Human Condition: My empty calendar made me check my gratitude attitude | Entertainment/Life

My calendar and I have a love-hate relationship. Why does a retired empty-nester need a planner? I didn’t expect to be so busy.

What a wonderful surprise to have a life so full that I still needed to plan and to remember what I planned.

Many times, people have asked: “What do you do with your time?”

Almost every retired person I know would answer: “Ha! I’m busier than ever! How did I have time to work?” But when they asked, “What did you do this week?” my mind went blank. What did I do? The planner helped me see and remember that I actually did do quite a bit!

My planner was chock-full for March, April and May. I started putting smiley faces for each grandchild who was coming to stay. My older grandsons play baseball for LSU, so purple and gold stickers marked game days. I used other symbols and abbreviations so I could see at-a-glance what I needed to do — meetings, appointments, church, Bible studies, trips to see my out-of-town children and grandchildren, lunches with friends.

Checking off to-do’s feels good. At the end of a month, I loved to look at all I did. Each smiley face carried a memory.

Even so, the calendar was at times a source of frustration. Sometimes it made me tired just to look at it! In February, I looked at the calendar for spring and wondered how I could accomplish all. Where would I get the stamina to run the errands, do all my “stuff” and be at Alex Box many evenings for baseball games? But, I was oh so excited!

Like all of you, on March 12, 2020, my calendar became obsolete. Baseball season was canceled. I was no longer needed to babysit. In fact, no little people visit my house. Every appointment was marked “canceled.” There would be no trips to Houston or Colorado or visits from family there.

For weeks, I actually couldn’t bear to look at the calendar. It hurt too much. It sat on my table as a memorial to all I lost this spring, so I hid it way. As I remembered how I had complained about being busy, I cringed.

Through most of April, I didn’t take it out, but soon I realized I was missing family birthdays. Friends didn’t get birthday cards. Some things on the calendar still mattered.

Now it doesn’t hurt as much to look at the purple and gold and the little smiley faces on the calendar. I missed a lot this spring, but I am so grateful that I had a lot to miss.

This crisis has given me compassion for those who are lonely and isolated. A time will come when the grandchildren are grown and busy, and my calendar won’t be so full. I’m not ready for that.

The stay-at-home order was a wake-up call to check my gratitude attitude!

How fitting that the planner I bought for this year has a page at the end of every month to list things I am grateful for. It’s a list I won’t ignore.

What fun it will be when the planner begins to fill up again. I’ll try not to complain.

— Boé lives in Denham Springs

Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to The Human Condition at or The Advocate, Living, 10705 Rieger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. There is no payment, and stories will be edited. Authors should include their city of residence, and, if writing about yourself, a photo.

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