Survival School

In the Air Force we had Survival School where you learned to live off the land,  you were dropped off on a mountain and had to make it from point A to point B with help from a manual and a few words from an instructor, only if you got in trouble.  The crews lived off fish and rabbits while the instructor ate the steaks he brought along or had delivered on the route.  It took place over a period of a week and you suddenly had to start making decisions on your own if you wanted to stay warm or eat.

I was thinking, maybe someone should write a manual and be the instructor for people who are dropped off at point A and go from living as a “crew” for a long period of time to suddenly being  put in a place where you have to start making decisions all on your own.  The death of my wife was like going to a year of survival school, after our 58 years of living as a crew.  Suddenly everything that required a decision effected only me and was decided only by me.    

I was on my own now, retired with no clocks to worry about so if I wanted to sleep ‘til 11 I could, but that meant skipping breakfast and how about the morning medications,  no can’t sleep ‘til 11.  No one to discuss it with and if they (the family and friends) see you talking to yourself you may be going to the “home”.  So you compromise,  sleep till 8 and if you go to bed as usual, after the 11PM news,  that’s a good amount of sleep, but I like Letterman and that would mean another hour.  I read somewhere that old people don’t need 8 hours of sleep every night so maybe…oh Lord, another decision to make.

When do I want to go to sleep and how long do I want to sleep?  I also had to decide what I wanted to watch on Television and as it turns out that wasn’t a big  decision, there is little on that is worth watching.

Next thing on the agenda were my meals.  I was going to have to decide what I wanted to gather and how I was going to prepare it and what times of the day would be mealtime.

Maybe just stick with 8 o’clock and 12 noon and 5 o’clock, like we had done for 58 years but if I sleep later, I’ll have to move them up.  I could just go with two meals a day with some snacks later. Just don’t tell the kids.

I have the added problem of being confined to a wheelchair and a Scooter.  Have to depend on the sons and daughters-in-law for some help with gathering of the meals, I love to cook but loss of strength in the hands has made Frozen Dinners look better and better.  

That brings up another decision, just how often do I need to run the Dish Washer to make sure I have enough clean dishes to eat from. And how about the laundry what’s the best days of the week to do the laundry?  Most of the logistical problems were solved and things seemed to be getting underway smoothly.

Then  came the biggest problem of them all, being alone and lonesome. It was almost unbearable at first, like being by myself  on that mountain with only squirrels and rabbits to keep me company.  I would sit, sometimes for hours, at the patio doors watching the clouds roll by or at night looking up at the stars or the moon.  At this juncture, point B seemed too far away for me to ever reach it. 

I kept telling myself to give it time, time heals all wounds, as they say, but I found it harder and harder to convince myself that  anything could make a difference. I muddled through for about 8 months, just coping with each day as it came and indeed, time had made some difference but I still needed a reason to get to that point B. 

Then by chance, by the Grace of God or the intercession of someone’s prayer, an opportunity came up to do something I had wanted to do all of my life.  I was given the chance to put to paper, thoughts and feelings that I can share with you on subjects that are near and dear to my heart and some trivial information that you may or may not need or want to hear.

It has been a year and I think I can say that I have arrived safely at Point B, thanks to the support of my family, the prayers and good wishes of all my friends and the encouragement and support of an Editor who I also consider to be a dear friend.

Don Langrehr


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3 Responses to Survival School

  1. Jason K. says:

    Good blog today. My father too somtimes struggles with what to do for the day which I think he loves. He is retired and now in his 70s but has found what he loves to do which is write code. Although this sounds like a strange and complicated hobby to pickup in your later years, he really enjoys writing macros and other formulas to micro manage his investments and to track growth daily from multiple websites and multiple funds. I hope mine will be music when I get older. However at some point I imagine I will have to find something else to do once I can’t finger the chords anymore and there is only so much Suduku a man can do in a day. I think it boils down to doing things that you love and keeping your mind fresh and engaged. I am so glad to hear that you found something to keep you happy and busy. I know readers like me appreciate your wisdom and usually a good laugh each week. Keep on Truckin’! 😉

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great story. Your physical strength may have diminished, but your courage and determination are stronger than ever.

  3. Robin says:

    Our body may become weak but our inner strength is what keeps us going! I think you are doing great. You have overcome so much.

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