Writer Dave Donelson left his successful business career in 1999 to become a full-time freelance writer. In 2020 he both completed a memoir of his life growing up (entitled Fathers: A Memoir) and began a daily journal where he posts his thoughts, observations, and insights each day. Titled “The Journal of My Seventieth Year: A Memoir In Real Time,” all four volumes of this daily diary are available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions for purchase on Amazon. We are pleased to share with agebuzz readers select individual posts from Dave’s journal, as well as his photography and illustrations that accompany the journal entries. Below are his latest selections for us.
A Taste Of My Future
A little taste of the future soured my day today. All week, I had been exercising my broken ankle without its brace. It seemed to be fine as I walked a little more each day in different locations, trying not only to stretch and strengthen it but to build up my stamina with the mild exercise.
Yesterday, I walked a full hour including a steep uphill route on an old road near Kensico Dam.
Still feeling sparky afterward, I drove to Home Depot, loaded about 400 pounds of bagged fertilizer and topsoil onto a flat cart, dragged it out to the parking lot, and transferred it to my car. By the time I got home, the ankle was swollen and throbbing. Okay, I thought, I just overdid it a bit. I popped an anti-inflammatory and propped up my leg in front of the television to watch the Masters. The future had not yet punched me in the solar plexus.
Today, it struck. The ankle was still sore, so I encased it in its brace and walked around the yard with Juan to show him what needed to be done to the flower beds, shrubbery, and lawn on the south side of the house. Several times as I hobbled around with him, I caught myself saying “we” as in “we will rake up this thatch” and “we will transplant this little tree.” But there is no “we” to do this work because I can’t help him as I would if I were healthy.
Discouraged, I left him to his work and went inside to tend to the dogs in the basement. I had to take one step at a time and consciously plant my foot on each as I went. Halfway down, I envisioned what it would be like to live in this house if I were permanently disabled. The number of stairs, uneven floors, and twists and turns that define this 300-year-old house would probably make living here impossible. Assuming my ankle recovers, which I know it will, how many more years will it be before something else happens-like old age- that means I can’t navigate around this house?
And how much longer before I can’t take care of the property, repair the fences, build new doors, plant new trees, paint the shed, even fertilize the shrubs. We live on a little more than three acres with five buildings that require constant attention. I’m still not reconciled to hiring Juan (and Nestor before him) to help with the yard work. Today, I twisted my ankle just enough to send a little shock up my leg while walking to the barn. That’s what it will be like, I told myself, when I can’t do my part, when I can’t build and repair and shape our home with my own hands. I can always hire more people to do the work, but when I can’t do it myself, the work won’t matter because I will no longer want to live here.
My rational mind has always known that day will come. Today, that prospect struck my heart.
If I fall again, or
If my ankle fails to heal, or
If it heals but it isn’t strong enough to carry me to
the barn anymore, or
If I can hobble up the hill but can’t find the barn
when I go there, or
If I don’t know why I went up the hill in the first
If I forget even then where I am, or
If I lose my name, too, or
If I become so weak, so lost, I can no longer live
Where will I live in this, my dotage?