I don’t know what there is about the number seven, but it has been quite noticeable in the world of literature.
There’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” by T.E. Lawrence, a well-respected, often-referred-to book for decades. You might know the author better as Lawrence of Arabia.
Of course, there are the seven stages of man laid out charmingly for us by Will Shakespeare in his play “As You Like It.” It is recited by Jaques in the play and was memorized by young Betty (me). You know the speech: “All the world’s a stage — and each man in his time plays many parts.”
According to our friend Will, first is the mewling, puking infant, followed by the whining schoolboy, the lover, the soldier, then a justice. The “lean and slippered pantaloon” is the sixth, and the seventh is “second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” What a dismal finish!
Today as I began my morning routine, I smiled and said to myself, “You seem to be in the seventh stage of locomotion. Aha, let’s see if that’s so.” So here I am looking back at the seven stages of locomotion for Betty Stein.
Let’s not count the first when someone else was in charge. If I moved, it was because someone carried me. Eventually, I learned to crawl and go into the kitchen to take pans out of the closet or to the piano to try reaching for the keyboard. Stage 1: crawling.
Then there came a wagon. In one album is a picture of my dad pulling me, but mostly it was one leg up on the seat while the other was on the ground pushing. It was a great way to gather leaves in the fall of the year and bring them home to show the beautiful colors I had gleaned. It was useful for hauling the pears and apples that fell to the ground when they had ripened. The wagon and I got the goodies to the kitchen door; someone inside turned them into preserves or pies. Stage 2.
The scooter was next, and there’s a photo of me in that same album with one foot on and one foot off and looking very proud. Stage 3. But I don’t remember using it to do much traveling.
Roller skates were next, taking me down West Washington to Dr. Blosser’s house or Leah Malay’s apartment or around the corner to Jane’s house. Stage 4.
Bicycle? No; my big brother had a bike, but I didn’t. Jimmy Current, who lived next door, tried to teach me to ride by thoughtfully sharing his bike, but his attempts ended in failure. I never did learn to ride a bike!
Then I was 16 and that, of course, meant a driver’s license. What fun! What excitement ! What liberation! New neighborhoods to conquer! Stage 5.
There was one restriction: My physician father had to know how to reach me because if a patient called and needed him, Dad needed to get to that patient. So home I’d go, and off he went. Then my mother got a car and that eased the “emergency” episodes. The car became an integral part of life.
Age 70. Arthritis has been a challenge of sorts for several years, but then my favorite form of locomotion, walking, began to need some assistance: Canes became part of my life (Stage 6 – canes while walking).
Almost three years ago I fell and learned the cane needed to be retired to be replaced by a walker. A walker! That’s for old folks! Well, Mr. Shakespeare, I still have some teeth of my own, thank you, and I can see to read and watch my children and grandchildren become wonderful people and delight in my great grandchildren’s growth and read the notes so I can play my favorite nocturnes and etudes and show tunes. Sans taste, he wrote: no way; peanut butter with marshmallow sauce; Zesto ice cream dipped in chocolate; ginger preserves; home made applesauce. Come on! What a variety of treats I can taste!
Sans everything? No way. I have everything!
Well, Mr. Shakespeare, to each his own seven. Here are my seven stages of locomotion.