I was five years old in 1937 in the heart of the Great Depression. I had few toys, but my one most treasured possession was a little red wagon. I hauled everything in it, coasted where I could with one knee in the wagon and the other leg pushing. That little red wagon was the joy of my life. And then the handle broke, the metal just fell apart, and I could no longer play with my wagon.
I remember clearly the day when I was told to go up to Grandpa Wasden's, three-quarters of a mile or so from where we lived. I walked up the road and went over to his blacksmith shop, and he presented me with my wagon, the handle welded together again. Grandpa Wasden was a self taught master at fixing things and the forge and anvil in his blacksmith shop are part of our indelible memories of his life. With a light heart and, I am sure, a smile on my face, I pulled my treasured wagon back to our house.
When things are broken, we try to fix them. Some things we can fix, other things are not fixable. We feel a sense of relief and, some times, a sense of joy when we can fix something that is dear or important to us or that we need in our daily lives. And we feel a sense of despair when we realize that we must cast something aside or accept things as they are and make the best of them.
As we grow older, our bodies begin to betray us, and we seek fixes and repairs for whatever we can find remedies to help us. The fixes and repairs become more problematic, more uncertain, the older we get. And, at times, age is no respecter of betrayals in the ways our bodies work. One of the most difficult lessons in life is to learn to fix the things we can fix and to live with the things we cannot. Typically, this means our activites are curtailed; we can no longer walk or run as we once could, our hearts act up in uncomfortable ways, the rows of our pill bottles expand from year to year, and the frequency of our doctor's visits seems to multiply. Our bodies, once free from pain, are often racked with excruciating pain. And life becomes uncertain and unsettling.
Out of all of the experiences and changes and attempts to fix the things we can fix, though, our lives become more peaceful, more tranquil and settled, when we learn to live with what we have been blessed with. Each morning, we have another day, another sunrise, and each night the curtain on the world comes down and we welcome the dark and the rest that comes with it. And, over time, our thoughts go back to the little red wagons in our lives, and to the joys we experienced when we could fix them. And then we thank heaven once more for the moment that is now ours, for the chance we have to fix what we can, to mend the fences, to take take care of business, and to find the happiness and peace from having done all we can do to take care of ourselves and those whom we love.