My Ambition

Spiritual Smart Aleck


There was a time when I stood five feet six and three-quarters inches tall. Never made that last quarter inch to five feet seven. Now they tell me I am five feet five inches.
Once my hair was such a dark brown that people told me I had black hair. Now it is becoming more and more gray. People say it still looks brown. Ish. But it has gone over to the salt side of salt and pepper.

Once I could get up out of a chair, or up off the ground, without thinking about it, and certainly without moaning and groaning.

Once I could walk a mile and back with a baby in a backpack.

Once I could run.

Once I could sing for an hour standing up, take a break, and then come back and do it again. I knew all the songs from memory. Now I must sit down and use a songbook.

Once I was married to a sweet guy who loved me, and I loved him. Our marriage lasted for more than thirty-four years, and then he died, and I miss him.

Now I live with a dog and a cat. They love me, although sometimes I doubt that. What kind of best friend steals and eats all your pistachios?

Now I am in my seventies, and all the things that I used to be and have and used to be able to do have changed.

When I was young and heard of someone dying in their seventies, I thought, they had a good innings. But then I once heard someone say, “If I was seventy-six, my ambition would be to become seventy-seven.”

I totally get that now. I also realize that many people do not make it to their seventies, and I have to say that as my friends and I get older we have noticed that we lose friends more often.

Having said all that, I will note that in my seventy-plus years I have had several run-ins with the medical establishment. I have acquired a long list of prescription drugs that I take. I swear I spend more time going to the pharmacy than to the grocery store these days.

If you are in your seventies or better and are not taking any prescription drugs, God bless you, and whatever you’re doing, keep it up.

Because I take so many pills, I have a little pill container that I fill up once a week. It has fourteen little compartments labeled for the days of the week, seven for morning and seven for evening. Each compartment has a little lid that snaps shut. It takes a while to fill this pill box, sorting which pill goes where and slicing in half the pill that needs to be divided. I carefully dole out my pills and when I’m done, I feel like I’ve done a good job. I’m set for the week.
The other day when I had finished sorting pills and was enjoying that moment of satisfaction, I snapped all the lids shut, stood up, and turned to put the pillbox on its shelf. That went well. Until …

I caught the box on something. I dropped it. When the box hit the floor the lids flew open and pills scattered and bounced and rolled across the kitchen like so much pill confetti. Festive, really.

They did not go all over the kitchen, only most of it, under the kitchen table and the dog’s blanket there, the kitchen island, the baseboard heater, my old boombox, and a bookshelf next to the table.

After a moment of closing my eyes and taking a deep breath and letting it out, I went and got a dustpan and brush and got to work.

Collecting most of them took a while, using a straw to push them out from under the bookshelf and the boombox and the baseboard, shaking out the dog blanket, brushing carefully in all directions, and searching for pills as far as they might have gone. A pill bouncing on a hardwood floor can go a long way.

I collected all the ones I could find in a clean tin can, picked up the pill box, sat back down at the table, and started over.

It was another twenty minutes before I had the pills back in their little bins again. This time I secured them with great big rubber bands. Take that, gravity.

Oh well. Life happens, and even though I can’t do all the things I used to do anymore, and my hair is gray, and I’m in my seventies and must take all those pills, I’m happy to be here experiencing life happening. I’m seventy-one and my ambition is to become seventy-two.