Geezer Tribe: A trip to the parts store

by Linda Shaffer

Remember when you were a kid and the television stopped working? If it wasn’t the antenna, then it had to be a vacuum tube. This meant someone had to get dressed for town and take the tubes into the store to put on a tester and find out who the culprit was. There was always an assortment of replacement tubes, even in grocery stores. Ah yes, the good old days. When things broke down, it was possible to get them fixed. Sometimes you could even fix things yourself. Those were the days when we had repair shops for everything from shoes to electric mixers. We rarely replaced when we could repair.

An electrician by trade, my grandpa was a wizard at repairing things and he always seemed to have the right part for anything we brought to him. If he didn’t have the part needed, he would fabricate it. He fixed toasters and irons and fans and loved gadgetry. His life work was fixing things. He could get screen doors to close without a clatter and knew just how much insulation to put around doorways to keep out the weather. Toward the end of his life he began to have difficulty remembering certain things but assured us that he could still tell the difference between a 110 circuit and 220 by touching a wire with his finger tip. I don’t recommend you try that at home. He didn’t throw things away. He kept them for a time that they might be needed.
As I get older, I admit that I am more and more willing to replace things that don’t work before trying to repair them. The price differences in many cases certainly aren’t on the side of fixing things. This can be pretty frustrating at times. My latest target is the garage door. Of course, it’s rusting through on the bottom panels but how many people who live on the Oregon Coast have a rusty garage door? The door can’t be repaired and will have to be replaced. Sure, we could probably get by for another few years before the door completely breaks down but there’s another issue. I can no longer physically open the door because of a bum shoulder. Since I’ve saved up enough to pay for a door, I want one. I also want it to come equipped with a little button that puts the door up and down. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of these gizmos but the time has come.
Along with the new door, I’ve decided to get a new shoulder. Why? I’ve already put in those aforementioned “additional few years of wear” and have run out of shoulder. I’ve been shopping for shoulders for quite awhile and the time has come to do the deed. The process is mostly just talking about it, researching and looking at outcomes of this type of surgery. The replacement joint my doctor has chosen for me does look pretty high-tech though and I’m anxious to try it out. With my checkered medical past, I’ll be requiring a reverse ball joint shoulder replacement. Wouldn’t you just know it? If somebody requires something put on backwards, it would likely be me. Of course, there’s a hitch. I won’t be able to do any writing for about six weeks but with some help from friends, this column will continue with reruns from the distant past.
Yes, I know there are risks involved and I know that I’m no spring chicken. Here’s the thing. Remember those old black and white photos of families on the front porch? Remember the old people who were sitting in chairs on the porch in those pictures? They were still part of the family but if you look closely, you can see the pain in their faces. No pain medications or replacement parts were available to them. No cataract surgery, no hearing aids. Once they’d worn themselves out, they were left to sit and read if they could see or do small chores if they were able. That’s not the life I want and unlike those folks in the photos, I have options. I want to hold a book and read again; I want to write without using up all my tolerance in five minutes. Over time, I’ve given up doing a lot of things, including opening that garage door. I don’t expect to be able to do everything I’ve let go of, but I’ll settle for some of them. Hopefully, after the next six weeks come and go, I’ll be able to write and tell you the story of my new shoulder. Oh, and if there’s a photo, I’ll be the wrinkled smiling oldie on the front porch with the remote for the new garage door in my hand.
Have a great week my friends.