When we moved in 2015 we wanted to be closer to our adult children and grands. I thought downsizing our belongings and the square footage of our residence were going to be the only changes in my life. As if. There’s been a lot of little things adding up since I turned 65.
I had knee replacement 10 months ago. Did well until I fell in September which took a toll. My balance was way off and I ended up using a cane for 3 months, plus I lost much of my knee range of motion. (I’m back for more physical therapy). But it was when I started feeling better that I recognized other differences. Number one was my morning walks, which have been sporadic since we moved. First I hurt my left knee which took physical therapy and a year to feel somewhat better, then I fell and hurt my right leg necessitating replacement. I desperately wanted to start walking everyday “with purpose” like I did for 15 years.
I’ve come to the conclusion there have been many changes in my life since I was a young whippersnapper in 1998. I was then 75 pounds heavier and had finally found the willpower to diet. Along with limiting my food intake and dropping unhealthy pounds, I discovered a walking addiction. At my peak I was walking about 5 miles a day in 70 minutes. Now I use a walking stick and have just bumped my walk from 1-1/2 miles to 2 miles everyday our streets/walking path are dry and clear. Two miles takes about 38 minutes. And that’s me working hard. I have managed to shave 7 minutes off my total since December, but it’s still pathetic.
I stopped at my favorite shopping Mecca (Meijer) for groceries a few days ago. Meandering through fruits and vegetables I spotted fresh blackberries, a 6 ounce carton for 50 cents. Wow! Blackberries normally run about 3 bucks. Sweet berries about half the size of my pinkie. Just a few years ago I would have instantly cased the joint for marauding thieves trying to move in on my territory, while wrapping my arms around the entire display with a heady, “my precious.” Then walked out the door with a hundred boxes and a big smile on my face. I’m not exaggerating, I’ve done this numerous times during the last 25 years of my canning obsession. Not anymore.
Now in my defense, a few years ago I was still giving my canned goods away at an alarming (but good) rate. As Parish Visitor for an aging congregation those I visited on a regular basis who remained in their own home or independent living always got jars of my home canned jams, pickles and beets. Plus I donated dozens of jars to the United Methodist Women who sold them after church services (a sin on Sunday according to my Dad) for their mission fund. But after retiring I no longer have a reason to can 1,200 jars a year.
So instead of berry pouncing, I decided to pick up the items I came for and decide if and how many cartons of blackberries to buy (which goes directly against my first instinct to empty the shelves). Several months ago blackberries were on sale for a buck a box and I ended up canning about 30 half pints of seedless blackberry jelly (my second favorite next to apricot jam). The second reason I hesitated is the thought of standing by my stove for any length of time. Haven’t been able to do that since surgery. But really folks 50 cents a box is crazy! And I have a lot of trouble passing up crazy.
Not even a decade ago I routinely canned 80-100 jars of jam in a day. A day! Now I realize there’s no way I can stand in one spot in my kitchen for more than a couple hours in a stretch. I walked back to the fruit and grabbed 2 cases (24 boxes). Enough for 3 batches of jam totaling 30 half pints. I did lament to myself about how wimpy that was but it is what it is.
No more trying to do it all in one day like Super Woman. On day one I washed and smashed the berries, dividing them up in 5 cup increments and stashing them in the fridge. The next day I brought up the jars, lids, rings, sugar, pectin and water bath canner from the basement and washed everything. A day later I canned 30 half pints of jam which took a little over 2 hours. Felt odd/different and got me thinking how much my life has changed during the last decade.
And suddenly decided I’m looking at my life from the wrong direction.
Instead of pissing and moaning about the things I can’t do, the once simple project which now takes me longer, or the copious amounts I used to do, I gotta start being grateful for the THINGS I STILL CAN DO.
1. I’m older and slower. It’s about time I own that statement. My legs aren’t ever gonna feel the way they did when I started walking 22 years ago. I’m fairly certain I won’t ever jog again.
2. Does it really matter that my 2 mile walk now takes me 40 minutes instead of 28? The walk’s definitely still good for me. I continue to derive enormous satisfaction from lumbering along. (Those wacko endorphins feel fantastic). Listening to funky music while singing off tune with my own version of lyrics because I don’t understand the words still gives me pleasure (and strange looks from passers by and cars-I do not care) Deaf walker in the house! Who cares? Not me.
3. A big issue for me has been work. Haven’t worked in 14 months and I still miss it way too much. It gave me purpose. I miss little baby breaths on my neck while rocking one of them to sleep. I miss their unique smell, soft hair, toothless smiles and coos. It’s gotten so bad I miss spit-up and poopy diapers. I haven’t come to terms with this just yet. Kinda feel like there should be a part time job out there somewhere that would benefit from a sarcastic but empathetic grandma so maybe it’s time I start looking. This I care deeply about. I need more meaning in my life.
4. Giving thanks for what I’ve got in my life. Great family, warm house, easy access to doctors. Fridge, freezer and pantry filled in case of a zombie apocalypse.
5. In all seriousness though I’m truly blessed and grateful for another day on earth. Here’s to less complaining, less negativity and taking my life for granted. Start focusing on all the good in my life. Thanks God…