Now that I’m of a certain age, I’ve become aware that my life’s journey has occurred (thus far) in distinct stages. I’ve passed through some stages that, looking back, seem clear cut.
During young adulthood, I talked about college graduation, job interviews, upcoming weddings, and the inevitable talk of dating that happens when you’re around a lot of other single, young adults.
Then, one by one, my friends and I entered the newlywed phase. Marriage changed our discussions to include our careers, having families, and buying homes.
In the next stage, our conversations were more focused on the joys and challenges of parenthood. This stage often felt busy, but filled with fun and family time.
As our kids got older, we entered the “sandwich” time. We discussed the various experiences of parenthood and also talked about our own parents and their changing status in life. Sometimes this led us to talk about elder-care and, sadly, about funerals. Towards end of this stage, we talked about divorces (thankfully of others), and kids graduating high school and college and entering the work force. Often, this stage included our children’s marriages and sometimes grandchildren.
It was about this time when retirement plans started to become a regular part of our interactions. Planning for retirement, both financially and in terms of activities, was exciting. We looked forward to that next stage, and hoped it would last a long, long time.
In our minds, retired folks talked about gardens, grandchildren, travels, and body parts that don’t work the way they used to do.
But right in between middle age and retirement, with a lot of spillover into the retirement part, came a stage I hadn’t anticipated — appliance purgatory.
We had purchased most of our appliances when we moved into and/or remodeled our house. Many of them were at least 25 years old. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when they started to leave for appliance heaven one by one, in rather rapid succession, leaving us in purgatory.
The clothes washer was first. It was one of the oldest machines on our property, so it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t a flashy death, just a slow yielding to rust. It was given a decent burial.
Shortly after that, the dryer started emitting smoke from parts that shouldn’t smoke. Really, any part shouldn’t, so we wasted no time getting that bad boy out of the utility room.
A couple weeks later (the first week of the 90-degree, steam room weather), the air conditioner died. It’s so old that they don’t even make the refrigerant or parts for it anymore.
Last week, the dishwasher started stopping in the middle of a cycle. This might or might not mean replacement, but it surely isn’t a good sign. Honestly, our retirement plan had not really included replacing every appliance we own!
The only thing left running well is the refrigerator that’s only 7 years old. Of course, it’s one that I’ve hated since the second day we had it. It’ll probably run for decades.
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.