Pillbox Becomes Uncomfortable Crutch


Increasingly I’m finding myself heavily relying on my morning pillbox to let me know what the day of the week it is.

Either I am too busy or getting older, but one thing seems to be consistent: days of the week now run together like never before and I need help.

I could understand if I were retired or living beneath palm trees on a white sandy beach. But I’m not. I am just like most of you – living in a seven day a week world broken down into 24 little segments. But suddenly, things are becoming increasingly indistinguishable and running together like the ingredients in big batch of gumbo simmering over a hot fire.

Today’s world is connected like never before. Rarely, even when asleep at night, is my phone beyond my arm’s length. With the simple push of a button I can see or be in touch with about anything in the world. My mind, however, the tool attached to the other end of my finger, is becoming more questionable with each passing day.

My acceptance of even owning a pill box, complete with little flaps with a large letter indicating the day of the week, was introduced to my life after accidentally taking our dog’s medicine one morning. While no ill effects resulted, other than an urge to bark at an occasional squirrel, my wife realized I was no longer to be trusted alone in the medicine drawer.

Before long, however, I began to transfer my burden of knowing what day of the week it was from my mind to this little white box containing my daily cocktail of ‘helpful’ pills. Granted, this little box is no match to my so-called smart phone, but I find its simplicity of purpose to be beautiful. Finally I’d found a helpful friend without cords or apps.

Within a short time I’d transferred or delayed my expectations of what day of the week it was in until I’d meet up with my new friend in the mornings. Much like Pavlov’s dogs, I found pleasure or reward to a certain action or result. Even on mornings when I might already have a pretty good idea of the day of the week, I seem to get a little extra fun out of finding opening the little compartments until one confirms my suspicions.

But then reality came to visit. One day I found myself flipping open each little compartment only to find them completely empty. Opening each a little faster than previous one, panic set in. Suddenly I found myself questioning everything: the day of the week, where the bottle of baby aspirin was hidden, even if maybe I’d already taken my medicine for the day.

I guess I am now at the point my in life where I’m going to need to begin exercising my brain a bit more and not delegating neurological chores to objects surrounding my daily life like a crutch. Maybe lulling myself into a comfortable state of earning pleasure from confirming the day of the week by from my daily pill box — like one of Pavlov’s dogs — just might need some rethinking. 

After all, Pavlov’s dogs and I will always still share the common bond of barking at the occasional squirrel. 


– 30 – 

Broken Heart Syndrome Very Real

Driving past a modest house near our home the other night a single light behind a window caught my attention.

You see, as happens surprisingly often, both the husband and wife who lived in the house passed within a few months of each other.

Their neat home sits quietly now – gone are the grandkids running across the lawn during the holidays. Gone is the wife standing outside surveying the lawn in spring as flowers break the ground. Gone is the husband who each morning rested just outside the garage on a lawn chair reading his newspaper.

Life is full of mystery. No matter how much science and medicine would have us believe otherwise, something else factors into these equations. Some point to statistical indicators on charts to rationalize life expectancy trends. But others point to a broken heart. But the truth probably lays somewhere in the middle.

I think everyone knows one of these couples – the ones so close you can’t imagine one without the other. And then one day, nature takes one home.

My aunt and uncle shared one of the most beautiful romances I ever witnessed. He adored her and she him. Both independent and not afraid to hold their ground, they shared over fifty years together.

One night after a date – them driving to a favorite local restaurant – my aunt came home, and after getting her home ready for the night, she sat down and quietly passed away while relaxing in a favorite chair.

My uncle was a strong man. Raised in the old school, he found himself in the rather unusual role of being the survivor.

In a lesson learned from the sidelines, I watched as he prepared to rejoin the love of his life. Quietly and methodically he began to ‘put his life’ in order by selling his home and possessions and finding a smaller place to live. Next I heard he began volunteering at a local hospital lending a hand wherever needed. He was committed to make a difference while he waited.

Shortly afterwards I found myself with him, somewhat ironically, at a funeral when he pulled out his cell phone.

“Look at this,” he said.

As the photo came up I instantly recognized the face of my aunt, his love.

“Wow,” I said, “She’s beautiful.”

What struck me was what happened next. As life continued to swirl around us, his eyes never came off the screen. It was as if time became frozen for a moment as he drank one extra sip from a glass holding a lifetime of memories.

I swear time paused for both of us while we stood together looking down at the image of a young woman with decades of life ahead of her.

My uncle obviously ached each and every day for the love of his life.

I remember going back for his funeral. I was sad for our collective loss, but inside I knew there was a much bigger picture going on.

The light I noticed the other night served to remind me that there are those who truly give themselves to each other, living a life so intertwined not even death can separate them.

And regardless of what medicine and statistics say, I truly believe you can die from a broken heart.


– 30 –

Adjusting the Hands of the Clock

“Yeah, just crossed the border into California. Changed the time on the on the dashboard so I guess it’s official now. “

My brother, moving from Arizona to California earlier this week, seemed to identify the one of those psychological moments when you find yourself making a mental transition from one state of mind to another.

Living within 20-minutes of another time zone, I regularly find myself traveling back and forth without ever adjusting my clock – literally or figuratively. My time in the next zone is always a visit – no need for a permanent change. Even when traveling around the country, I rarely change my watch. I am, after all, a visitor.

But, in life, some things are harder to change than the hands of a clock.

Recently I crossed one of those ‘threshold’ birthdays – you know the ones. Something about ending with a zero tends to get between our ears. Logically we know were are the same person we were a few days earlier — only now, the calendar says we aren’t.

One day I felt comfortable with my shirt hanging out over my jeans. The next, I wondered if I was too old.

Standing in front of the mirror, I strained to see what might’ve changed in the past couple days. After a few moments, I realized the only thing that’d changed was between my ears.

People love to say “70 is the new 50” or “50 is the new 40”. Yeah, right. That is until you are fifty-year old and looking in the mirror. Unless you own a magical mirror, the only person you see staring back is another fifty-year old.

But regardless of what you hear, something changes.

Last week I visited my doctor for my regular tune-up. Although my BP, weight and other indicators were down, I found myself listening to his advice with a renewed interest. To top it off, I went in with a written list of things to talk about.

Suddenly it dawned on me, I am not a visitor to this new stage of life – this is my new world.

Like my brother, I’m finding I just might need to finally concede there are a few adjustments to the clock I’ll need to consider. I always thought one of the more difficult aspects of aging would be dealing with the physical challenges – sore knee or maybe a shoulder taking a bit longer to warm up. What I didn’t consider was the battle for my identity I’d discover raging inside my cranium.

I guess I should learn from my brother, suck it up and adjust my clock. Not that I’ll act much differently or wear different clothes. But denial is generally not a productive or useful way to spend time. I’ve decided to quit whining and move on.

With the thought of my brother crossing the state line, his belongings trailing behind, I can almost see him reaching up to adjust the clock in acknowledgement of his new world.

I guess even at this old age, I can still learn new tricks, right?

– 30 –

A New Year’s Plan — More or Less

Most well-adjusted, rational people don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or Bigfoot. But many of those very same people still believe the striking of midnight on one particular night of the year somehow resets a cosmic button – thus expunging them of all behavioral shortcomings from the prior year.

‘I’ve been saved. Wipe that slate clean!” we say to ourselves silently as glasses clink around us. “Next year will be different.”

Honestly, how is that working out for us?

So this year, I’ve a new plan – one define by ‘more or less’.

I’d like to spend more time with those I love and get to know some new people who may just one day move into this valuable category. I am blessed to know so many people who make my life wonderful – many I met in only the past several years. Why stop now?

On the other hand, I plan to spend less time with those who really don’t care to make an effort to be happy. Not that I won’t reach out and help anyone in need, but somewhere along the line, everyone needs to take responsibility for his or her personal happiness and future. The world is full of good people who want to help – but you’ve got to make an effort.

Everyone knows someone – friend or family – they’d like to spend more time with. For me, I’ve a few I keep on a short mental list. We all do. Maybe an old childhood friend or someone from college you once knew. How hard can it be to get together for dinner or coffee? Even a phone call is a big first step towards ‘more’.

I’d like to finish this year with less ‘stuff’. All I need to do is peek behind a chair to see dozens of books I’ve read and stacked away. What is the point, really? Why not give my favorites to friends or maybe donate to an organization that provides books to those in need? Surely I won’t miss them. I can’t imagine my life being any different – and it doesn’t take too much effort to imagine how they could make some else’s a little better. If I apply this same commitment to living with less to the rest of my ‘stuff’, there is no telling what might happen. I simply plan to give away ‘more’ and finish the year with much ‘less’.

I would like to learn more about subjects I know nothing or very little about as I write this. The world is full of interesting and beautiful subjects. I might even learn to play another instrument just for grins.

I’m going to worry a lot less. Granted, my wife thinks I’m a great worrier, but in the end it is probably not all that productive. I just might be ready to loosen up a bit and enjoy the ride.

So there you go, that’s my grand, simple plan — more or less.

Best wishes to everyone for a blessed 2013.

– 30 –