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Marilyn Heltzer: What’s on your list?

Making lists is a necessary activity for the retired person. And it’s not because we get more and more forgetful as we age. I’m pretty sure of that.  It’s all about routine.

When you work, you get up in the morning and after a quick breakfast, you go to work and if you’re lucky, somebody else has made coffee, and it awaits you there. You pour a cup, get busy and the day zips by. Some days on the way home, there’s a stop at the grocery store. Then you prepare food, watch some TV, hit the sack, and the next day it starts all over again.  

Now, there are even guys who cook supper and stop at the store on the way home. That was never my experience, but times change.  There are families who disagree on channels to watch. There are as many variations to this pattern as there are people in the world.  

Some people work 9 to 5, others work different hours. And there are variations among retired folks, too. But we just can’t make our way through the day without our treasured list:  places to go, errands to attend to.  This is especially true of those of us who have to drive to town. Yes, the places and the errands are all there, and forgetting something means using more gas as you go back.  Or you just wait until tomorrow.   

So making a list is one thing that happens with retirement.  The other is keeping track of things on a calendar. The young who are technologically savvy do the same thing only it’s on their devices. But I still use a desk calendar, even though I don’t have a desk anymore. And I do make a list every day.

I’ve been known to sing as I write down the day’s activities.  Here’s why: years and years ago, my high school performed Gilbert and Sullivan operettas each spring. I played in the orchestra.  One of the musical productions was “The Mikado,” and one of the songs sung was “I’ve Got a Little List,” a satirical song about people who “never will be missed” Nice rhyme.  

My lists certainly don’t include doing ill to folks who won’t be missed.  It does include reading and sending emails, a trip to town, a stop at the post office, maybe gas at Marketplace (they give those stamps, ya know), a walk on the treadmill at In Charge Fitness, and a stop at Target where I did use my debit card during those bad days.  Poor Target. But with millions of customers I’m sure those hackers will not take aim at a little old lady in northern Minnesota. So if I do buy anything there, it’s cash only.

My morning emails to our grown daughters often include the question, “What’s up for you?” I know exactly what’s up for me because I have a little list. And I cross out items as they’re completed, and not a thing is missed.