Change Keeps Life Interesting
Heart to Heart

Change Keeps Life Interesting

 For the past several years, things have just been different. First of all, I do not see or hear as well as I used to. As a matter of fact, I am constantly squinting at print while waving it at different lengths before my eyes hoping for a better view. My children are constantly reminding me not to yell over the cell phone because it is I who cannot hear, not the caller. I cannot speak the words I desire to, and so I rely on my children to interpret my hand gestures to the person waiting for an intelligent response. For years I have gathered the piles of covers on my bed around my head at night; now I throw them off as sweat literally drips off of every inch of my body. Everyone used to depend on me for details and names of persons we hadn’t seen in years but not any longer. Now I have to ask my own children their names so that I can direct each of them into the proper task.
 And what is it with depth perception that now makes parking a challenge? I had heard women say, “Just wait until you park six feet away from your desired destination.” To which I thought, “Oh, come on, how could menopause possibly change depth perception that much?” To which God said, “Oh Candy, let me show you!” I kid you not, just weeks later, I pulled into a parking spot, or so I thought, only to find out that I was six feet away from my destination. You cannot imagine my shock when I discovered that my vehicle was so far off the mark. How could a woman of my age, who had been driving since 16, now have a problem with parking? Well, let me tell you, it did not just affect my parking. One day Jon came in to ask me when I had hit the running board of our van. To which I replied, “Which time?” To which he incredulously asked, “Which time?” To which I answered, “Oh yes, I hit that thing all the time! It really gets in the way of curbs.”
 See, change is really not comfortable for me or for Jon because we are really just old shoes who desire consistency. We have lived in the same house for 33 and 30 years respectively, have had the same furniture, and until just recently, the same wall colors and mostly the same clothes for most of our married life. Neither of us likes change! We hate when people move away, even people we do not know well. We like to stay at home and would have been much happier to live down on the farm and go to town just once a month for the necessities. We prefer books written during the 1500-1700’s and letters rather than emails.
 I still have never used an ATM machine and refuse to pump my own gas; quite frankly, I do not even know how to pump gas. I cook in cast iron ware and never use a microwave. To show you just how set I am in my ways, Sonia had Jon to purchase a food processor for me several years ago, but I still cut up my own vegetables if Sonia isn’t in the kitchen to direct me to turn that convenience on. And well, when it comes to computers, just ask Joe and Joye Hengst or Mike and Hannah Stull how many times I have called them about our computer. And what are iPods, for goodness sake? Let’s face it, tattoos, body piercing, and underwear exposed above baggy pants that are held up with a hand just send me through the roof.
 And why is grey hair so unruly? I really think that by the time we reach the age where we are taking care of financial inadequacies, young children, older children, and our parents, at least our hair could cooperate. I know that grey hair is supposed to be the crown of old age or at least that is what I have heard, but frankly I just do not like it. It is not that I really want to change my looks, I just liked the way it was before—the way I have had it for the last 40 plus years. So when Jon took me to the salon, I proceeded to tell the kind hair stylist that I really did not want to be difficult, but I did not really want to change the way I looked. I was quite comfortable with the way God created me. After all I had lived with my present hair length and style for the past 38 years. I did not want anything that I had to retouch because I do not give much consideration to my looks. If I put makeup on in the morning, it takes me only minutes, and then I never look at myself for the rest of the day until I wash my face at bedtime. I never curl my hair, in fact I never even dry it with a blow dryer, but let it air dry. I just do not like my grey hairs and wish I could have some highlights to disguise them as blonde. Blonde hairs I could handle, for after all, I was blonde for quite a few of my earlier years. Grey is foreign to me. It just does not fit with the other brown “stay in place” kind of hair that I am used to. Change is just not comfortable!
 Consider the changes that have taken place in my work environment and attire over the years. I first worked in my parents’ store dressed in suits, high heels, and stockings, selling cosmetics, decorating gift and jewelry cases, going on buying trips, and going to business luncheons with gift reps. Then I taught first grade in an elementary school where I wore similar attire while I taught adorable six-year-olds. For the next twenty-nine years, I worked in very comfortable clothes in my own home doing all that I love best—baking, cooking, decorating, cleaning, playing, reading, teaching, and nurturing my delightful family, which has been comfortable, very comfortable! But now at age 50, from latter March through December, I don jeans, work shirt, and work boots to drive 40 feet of truck and trailer 50-100 miles a day to jobs where I trim, shovel, haul, fertilize, plant, and get down on my hands and knees to weed. When I arrive home, often at 8:00 or 9:00 at night, I look like something our cats or dogs drug in, only instead of being limp and dead, I am stiff, but limping all the same and only feeling dead. I am usually caked with dirt and bark mulch, which I have to scrub off before making a full course meal for my still delightful family.
 Recently when the young lady at Jack in the Box opened the drive-through window to take my money, she took one look at me and then followed down the span of 40 feet of truck and trailer that filled her drive-through lane, and slowly came back to me with a “How in the world did you ever do that” look. She said nothing, but I answered her question with, “I didn’t think I was going to make it either,” followed by a sheepish grin and chuckle. I kept telling Jedidiah that I would never make it, but he assured me that he and Jon had made the tight space several times before. Of course, he failed to include in that encouragement that he had to goad his father on each time as well, for Jon always wondered if he would make the tight turn, as well. Huh! Well, I did, and here I was for my food. Now the question remained, could I get out of that lane, maneuver my train across four lanes of traffic and into the left turn lane?
 This week I was talking to Anne Belley on the phone as I was backing up to the hand directions of a rental store employee so that I could connect our truck with their trailer which held the Bobcat that we had just rented. The men looked at me as if they had their doubts if they would ever see their equipment in one piece again, but I fooled them and brought it back not only in one piece but fueled for the next customer. God is good.
 It had been pouring down rain when the driver in front of me made a sudden stop to turn (without a signal, I might add), while I was on the phone again saying, “Oops, Oops, Oops,” but I stopped in time, thank God.
 Two months ago, when I walked into another rental store and requested the full size tractor my son had reserved, they looked at me and said, “Tractor?” as if they did not know what one was, but in reality they were reluctant to rent it to a woman driver. However, when I brought it back in one piece and told them I would pay full price even though we had trouble with it, they had smiles on their faces and said they desired my business, opened up an account for me, and hoped to see me again soon. I had pulled a huge tractor on a huge trailer for a total of 100 miles in two days, they got it back in one piece, and now I thanked God for bringing me through another new task.
 And well, as far as the goofiness that comes with older age, I have plenty of material to keep Jon and me laughing. Just this past weekend, while we were four wheeling, Jon raised his hand to wave, or so I thought. I followed the “look a like” wave in the general direction of its “should be” recipient only to find a lone mailbox and acres of empty field. So I asked the seemingly logical question, or rather shouted it to be overheard by racing four wheelers, “Who are you waving to?” My laughing husband replied, “Candy, didn’t you take driver’s education?” “Oh, I get it,” I shouted, “but I always put my right hand out when I make a right turn.” Of course, he informed me that it would be impossible for a driver to put his right arm out of the right window of a car unless he had an awfully long arm. “Well, what does that have to do with making a right turn with a four wheeler, isn’t it easier to stick out your right arm now?” He just reached around, gave me a kiss and told me that he loved me. He had better. Who else would take me at this time of my life? The best part of my brain has already been used up, not to say anything about the best years of my physical ability to work.
 Of course, that probably was not as goofy as what had just preceded that discourse on proper signaling. Jon asked me to look around to make sure that all the other four wheelers were following, and I told him no because there were only five, and there were supposed to be six. He just laughed, reminded me that the one we were riding on, plus those five behind us, made up the six we started out with, and pulled me closer to him. I could have taken this to mean that he was afraid that he had better keep a better eye on me, hmmm, but I knew he really just loved me all the more for my little foibles. Of course, when I relayed this incident to the other family when we had stopped to talk, Jon proceeded to tell them how smart I really am and that I graduated magna cum laude from my university. Of course, I thought, that was an awfully long time ago, and I wasn’t even sure I knew how to pronounce it correctly anymore.
 Although Jon is not going through menopause, he is eight years older than I am, so he has been doing goofy things for about as long as I have. So we both have fun laughing at ourselves, more often than I think wise to admit.
 When the neurologist recently asked me if I had trouble calculating math problems, I kept a straight face and told him no, but I was thinking of all the times Jon comments, “Oh my, and she’s teaching my children math.” Or the times I answer the butcher’s question as to what size I want our roasts with hand gestures and “about this big.” However, I thought it best not to relay this to the very serious, sober minded physician, and besides I had made straight A’s in all my college math classes. I do have to say, though, that I did catch a smile or two on his lips as we chatted for quite a while. Of course, when I told this to Jon, he lovingly said that no one could be in my presence without enjoying my company and smiling at my cute remarks. Ah, yes, what comforting words from the husband of my youth.
 Why it was just last summer that I was explaining to my son the importance of honesty. We had just pulled off of the scale at the landfill—oh yes, I also go to the landfill several times each summer—when my son told me that I had paid too much for our load. I explained to him that brush was a separate charge from plywood because they each needed to be dumped in two different spots. He questioned why we should be charged twice for one load. I explained that the men with the big machines at one end of the landfill must be paid to cover over our plywood, while the men with the big machines at the other end of the dump had to be paid to push together the brush so it could decompose. I then elaborated how important it was to be an honest witness, and since we were trying to witness to the rather rude woman who takes my money at the landfill each week, I emphasized the influence our honesty was having on her, for she even thanked me for my honesty in divulging the different materials in our load as some people lie so they only have to pay one fee. The conversation was a little more theological and lengthy than this because by the time I was finished, we were already back on the road toward our next job.
 After I was finished, satisfied that I had presented a wonderful lesson on honesty, my son asked, “Mom, how does that differ from stealing the rock you just took from the dump?” To which I cluelessly replied, “Stealing a rock from the dump? What do you mean, Jedidiah?” He then said, “Mom, they sell the rocks they mine there.” I screamed out, “Oh no, I just stole a rock from the landfill? I have never stolen anything in my life! Oh my goodness, this is terrible. I never asked myself why that hole got there. I never considered that it got there because they dug the rock out to sell. I just saw all these massive rocks lying around and thought they were probably in their way, so I took one for … Wow, what a business! They actually sell the rock they mine and then charge people to fill up the hole left by their mining?” Oh course, I did not consider this until after I immediately called the dump and apologized for my stupidity and told them that I would pay for that rock when I came back.
 To make matters worse, the rock I took was for a customer. Thankfully, I was not charging them for something I freely acquired, but when they came out of their house to admire it, they said, “Thank you for the rock. We used to have one in that very place years ago, but someone stole it. Can you imagine someone stealing a rock?” I kid you not; those were their exact words. Can you believe that! God has such a funny way of chastising me. I bent over, grabbed my forehead, rose up and said, “Oh my goodness, I have to tell you that I stole this rock,” and then proceeded to tell them the whole story.
 My life is interesting to say the least, and quite frankly, more interesting for my family who lives with me every day. Jon always tells everyone that he has never had a boring day since he married me, for he never knows what to expect because I always keep our life interesting. It is good that I know him well enough to know that he says this with appreciation.
 If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with menopause, let me encourage you to look at what God is doing in your life. If we believe that God is all merciful and wise and that all things work together for good, then we can rejoice even in all that goes with this season in our life. First, let me say that I believe it is another great opportunity for us to be significantly more sanctified by God refining us through removing more dross from our hearts. As our emotions become more potentially volatile, it is our duty to stay on our knees and pray for control and also a time of self-examination of what sins still need to be mortified within us. Beyond this, where can you sweat like that and not have to pay for the removal of so many toxins? Besides, all of it is done prior to our waking up. How efficient! I will admit that the reduction of mental capabilities can be somewhat limiting and consequently frustrating, but it again points our eyes on the reality of our frailty and inability to accomplish anything apart from God, thus keeping us relying on Him more than ever.