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I read somewhere that good health includes five elements:

  1. Physical
  2. Intellectual
  3. Spiritual
  4. Family and friends
  5. Community, both local and global.

Here at Vanaprastha, we spend most of our time with elements two through five. We check news feeds and email, read widely and write every day, meet with writing groups and friends and attend church. What surprised me, when I stopped to think about it, was how much time I spend on physical health.

Food, shelter, clothing are the basics plus exercise, personal hygiene and sleep. Modern conveniences certainly help with meal preparation, cleaning, laundry and hygiene. What would happen if some of those conveniences disappeared?

Early last week, Keith and I found out.

“Things come in threes,” Mother always said, and so it was for us. First, one of the pumps in the Geothermal/HVAC system locked up – no air conditioning. Then the water tank associated with that system started to leak. Finally, we hoped, the hot water heater for the house developed a pinhole leak in the tank. To stem the flow of water running across the garage floor, we turned the water to the tank off – no hot water.

ceilingfanOur HVAC serviceman shored up the leak in the Geothermal hot water tank and ordered a new pump which he installed this morning. In the interim, Keith and I resorted to new, old ways of keeping cool: ceiling fans and what Mother Nature provided with windows open.

Since we grew up without air conditioning, having the windows open to keep cool felt like turning back the hands of time. Outside sounds and smells permeated the air. Except for some humidity, the weather mostly cooperated, that is, no beastly summer heat. Thus, old-fashioned air conditioning was rather lovely. I think we’ll try it again.

The lack of hot water created more of a challenge. In my opinion, hot water is one of the wonders of the world. When I first started teaching at Ursuline Academy of Dallas back in the late 70s, the powers-that-be, concerned about faculty turnover, asked the faculty, “What would it take for you to stay?” I responded: a retirement program and hot water in the faculty bathroom. Within a few years, both my wishes were fulfilled. I stayed at Ursuline for 25 years.

waterheaterForward to June 2014, I reverted to heating water in the microwave to wash dishes. I could have used the cook top but didn’t want to add to the heat in the house. We washed our bodies in cold water. I admit to complaining. Keith weighed the costs of listening to my whining versus cleaning up the leak. He turned on the water to the hot water tank. Two minutes. I took a glorious shower and washed my hair.

We should have a new 50-gallon water heater installed later this afternoon. Then I can run the dishwasher and the washing machine and take another warm shower.

I think I’ll stay with Keith for 25 years. Maybe more.

What does it take for you to stay?

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