Advice Worth Taking

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I find it amazing that the very people (our parents and grandparents) who taught us life lessons can be so hypocritical when it comes to the ‘new’ generation.

I was taught:

  • No sleeping together before marriage
  • Marriage before children
  • Go to college and then get a job
  • No car till you can afford gas and insurance

Now, my parents (I have no living grandparents) allow their grandkids to do pretty much whatever they want. There are suddenly no more rules or restrictions and they even help finance some of these questionable choices.

What’s a modern parent to do… Is turnabout fair play? Perhaps that dreaded nursing home is starting to look a bit more tempting! 😉

 

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Something For Everyone

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If you’re still at an age where you’re working full time, you probably haven’t thought much about retirement. Unless, of course, you’re miserably unhappy at your current job. Or you’re close to retirement age and you’re just counting down the days or years till you can sit home and collect Social Security.

In today’s society, with people living longer lives, there’s a strange new phenomenon whereby as soon as someone retires, they immediately look for part-time work. I guess, for some people, the idea of relaxing and enjoying your ‘golden years’ is unheard of and, after all, why would someone want to spend all their time at home… with their loving spouse or, perhaps, traveling the world together??

In my opinion, some people just aren’t capable of being happy and others are only so when ‘they’ are the most important person in their life!

 

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!

 

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!

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.

Waiting For Godot

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We are always waiting for something – a check to arrive in the mail; a parking spot to materialize; a job to magically fall in our lap. We sometimes spend more hours waiting for things to happen than we do actually living our lives.

Here is a small sample of a daily ‘self-induced’ holding pattern:

  • Waiting to take the perfect selfie
  • Waiting to win the lottery
  • Waiting for Ed McMahon to show up on the doorstep (well, maybe 30 years ago)
  • Waiting for Godot 

You might laugh at the absurdity of listing the well-known play but, really, isn’t that what we all do? We have our ideas and our opinions but most of us never act on them – deciding, rather, to just discuss them, over and over again, with anyone and everyone who is unfortunate enough to be within earshot.

With all the tragedy going on in the world today, we offer prayers, we speak the names of the victims, we color our monuments with their flags but, really, we do nothing. The truth of the matter is, no matter how upbeat or positive we try to be, we’re always just waiting for that other shoe to drop!

Without Really Trying

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Some people are hell bent on working themselves to death. They either have no life outside of work or have chosen to make their job their first priority.

For the rest of us, we struggle to find a happy medium. We put equal time into building our careers and our lives outside the office. We live, we love and we succeed.

Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, we can have it all. And, if even luckier, we can have it without really trying. That’s how I choose to think of my time with my parents. It’s not that it’s easy – because it’s not. But, knowing how much it means to them, that makes it just a bit less hard.

I see my parents struggle on a daily basis. Sometimes even the simplest task can be so frustrating. So I step in. Willingly. And that is my greatest gift to them – that I can find the time and the patience and the humility to help them out, oftentimes, without being asked!

Self-Serve Checkout

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I am just as guilty as the next person of sighing when there’s a ‘newbie’ at the checkout. I know they’re learning and I realize it’s to make them better at their job once they’re on their own but, seriously, every time and on every line I choose to stand on… what are the odds?

Now that it seems like I’m constantly on line buying groceries (I used to just pick up what I needed when I needed it) and picking up prescription renewals (I’m sure it would kill the insurance companies to have all the meds be due on the same day), I thought it was time to ‘check out’ the quick checkout (usually referred to as self-serve or self-check).

By virtue of its very name, I assumed it was a quick way to help myself out of the store during the busy shopping hours. But you know what they say about people who assume…

First obstacle: There is no SELF in self checkout because almost every time you weigh an item, the machine tells you to wait for assistance. Call me crazy but, if I thought I was going to need assistance, I could have stayed on line.

Second obstacle: Every item in the store is not necessarily marked and, if there’s no price or store sku, you’ll again need assistance.

Third obstacle: Just because there’s a price or sku doesn’t mean the machine can read it and… yup, here we go again.

Fourth obstacle: When it’s time to pay, oftentimes the machine won’t accept your credit card/cash/other payment. So, why did you choose this method of self-serve checkout?

Oh yeah. You were in a hurry. Or you didn’t want to stand on line. Or you’re just a glutton for punishment. Whichever the case, assume you, once again, made an ASS out of U and ME!