Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 65 This Old House  

           I like old houses. Older architects and builders created interesting designs and owners made their own additions over the years. But time takes its toll and neglected real estate may become the investment opportunity known as a “fixer upper.” One house I worked on ended on a register of historic homes.

           I learned to remodel houses by renting and buying “fixer” houses. I had the limited salary of a teacher. I taught Shop and had some skills in most of the building trades. One advantage of doing it yourself in addition to the economic gain is that you can remodel to suit your own needs and can create a custom look. The downside is that standards have been adopted for good reasons of economy, safety, convenience and marital harmony.

           Organizing the work is essential with a “fixer” that may take years to complete. Houses are like the human body, they are made up of interlocking systems.

Foundation and framework         Skeleton

Heating and ventilation     Circulatory system

Electrical                            Nervous

Plumbing                           Digestive

Telephone, TV                   Sensory

Roof, walls, floor              Skin

Filters, alarms                               Lymphatic

People!                               Reproductive

Retirees become “fixer uppers” sometimes A large part of the economy centers on our health cares. Even when a person feels used up and ready to die, the people who make their living fixing us won’t let us depart in peace. When we see others in pain and unable to control their lives, some of us begin to think of finding and hiding a last lethal drink for that moment when the scales tip against us.

My house should perhaps have been allowed to take that fatal plunge. It would have come soon from a crumbling foundation or the worn out roof or a fire in the haphazard wiring. Maybe a tree limb would have dropped from the ponderosa pines near the entry. Any of these things can still happen but I am fighting to prevent it.

Most old men can get by for a while by wearing glasses, hearing aids and pacemakers or with surgical revisions or giving up vices like smoking, drinking, late hours, sex, food or radical ideas. Although functions are impaired we stay in the lineup. My house was like a sick old man. Its systems were falling apart and it did not function well. I wondered if it would be more work to fix it up or to build a new one.

Medics are taught to prioritize their care. Stop blood loss. Keep the breathing going. Provide warmth to prevent shock. Avoid spinal injuries. Communicate with others. As a house doctor, I have to know what to do first. Generally that means from the ground up depending on the weather, my budget and the support of family and friends.

            Having a plan or journal helps me to stay sane. I have known sick people who are cheered by having a proper diagnosis and treatment plan even if they fail to improve.  I know what I want to do with my house, for example, but I need to sort it out in words. Often when I see what I have written, I change my mind about my priorities

When we look at all the systems in a human body or in a house it is a marvel that any of them work. When the whole organism continues to function it is miraculous indeed. Physics teaches us that entropy is at work always tearing things down. It means we have to work and fight to keep going. A friend once said, "There are two kinds of people ravelers and weavers. The raveling goes on without any help. I wonder if I can weave fast enough to keep this old house in one piece.

“This Old House” is a great old song that draws a similar parallel but disdains the material and celebrates a more spiritual task.

This old house is agettin’ shaky

           This old house is agettin’ tired

Ain’t got time to fix the windows                    (GOOGLE)

           Ain’t got time to fix the floors

Getting’ ready to meet the saints.

It’s a good idea to have a plan for the last act of your life when you may not be able to control the script.

 This is Dick Smith.




Follow Retirement Talk on Facebook: on Facebook