The Golden Years

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(author unknown)

I cannot see,
I cannot pee.
I cannot chew,
I cannot screw.
My memory shrinks,
My hearing stinks.
No sense of smell,
I look like hell.
My body is drooping,
I have trouble pooping.
The golden years have come at last
The golden years can kiss my ass!

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Summer Survival Guide

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Summertime… and the livin’ is easy. Oh, Mr. Gershwin sure had it right. That’s how I remember my childhood summers – playing outside in the warm sunshine till it was time to come in for dinner; eating dripping ice cream cones before they melted down my arm; and going to ball games where the sounds and smells were like coming home.

Huh… funny how times change.

Now, as I sit inside my air-conditioned home, I can hear the visiting grandkids of our neighbors running around outside, screaming and having fun. And then I hear my Dad’s voice – yelling at them to be quiet from the comfort of his lounge chair in the living room (“bratty kids”“why can’t you go play somewhere else?”).

Later on, when the sun starts to set, we go out on our terrace to relax and breathe in the cooling air. I look over at my Dad and see him not sitting still but, rather, swatting away at the pollen endlessly blowing from the trees and the bees that have moved on from the flowers to our private domain.

When we finally surrender to the natural order of summer and come inside to watch the ball game on tv, we’re barely into the first inning when I hear Dad yelling at the screen (“you moron” – “I coulda caught that ball” – “are you blind?”).

Ahhh, the sounds of summer. The only thing missing is the smell of stale beer and sauerkraut.

And if you listen really hard, you can almost hear yourself thinking, “how many weeks till fall…?!”

Places People Meet

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When living in a co-op or condo community, you’re bound to run into your neighbors at some point. In our case, since my parents pretty much never leave their home for social occasions, that meeting of people tends to take place in the elevator.

It’s a very short ride so not much gossiping occurs during the trip down to the lobby. Once downstairs, people either head to their respective mailboxes or to their garages.

I’ve lived in many towns and I’m not one of those people who tends to run into friends and neighbors at the supermarket. Even when my kids were small and had various groups of friends, I seldom ran into their friends’ parents or their teachers or their coaches outside of school.

But here, where a large majority of homeowners are retired and/or widowed and have nothing but time on their hands, running into someone – anywhere – is pretty much a given.

Some of my favorite meeting places are:

1) The Gym – where they often fight over the single stationary bike (and the tv remote)

2) The Pool – where they often fight over the single lap lane (and the one remaining noodle)

3) The Clubhouse – where everyone wants to invite their entire family over for Thanksgiving (because who wants all those people in their home?)

4) The Clubhouse, again – where men and women have separate poker games (and heaven help them when they’re scheduled at the same time)

But I guess I’d have to say that my number one favorite place that people meet here is… the semi-annual homeowners meeting. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. People come out of the woodwork to air their grievances and hear what catastrophes everyone else is dealing with. I almost expect to see Madame Defarge, happily knitting away, while corporate heads roll under the scrutiny of the elderly!

That Changes Everything

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When you look down at your hands and don’t recognize them as your own… that changes everything. When you have an ongoing conversation with someone who isn’t actually there… that changes everything. And when you have to center yourself on the edge of a chair and push as hard as you can with both hands to stand up… that changes everything, too.

No one expects life to remain the same for always. Most of us can accept that and learn to adapt. Change is hard but it shouldn’t be impossible – one would think…

So, what do you do if someone you love refuses to accept change?

You can’t just leave them alone in a world that no longer exists. You must help them acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. Brighten up dark rooms with color, place familiar objects within reach and keep their spirits up at all times.

There are creams and lotions on the market that supposedly remove wrinkles and age spots; books-on-tape that can keep you company when you’re alone or lonely and canes or walkers that can help you get around faster and easier. But only YOU can choose to change!

Blue Plate Special

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If you look up the word ‘BLUE’ in the dictionary, some of the synonyms listed are:

  • lewd
  • obscene
  • impure
  • locker-room

Really? Yet, when our elders eat a less expensive dinner at an earlier hour than most of the population, it’s called a ‘blue plate special.’ When an elderly woman dyes the gray out of her hair, it’s described as being ‘blue hair.’ And if you live in some states where they have county fairs and your pie or your jam wins a ‘blue ribbon,’ that’s considered a good thing, right?

So what’s with all the negativity? 

If asked what your favorite color is, a large majority of pollees will respond: “blue.” After all, the sky appears to us in a myriad of beautiful shades of blue. Certain bodies of water have also been described as such. How is it, then, that when you’re not at your absolute best, you’re ‘feeling blue?’

My solution is this: don’t be ‘green with envy.’ Be ‘tickled pink’ and always strive for that ‘red-carpet treatment!’

Love You More

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I can’t speak for everyone but, for as long as I can remember, Mom and I always had a very special way that we ended our conversations:

ME: “Love you.”

MOM: “Love you more.”

It’s a simple statement that speaks volumes. It’s not something I say to just anyone and it’s not necessarily a measure of the amount of love I feel for a person. It just happened one day and then continued to be a ‘thing’ forever after.

To this day, I always end both my phone calls and (now) my texts with my sons by telling them I love them. It’s not that they need reminding – it’s just something I do. The best part about it is, as old as they are, they still say it back. And you can’t put a price tag on that!

#NameThatTune challenge… name 3 Love songs (with the word ‘love’ in the title) that have a special meaning to you. Mine are:

1) Love Is Blue

2) Love Me Do

3) Woman In Love

Dog’s Best Friend

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I can barely remember a time in my life when we didn’t have a dog. My first dog’s name was Sporty. The next one was called Sporty II (This is a custom I’ve never been fond of where, after a beloved pet dies, you run right out and get another one, just like it, and rename it as if it’s a ‘junior’).

Regardless, that’s exactly what happened when I returned home from college in my sophomore year. I couldn’t even look at this poor animal, let alone call him by my (other) dog’s name. Of course it didn’t take me long at all to fall in love with this dopey dog-clone (I mean that in the nicest way as most black labs ARE kinda dopey).

Then, last in a line of large, not-too-bright dogs, came Sheeba. She was found as a young pup, having been thrown away in a garbage can. A friend of the family immediately called us – knowing we would, without hesitation, take on this poor, discarded dog. And we did. And we were sure that, when her life ended, we were done having dogs. And we were… until Jett.

Jett was adopted when my kids were fairly young (we had lost another dog, Ricky – a Chihuahua/Terrier mix – before that. Ricky survived life in the city, getting snuck into school while I attended Juilliard, my marriage, my firstborn, my second born and then a few years more till he was just shy of 15).

Sadly, Jett came to us with a lot of baggage that we weren’t fully capable of handling at the end. So off to my devoted parents he went for his last year of life. And he lived a very spoiled life – spending most of his time in a doggie diaper, on my Dad’s lap, in front of the tv.

So, now, my Dad spends as much time as he can, petting and talking to all the dogs in our building. It’s not the same (by any means) as having his own, but they can all somehow sense that he is truly dog’s best friend!

#AdoptAPet #ClearTheShelters #SpayAndNeuter #MansBestFriend

Keep The Change

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Every ‘once in a blue moon’ I hear a phrase that sticks with me and makes me smile. As children we were told ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ and ‘if you make that face again, it’ll stick.’

These days, when I ask Mom or Dad for money for something (that they’ve asked me to pick up for them), their response is: “did I ask you for money every time I drove you somewhere (to music lessons/ rehearsals/ friends houses, etc)?” But they give it to me. And then, when I hand them their change they say, “keep the change,” – as if that $.31 ‘could buy me a cup of coffee.’

But the scariest part of all, for some of us, is when we hear ourselves saying those very same things to our own kids. Suddenly, we feel really old… probably because we are!

Grandparents At Play

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There’s something very calming about rocking chairs… They’re pretty, they’re sturdy, they rock and you can fall asleep on them. And yet very few people actually own them. Only in certain parts of the country will you see them on front porches.

But do you ever see anyone actually sitting and rocking?

I realize we all work too hard and seldom take the time to just sit and relax – maybe watch a sunset or a rain shower. But wouldn’t it be nice if at, say, 4pm everyday you were required to just sit and rock for maybe 10 minutes?

Of course, the time would probably be spent checking phone messages or playing games or texting. That’s why we need to look to our elders as examples. Grandparents know how to play that game (mostly because they’re not consumed with our generation’s need to stay connected). When they see an unoccupied rocker, they sit and they rock. Period.

So why is it that, on any given day, at any given time, these chairs remain still? I’d like to think that all the grandparents are somewhere, happily engaging in grandparent-y activities. But the reality is… they’re more likely at rest than at play!

Always A Parent

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As a parent myself I understand the need to know, at all times, that your children are safe. To that end, I always hope (ok, full disclosure… I demand) that my sons let me know when they arrive home from vacation or from a long car trip or even from visiting me.*

Just because your babies leave the nest and have their own lives, doesn’t mean you ever stop worrying about them. It’s a natural feeling – whether they’re off to college or on a business trip or visiting friends and family for the holidays.*

In my case, I’m in my 50’s and I’m living with my parents. You’d think the neuroses (I mean the loving care) would lessen – when I’m only traveling to a nearby town to work for a few hours and then returning home. Alas… NO. Even then I’m expected to call when I arrive safely at my destination and then announce myself upon my arrival home in one piece.

Truth be told, it’s nice to know someone cares about me that much. It would, however, be a lot less of a burden if my parents could understand the concept of simple texting. But that’s just not the case. Instead, it’s a classic case of Once A Parent, Always A Parent!

*Hint, Hint! 😉

NOTE: I dedicate this post to my parents, Carol and Philip, on the occasion of their 59th wedding anniversary. LOVE YOU!