Turning 80 was not fun

Good thing we celebrated my husband’s 80th birthday a week early. He did not get a party on the actual date.

I woke up with an elbow so swollen with arthritis that I could not comb my hair, let alone applaud his eighth decade of life. He left me to exercise while he finally heeded our car’s warning light about air pressure and took the car to the shop for new tires. He waited and waited before he heard, “Mr. Hershberger, your car is ready.”

It wasn’t his car. The clerk sorted out the confused tickets, and then the tires were changed.

For his birthday lunch, he chose his favorite chicken place, “Aren’t you glad chicken is my favorite meat rather than steak?” he asked. Yes, he is a cheap date. So cheap that he chose the daily special, ate it all and concluded, “I won’t be ordering that again.” His stomach protested for hours.

Back home, I awkwardly used my stiff elbow, pulled out eight candles and stuck them in cake leftover from his early birthday celebration. Just striking the match hurt. Still I lit those candles and he blew them out. All eight of them. One for each decade.

For his birthday present, I gave him a plumbing emergency. As I washed my hands in the bathroom, I could hear the washing machine spinning a load of laundry. Then I heard, and saw, the toilet bubbling vigorously.

“You better come check this out,” I called.

He came, he saw, he declared, “It is the vent. Maybe that is what has been the problem with the drains.”

He pulled out the ladder, climbed on the roof and looked. Nothing blocked the vent’s airflow. He went to the ground, pulled out the long plumber’s snake and sent it into the bowels of our sewer system.

I think I found and fixed the problem. It’s dung.” (We don’t talk X-rated around here.)

From my leisurely position in the lounge chair, I instructed the birthday boy, “well, if you want to be sure, switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer and put in that load of your blue jeans.”

“Good idea.” He want to the laundry room and called, “Oh, no. Come here.”

I went. A definite problem: the jug of liquid detergent had fallen to the floor. Its lid lay in the middle of a pool of blue liquid detergent puddling in front of the washer, the dryer and the back door.

“Just sweep it out the door.” I said.

“It can’t just be swept out the door.” He grabbed a little broom and dustpan to gather the fluid and pour it back into the jug.

He couldn’t do it. He has a benign tremor so his hands shake. The detergent went everywhere except into the jug.

“I will clean it up, my way.” I grabbed towels, sopped up blue slime and rinsed the towels in the tub. I grabbed more towels to wash the floor several times and tossed everything in the washing machine.

When I finished, I found him at the computer. “I’m still burping that chicken,” he commented.

I decided he needed a huge hamburger for supper.

He ate all of it and said it did not taste right.

So, he never did get the perfect birthday meal and instead of a day of fun events, he risked his 80 year old bones on the roof and undertook the nastiest of plumbing jobs.

On the upside: the laundry floor shines, we have new tires, the plumbing works, and he is officially an octogenarian. Not bad for man who never thought he would see past his 70s.


About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
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