He’s losing his marbles – one by one!

There are times when we age that big decisions have to be made. But as long as there are marbles left in Doug Mackie’s big jar, he doesn’t have to face the hard realities his daughter proposes to raise with him.

This simple jar of marbles  is an excellent time keeper.
This simple jar of marbles is an excellent time keeper.

By Doug Mackie

As we age, many of us tend to put off making decisions until they are made for us by others. Where can/should I live? When should I stop driving? It would be beneficial to all concerned if some planning were done now for the future, and we were involved.

I am male, 72 years old, prostate cancer survivor, six children aged 21 to 48. I am very active in the community. My children live in Vancouver, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. My younger children aged 21 and 23 will likely move elsewhere when their studies are completed.

I have hobbies which keep me busy. I preserve jams and jellies, about 250 jars last year, and take photographs which I make into everyday cards.

Setting a deadline

I am very involved with Mensheds Manitoba Inc., a volunteer grassroots organization run by experienced men for men. Mensheds has programs for men that keep them busy, shoulder to shoulder, pursuing their hobbies or short-term volunteering in the community. Men keeping themselves active makes for healthier relationships at home and in the community, and allows men to “feel better” about themselves.

Last summer, one of my daughters said to me, “Dad, you have until you are aged 80 to get everything done you wanted to do. Then we are going to sit down and decide together where you are going to live. I don’t mean you have to stop doing your various activities but let’s set a line in the sand now to have that open and frank discussion.”

I loved the idea! Decision time is far enough away not to be an immediate threat. After all, change can be intimidating and somewhat disturbing. This conversation, initiated by my daughter, has opened my mind to realize that life does change and how we can plan for the future now.

Well, about losing my marbles! I have a large jar where I have placed several hundred marbles. Each individual marble represents a Saturday between now and my 80th birthday. Every Saturday, I take one marble out of the jar and leave it somewhere during the day. When there are no more marbles in the jar, it will be decision time to make a plan for the next 10 years of my life.

Sounds simple, just lose that marble in the grass or out the car window. But that does not seem to be the case for me. Each Saturday as I reach into the jar for my next marble, to lose, I realize that another week has gone by. I reflect on the past week and what the following week may bring. I find this centering and mentally healthy.

So where have I lost my marbles so far? One was placed in a “squirrel’s hole” in an oak tree in my front yard. Another was dropped into a creek near where I live. While I was visiting with my grandchildren in Saskatoon, one was placed on top of a sign downtown. The children loved doing this with me!

Booking time

A marble was left behind a bookcase in the Manitoba legislative building.

One has gone to Burundi and another to Cambodia. How so, you ask? Well, I was at International Hope Canada on two Saturdays. IHC was shipping a container of reclaimed medical supplies to these countries. What will someone there wonder about the marble they will find in a box of rubber gloves or in a box with a surgical mask. Will the finders take that “lost” marble home to a child? I hope so.

Losing my marbles has turned into an exciting time for me. Each Saturday I have a challenge and a task. The next time you find a marble, remember what it represents to me.

If any of you have a bag of marbles at home which you no longer use, I am still a few hundred short in my jar!

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