Posted in Aging process, Old Age

5 Reasons Why “Getting Old is Not For Sissies”

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It seems like every year something happens…something unexpected, unalluring and unwanted.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very aware of the alternative to getting older and I am grateful for the opportunity to be alive, but, can I just say…..WOW!  This getting older is not for the faint-hearted (literally) and here are 5 reasons why.

 

#5.  Huh?  What did you say?  Say again?  These ears that once could hear a baby sigh in another room or hear a bag of chips open in the other end of the house, now evidently cannot hear my husband and vise versa.  We carry on a conversation and 89% of it involves saying, “What did you say?”

How can this be?  Soon our children and grandchildren will be raising their voices and mouthing their words while standing right in front of us.  H i  M o t h e r, h o w a r e y o u?

 

#4.  The “eyes” have it!  Cataracts, floaters, flashes, glasses and the always popular, “I’m not comfortable driving at night anymore.”  These brown eyes once could spot a misbehaving student while my back was to the class.  I could ask, “Are your hands clean?” and know the answer instantly from 30 feet.  I even remember so long ago, when I could actually read without adjusting the length of my arm or the lighting.  Sigh…..

 

#3.  Snap! Crackle! Pop! Creak!….you guessed it, the knees.  Oh, I know, some of you still have good knees, even cute knees, but for the rest of us, it’s just not pretty.  You know it’s REAL when you train your 3 year old grandchild to help you up off the floor.  Goodbye mini skirts….farewell long jogs on the beach!  Hello Aspercreme, knees braces and Motrin.

 

#2.  I hate to even get started on teeth, but I must.  Perhaps you are one of the few who still have all of your own pearly whites.  Maybe you are the lucky one who doesn’t know what a crown is or a root canal.  But, for some, our dental bills look like a monthly mortgage payment.  For many, the reason our teeth look so good is because we paid for them!  The good news is, no one really has to know if they’re the originals or not, as long you keep smiling and don’t tell!  (Be careful with the popcorn!)

 

#1.  Last but not least is food.  I remember when Nacho Doritos were not synonymous with heartburn….when Mexican food or Italian dishes could be eaten any time of day with favorable results.  Now, it seems that almost anything we eat demands a Tums, Gas-X, Pepto Bismol or Prilosec.  It seems that some of the things we used to eat and enjoy, now, are not our friends and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s something we think about and plan for.  Goodbye, eating late at night!  Farewell, spicy foods!  Hello, low-carb, high-fiber and probiotics!

 

Yes, it does seem that every year something happens; there is something that changes, disappears or pops up.  I truly believe getting older is not for sissies. In fact, as we get older we get smarter, wiser and enjoy life more fully; it just takes a little planning.  Motrin?  Glasses?  Gas-X?  Dental floss?

All ready!  Let’s go!

Posted in Aging process, Auntie Sue

Happy Birthday Auntie Sue!

 

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My Auntie Sue was the original Sittin Ugly Sistah!  In fact, she not only coined the phrase, she lived it and oh, how I miss her every day.

Auntie Sue was the heart and soul of our family.  She understood the importance of being together to love and laugh.  She inspired us all to be better people and at the same time, not take ourselves too seriously.

She could be tough as nails when she had to be.  At 4’11” and 100 pounds soaking wet, she was a force to be reckoned with and a heart full of compassion all at the same time.

She faced aging with grace and humor.  She lived modestly yet gave generously.  She had a kind word for everyone and lived each day with integrity and faith.

I hope you know how much I miss you, Auntie Sue.  I’m pretty sure you’ve got things all organized in Heaven with weekly Skip Bo tournaments and shopping trips.  I like to think you’re sittin ugly with me every morning,  enjoying your quiet time and encouraging us all to seize the day!

Happy Birthday Auntie Sue!

 

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Posted in Aging process, Christmas, Grandmother, Holidays, Introspection

Letting Go by Ginger Keller Gannaway

 

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Geraldine Latour Keller

As Dad shuffled out of his 122-year-old home, he went back to his bedroom to take down the large wooden-framed portrait of his daughter, Kelly Ann. Kelly died on September 25, 2004, and he sobbed while he unsteadily carried the picture towards the front door. I met him there and took the picture, wrapped it in a Christmas angel blanket and stacked it atop the miscellaneous mess crammed into Dad’s Pontiac Vibe. After he painfully plopped himself in the passenger seat he remembered Momma. “I forgot Gerry,” he said as he started to struggle to get up out of the car. I stopped him with, “I got it. I got it. The big photo on the hall table, right?” He nodded sadly as I hurried back into the lonely house to retrieve the black and white photo we had blown-up to display at Momma’s memorial in 2014. These were Dad’s farewell actions before I pulled shut the heavy front door of Grandma’s house. (Even though my parents had lived there since 1972, 420 S. 2nd St. would always be “Grandma’s house.”)
In Annie Hall Woody Allen says, “A relationship is like a shark. It has to keep moving or it dies.” Does the simile work for life in general? We keep moving on or we die, either literally or figuratively. And a big part of moving on is learning to let go: of places, of things, of people. The week before Christmas my sister Gayle, our close friend Mark, and I started cleaning up and clearing our Grandma’s house. We organized items in piles: Trash; Goodwill; KEEP; Leave for the house. (My cousin Chiquita had bought the house and she let us leave all the stuff we did not want to take! Merci beaucoup, Chickie!) Gayle kept quoting the book about decluttering: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up , “Does it give you joy? No? So throw it.” Mark would sometimes argue over the value of an item. “This old kitchen clock is wonderful! It would remind your dad of his home. Take it.”
Since we had limited space in Dad’s car, I had to make tough decisions. I wanted Momma’s china and Mama Joe’s pie safe. Period. But then a portable hair dryer from the 1960’s and a stack of old 45’s would remind me of the freedom and freshness of being 12 years old. I caught myself putting a tube of lipstick from my momma’s winter coat in my own pocket and setting aside the dented aluminum bun warmer Momma used a lot. I opened stiff books and touched the handwritten dedication from a dead relative to a dead friend.img_3494
Later my brother Emile arrived and he made piles of old things for his three children and five grandchildren. Then someone thought of gift-wrapping unique or sentimental items to put under the Christmas tree: a tarnished tennis trophy, a pair of iron wolf book ends, a biography of Carl Sandburg. The gift tags read “from Grandma’s house” or “from Eunice” or “from Mr. Snowball.”
From December 17 to the last day of 2016, we were slowly saying good-bye to Grandma’s house, to Momma and Kelly’s memories, and to our own childhoods. We let go of stacks and even rooms of furniture, clothes, knick-knacks, and even some treasures. However, each of us took the items we needed to hold on tightly to ( two audio cassettes of an interview with Grandma, a Latour coffee cup Uncle P.J. gave Momma, Kelly’s copy of Walden.)
I let go of almost 60 years of objects from that home even as I squirreled away an LP here or a cast iron skillet there. I know that the things I took are just things, but they hold powerful memories of parties and suppers and stories and games and bad times and good times. Dad and I did not finally drive off in the Vibe until I ran back in for my final treasure from Grandma’s house: the extra-large Bulova kitchen clock from the 1940’s. Time to let go and move on down the road.img_3492

Posted in Friendship

Pica Pica: by Nancy Malcolm

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I’m a quiet person by nature. Quiet, somewhat shy and fairly reserved. I can make polite conversation, but I greatly enjoy an agreeable lull in tete-a-tete with a trusted friend or my spouse. However, on a recent trip to Colorado, I photographed a beautiful, yet extremely vocal bird outside of our condo. I presumed it to be exotic, probably a rare sighting. If only I were a birder…..
I decided to go for a walk downtown and wandered into a beautiful bookstore. I asked the owner about the bird I had seen..what was its name? What kind of bird was it? “Magpie”, he said. “Black-billed Magpie”. “Are you sure?”, I asked. “Yep. Magpie”.
Pica Pica is another name for the Magpie. They are members of the Raven and Jay family. They are social birds, vocal and keep up a regular stream of raucous or querulous calls. Querulous, meaning to complain in an annoyed way. They are loud. They scavenge for food and are not too proud to dine on road kill.  But, they are deeply loyal, and when one Magpie dies, a group of up to 40 will circle the sky and cry loudly. “Mea culpa..Mea culpa.”  The Magpies will mourn their fallen brother for quite awhile and then move on.
What a voice they seem to have. They are not afraid to speak their mind and really don’t care what the others think.  Pica Pica, I think I love you. You have a gregarious personality and you won’t back down when you need to say what’s on your heart. You go, Pica, say it loud and say it proud!
Okay, so here’s the other side of the Black-billed Magpie…The Black-billed Magpie frequently picks ticks from the backs of large mammals, such as deer and moose. The mammals are actually grateful for this service. The magpie eats the ticks or hides some for later use, as members of the Crow and Jay family often do with excess food. Most of the ticks, however, are cached alive and unharmed and may live to reproduce later.  Let’s break this down in layman’s terms. Picas are resourceful, not afraid of work, and compassionate toward others (letting unneeded ticks live).
There have been many times in my life when I wish I had spoken up, spoken my truth. There have been many times when I should have but didn’t or could have but wouldn’t. I’m not sure the exact cause of my silence, but in my later years, I’m not as content to stay quiet or not rock the boat. I think Pica Pica is my new muse.