Do you have a pair of shoes that you’ve been thinking about donating to your favorite charity? However, each time the idea invades your mind, you gently push back the very thought of parting with the well-worn, comfortable feet coverings. Those things to which we have developed a comfort level to the point that parting with them is such great sorry, we often exhibit an unreasonable degree of connection.
I’ve been slowly getting rid of stuff on my side of the closet that serves no purpose but to occupy space. When I retired, now over five years ago, one thing I promised myself was that I would send unnecessary clothing and other junk packing. Well, since inanimate objects have no conscience or means of self-mobility, what I really mean is that I would pack them up and carry them away. There are pieces of clothing that I have not worn during the entire five-year period I’ve been retired. These things could be serving someone else’s needs. But there’s some senseless comfort in seeing them hanging on racks, laying on shelves, just being there.
Familiarity is a quality that fits well with more than “things” in my life. It also wears well with certain people. Over the last three decades, I’ve developed a comfortable, trusting and intimate relationship with two of my healthcare providers, my optometrist and my dentist. I recall when both started their practice. My dentist bought out a practice that I had already been going to. It was operated by a young man who was a school classmate of my wife’s. He was a rather pleasant fellow; however, I didn’t stay with him long before he sold his practice and moved into corporate dentistry. I’ve had countless conversations with both my dentist and my optometrist about politics, weather, various social trends and life in general. These folks have left indelible marks on my life and anatomy (especially my dentist). She has shared my cancer journey by caring for my teeth during a time when chemotherapy and other cancer fighting medications have had their way with my dental health. I stopped counting years ago the number of extensive dental procedures she’s had to perform to keep my oral food processor in fine working order.
My optometrist has cared for my vision with a degree of dedication, and passion that I could not have asked for. Now, that I have early signs of Glaucoma developing in one of my eyes, he sees me more than he did decades ago, when an annual eye exam was enough. He and I share a comparative degree of faith in God and devotion to family that make my visits to his office quite delightful. A few months ago, he informed me that he had sold his practice. This was not news I wanted to hear; however, I understand his motivation for doing this. He’s been in practice for a long time. The frustration of running a small business, with the plethora of regulations he must navigate, is overwhelming at times. He made sure that he would be around for the next three years before leaving patients, like myself, with whom he’s developed a good relationship.
While sitting in the chair, having preparations for replacing a crown that was put in place twelve years ago, my dentist informed me a few days ago that she had also sold her practice. She also plans to stay around for the next three to four years, phasing out towards her final retirement day.
Familiarity is a comfortable feeling and the thought of losing it can be a bit unsettling. When you reach my age, you realize you probably don’t have decades upon decades to build strong connections with new friends, associates, healthcare providers and others. Losing the well-worn and comfortable ones from your life means things are winding down in a way, never to be quite the same. However, I must take stock in my relationship with God. He’s always been there, and my faith tells me that He will always be there, offering a kind of familiarity that no one else can provide. I’m grateful that He’s added so many familiar ingredients to my life, resulting in a mix that has been a pleasant taste to savor.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.