Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from the Heart of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

REMEMBER TO KISS                       W, 3-8-17

The light bulb in the garage door opener is burned out. I need to get the ladder and get up there and change it. It has been that way for three days. It will probably be that way another three, or until Helen opens the garage door at night and realizes there is no light and says, “You have to change that bulb!”

It is not that I don’t want to do it, or that I can’t do it, although it is harder for me to wrestle a ladder into place and climb up it than it used to be. At least, that’s what I’ll tell Helen. The truth is, I just don’t remember to do it.

Oh, yes, I have it written down, in several places: Replace the door opener light bulb! However, I don’t remember to look at those notes, either.

It’s not that I am unable to remember. It is true that my memory is not as good as it once was, but it is still plenty good enough to look at a list or a burned out light bulb.

When I was forty-two and Adelia Lemkau was seventy-two, she said: “I remember as well as I ever did. It’s just that I remember slower.” I believed her then, but now I know what she meant.

My problem is that I don’t want to remember the burned out bulb, not because I am unwilling to change it, but because I don’t want my brain cluttered up with having to remember it, or the lists that include it. I resent have tos. I especially resent having to remember have tos.

I spent my life remembering have tos. There were dozens of them a day. It was an interesting life. Each day was different. Each day had a different set of have tos. That, of course, made it all the more important to remember them. I could not count on routine. I had to have lists. And, especially, I had to have a large part of my brain devoted to remembering the have tos, or at least to check the lists.

Mack Hollowell was my friend and my physician. I was usually his last office patient of the day, because Mary Davis, his office manager, would call me and say, “There’s no point in you coming in at your appointment time. He’s two hours behind. Why don’t you just come at six?”

We were leaving his office one night when Mary presented him with two 3x5 cards. “This one,” she said, holding it in front of his nose, “is for tonight. It has the points for your talk to the medical society. The other one is for tomorrow morning. It lists the patients you have to see first in the hospital.” Then she tucked the cards into his shirt pocket. She knew better than to hand them to him, give him the chance to put them down while he looked for his car keys.

“Will you remember to look at those?” I asked him as we walked to our cars. He was getting older, close to retirement, so I figured it was a legitimate question.

“Probably,” he sighed, “but it would be a lot easier if she would just follow me around and keep pointing me in the right direction, but I’ll be okay once I get through the cards and back to the office tomorrow.”

I always wondered if he ever got the cards switched and tried to admit patients to the hospital in the evening and drove to the next town to address the county medical society at six in the morning.

So I simplify. It’s easier to change the light bulb the first time I see that it is burned out. It’s better yet to get a long-life bulb that won’t burn out as quickly.

Simplicity is the key, I think, to living well in old age. Reduce the number of potential burnouts, light bulbs or otherwise. Remember KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s important, however, not to get it turned around, as in Keep It Stupid, Simple.

John Robert McFarland

I tweet as yooper1721.

I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…

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