Piece Of Mind

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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!

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Enough Is Enough

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I remember when my Dad used to drum.  Long after he retired from teaching and playing club dates on the weekends – weddings and Bar Mitzvahs – he continued drumming, almost as if his fingers had a life of their own. I never did that. My oldest son, also a drummer, occasionally does that. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

For years my Dad’s fingers would drum and drum and drum. Every surface had permanent dents or dings; every tabletop was worn of its natural patina of wood; every arm chair’s upholstery was permanently thinned – some worn right down to the material below.

But I haven’t heard that familiar sound in ages. At some point, Dad just gave up. When he finally decided, “enough is enough,” I’ll never know for sure. Was it when the phone stopped ringing for gigs or when the students stopped needing lessons or when time just passed by and all those years of experience and knowledge stopped mattering?

I know he sometimes has dreams about those days of working and teaching. He says they’re quite vivid and he remembers them all. The mind is a funny thing – focusing on some events, no matter how trivial, while fogging over others that seemed so important at one time. So maybe, in hindsight, enough is never really enough! 

Hear Me Now?

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For quite some time now I’ve been hoping to convince my Mom to get a hearing aid. She wouldn’t be the only one, by far, as I’ve seen (and heard) those tiny beeping devices in many an ear throughout our community.

It seems like I spend an inordinate amount of time repeating myself because Mom is completely deaf in one ear. So I have to shout out every question and statement in order to be heard.

When I leave, Mom doesn’t hear me say goodbye. When I come in, she doesn’t acknowledge my presence. And when I need an answer (“where is Dad?” “should I get the mail?” “are you ready to go?”), I practically have to stand directly in front of her and let her read my lips.

So, why is she so dead-set against getting a hearing aid and making her life (and that of those around her) easier?

I’ve finally figured it out. Mom likes not being able to hear… some things. It’s not that she has selective hearing and chooses what she hears. No. It’s actually quite brilliant. When Mom is talking to her friends on the phone, she is using her good ear to listen and, therefore, cannot hear all of Dad’s rantings. When she wants to take a nap in the afternoon, she curls up on her ‘good ear’ side and isn’t disturbed by the tv or Dad’s constant questions.That is how I know the ‘real’ answer to the question in the ad: “can you hear me now?” And the answer is: “not unless I want to!”

**** ‘Hear’ (haha) are a few hearing aids I’ve heard about (but not personally used):

  • Miracle-Ear
  • Lyric
  • Esteem
  • Phonak
  • Siemens
  • Rocker

Next Available Representative

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On days like today, when I no sooner fix one problem that another one crops up, I wish I was automated so I could just say: “For Spanish, press 1” or “To speak to the next available representative, press 2.” Then I could have a nice cup of tea out on the terrace and chill.

I can’t seem to make my parents understand that I am neither a handyman nor a magician. I can’t just make things work all of a sudden and I only wish that I could make some things disappear. All of a sudden I find myself solely responsible for two of the most important people in my life and I am constantly doubting my ability to handle it all.

So, before you take on any new challenges in your life (no matter how large or how small), take a deep breath, write a list of pros and cons (if that’s your style) or talk it over with the person who knows you best. And if the phone ever starts playing that mind-numbing, ‘you’re-on-hold’ music… run like hell!

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.”

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!

Grandparents At Play

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There’s something very calming about rocking chairs… They’re pretty, they’re sturdy, they rock and you can fall asleep on them. And yet very few people actually own them. Only in certain parts of the country will you see them on front porches.

But do you ever see anyone actually sitting and rocking?

I realize we all work too hard and seldom take the time to just sit and relax – maybe watch a sunset or a rain shower. But wouldn’t it be nice if at, say, 4pm everyday you were required to just sit and rock for maybe 10 minutes?

Of course, the time would probably be spent checking phone messages or playing games or texting. That’s why we need to look to our elders as examples. Grandparents know how to play that game (mostly because they’re not consumed with our generation’s need to stay connected). When they see an unoccupied rocker, they sit and they rock. Period.

So why is it that, on any given day, at any given time, these chairs remain still? I’d like to think that all the grandparents are somewhere, happily engaging in grandparent-y activities. But the reality is… they’re more likely at rest than at play!