You know me. I always write my column to make you smile… or at least, feel good. Before I’m finished with this column, in spite of the title, I expect to do the same.
Time takes its toll. I once startled admiring ladies when I made my tackles on the football field and lifted big chunks of iron over my head at contests. Now, when I work out, I grit my teeth and groan through simple exercises. I expect, now that I am ninety-plus, no matter how hard I work, sooner or later, Father Time will get in his licks.
My mind is another matter. That has to keep working. It has worked fairly well…so far. But yesterday, something happened that made me think twice.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the term, Senility as ‘The physical and mental infirmity of old age.’ I accept I can’t run as fast as I did when I was twenty, and I would have trouble lifting 400 pounds off the floor. For that matter, I have trouble carrying my plate of oatmeal from the kitchen to my office where I do my writing. That’s okay. The only thing that gives me any concern is what’s between my ears.
Yesterday, I took my daughter and a friend to lunch. I planned my day carefully. I even made a list; Nine o’clock: take books and mail to Angela and Karen at the Upper Lake Post Office. 10:00 to 11:00: edit ‘The Partner’, a book I had written. 11:00: leave for Redwood Valley to pick up Dolly, my daughter, for lunch. On the way, stop at Ralph’s Shoe Repair Shop to ask Ralph to put new soles on my shoes. Noon: be at the restaurant to meet Gladys so the three of us could have lunch. I:30: keep an appointment with Toni at the Mendocino Book Shop and, finally, pick up my shoes at Ralph’s. All like clockwork. Right? Wrong.
After a good lunch and conversation with my friends, I went to my car. My car was locked as usual. When I poked around in my pocket where I keep my car key, I didn’t have it. I had locked my car and left the keys in the ignition.
I opened my wallet for my spare car key, which I always keep there… in case it was needed. I could not find it. After searching again and finding no spare key, I called AAA.
By then, it was getting near my 1:30 appointment. AAA said it would be 45 minutes before the locksmith came, so I decided I might as well relax. That’s when Dolly, my daughter, searched my wallet again.
“I found your spare key, Dad,” she said.
She had. I unlocked my Jeep, and we went on our way.
All the time, I was thinking… hard. First, I had locked my car and, instead of taking my keys, I left them inside my 1991 Jeep Cherokee. Two: As carefully as I thought I had searched my wallet for my spare key, Dolly found it lickety-split. The key had slipped into a deeper place in my wallet. How had I missed it, I wondered? Was I growing senile?
I use my brain for eight to ten hours every day by writing and solving problems. I also keep busy packaging orders for my book, answering phone calls, and going to book signings to tell stories. All of this is supposed to keep the cogs and wheels in my head working in good order. If all that wasn’t enough to keep me mentally sharp, what could I do about it? I made plans to avoid those two mistakes in the future.
Here’s what I did.
As for not finding my spare key in my wallet, in the future, I shall glue my key in my wallet so it will not fall out or worm its crafty way to another place. As for leaving my keys in the car, I shall tie my key ring to my belt. Next time I leave my car, my keys will follow me out, or I shall leave my trousers behind. So, no matter how senile I get, no one and nothing will stop me from writing my books and my column.