My parents and I just celebrated our second anniversary of generational living. Has it improved their quality of life? Has it made their lives any easier?
I’ve decided to let them speak for themselves. So I quickly jotted down a few key questions and I’ll share their answers with you. These are things we all wonder about in our own lives so I figured they’d be helpful on a number of levels.
Me: “Are you happy?” Mom: “Yes.” Dad: “I’m learning to deal…”
Me: “How much stress do you feel daily?” Mom: “A bit.” Dad: “Tons.”
Me: “If you could have one wish?” Mom: “That your Dad’s eyes were better.” Dad: “That I could get my eyes back.”
My takeaway from this is that, while my parents (after nearly 60 years together) are basically on the same wave length, their commonality works best when they are at their best selves!
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!
“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).
“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!
As a small child I remember thinking the ‘old guy’ that always sat at his window, looking outside to make sure no one stepped on his perfectly manicured lawn, was a bit creepy. In his defense, neighborhood kids did make it a point to purposely throw balls onto his lawn and (before we were taught to pick up after our dogs) dogs regularly used his front lawn as their own public pooper-scooper.
Since living back with my parents I’ve noticed that they, too, spend an awful lot of time sitting in front of THEIR window. They watch for the mailman (they don’t get much more than medical bills); the meals-on-wheels delivery man (with whom they’re on a first name basis); the UPS truck (when I tell them I’m expecting a package but it probably won’t arrive for weeks); and their grandkids (as if wishing for it will actually make it happen).
I realize they have little to look forward to on a daily basis but it seems a bit paranoid of them to watch out for, say, impending snow when only an inch or two is predicted and they have nowhere to go in it anyway. But I suppose it does make the days go by faster and maybe, in their minds, it might even make them feel more a part of their surroundings now that they spend so much of their time indoors.
As I think back on that ‘old guy’ next door and remember how my Dad used to call him a busybody and a cranky old man, it feels as if time has come full circle only now it’s my Dad who has earned the title of ‘crotchety-old-dude.’
But, if truth be told and years of hard living give you some street cred, he’s truly earned it!
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…
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!
We all wish for things we know we’ll never have – ‘the grass is always greener…’ However, sometimes our dreams represent not so much our desires as our shortcomings. We may have watched a movie or read a book or heard a tale told to us by a friend. Something as simple as that can trigger our mind in its most relaxed state.
Since losing most of his sight, my Dad often dreams about things that happened a long time ago. It was explained to us that this was most likely due to his inability to create new memories. It’s like he’s stuck in a kind of time warp (his own version of ‘Back to the Future’ where his past and his present have become one).
So next time you wish for something outrageous that you know, deep down, is beyond your reach – wish instead for the fundamental ability to dream of a future that is indeed foreseeable!