My Greatest Accomplishments

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When I made the decision to not only have children but also to raise them myself, I took a lot of criticism from people who had no qualms about letting others raise their own kids. I never voiced my opinion about their decision to work full time and hire strangers to look after their children and I expected at least that much in return.

It’s funny how people view the same situation in such different ways.

Be that as it may, I consider myself lucky to have been able to devote all my attention to my sons and I never regretted that choice.

When I decided to take care of my aging parents I could do no less than that. My parents gave me life just as I gave life to my children. The choice was a no brainier. I am fortunate that, even in their eighties, both my parents are still in my life.

Loving and caring for someone is not a part time job – it’s a lifetime commitment. 

Not that it’s been easy, by any means, but the benefits of this unique living arrangement far outweigh the difficulties we’ve endured. Living with and caring for elderly parents is not a choice to be made lightly. It may not be the right choice for everyone. It takes a lot of hard work and a ton of patience but it can also be one of the most rewarding and selfless things you will ever do!

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High Blood Pressure

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Few things in life naturally lower our blood pressure – but plenty can raise it. Between worrying about our health, our families, our pets, our friends, our careers, our finances… there’s little time left over to just ‘chill.’

There are numerous drugs on the market that will help keep BP at an even keel. Doctors tell us to give up almost all of the things that give us the most pleasure. “Everything in moderation,” they tell us. Yeah, and we’re also told to ‘just say no’ and ‘you can’t eat just one…’

But these are, literally, words to live by.

We should eat right, exercise, do yoga and/or meditate and all our troubles will magically disappear. Really? Just like that? Yet we continue to abuse our bodies – putting chemicals and additives and artificial coloring and preservatives into our system on a daily basis. We have little if no self control and, when we feel poorly, we blame everyone else but ourselves.

I, for one, do not have high blood pressure. I’m as stressed as the next person but I don’t keep things bottled up inside. I yell, I complain and… you know what? I feel better.

So, do what your doctor tells you and take meds if they’re recommended but the rest is up to you. Find something that calms you – I knit and I color. It relaxes me at the end of a long and stressful day. So does drinking a cup of hot tea and eating a whole lotta chocolate!

Word And Deed

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I had a very strange epiphany the other day. After a friend of mine sneezed and I said, “Bless you,” it occurred to me that what I had offered, purely out of habit, was a religious sentiment (albeit an abbreviation) to an Atheist who, nonetheless, said quite naturally, “thank you.”

Though neither one of us was particularly startled by this seemingly normal exchange, I thought about it for a second and asked if I had offended him. He, not surprisingly, answered, “no.”

But then I thought about another conversation I had had with a stranger on the telephone. It was just a solicitation and meant nothing at the time until I recalled that she ended the call by saying, “blessings.” I thought it odd and, honestly, uncalled for but then wondered if she expected some type of response from me. Was I supposed to say, “and to you, too” (or whatever the standard Christian response is)?

I certainly meant no disrespect but, rather, was quite taken by surprise because, in my life, that’s just not something people say to one another. It also goes back to that much disputed custom of wishing anybody and everybody a merry Xmas during the month of December. I’ve never understood why people find it necessary to make the assumption that you’re Christian or that you need THEIR acknowledgment. I know it’s meant to be a friendly greeting but, then, so is the much safer and non-religious “hello.”

Whatever the intended message or meaning is behind the words, it would be so much easier if people just acknowledged one another with a brief nod or a pleasant smile!

Bad Hair Days

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My Dad’s latest obsession… his hair. At 85, he’s still got a full head of hair. The problem is, he spends so much time resting in his ‘comfy lounger’ that his hair is almost always a victim of static electricity. To battle the condition, Dad has taken to wearing a baseball cap. All the time.

He seems to feel like he must wear this hat, all day long (and inside) because you just never know when someone might drop by unexpectedly to visit (that actually NEVER happens). I tried putting a hand towel over the top of the chair but that only resulted in his wearing the towel around the house because it got stuck on the back of his shirt.

Static is static after all…

It’s funny but I never remember him caring about his hair sticking up in all the years I’ve known him – I guess it’s just another age-related obsession when you really have nothing else to think about all day long. Maybe I should get him some Brylcreem – You know, because “a little dab’ll do ya!”

Witty And Wise

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An elderly Irish woman was driving home late one night, her husband in the passenger seat. Suddenly she saw flashing lights behind her. She pulled the car over and the officer walked up to her car. She lowered the window as the officer said, “Ma’am, do you know your husband fell out of the car two miles back?”

“Oh, thank goodness,” she replied. “I thought I’d gone deaf!”

(borrowed, with permission, from a friend’s Facebook post and written by Irish comedian, Hal Roach)

Here’s hoping Irish ‘ears’ are smiling today 🙂

The New Normal

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There’s nothing wrong with getting older. It’s almost as if the ‘over 65’ crowd is ‘the new normal.’ Aches and pains aside, more people than ever before are living into their eighties, their nineties and even living long enough to hear Willard Scott read their names (not as part of a memoriam but) on a Smuckers jar.

One noble aspect about aging is that it doesn’t discriminate – all races and genders, if they’re lucky, can be members of this inclusive club. The only rule is that you do it right… the living, that is, not the dying.

Old people are constantly portrayed as those suffering from incontinence, heart disease, arthritis and memory loss. They’re seen as cranky, unattractive, frail and forgetful. The fact of the matter is, today’s elders are actually computer literate, taking classes, starting new jobs and finding ways to improve their lives.

It’s no longer enough to just sit back and enjoy your retirement. You must keep an open mind and not be afraid to fail. You have to be open to discovery and appreciate life – especially knowing that your time may be limited.

Always remember this… You don’t get to choose how you’ll die but you sure can choose how you’ll live!

A Perfect Marriage

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A man and a woman had been married for 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other, except that the little old woman had a shoebox in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box but, one day, the little old woman got sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoebox and took it to his wife’s bedside.

She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found 2 crocheted dolls and a stack of money totalling $95,000.

He asked her about the contents. “When we were to be married, my grandmother told me the secret to a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.”

The little old man was so moved he had to fight back the tears. Only 2 precious dolls were in the box. She had only been mad at him 2 times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

“Honey,” he said, “that explains the dolls but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?”

“Oh,” she said, “that’s the money I made from selling the dolls!”*

*Author Unknown

It’s Payback Time

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For all those wasted hours spent with my ear to the phone, here’s a brand new spin on how I think answering the phone should really go:

If you are canceling my upcoming doctor’s appointment and expecting me to reschedule it (because something came up for the doctor) after making me schedule it months in advance, please press 1.

If you are about to tell me that your _________________ repairman will be here between the hours of 8am and 6pm, please press 2 and I will return your call with my hours of availability between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

If you are trying to sell me car insurance or health insurance, refinancing or leasing options, cheaper long distance rates or airline tickets, or wanting my vote in the next election, please remember my number because it’s payback time!*

*~#<%>^€*£+¥ (LOUD BEEP SOUNDED)

The Ultimate Lesson

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I never thought it would happen but it did… I got sick. Normally that wouldn’t be a catastrophic event except for the fact that I am currently my parents’ caretaker and I’m not supposed to get sick.

Who’s gonna take care of ME now?

Of course, all throughout my illness, my Mom kept asking if there was anything she could do for me but the last thing I wanted was for either of them to get sick, too. So, that’s my dilemma.

Mom was always my caretaker. Even after I left for college, she would tell me to come home if I got sick so that she could take care of me (like that was ever going to happen). And when I eventually got married and had a husband to take care of me, she still insisted on being there for me if at all possible.

I understand that feeling all too well because I hate it when my kids get sick. All I want to do is take the pain and misery away. It’s a mother’s curse. So, as I continue to avoid my parents while trying to prevent them from catching my germs, I learn the ultimate lesson… “Once you sign on to be a mother, that’s the only shift they offer.”*

*Jodi Picoult: My Sister’s Keeper