Make ‘Em Laugh

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Three sisters, ages 92, 94 and 96, live in a house together. One night the 96 year old draws a bath. She puts one foot in and pauses. She yells down the stairs, “was I getting in or out of the bath?”

The 94 year old yells back, “I don’t know, I’ll come up and see.” She starts up the stairs and pauses. Then she yells out, “was I going up the stairs or down?”

The 92 year old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea and listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says, “I sure hope I never get that forgetful.” She ‘knocks on wood’ for good measure and then replies, “I’ll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door!”

Safe And Healthy

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Notice I didn’t say safe and ‘sound.’ That was deliberate because, at almost 86, my Dad isn’t quite as sharp as he used to be. He knows it, we all know it – we just don’t put a label on it.

What constitutes being ‘sound’ really?

Ask a person, who has lived a long hard life, how they feel and they’re just as likely to answer, “fine,” as they are to actually attempt to describe how difficult their day was beginning with getting out of bed to completing a few everyday tasks. Or, as my Dad often answers the doctor when asked that question, “how much time do you have?”

Mom, on the other hand, seldom leaves her place at the breakfast table because even the slightest exertion gets her winded. She watches her programs, she reads, she does her crossword puzzles and she organizes my Dad’s meals and meds. Mom (who’s deaf in one ear and has perfected the art of ‘selective hearing’) has a unique way of filtering sound. When she sleeps, it’s on her ‘good’ ear so she doesn’t get bothered by outside noise.

Dad, like myself, not only hears every annoying beep and bang but involuntarily waits for the next one to disturb him. And, with nothing but time on his hands, that’s a lot of disturbance.  As musicians, Dad and I are literally victims of the very sounds that we’ve spent our lives crafting for others’ enjoyment.

Is it healthier to face your demons head on or to ignore them in hopes that they’ll eventually go away? I guess that’s for each of us to discover!

Let’s Trade Up

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We’ve all complained, at one time or another, that life was unfair. Some people make more money than others and some people are just born into it. Some people have more kids than they should have and others can’t have even one.

Well, guess what? Life isn’t always fair. My Mom always told me (as her mother told her) that if everyone put their problems in the middle of the room, you’d grab yours and run like hell.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why but, then, I don’t make the rules. I just have to live by them. We all do. Ever hear the expression: “sell your soul to the devil?” Some people are willing to give up almost anything to get what they want. But most things like that come with too big a price tag (and not just financially speaking).

So, what would you be willing to give up everything for… Your family? Your health? Let’s hope you never have to find out!

Words And Phrases

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A diamond is forever – with divorce rates up, is that still true?

A dog is man’s best friend – I love dogs as much as the next person but shouldn’t your spouse be your BF?

A skeleton in the closet – let’s hope that isn’t a literal meaning.

A watched pot never boils – a quaint expression but, obviously, untrue.

I understand and appreciate the feeling cited above. But we cannot live fortune cookie lives. We can’t possibly take a few nice words (written on a small, folded piece of paper and shoved inside a dessert) seriously. We hear about tragedy and suffering on the news all day long. We see injustice and cruelty all around us. Sure, it’d be great to live in a world wearing rose-colored glasses but, eventually, reality will cross our path and bite us in the butt.

So, by all means, think positively and be considerate of those around you. But know that, against our better judgment, words CAN sometimes hurt!

See For Yourself

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You can’t always take someone else’s word for something that you can’t see for yourself. It’s fine to participate in a good debate and some people enjoy taking classes as adults because they’re still interested in learning. But never settle for accepting someone else’s opinion.

We often tell our children to be leaders, not followers. We encourage them to think and act for themselves (of course, they’ll only listen to what we say for a few short years). Then it’s on to their friends as their closest advisors.

It’s certainly easier, by far, to just be a bystander and not commit yourself to a cause. That might be okay for some people but others like to take a more active part. Standing up for or standing beside another human being takes a different kind of person – one who is completely dedicated and accepts the risks involved.

Open your eyes, your mind and your heart and, together, let them lead the way. You’ll sleep better, you’ll feel better and you’ll never again doubt your choices!

My Dream Job

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“Hello… Hello… Is anybody there?” I often hear this refrain from my Mom who just can’t seem to figure out ‘call waiting.’ I put it on her phone so that she would never miss an important call (from me) while chatting with her friends. I might need to tell her that I’ll be home late or that they didn’t have the library book she asked me to pick up for her and is there a second choice on her list. But if she’s going over the crossword puzzle answers or debating politics for the umpteenth time with her friends then I better just give up and come home (of course then she’ll tell me she was worried sick and why didn’t I call).

There’s been a fairly contentious TV battle going on in our home, too. We have several TVs (one in each room not including the bathrooms) so it’s not like you’re outta luck if one of them goes dark. I have repeatedly shown my mother the art of HD and explained that the HD TV does not respond as well on standard channels so just add 500 to all your favorites and the TV will be your new best friend. Simply waiting for a service call is, obviously, not an option.

I’ve long since lost the ‘computer’ war with my folks but that doesn’t mean they don’t see the good that my having one does them (in full disclosure, I don’t actually have one either because I do all my business on my phone). 

For instance:

  • “Ellen, what is 10 across and 29 down – can you look that up for me?”
  • “Ellen, can you deposit this check for me and check my bank balance?”
  • “Ellen, can you get me a digital coupon for this week’s shopping?”

And so on and so on…

The bottom line, clearly, for them is that THEY don’t need to have a computer because they have ME!

 

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!

Over And Out

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The very first thing I often hear (after returning home from work at night) is my Dad talking back to the TV. This is something a lot of people do – not only the elderly. Whether it’s a televised sports game (“what are you, blind?”) or a game show (“buy a vowel, you moron”) or a myriad of other brain-numbing, soul-sucking, waste-of-time forms of entertainment, it amazes me the number of sane human beings who are glued to this never-ending cycle of visual stimulation. And my parents aren’t even aware of the modern concept of ‘streaming.’

It’s no wonder the television set has oftentimes been referred to as an ‘idiot box.’

I stopped reading the newspaper years ago because all I ever saw was murder, celebrity gossip and sports. Add to that the local weather and traffic report and that’s basically all that’s on the TV news as well. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are tons of additional stations that keep replaying accidents and general mayhem 24/7. Such fun.*

So here’s some free advice:

STOP WATCHING. Like they used to say on walkie-talkies and CB radios: “over and out.” There. Problem solved, right? You’d think it would be that simple but, as bored as my Dad is these days because there’s only so much he can do with limited sight, he constantly sits down in front of the TV – knowing that, between watching every televised political debate, all my Mom’s game shows and soaps and his round-the-clock CNN, his blood pressure will no doubt be raised at some point. Maybe TVs should come with a warning from the surgeon general!

*Anyone who watches ‘Miranda’ on public television will get that reference.

Agree To Disagree

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Have you ever stepped outside a place like Sloan Kettering and noticed a doctor, wearing scrubs, taking a cigarette break? Ever hear a doctor (weighing in at around 300 pounds) say, “you really need to watch your cholesterol?”

It’s hard to take advise from someone, no matter how educated they are, when their own stupidity is staring you right in the face. And what about politicians? Our next big election is less than a year away and, yet, social media is constantly inundated with one ignorant message or ideal after another. How is that possible?

We are a nation of opinionated citizens. If you don’t believe it, just ask us. Most of us were taught to question things instead of just accepting them. And, yet, we’re also a nation of followers – as if we’re too busy (or too lazy) to even wonder about the state of our state or its very laws.

Some people can’t handle those of us who have opinions. Some outspoken people get criticized while others are just plain ignored. Regardless of which side you fall on, never be afraid to agree to disagree!

Cheers And Jeers

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Why don’t people smile anymore? Walk down any city street and this is what you’ll see:

  • People arguing on their phones
  • People frowning unhappily
  • People rushing and bumping, unapologetically, into one another 

Why bother spending an hour in the morning, getting ready to go out into the world, only to scowl and rant and rave… who’s going to notice all the time you just spent primping?

Did you ever watch or hear someone yawn and (all of a sudden) you yawn, too? It’s oddly contagious. So why doesn’t one smile beget another? You smile if you hear a baby doing that ‘uncontrollable giggle’ thing or when you see ANY animal video on YouTube. But there don’t seem to be that many moments in our own lives where we just LAUGH.

Next time you have a soda or a milkshake, try blowing bubbles through the straw… We used to love doing that as children. Or spontaneously break into a happy dance for no particular reason. If someone happens to catch you, hopefully they’ll laugh along with you. If not, you just bought yourself a one-way ticket to the funny farm!