What better day to face limits of ability than your birthday? Any day will do, of course, but when the birthdays accumulate to higher numbers previously unthinkable, then fate’s face appears in the mirror.
I was summoned for jury duty in the federal courts downtown Chicago. This is something I had hoped for many times. The legal system. The courts. Justice. The cutting edge of critical questions concerning one person, one act, one accusation. Guilt. Innocence. Which would apply? What are the facts. And the logic.
Yes. I wanted to face those difficult questions because I felt the need to both test my ability to focus and maintain logic, while holding someone’s fate in the palm of my hands. This work is done every day. By ordinary people coming from ordinary lives and neighborhoods. The same applies to me. How would I function in that setting? It is a duty solemn and central to our form of governance.
Of course, I accepted jury duty.
Now, on the cusp of actually doing that duty, I realize I would have trouble fulfilling it. The jury would be in the federal court building downtown on Dearborn Street. They would pay for parking, mileage and daily compensation. Money was not the issue. The issue embraced these realities, my realities: limited ability to stand, walk without help. I have a walker/rollator for that; it has a seat in the event I tire and need to sit. The energy required to drive downtown, not get lost, find the parking garage, maneuver into an appropriate space near an elevator, and then find my way out of the facility and toward the court building. All of that would take concentration and energy. Then the concern of how much oxygen it would take and if I should bring my portable oxygen unit? Once there and ‘on duty’, the return trip home loomed: finding the car, exiting the garage and entering traffic, then home, I began to have doubts.
Rocky was horrified I had agreed to jury duty. All he could do was shake his head!
Tomorrow I am to call the court jury system to learn if I am likely to be scheduled for a case; if so, I make the trip the next day. If not, I have a reprieve of one day; I am to call the following day for status and every day for my term of duty for one week or the length of a trial, whichever is longer.
As the date approaches fear builds: can I do this? Would I fail getting there on time? Would I fail getting there at all? How complicated would the consequences be? How embarrassing?
I hate admitting I cannot do this – the jury duty itself – or the logistics of the coming and going. Health is one thing; stamina is another. Saving face yet another. Which is more difficult – being unable, or admitting it?
Stamina of mind and logic is not the question. The question centers on the body supporting the physicality of the doing. Am I ready to accept such limitation?
This is the reality of aging and learning to live with the consequences of it.
I still do not know what I will decide. Perhaps that alone should keep me from jury duty!
PS: I called the Juror's hot line and left a message. Later the same day they provided me an email letter excusing me from jury duty. That part is over. Now on to life's limitations!
June 18, 2021