The Mountain Times

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The lists we make

My lovely wife, Kelly, came back from the doctor's the other day with a pocket-sized list. It was for all prescriptions, why you take them and who prescribed them. The assumption is that we don't know all this, which is a bit insulting.  But, of course, we often don't. So, it makes sense.

If that were the only list, life would be simple. But it isn't. We all know about shopping lists, To Do lists and Honey Do lists.  Somehow the Internet and smart phones haven't made those go away.

When we go on a trip, we make a list of the things we are taking so we can check them off twice: once to pack and make sure everything we want comes along, then once more to pack for the return trip to make sure everything comes back. (We started doing this after the time I forgot all of my shirts.)

On vacations, we have lists of the things we want to see and the places we want to go. At work, our bosses give us lists of what they want done or we give lists to others for the same purpose.

Santa has a list and he checks it twice. Almost every shopping website has a "wish list".  I don't know what makes it to Santa's list anymore, but I'm sure he keeps it anyway. Lists are like that; once you start it's hard to quit.

We keep lists of birthdays even though they are in our computers and the reminders pop up every year.  Same with personal phone books, they are just a different form of lists.  We have everyone's numbers in our phones but nobody throws out the old list because, well because you never know.

Post-its are little sticky lists with just an item or two on them.  It seems like everyone uses Post-its.  When our daughter was little, she was so used to seeing things on little yellow square papers, she would insist that any promise to her be on one.

That's the power of lists. Writing things down on paper somehow continues to be more real than entering them into our phones.  We can see the list, feel it, fold it, put it in a pocket as we go out the door to the store. There is something official that feels like the things on the list are going to happen.

Lists may be old-fashioned, but when items get done, we get to check them off, line them out, and then wad up the paper and toss it into the recycle bin. It's officially done and there is physical proof.  You can't do that with a smart phone.

Aging in place, it doesn't happen by accident but there is probably a list for it.

Scott Funk is Vermont's leading Aging in Place advocate, writing and speaking around the state on issues of concern to retirees and their families.