Sell By Date

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Whenever I look in the refrigerator and see something that I’m pretty sure belongs in the garbage can, I know it’s time to call the expert on all things date-challenged… my Dad.

Somehow, he has this uncanny talent for distinguishing between freshness and over-ripeness. Sure, I can see mold on a strawberry or on a loaf of bread. And I don’t even need to smell the milk once I see it curdled on top. But it’s the ambiguous items I have trouble with.

I tend to rely on terms such as:

  • Expiration Date
  • Sell By Date
  • Best If Used By Date

But, as my ‘advisor’ has advised me on many occasions, canned foods and boxed foods have different freshness standards. Stale cereal, for instance, won’t harm you but it might not be the crunchy consistency you desire. And I remember all the people stocking up on canned beans and tuna during the days preceding the millennium. Would those foods still be edible today?

I will always have my suspicions and will continue to throw out perfectly good food (like millions of others) because, “why take the chance?” That said, on any given day, you can still find me pulling out all the milks in the store till I get to the latest date at the back and I wouldn’t hesitate to bring back any moldy food (even if I’ve already eaten some of it) for a full refund!

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Don’t Judge Me

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In today’s society, we often act as our own worst critic. We have something to say about everything – the way people look or talk or smell or walk. It’s as if the whole world is a stage and we are the judges. Thanks to the glut of Reality TV, we now critique looks, talent, strength and even cooking ability.

But when an opinion is expressed about us or our behavior, we take it personally and feel the need to justify any negativity. We no longer have as thick a skin as we once did – or maybe we’re just so tired of hearing it all the time that we immediately go on the defensive.

At a certain age, people tend to believe that that, alone, allows them the freedom to express their anger or frustration because they’ve lived a long, hard life. Not so. In reality, what it does is allow us to see into our own futures and, hopefully, grant us the compassion to withhold that judgment and to acknowledge the gifts that all those years of living have bestowed!

Separate But Equal

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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!”

Raising Healthy Parents

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Never in a million years did I think I’d be back, living at home, taking care of my family. Only this time, I’m not referring to my awesome, talented and successful sons. I’m talking about my parents.

But can you really raise parents?

They’re certainly not children although, listening to their colorful banter, you might think their behavior merits an old fashioned ‘time out.’ The parents, in this case, are my very own much-loved, well-respected octogenarian ‘muddah’ and ‘fadduh.’ They brought me into this world, gave me unconditional love and support and (all too often) unsolicited advice.

That said, I literally owe them my life. 

In the last few years, it has become more and more evident that my parents, while still independent (but with curmudgeonly tendencies), have begun slowing down and are showing signs of needing a bit of help now and again. To that end, I agreed to live with them, part time, while also continuing my musical career and still maintaining a personal life – that of a woman in her 50’s.

Here are a few things I’ve already noticed:

1) Kids are not the only ones who say the darnedest things
2) I’m now the most savvy and technologically skilled person in the room.
3) Child-proofing has an entirely different meaning.

About that… I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering about the point of childproofing bottles of pills. Sure, when your children are younger, you want them to be safe. But, seriously, any child worth his weight can open one of those bottles in under 5 seconds. Not so for many older adults – due to crippling arthritis and bad eyesight.

One of the most popular elder-friendly items in the drugstore these days (after Depends) is a pill box divided into days of the week. You simply put all their colorful, shapely little pills into the appropriately labelled compartments at the beginning of each week and allow them the dignity of taking their own meds. After all, they’re only ‘sightly’ challenged. And I can’t even imagine how frustrating that must be.

So, on those too long days when I feel like my temper and patience fall just a hair too short, I try and think back to my own childhood – when my parents had to put up with my brother and me and the 16th year of my life that Mom still lovingly refers to as anything but sweet – and remember that, at the end of the day, this too shall pass.

Most importantly, I now realize that one day my future happiness may rest in the hands of my own children and they damn well better remember… I called them awesome!