All For One

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My parents and I are getting quite proficient at living together. I wouldn’t say we’re at that ‘finishing-each-others-sentences’ stage but we are becoming rather skillful at saving both time and money.

Case in point… the three of us can go out to dinner for less than $20 and still manage to take home enough food for another meal. Here’s how:

Mom and I usually split one meal so we fill up on the salad bar and add what’s leftover to our take-home container. Then we split the entree in half – she eats like a bird, anyway, so I just fill up on the fries (or rice or baked potato) and that leaves about half the main course for home.

Dad eats pretty much everything in sight – and that includes a few helpings from the salad bar, too. But he’s definitely part of the equation because we use a ‘buy-one-get-one-half-off’ deal. So he plays an integral part in our musings.

Now here’s where the time saved comes in. Mom’s really starting to hate cooking so, with a good enough deal on the table, she’s more than willing to go out to eat for two reasons:

1. No cooking today
2. No cooking (just reheating) tomorrow.

That’s because, as I previously mentioned, Mom eats like a bird – a featherlight bird – and can get by with a yogurt or some PB crackers for dinner. Dad’s the one that’ll inevitably scarf down the take-home meal. So… Win. Win. One for all and all for one!

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Me Before You

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As a former city girl, I basically walk at one speed and one speed only… Fast. I don’t consciously do it and I certainly don’t do it to prove anything to anybody. It’s just my regular gait.

So if you’re walking with me, you’d better keep up. And if you’re near me when I’m walking, you’d better be prepared to get out of my way when I pass you. If your head is down because your eyes are focused on your phone instead of where you’re headed, you’ll hear my wrath when I tell you (in no uncertain terms), “heads up.”

If I’ve just spent the better part of the last hour grocery shopping with a bunch of senior citizens who have an unlimited amount of free time on their hands (kind of like Sunday drivers only with shopping carts), you may well experience a lot of, “excuse me’s,” and “watch your backs,” and “on your lefts.” 

And when I finally get back home – I’ll be the one pushing around a heavy cart full of maybe twelve bags of groceries –  and I exit the elevator and start down the hallway, be prepared to step aside as I shout, “me before you.”

The Natural Choice

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We all have choices to make in life. Some of us tend to blame anyone and anything else but ourselves for OUR choices. It’s the American way.

If we take a ‘short cut’ home that ends up taking twice as much time, it’s the fault of the poor schmuck who drove into the tree to avoid hitting a deer.

If we smoke cigarettes or over-eat (ignoring all health warnings), it’s the fault of the manufacturers who make the products and force them into our mouths.

If we use artificial preservatives or coloring or anything outside of nature that poisons our insides, it’s the government’s fault for making those items cheaper or more readily available than their natural counterparts.

So, in conclusion, continue to eat, drink, smoke and consume massive amounts of chemically-altered products, of your own free will, knowing full well that there will always be someone, somewhere, that you can place the blame on!

The Paper Chase

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As many of you have undoubtedly tried, at one time or another, I have learned to forge my parents’ signatures. Now, before anyone gets all uppity and tells me this isn’t exactly legal, I have been asked by both my parents to perfect their signatures. Mom wants me to do it because our signatures are similar and, this way, I don’t need to drag her around with me to pick up her meds or to deposit her checks.

In Dad’s case, he just can’t see well enough to get his signature to land in the correct spot. When I’ve taken him to the bank, I have to point to the area where his signature is required. However, between the time I get his pen to the paper and he actually begins writing, he always manages to move his hand. Banks frown on signatures that end up outside the ‘write-in-this-area-only’ section.

And when it comes time to signing your name at the pharmacy counter, it’s very difficult for a sight-challenged person to write with those ridiculous pens that are attached to the machine – especially the ones with the invisible signatures.

When Dad asked me a while back to take him to buy Mom a Mothers Day card, I had to first pick out the card, then buy it (nothing says love like a card from the dollar store) and, when it came time to signing it, Dad insisted he could do that much by himself. So I let him. The end result was a card signed upside down. But we didn’t tell him that. Because we love him.

So here’s my tip when facing the inevitable paper chase:

To save both time and stress, learn to compromise and remember –  it’s the thought that counts!

Once Is Enough

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There’s a saying: Everything old is new again. The older we get, we start to really see the value of this statement. As a mom, I always found it quite amusing when one of my kids would ask if I’d heard of a particular band – one that was still around but that I remembered (with all its original members) from my own childhood.

Sometimes, when going through my closets, I know I should be gathering up items that I haven’t worn and taking them to Goodwill. Instead, I’ll try them on, see that they still fit and convince myself that they’ll come back in style someday. Remarkably, they usually do.

So… Music can still sound good after all these years. Clothing can suddenly be ‘in’ after being ‘out’ for a spell. But one thing that you should never hold onto – even if you think you’ll use it again – is the dreaded tissue.

I remember my grandmother always stashing tissues in her sleeve for possible later use. My Mom (her daughter) continues in that tradition because you never know when the world might run out of them. Granted, tissues are useful for a number of things:

1) Blowing your nose
2) Wiping off lipstick
3) Stuffing your bra (when you’re prepubescent)
4) Crying at funerals (or sad movies)

But, mostly, they’re a disposable item and (since they’re fairly easy to come by) should not be stored inside your long-sleeved shirt. Ever. Seriously, how many other ‘cleaning wipes’ do we keep on our person after they’ve been used?

The answer is an astounding None. Zero. Zilch. Tissues are light, airy and small because once the job is done… you roll ’em up into a ball and you throw them out! 

Get Up, Go

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(Unknown Author)

How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my get up and go has got up and went.
But in spite of it all I am able to grin
When I think of the places my get up has been.

Old age is golden, so I’ve heard said
But sometimes I wonder, as I get into bed.
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup
And my eyes on the table until I wake up.

Ere sleep dims my eyes I say to myself
“Is there anything else I can put on the shelf?”
And I’m happy to say as I close the door
“My friends are the same, perhaps even more.”

When I was a young thing my slippers were red
I could kick my heels high as my head.
Then when I was older, my slippers were blue
But still I could walk the whole day through.

Now I’m still older, my slippers are black
I walk to the store and puff my way back.
The reason I know my youth is all spent
My get up and go has got up and went.

But really, I don’t mind when I think with a grin
Of all the grand places my get up has been.
Since I have retired from life’s competition
I busy myself with complete repetition.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits
Pick up the paper and read the ‘obits.’
If my name is missing I know I’m not dead
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.

Musical Dining Chairs

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Last night I was having a conversation with my Mom at the dining table. I happened to sit down on ‘Dad’s’ chair because it was the closest one (and unoccupied at that particular moment). I had barely begun speaking when my Dad approached and asked me why I was sitting in ‘his’ chair.

“Because,” was my very grown-up answer. An answer, mind you, that my kids had given me countless times when they were younger. A perfectly ‘non-answer’… An answer telling me exactly nothing… Not even close to an answer and certainly not a complete sentence or even a complete thought.

But I digress.

My point, and I do have one, is that I wouldn’t purposely take his chair. Nor would I be particularly upset about getting up out of his chair… Except for the fact that, no sooner had I gotten myself up and moved to another chair, he didn’t even sit down. Not in his chair, not in my chair, not a green chair, not a blue chair (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Well, he did sit down but not in the aforementioned chair. He took the chair on the other side of the table and turned it sideways so he could see and hear the tv from less than a foot away. So why exactly did I need to get up?

I guess it’s something we never really outgrow – that need to call things our own. We don’t like to share our toys with other kids when we’re toddlers or what we did at school that day with our parents when we’re teens. We hate sharing our feelings with our significant others when we’re dating/married and definitely won’t share our self-assigned dining chair with anyone, at anytime or for any reason. Just… because!

Glass Half Empty

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Optimist VS Pessimist… That’s the question. Why would you assume the worst case scenario in every possible situation when you could just as easily choose to look for the silver lining? It almost seems like a prerequisite condition once you reach maturity. In a community where all the residents are currently in their second half of life, there are a myriad of circumstances that can be viewed from two very different perspectives:

1) The Weather – is that small cloud overhead a sign of impending doom (hurricane, tornado, tsunami)… or is it a passing shower?

2) The Birds – are they circling our terrace looking to attack… or are they on their way back to their nest to check on their baby chicks?

3) The Alarm – is it a code red (terrorist, CDC, nuclear plant)… or did some old fart accidentally hit the wrong button on the lobby intercom, again?

Yes, there are at least two ways to view any situation. And, yes, it’s always best to be prepared for any catastrophe.  But too much time spent seeing that glass as half empty can only result in one outcome… being constantly thirsty!

I’m All Ears

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In my quest to have a modicum of peace and quiet, I found myself searching online for a pair of headphones. Not just any headphones but ones that will knock out almost all outside sound. I’m not kidding. 

They make these things for people who blow leaves and who work around airplanes. So I figured they’d be the perfect complement to my living in a house where answers are yelled from room to room or even from person to person within the same room because to wear a hearing aid would insinuate that you were hard of hearing. Heaven forbid.

At first, bearing witness (unintentionally) to these verbal sparrings, I found myself peeking out the front door – making sure no one else could hear. But then the strangest thing happened. As I walked down the hallway, I could hear tvs blasting, people shouting at one another and very loud one-sided phone conversations coming from inside every single door.

So now, when I want a reprieve from the loud ‘talking,’ I simply make myself a cup of tea, get out a good book, put on my headphones and enter my own little echo chamber of quiet. The only problem is… now I can hear the steady pounding of my own heartbeat magnified in my ears!

Brain Aerobic Exercises

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I’ve been given a unique opportunity to both care for my parents and also to discover a myriad of ways to control my anger/anxiety.

Yesterday, I found Dad pacing in his room. That wasn’t the scary part though. He was also yelling and placing blame for something that had just happened only, at the time, I wasn’t aware of what that was or why it had happened.

After talking to him (not quite as calmly as I would have liked at first) I was able to figure out the problem and solve it for him. Apparently, he had been painstakingly trying to shave his face for nearly 30 minutes and had gone through an entire pack of 12 disposable razors in the process. What he didn’t realize (due to his fading eyesight) was that the razors all had covers on them. This man who had once carried me around on his shoulders to keep me from scratching, during an agonizing bout with chickenpox (thanks to my brother), was now unable to see the tiny piece of plastic that was causing him so much misery.

Here’s where the yelling and blaming part comes in…

Apparently, when you get to this point in life, you feel like the world is against you so you blame anyone and everyone for your current situation. That said: “how can you possibly tell a man, who you’ve looked up to your entire life, that it’s his fault and his alone?” 

The answer is: “you can’t.” 

So, in an effort to exonerate everyone who had just been wrongly implicated in a conspiratorial incident I, instead, used some brain aerobic exercises and just dumped out the razors into the drawer with their covers off and hoped that no future fingers ended up with nasty razor cuts!