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Charney/My Turn: Oh, that ‘aging’ thing

I promised myself that I would not write about it anymore — no more dwelling on those “aging” things. “Enough,” I told myself. “Just get on with it,” I said, trying to channel my stoical mother. I would not even mention the times — yes, times in the plural — I have gone to the gas station, paid for my gas, purchased gum and water, maybe, and left satisfied, only later, I’d glance over at the gas gauge and notice it was only a quarter full, the same level as earlier. First reaction: outrage. My gas gauge is broken. Second reaction: outrage. The gas pump is broken. I got scammed. Third reaction: I forgot to pump. Oops. Now, the kind ladies at the service station, Linda or Jane or Carol all say, “Don’t forget to pump.”

And I’m not going to write about the library incident. How I went to return a DVD and next thing I know an observant librarian is asking me if a pair of sunglasses are mine. And I am mystified, because they are mine, the ones I think I am holding in my hands, but am not. “Where did you find them?” I ask. “In the DVD slot,” she says. And sure enough in my hand, the one that was not holding my sunglasses is instead the DVD. Now, why would my hands get it so wrong?

And then this occurred, the very thing for which a firewall had been erected and a fail-proof system designed. My appointments. Nowadays I make appointments with a computer on my lap and the phone set on speaker leaving my hands free. That way I can call up my digital calendar and immediately key in the information. Doc @ 8:45.

Done.

I know my calendar will remind me not once but three times: “Doc @ 8:45.”

I can’t possibly forget.

But just to be sure, I also enter the appointment on my kitchen calendar, which is more art than organizer. A calendar that features a new porch setting every month with inviting wicker and Adirondack chairs, decked out in their colorful pillows, turned to face scenic wooded or watery views. Each month it beckons me to enter and take my seat, enjoy soft breezes and beguiling bird song, even when my real porch is rimmed with ice and cluttered with gritty shovels and barrels of sand. Doc @ 8:45, I write in the appropriate box.

Of course, medical and dental appointments are often reinforced by the doctor’s office with a phone call: “Press one if you will attend your appointment at 8:45.” I press one. And last but not least, I write notes on a sticky pad and attach them to my car’s dashboard. Doc @ 8:45.

On the appropriate day, I am early. I am so that early that I contemplate going out for coffee. Instead I decide to wait, just wait. The receptionist calls me over. “I have an 8:45,” I say. “I’m early,” I add with an apologetic shrug. She looks at her screen, pauses, pushes a few more keys, and then says, “Are you sure?” I nod, of course I’m sure.

“It says that your appointment is for 8:20 and you’ve missed it,” she says with an apologetic shrug. Missed it? Impossible, after all I have a firewall, a perfect system.

Oops. I said I wasn’t going to write about that “aging” stuff anymore, didn’t I. I forgot, I guess. I will have to write myself a reminder, maybe put a post-it on my keyboard and for good measure on my Porch calendar and on my computer. And by the way, the doc @8:45 did fit me in at nine. So all’s well that ends well?

Ruth Charney lives in Greenfield.

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