Monthly Archives: July 2014

Gary the garage door repairman

ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing is doable

You never know what you might find out about a person until you just listen.

This 6-ft tall gentleman wore a long-sleeved shirt and Wrangler jeans. He was more leg than anything and the wrinkles on his face were like grooves. But he still had quite a bit of hair.

Gary came to assess the damage and restore order. He did so expertly, taking the claw of the hammer to force out the pins and replace them, bending the frame to his will. He suggested upgrades but not in a pushy way; he was happy to demonstrate how things would be better in the hot garage.

I invited him to sit after the work was completed. He refused a glass of water because there was a Dr Pepper waiting in the truck. And then he shared his story.

A Marine, Gary was the recipient of not one, but two kidneys. The battle scars he showed me on his arm were fistulas from kidney dialysis. His story was really a story about someone else.

He said something like this:
People who go to dialysis act like they’re going to die. I didn’t. I just acted like it was something I had to do. I got next to people, not so bad that they’d get mad at me. Just so they might cheer up.

One woman, who initially came in using a walker, took note of Gary’s hijinks and commented that he liked to have fun. That idea must have settled well in her mind because sometime later, she came to the center and touched Gary’s shoulder. He noticed right away that she was walking unassisted. She had to come to tell him what she did the night before:

“I went ballroom dancing and it was all because of you.”

I’m very glad that Gary came to fix my garage door.

By LK

My moment…

By Tony W.

For me, it was the moment I realized that I was going to have to change the thought process I went through each morning as I prepared for the day.

You see, for as long as I could remember I had been looking at myself in the mirror and thinking something along the lines of, “Yeah, you still look pretty good.” But actually that was code for “You don’t look old yet.” (Even in my thoughts I didn’t want to use the “O” word.) And based on my daily perception of what I was seeing in the mirror, it didn’t seem like I was aging much.  However, all along there were almost imperceptible changes occurring — a small wrinkle here, a little sag there. Eventually, especially when looking at myself in family pictures through the years, it became increasingly obvious; whether I liked it or not, I was indeed looking older.

But that wasn’t my moment. No, that was more like a “S#?%! I am starting to look older, better start taking better care of myself, better start using sunscreen, better start working out” kind of thing.  A call to arms to fight the effects of aging, with my mirror providing daily reports from the battlefield.

My actual moment came later when I realized that no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I was still going to look a little older every year/month/week/day. It is part of being human and it can’t be stopped, apparently not even if you are rich and famous like Mick Jagger or John Travolta.

And since aging is inevitable, I had better not be judging how good I feel about myself by whether the person looking back from the mirror each morning looks older than he did a day, week, month, year, or decade ago. Much better to set my sights each day on things I actually can control, instead of worrying about the impossible task of not growing older.

That was my moment, and since then I’ve made a conscious effort to reprogram my thinking about growing older. It’s not a battle, it’s not something to be feared or something to be sad about; it’s just an inevitable part of life for all of us. But of course, changing a thought process long held is easier said than done. I have found that, just like my appearance — and the appearance of all those around me, it’s a work in progress.

Younger Tony
A Younger Tony
Older Tony
An Older Tony