Unlike knowing whether or not your unemployment benefits will be extended yet again, the U.S. Postal Service will last another 49 years, you’ll ever have grandchildren, your car will survive another year, people will continue to use checks as a form of payment, or your blog will become successful and profitable, there are two things you can be certain of, death and taxes. Yes, my friends, there’s no getting around either of them. Death? It’s bound to happen at some point. Nobody lives forever. And Taxes? Taxes aren’t going anywhere. There has to be some means of collecting money to fund Medicare, our national defense, Social Security, health programs, food stamps, disability payments, as well as paying down our national debt (holy smokes, at the rate it’s climbing, we’re never going to pay it off!). If we didn’t have to pay taxes, I can assure you, few people would voluntarily contribute to any of the programs or services I just mentioned.
Why bring either topic up? I can’t help it, both have weighed heavily on my mind in recent weeks. The reason I’ve thought about ‘death’ so much lately is because it just seems to go hand-in-hand when you get a transplant. I was spared ‘death’ when I had the transplant but who can say for how long? There’s no formula to determine how long an organ will last once it’s ‘donated’. So many factors must be considered. I am making a concerted effort to be a good steward but there are no guarantees. The average lifespan of a donated kidney is 15-20 years and I’ve even heard of one unique case of a woman whose lasted 30. Being a realist, and occasionally a pessimist, my money’s on 15 years or less. Honestly, that’s not so bad! That’s 15 more than I would have had if I didn’t get the transplant. If I make it to 68 years old, I think I could ‘depart’ with a joyful heart. Having this second chance has given me the desire to realize my dreams and do far more than I ever did in the past.
In the past, I just talked about what I wanted to do and rarely followed through. I would often use the phrase, “One of these days, I’m going to XYZ.” I am using XYZ to represent the numerous things I intended to do and never did. I often talked about finally ‘tackling the home video collection’ and digitizing everything before all of the VHS tapes dried up and became unusable. I would also bring up the ongoing battle with my weight and how I would eventually get the weight off and keep it off. Nearly every morning, after chastising myself for ‘falling off the wagon’ for the thousandth time, I would set out to once-and-for-all ‘get it under control’, only to find myself pulling into the McDonald’s drive-thru and ordering a Big-Mac combo meal with a large Coke and an apple pie before the clock struck twelve. Another goal I had set for myself years ago was to complete the Rosetta Stone language program for Spanish. I bought it nearly 5 years ago and didn’t even complete the 1st lesson.
How things have changed! Those VHS tapes that I’ve been lugging around for years, that have spent nearly as much time stuffed in the closet as all of the old photos? I finally got them all digitized! It was no walk in the park but I got it done! I cannot begin to tell you how many hours I spent but when I finished converting the last tape, oh my goodness, it felt good! Fortunately, I still had my old camcorder as well as an antiquated VCR so I only had to buy software on Amazon in order to have the necessary equipment to convert the videos. I spent a ton of time working on this project but what I spent in time, I saved in cash. Have you ever looked up how much companies charge for this service? It’s unbelievable!! I also purchased 3 thumb drives with plenty of memory, transferred the content specific to each child to each designated drive, and gave them to my kids as presents.
As difficult as it was to actually dispose of the VHS tapes, I made myself. There’s always doubt that lingers, that voice that says, “What if the kids lose the thumb drives you sent or what if your computer crashes and all of those priceless videos go into the ether?” Whatever happens, I’ve made peace with it. I did what I set out to do and anything that happens beyond that is out of my control. Speaking of control, I have also been successful at ‘losing my excess weight and keeping it off’. Let’s not confuse that with being ‘thin’. I’m too old to worry about looking like Twiggy. I am also still a bit nervous about declaring ‘victory’ because I don’t want to jinx myself. Too many times in the past, I’ve stated quite confidently that I would never let myself get ‘fat’ again, only to fail miserably. However, this time, I’ve got a lot more riding on getting healthy and staying healthy than I ever did before and so far, I’m nearly a year-and-a-half in/out without any setbacks.
And can you say, “Yo hablo español?” Yes! I can say it and feel fairly confident that I can carry on a pretty clipped conversation in slow motion with another Spanish speaker and understand about one-quarter of what he or she is saying. It’s not much to brag about but I’m further along than I’ve ever been before. I set out this summer to complete the program and I actually did. Now that it’s over, there isn’t much Rosetta Stone has to offer other than additional features that I’d have to pay for which is a bummer. However, there is another program that’s available for free called Duolingo and I’ve been using it to try and keep the words fresh and not allow them to wilt away like my German. Alright, so again, you’re wondering why have I decided to talk about death and taxes and my recent accomplishments? Ok, no problem. Well, the topic of ‘death’ came up when my sister-in-law, who is an exceptional CPA, completed my tax return and made a suggestion. She said that if we were to make an IRA contribution, it could help reduce the overall amount we owe to the government.
Once I thought it over, after talking to my husband, I told her that we were just going to pay what we owe and not worry about trying to contribute anything to our IRA accounts. First of all, we don’t have a bunch of money floating around to put into an IRA account anyway, but second of all and most importantly, I don’t think I’ll live long enough to reap the benefits of one. I wouldn’t be able to even access the money until I’m at least 65 (without being penalized), and if I only make it to 68, what’s the point? I know I’m not going to make it to my 80s, it’s just not in the plans. Why set aside money now if it won’t really serve much of a purpose? If I’ve been incinerated and placed in a box, what good is the money going to do me then? I want to put it to good use now! No, I have no intention of being frivolous. It goes against everything I believe in. But if I could scrounge up $3,000, I’d rather use it for a nice vacation (although some would argue that a vacation is actually quite frivolous) rather than deposit it into an IRA account.
Now that you understand why I brought up death and taxes, you still want me to explain why I felt it necessary to discuss my recent accomplishments? The best way to help you understand is to put it this way, ‘death’ is a great motivator! When you know ‘death’ is lurking about and waiting for an opportunity to escort you to the Great Beyond, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be caught ‘wasting away’ for hours-on-end in front of the television (which is what I used to do pre-transplant). I’ve got stuff to do! I’ve got a blog to contribute to each day (until I reach my year goal and reassess how often I want to put out new material), paintings to paint, books to write, languages to learn, gardens to tend, relationships to nurture, books to read, movies to watch (although not to excess), trails to explore, and anything else that ‘floats my boat’. Our time is finite unless you believe in reincarnation. If you do, there’s a good possibility you’ll be coming back for more.
If I had to come back, I would want to come back as a wealthy person’s pampered dog. That would be ‘the life’, wouldn’t it? Knowing my luck, I’d come back as a mangy, feral dog that has to fight for every scrap of food. If you could come back, what would you desire to be? Before you reach a firm decision, I would warn you against choosing anything on the endangered species list. I don’t see a good outcome. Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading about the variety of things I discuss in my blog. I’m no poet laureate or anyone with significant credentials to speak of but I do enjoy the opportunity to share things about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. I love to write and I try to infuse humor into everything I do, and I hope I was able to make you smile, especially if you had a really crappy day. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.