a valid argument that we should not eat each other. Humans share 98.5% DNA with Chimpanzees, so Vegetarians have a sound argument when they oppose the eating of Chimpanzees. Apparently banana plants share 60% of human DNA but the Kill Cannibals and Vegetarian factions do not oppose the eating of bananas. So where do we draw the lines? Round worms are at 38% but everyone would rather eat a banana or rice (which only shares 25% of human DNA). I would argue that YouTube shares no human DNA and that we should ignore it but I suspect my argument is rendered invalid and unsound by the fruit flies (47%) who consider themselves one with any banana I have ever brought into my kitchen.
Mr. Rogers once said, “look for what’s best in a person.” Actually he probably said it more than once. I am still not very good at it even though such advice is a pure and simple recipe for being happy. I will work on getting better at it. But right now I have the more urgent task of pointing out to others how they are failing at it. Sure the degree of difficulty increases in finding the best in people like me but it is not impossible. What about all the times I have helped people by pointing out their mistakes?
In the 2003 movie Paycheck, Ben Affleck saw the future. But he is not very believable because if he truly saw the future, he would have done a better job of ending his romance with JLo. And why did he not skip starring in the movie Jersey Girl in 2004? Knowing the future was not useful in avoiding a divorce from Jennifer Garner or recent rehab stints for alcoholism. Give me a glimpse of the future and I will know what to do with it. Same thing with lottery winnings. Those opportunities should not be wasted on people who do not know how to use them! I would definitely include my Blog readers in my good fortune, not so much to reward them but to spite the non readers.
Happy Birthday, Mollie. I thought of some funny stuff to say about you but that would defeat the purpose of making this your birthday gift. Like the Gettysburg Address, the most powerful sentiments are stated succinctly. Three score and twelve years and you still rock.