It’s My Turn

Evernote Snapshot 20151126 101520

 

At the end of a hard day, all I want to do is put up my feet, have a hot cup of tea and listen to blissful silence. I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to think, I just want to do… nothing. For a few moments, I just want to be me.

Maybe that’s a little profound for those of you who choose to make every second count. Some people have no idea how to just ‘chill.’ They don’t feel accomplished unless they’re doing something at all times. That’s sad, really, because there is so much more to life – and many people miss out on that.

I’m not knocking a great work ethic but I’ve known people who have slaved at jobs their whole lives – only to die way too young. I truly believe that all work and no play makes a person old before his/her time. And, as my Dad always says about the rich, “you can’t take it with you.”

So, after all my work is done and I’m sure that Mom and Dad have everything they need for the moment, it’s my turn to sit back and just relax!

High Tech Drama

Evernote Snapshot 20151223 142711

Last night, I innocently showed my Dad a video on my phone. Granted, he couldn’t actually see it but he heard it and was able to get the gist of its content. This morning, he told me he had a restless night because he couldn’t stop thinking about that video.

Because I know how my Dad’s mind works (most of the time), I was able to decipher that what bothered him was not so much what he had heard but, rather, that I was able to access it. He was concerned about how and when I managed to ‘get into this person’s house and possessions.’ The fact that anyone at anytime has free and clear access to the ‘Internet’ and all that that entails, is beyond his comprehension.

I would imagine that, to his mind, I am someone akin to an Edward Snowden for his generation. All kidding aside (and, yes, I am most definitely kidding), I  am much less computer savvy than even MY contemporaries. So I can, truthfully, see how confusing that must have seemed to him.

But his mind, nonetheless, went immediately to his own privacy and he just couldn’t shake the idea that ‘big brother’ was now watching him. I tried not to insult him by explaining that no one was looking into his past – not the time he argued with his classmate at the bus stop and not the time he drove a few miles over the speed limit when Carter was president.

Unfortunately, what started out as a simple means of sharing (what I considered to be) interesting information turned into an eye-opening, educational lesson for us both!

Quit While Ahead

Evernote Snapshot 20160114 124217

Ever since my Mom realized that I could tape her programs for her, she now happily goes to bed at a more reasonable hour. Because of football and baseball games running overtime on prime time tv channels, her favorite shows are oftentimes delayed by thirty to sixty minutes.

The problem is, now that I’ve made her life easier, I’ve simultaneously made mine more difficult. As many times as I’ve shown her how to operate the remote (and also written out perfectly clear instructions), she still insists that I do it for her. And, because the tv’s ‘guide’ only lists shows on the hour and half-hour, these tapings usually run ‘part-way’ through two consecutive programs. That makes it even more complicated.

So, while I constantly try to find new ways to improve my parents’ quality of life, I inevitably discover even more ways to complicate mine!

 

Conditions And Treatments

Evernote Snapshot 20151104 181338

When are you too old to need your Mom? I think we can all agree that the answer to that question is: never. No matter what you have to deal with in life – no matter what obstacles you must face – there is one person you can always count on and that’s your Mom.

Married couples have each other and siblings have each other, too. But sometimes there is just no substitution for the one person that gave you life (or chose to raise you as if she did). When you’re really little, having your Mom kiss a booboo is all you need to feel better. When you’re older and you get your heart broken, crying in your Mom’s arms usually does the trick. When you leave home for the first time, just hearing your Mom’s voice on the other end of the phone can make all the difference.

But, no matter what level of pain or unhappiness you’re experiencing, your Mom always has just the right treatment for any condition!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

 

Without Really Trying

Evernote Snapshot 20151123 100616

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!

Pay It Forward

Evernote Snapshot 20151123 100228

We all know about the concept of ‘paying it forward.’ Whether you’ve been on the receiving end of it or you initiated the action, it’s a positive phenomenon that can be a real game changer.

But it has its drawbacks, too.

The other day, while out shopping with my Dad, I let someone (with only two items in their hands) go ahead of me in the checkout line. Not only was he holding a place in line for someone else but that person eventually showed up with an entire full cart. Now, he could have explained that he was waiting for another person or he could have declined the offer but, instead, he pretty much guaranteed me never doing that again.

Another time, on the road, I let someone cut in front of me. One person inside of one car. As a result, an entire line of cars then proceeded to fly right through a stop sign (behind that one car) and try to squeeze in front of my car. Never again.

Yet another time I held open a door for a woman using a walker and also holding onto a dog’s leash. By the time I got to the elevator (after quickly checking my mail) she had already gotten into the elevator, closed the door and gone up to the top floor of the building – not even bothering to hold the door an extra second for me.

So, what’s the bottom line? Never go out of your way to help another human being? Only think of yourself in any and all situations? Do unto others… just don’t expect them to pay it forward (or back)? Or maybe it’s a simple case of nice guys DO finish last!

Giving Thanks Day

Evernote Snapshot 20151119 141339

Once a year on Thanksgiving, we sit around a large table filled with an abundance of food. I won’t even bother mentioning how gluttonous that is. But what I’d like to focus on is the custom of giving thanks. It’s not a custom in every home and it shouldn’t only happen once a year. But it usually does. And it goes something like this:

I’m thankful for…

  • My family
  • My health
  • This food

But what we’re really thinking is:

I’m thankful for…

  • The big screen tv we’re about to watch the football game on
  • The yelling and screaming around the table that is ‘expected’ and somehow okay on the holidays
  • The weight I will enjoy putting on today because I can always go back to dieting tomorrow 

Like most holidays, we’ve lost sight of their true meaning. They’ve become commercialized, money-oriented and largely NOT having much at all to do with why we’re supposed to be gathering to celebrate in the first place. One day observances have now stretched into months-long events. Between over-advertising and decorations, it’s all a bit nauseating. And, instead of spending ‘that’ special day with friends and family, we’re more apt to spend it out shopping for the next ‘big’ day.

So, what’s the solution? I’m not sure there is one. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate canned goods at any number of locations to ease your conscience. But, at the end of the day, your thanks ‘giving’ is really a self-giving of yet another year of excess!

Separate But Equal

Evernote Snapshot 20151104 164709

Here’s a little bit of a conversation I overheard Mom having with her sister on the telephone the other day:

Mom: “Who told them they can sing?” – that would be Mom (who is tone-deaf) discussing a performance on a TV singing contest that she did not even watch.

Mom: “Why can’t they wear more clothes when they dance?” – that would be Mom giving her opinion of a performance on a TV dancing contest that she also did not watch.

Mom: “They don’t write songs like that anymore…” – that would be Mom’s take on any Broadway musical written before the 1950’s.

In my Mom’s world, nothing is as good as it used to be. All the ‘real’ singers and dancers have mostly died (a few, like Tony Bennett and Baryshnikov, are the obvious exceptions). So for her, and possibly for many others of her generation, the caliber of talent of today’s artists is in no way equal to that of their predecessors. But, hey, you can’t please everyone and (as my Mom has often been heard saying): “That’s what makes horse-racing!”

Piece Of Mind

Evernote Snapshot 20150518 213542

Did you know that when you live with your parents, later in life, you actually start to lose large pieces of your mind on a daily basis? It’s not like when you temporarily lose your keys or forget someone’s phone number. Or when you sit in traffic because it was decided that rush hour was a convenient time to pave the road or there’s an accident on the other side of the divider and all the drivers in front of you decide to look and take photos and you think, “there are two hours of my life I’ll never get back.”

No, this is something entirely different. 

When my Dad – who has very limited sight and even more limited acceptance of that fact – insists on pouring his own drink and I then spend my few free moments of the day cleaning up the spills that could have been avoided if he would have just allowed me the privilege of doing it for him in the first place… there goes one piece of your mind. 

Then when my Mom thinks she is saving 15 cents (yes, cents) by using a coupon from one particular store that is miles away from where I’m doing their regular shopping – resulting in my having to spend a half hour more of my valuable time, traveling in the car (not to mention about 10x as much in gas as the coupon is worth) – just so I can buy that item that she didn’t really even need but had a coupon for… there goes another piece of mind. 

And, finally, when I spill some yogurt down the front of my new shirt (because I’m so tired from running around doing errands and fixing things around the house) and I realize I’ve witnessed this same scene before but, instead of me, it was with the very people I’m usually helping clean up after – that’s when it occurs to you that it’s not a piece of mind you’ve lost but your peace of mindfulness!*

*Don’t sweat the small stuff… Listen to your heart… Take time for yourself… Set clear boundaries… Give yourself the gift of forgiveness… Go ahead and vent… Remain calm… Make the best of a bad situation… Don’t take it all so seriously… Treasure the journey… And when all else fails – LAUGH!

Face The Facts

Evernote Snapshot 20151021 134308

Many times I’ve heard my Mom say (to no one in particular), “this bottle used to be much bigger,” or “it used to be ____ ounces and now it’s only ____.” We’re a nation of label readers but what other choice do we have?

It’s a well-known and accepted fact that prices rarely go down (sale items not withstanding). But then, why should the size (or the quality of the product, for that matter) diminish? Here are a few ripoffs I recently discovered in our kitchen:

  • 1 lb can of coffee is now 11 oz
  • 1/2 gallon tub of ice cream is now 1.5 qt
  • 6 oz container of yogurt is now 4 oz

This might not come as a surprise to some of you but many people, especially those on a fixed income or budget, rely on these foods as part of their regular diet and sustenance.

Did you know that you used to be able to get two decent sandwiches out of a can of tuna? Now, an 8 oz can of tuna is only 5 oz (4 oz drained) – which barely makes one tuna sandwich. For elderly people and even mothers of school aged children (who make their kids’ lunches), this means having to buy twice as many cans at twice the cost.

As unfair as it sounds, we must face the facts… Less is not always more and you don’t always get what you pay for!*

*StarKist Tuna – listed at $1.29 a can, paid $.89 on sale (but still used to be a bigger can)
 Friendly’s Ice Cream – listed at $3.49 a 1/2 gallon, paid $2.50 on sale (but still used to be bigger)
 Dannon Greek Yogurt – listed at $4.99 for a 4 pack, paid $3.33 on sale (ok, you get it)