Straddlin’ the Fence: Appreciating changes

Jean Schwieder

We had visitors the other day: grandson, Skyler; his wife, Katie; and little Alice.

They hadn’t been here for about a month, and goodness, how Alice has changed. She is about 18 months old, still doesn’t like me, and calls my husband, Boyd, “Moo” because she associates him with the cows. As I observed her here I thought how much she had changed in a month.

It reminds me of a quote from Charles Dickens:

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own, and from cradle to grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.”

I like those words “so gentle and easy.” Isn’t that true of the changes in our lives? When we look back we can see them loud and clear, but as we live them, they’re slow and gentle and barely distinguishable from everyday life. And change is a definite constant in our lives, whether we like it or not.

As Dickens says, change is everywhere you look from the seasons to the weather. Weather and time changes are changes we seem to notice the most. I’ve never liked the time change twice a year, but it didn’t bother me as much when I was younger. And our weather in Idaho has never been something we could rely on, so the change in weather is something I just accept.

I know one thing, change gets harder to accept and live with the older I get. I recently saw a notice announcing the start of a class being offered for anyone interested in becoming a quick responder. I would have loved have taken a class like that a few years ago, but it’s unrealistic to consider it now because of changes in my life. The only quick things I can respond to are bodily functions. You may see me running to the bathroom, but you won’t see me running anywhere else. My brain and body work on two different response signals. My brain says move quickly; my body says I’m moving as fast as I can. If I ever had to do CPR on anyone, another person would have to pick me up afterwards and walk me around to get my legs moving again.

I would have to change glasses to read any instructions that I needed to have. I have trifocals and always figured those helped my golf game because I could see three balls to hit. Now I use a separate pair of glasses when working on the computer and therein lies another problem: I probably would rush off to an emergency and forget to take my other glasses.

My hearing, or lack thereof, is causing me some grief too, so if verbal instructions were being given, I’m not sure I would hear correctly! I find talking on the phone a challenge. Well maybe not the talking but the hearing. I often have to ask people to repeat themselves and then I’m not always sure of what they say. I don’t think that in an emergency it would be appreciated when I looked at the person giving directions and said, “What did you say?” That probably wouldn’t go over good!

The more I think about this, and I can still think, the more I realize that some of the things I would really like to do are not possible at this time in my life because of physical changes in my body!

There are some definite advantages to changes though. I find that I can relax and take time to think things through more now than I used to. I still make stupid mistakes and stupid comments, but I’ve always done that so that isn’t a change in my life at all. There are opportunities to serve and help others that I now have the time to do.

Yes, there are good things that comes from change. And there are a lot of things that are going OK in my life even being old. I saw something on Facebook to help me remember that in spite of changes, there are still good things in our lives.

I woke up.

I have a warm home.

I have running water.

I have food to eat.

I have clothes to wear

Life is good.

I am blessed

I am thankful.

Still some constants that we can cling to. And we can learn to embrace change, work with it, and maybe even be able to face change with a positive attitude, gently and easily.

Jean Schwieder is a writer who has spent her life involved in eastern Idaho agriculture. Her books, including past columns, are available by calling 208-522-8098 or by email at