I look like a reasonably healthy human being. Certainly, no sighted and sane person would describe me as frail, and until this past week I considered myself moderately fit.
Chances are you also wouldn’t guess by glancing at me, but I am, in fact, falling apart—at least in the physical sense.
For whatever reason, call it senility, if you must, I keep forgetting that I turned 50 a few months ago and repeatedly push myself to accomplish feats of strength that would challenge Hercules himself.
However, now I recognize my mistake. I realize, in retrospect, the myth of super-woman strength I’ve perpetuated.
For the fact of the matter is, I’m a wimp. It’s the ugly and unpleasant truth. I’m as wimpy as they come.
You see, last week I decided to dig a ditch. Granted, ditch-digging was not my ultimate goal. Building a sidewalk, of sorts, was.
It all began back when I was 44 and still capable of manual labor. At that time road workers in downtown Lexington began resurfacing the street in front of my apartment. This involved bulldozing a century’s worth of road repair and uncovering cobblestones that dated back to 1908.
When I learned those stunning specimens of local history were headed for a landfill, I persuaded my then-6-year-old nephew to help me rescue as many as possible to use later at the house I was in the process of purchasing around the corner—the one where my partner Sara and I now live. Sam and I dug up and filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow, stacking and ultimately moving them to the new house.
Last summer Sara used, perhaps, 60 percent of them to create a patio under her outdoor kitchen.
And then this past week I came up with the grand idea of using the remaining bricks to edge a sidewalk that would extend from the garden gate at the edge of our yard to the cement slab just outside our back door.
The creation of this path was my undoing.
Originally our back yard was little more than what remained of a gravel driveway.
Over the years, we fenced the space, and Sara has bordered the whole with flower beds, raking the gravel into a single path.
My brilliant idea was to edge that path with the unused brick pavers and top what remained of the original driveway with more attractive pea gravel.
Unfortunately, the placement of those pavers involved digging—only a few inches deep, mind you—but digging nonetheless.
And, In fact, digging the ditch in which the pavers would sit and carrying the old brick has subsequently crippled me.
I began and completed the labor on Thursday, knowing full well by midday that this had, perhaps, not been a good idea, my inability to stand up straight or walk without a limp being among my first clues. But being a determined, ditch-digging, brick-carrying bitch, I perservered—finishing just as the sun was setting, then dragging the blistered shell of my former self up the back steps and staggering, still filthy and now broken, into bed. (I exaggerate here only a little.)
The next morning, while crawling bloody and bruised (woe is me) across the floor, begging the god of ditch-diggers-after-50, that I make it the bathroom before the onset of cardiac arrest, Sara asked, sitting up and laughing, “So–how ya feelin’?”
“I suppose it could be worse.”
“How’s that?” she mocked, still able-bodied from the bed.
“I could have the strength and body-function necessary to smack your wise-cracking, smartass, sack of sympathetic crap.”
The moral of the story is this:
If you are over 50 and have any big plans to say, dig a tunnel from Texas to Mexico, you might want to reconsider that lame idea—lest you end up, well, lame—or, better yet, dead.
What was the last “big” idea that you “dug,” so to speak—the one that nearly killed you?
(Note: I regret that personal and professional matters will keep me away from the blogosphere this week. I hope to have a new memoir post up by early next week, depending on how much I’m able to accomplish. I will be back reading your wonderful posts a.s.a.p. If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that I’m writing a memoir about growing up in an organized crime family. To read chapter 1, click here.)