Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Think We Should Replace...Well...Everything

Sometimes it feels like your life is starting to fall apart. Things you own get older and aren't built as well as they used to be, so they all start breaking and needing to be replaced, usually at the same time. You get older, which means that everyone around you also is getting older, which inevitably means sickness and loss.

What I don't understand is why it seems that everything falls apart at the same time.

As far as things go, we try to get as much out of the objects we purchase as we possibly can. But it has become apparent to me that manufacturers are making their products less sturdy so that when something breaks, the cost of fixing it suddenly doesn't seem to make as much sense as the cost to replace it and have the newest and latest.

The shelf life of a major appliance these days appears to be about six to seven years. We have already replaced the dishwasher in our six and a half year old house. The refrigerator's ice maker has broken on numerous occasions and clearly is going to have to be replaced at some point, when Justin finally gets completely fed up with fixing it. Or something else on the refrigerator breaks. If two parts go, that will probably spell "garage soda cooler" for that particular piece of equipment.

My washing machine is making a horribly obnoxious squeaking noise as the agitator spins. I do a lot of laundry, so this is one particular machine that I don't think we could live without. I don't even think we have a laundromat here in town. The dryer has been putting rust streaks on our whites for a couple of years now. We think it's because of a metal plate in the back wall of the dryer that Justin can't get to and that cannot be replaced. I see two more appliances on their way to wherever it is they go. But not yet.

We have three cars that are completely paid for. Justin owns a 2005 sports car with fewer than 55,000 miles on it because he works from home and it is garage kept. He does a lot of the maintenance on the car himself and plans to put the vehicle in his will. The kids will have to fight for it. My car (or what was my car) is a 2002 Ford with about 73,000 miles on it. Also because I don't go anywhere (agoraphobia - it's great for mileage). It has also been garage kept and we are the original owners. It's in pretty good shape, but a belt is going here, brakes are going there. Every year, there are two or three repair bills on it. It's much cheaper than a new car, but still aggravating when we aren't expecting a car repair bill.

When Ben turned 18, we bought him a 2000 Jeep. He loves that Jeep. But it is 11 years old and has almost 150,000 miles on it. It started doing this thing where the engine will turn off when you are sitting at a stop light. You can turn it right back on again, but it started to scare me that he was driving this car all the way down to school and over to work. The thing was being driven 6 days a week and obviously, that means more mileage and, inevitably, more repair bills. I decided the thing to do was to give him my Ford (with half the mileage) and I would drive the Jeep, since it's rare that I go very far. Or out. (I next plan to leave this recliner tomorrow for a doctor's appointment at 2:00. Unless Justin pries me out of it to help with dinner. Or maybe when I go to bed tonight.)

And then there's my computer. It's six years old and works fine most of the time. But it's technologically behind the times. Justin has rebuilt it at least once for me, but the programs (Microsoft) require so much memory that there isn't enough memory left for important things. Like anti-viral programs. And so we are purchasing more memory to make sure that the computer is protected, but once you start to become outdated in your technology and things start to go wrong, it's almost cheaper to buy new, just like everything else.

I started writing this with a point and it wasn't that we need all new stuff (seriously). My point is that just like our things, our bodies are getting older and wearing out. All of a sudden, we are starting to see people even younger than us die for various reasons related to just being alive. It's frightening to not be young and invincible anymore. (Not that we ever were really invincible, but you really do have a better chance of not getting horrifically sick or dying as a teenager.)

The other thing we are trying to figure out how to cope with is that our grandparents' generation is, for the most part, gone, and our parents' generation is getting older. I think we are a part of what they call the "sandwich" generation. We are not only raising our kids; we (in general) are having to care more and more for our parents as they age. With the economy going to total crap and social security being a total joke as far as being enough to live on, I imagine that a lot of people who thought they were going to be independent right on into their 80's or 90's are finding themselves turning to family not only because they need help physically. I'd bet there are a lot of families who are living together out of financial necessity.

But that's off topic.

2011 has been an awful year for our family. Bad things have happened that are beyond our comprehension. And continue to happen. It's like a rock that started at the top of a hill and just keeps picking up speed and other rocks.

When we bought this house in 2005, we figured that we were going to be able to live in it maybe indefinitely. At least until the kids were out of high school, another 7 or 8 years away. (Please don't ask me to do the math right this minute.) We would see the trees we planted as saplings become large, established trees. We would paint and decorate and live in this house until we were ready to talk about retirement and were downsized to needing a smaller nest. Now, our plans may need to change.

It occurred to me last night that when my parents move to South Carolina next year, we will no longer have any real ties to this small town we have been calling home. We moved here to get away from the noise, the congestion, the traffic of the place we had been living for 13 years and we indeed accomplished that. But there are a lot of small towns in other places that would allow us to be closer to the people who matter. And I think that right now, Justin's family could use a little shoring up.

Maybe it's time to think about picking up stakes and looking for that farmhouse I've been kind of thinking about a little further south of here. Not right away. But once Ben gets himself transferred to the school he wants to go to, it might be time to think about heading out of northwestern Virginia.

I always wanted to raise my kids in one place because we moved around so much when I was growing up. But the other thing I've always wanted for my kids is for them to be close to their relatives and that is something I never seem to be quite able to accomplish. No matter how much I wanted to have the grandparents right down the street, it just never worked out that way. Maybe there's something we can do to remedy that. I know there's no way to be close to both families, but it sure would be nice to be close to at least one of them.

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