After my mother died, my father continued living at their retirement condo in Florida that provided assisted living and nursing care if needed. On one of my visits, I suggested the next day we go to Sears in a mall just across the highway to buy him new pants. He was physically healthy and I could drive his car, or it would be a pleasant walk into the real world.
“Can’t do it tomorrow,” he told me.
“Tomorrow’s square dancing.”
“But isn’t that after dinner?”
“Yes, but I have to get ready.”
“What time do you start getting ready?”
“So? We’ll go in the morning. You’ll have plenty of time to get ready.”
“Well, . . . OK, maybe.”
As we age, we tend to schedule just one major activity (at least what we consider major) each day and think that’s all we can do. It is a mental limit, not a matter of energy. Years earlier we easily did several things —and still can— but now one activity per day fills our mind, and we think we are too busy for anything else.
I can see this tendency growing in myself (“Can’t go to Costco today. We’re going to the Chinese buffet.”), and I have to consciously commit to more. It always works out fine. Thanks, Dad, for the unintended lesson.