By Jim “Lazyboy” Dickens
It has been a long time since a post. After shoulder surgery, I was in a sling for 5 weeks and learned the art of doing not much. The holidays got me going for a while and I made my last post. It was painful to type so I stopped. I have used the pain in my shoulder as a crutch and my shoulder exercises as an excuse. Now with the Covid 19 Pandemic, I am banging off the walls and realizing my folly.
In January, I made it to Oxford, England for Uncle Peter’s memorial service. As a senior researcher, professor and golf team coach/ manager at Oxford you can imagine we heard some impressive stories and met some cool people. For example, my uncle’s lab produced people and science that led to the invention of the lithium ion battery and a 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for one of his students, Stanley Whittingham. Or, my second cousin Priscilla is a medical doctor married to one of the top ten all time rugby players in the world. I decided to enjoy these stories instead of feeling pedestrian being the brother that didn’t earn a Blue in golf at Oxford.
While the passing of my uncle Peter was sad, it was great to connect with many Dickens’ relatives. At one point, we even had a pub crawl past two in the morning. With english pub regulations, it’s quite a feat to be included in the post closing party at midnight. When my brother, Tim, starts talking with his hands above his shoulders nothing surprises me.
My cousin Simon, a fellow pub crawler, and I went to have lunch in the Cotswolds with my second cousin and other brother, Colonel Hugh Dickens (retired) of the Royal Lancers and his wife, Zeuss Books editor and horse breeder, Rosie DeCourcy. Hugh and Rosie have 5 golden retrievers, a perfect black lab, Fiske, and we had lunch at a proper english upscale pub, totally great. Finally, many thanks to my Rome based cousin, Alison, who organized and oversaw a wonderful service and celebration of her father’s life.
So upon returning from England I took a woe is me attitude, binge watching TV, staring at my smart phone and occasionally doing something productive. As opposed to doing a real work out, I would do my shoulder exercises. Wife, Lori, and my physical therapist, Dr. Drew, my son’s Jack’s college roommate, were very forgiving.
Luckily, my wife got me to some warm weather in Scottsdale AZ for a long weekend. We attended our first spring training baseball games and hiked among the Saguaro cactus. We had a happy dinner under the starts with Denise, Darrin and some of their spawn. Friends, Barrett and Susie talked me through a rejuvenating five day fast designed to help us live longer better. Their humor and encouragement were appreciated.
I can now swing a golf club and cast a fly rod. Strength and flexibility are improving with pain declining. Though, sheltering in place, trips to California, Belize and Mexico have been cancelled with two trips to Florida in May in jeopardy. New realizations are dawning on me.
I still sleep in late more often. I catch myself looking at my phone or watching TV instead of reading, writing or speaking something substantial. What to do for dinner has become a major daily item. I now understand why some retirees get bored and go back to work. I get why it seems older people are overly concerned about mundane things. It’s happening to me.
Fortunately, I know how rewarding doing more with freedom is and going back to work will not happen. It’s time to get back to great experiences with great people. And, it will be done with greater appreciation. Look for another blog post soon on a mild personal metamorphosis in early 2020. Self pity and banging off the walls is over.