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Love through the ages

lovebirds

Lovebirds

It was Valentine’s Day this week. A time to think of romance and love and, for those of us ribbon-heartswho are older, to remember past loves. We all have a past.

If you think we’re boring and have nothing interesting to tell, you’re missing an opportunity to hear some fabulous love stories. Want to hear about long treasured memories of romantic love affairs? Forbidden loves? Lovers possibly lost, but recalled in old age with pleasure? Try asking.

A few days ago, my dear daughter-in-law Chandra did just that. I was caught off-guard, however, by asking me to tell her about a past love, she let me know she was interested in me. I liked that. I love her. Also, she had me think about someone I hadn’t thought of for many years.

Chandra and Remy, 2007

A weary but beautiful Chandra with little Remy in 2007

We were all young once, and most young humans search for love. Certainly the cave man grunted his admiration for the gal who lived in the next cave and tried to impress her with his prowess before he carried her off.

abelard-and-heloise

Abelard & Eloise together at last at Pere Lachaise cemetery

The tragic love story of Peter Abelard (1079-1142) and Eloise captured my interest and for  years I read all I could find about the famous scholastic philosopher and his beloved. Not able to be together in life, their bones are now joined forever at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

They say there is nothing new under the sun. People have always loved. I love this poem written by a woman who lived during Medieval times. A UBC history professor gave it to me years ago. I like it so much, I still have and treasure it. Here it is:

 

‘Marriage is a sweet thing
I can prove it by my own example.
God indeed gave to me
A good and sensible husband.
Thank God for being willing
To save him for me, for I have truly
Experienced his great goodness.
Indeed the sweet heart loves me well.two-hearts

And he said, with such tender words:
‘God made me live for you
Sweet friend, and I think that he had me raised
For your personal use.’
He did not stop raving like that
The whole night.
Without being any more immoderate
Indeed the sweet heart loves me well.

Prince, he makes me mad for love,
When he says that he is all mine.
He will make me die of sweetness,
Indeed the sweetheart loves me well.

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Outdated files in my brain….

Mom, smile 3

photo by Susan Kauffmann

As I walked this morning, I noticed an orange peel on the sidewalk. The poem our first-grade class memorized immediately popped into my head.

‘Orange peel, banana peel, Lady falling on banana peel
Be careful where you throw it,
For folks slip into hospitals,
Before you even know it.’

Why, oh why do I still remember that silly thing when I couldn’t even remember to take my coffee mug with me to breakfast????

Coffee Mug

I missed my mug, it keeps coffee warmer

Wouldn’t it be better if my brain were filled with current issues instead of stacked with outdated files that could easily be deleted and not missed?

I don’t like it when I can’t recall names I know I know, or search for elusive words that used to be there. Yes, this happens to others too, but I don’t like it happening to me. Humor helps, and friends oblige by  sharing items they’ve received by email on the subject. I don’t know who thought this one up but although I don’t want to ever become senile, it’s worth a chuckle: The Senility Prayer: ‘God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.’

Getting older can be a nuisance. Everything takes longer. Tasks become more difficult and we require more patience. Well, after all what did you expect? Things change. Life is an adventure and a learning process, and old age, if we are lucky enough to achieve it, is part of the journey.

It would be great to become wiser as we age, but I doubt it actually happens. In the same way that education can’t change a stupid person into a smart one, aging can’t perform miracles either. Still, some of us are silly enough to believe we are wiser and have worthwhile advice for those who are younger, so here goes…

If I knew earlier what I know now, I wouldn’t have worried about so many things which, in the end, didn’t really matter. I assure you that years from now it won’t matter if you hate your haircut; ruined the big dinner; were late for work, your boss was cranky; your thighs are too fat or your waist too thick; or that your partner is fed up. In time, it really won’t matter.

Scan

Rafi in his baseball uniform

‘Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses.’ Years ago when my son Rafi played baseball, his coach taught me something I haven’t forgotten. Rafi, a strong, talented hitter, didn’t have speed. I thought I should get him to run faster. His coach suggested I forget speed and have Rafi practice hitting, which he already did well. Speed, he said, didn’t matter because when Rafi hit that ball way across the park, he had plenty of time to make his home run. So, focus on the skills and talents you already have and make them better.

I also had to learn I’m not the center of the universe. No one is watching me. As a teenager, I thought I was too fat to even own a bathing suit. I was sure everyone would stare if I dared appear in such a garment. Finally, as a young mother, I worked up the courage to wear one so I could take my child to the beach. The world didn’t stop turning. Nobody cared. They were busy doing their own thing.

Fat woman in bathing suit

A real woman at the beach

And if you don’t believe me, it won’t really matter either.