Two Stories

George Smyth

© Copyright 2008 by George Smyth


My Local Rotary club had decided to heed our District Governor’s plea and try to promote the wearing of the Rotary pin at all meetings. Those that did comply would receive an extra chance at our weekly 50/50 drawing. With that in mind, I was trying to anchor my pin to my shirt when a horrible thing happened. I dropped the pin. But even worse, I remembered that I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I was in my bare feet. That little pin being round was sure to have traveled and who knew where.

I carefully shuffled my feet backward to avoid stepping on the thing and went to look for my glasses. Along the way I found my flashlight and was determined to find that little rascal. Suitably equipped, I searched for it but the pin still eluded me and I feared that it had probably escaped. To be sure, I got down on my stomach and with arms and legs fully splayed; I  hugged the floor and swiveled the flashlight under the dresser. There I found that capricious little stinker hiding.

Just at that moment my wife walked into my room and wanted to know, “What in the world are you doing?” My excuse that I was looking for my Rotary pin seemed mighty weak for she was sure I was checking for dust mites under the bed and proceeded to spend half the day thoroughly cleaning the room.

In the evening when I was getting undressed, I disconnected the Rotary pin and of course you know what happened. I dropped the little thing again. My finger dexterity is far from what it used to be. At least I had my glasses on, my feet were shod and I located the pin fairly easily. However, I vowed that next week, if I waited to put the pin on while I was wearing my shirt, I would only do it while standing in the bathtub.


As we gradually grow older, it has been my experience that it’s usually the little things that can grow into formidable roadblocks and make one stop and wonder. Each day seems to bring new challenges and problems that used to be simple now require all our energies to invent ways of overcoming them. I was up on the extension ladder one day doing some painting when the thought occurred to me. “What in the world is a man in his late seventies doing on a ladder. It’s so difficult to find any purchase for my cane.” A friend of mine, of the same age, broke his hip after a fall, and for what? From that day forward I have disdained ladders. Of course it wasn’t my own decision, my wife had a few words to say about the matter.

Nevertheless, opportunities continue to raise their heads to test our endurance and require a search for solutions. One in particular that took our attention was the ceiling light in the kitchen that had burned out and needed to be changed. It was a 36” fluorescent tube under a plastic cover. In my early days it would only have taken me a few minutes to change the bulb but that was way back when the world was young. Now my ladder climbing days are over and my wife is not too friendly with heights. She gets a nosebleed on the second ladder rung.

We surveyed the situation and decided that the task could be accomplished if my wife would climb our rickety stepladder while I held it steady. A good idea but she made a misstep, overbalanced the ladder, and almost had a serious fall. This was not going to work. We would next have to move to Plan “B.” Perhaps the proper answer required going to the store and buying a sturdier ladder but that would be cheating and we were not sure it would solve the problem. It still had to be climbed. But we decided the job could be done with an extension ladder which we had but it would have to be brought in from outside, through several rooms, and set up in the Kitchen. Two of us carrying the ladder up some stairs and maneuvering it through a couple of switchbacks must have presented a comical situation. As we related this operation to our granddaughter she said she could hear Benny Hill music in the background. Joyce went up the ladder clutching tightly to the side rails and with me acting as a cheering section, encouraging and directing her every move, we managed to get the bulb changed. It gave us a delightful sense of accomplishment and only took us half a day.

In relating this tale of success to some friends of ours, they described a similar situation that happened to them. They had to change the Kitchen light bulb above the sink. That didn’t seem to be a formidable task. They simply pulled out the breadboard and used it to cover the sink. The Mr. climbed up and when he stepped on the board, it split in half. When it did, it in turn chipped the granite counter top and what used to be a simple task, managed to turn into a major operation.

As we age we have to recognize that the whole world is not going to wait for us and we must accept problems as they come and search for special solutions. You can count on inevitable changes. This reminds me the ceiling light in the Bath Room needs changing. This time I think I’ll set up our video camera ahead of time. It might get interesting.

Completing a career as an architect, I assumed the cap and gown and started teaching architecture that lasted six years. Now retired, my wife and I are trying to keep our sense of humor.

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