Occasionally I found myself thinking about the many mistakes I made throughout my long life. I know I did the best I could under the circumstances and with what I knew then, but I certainly goofed. Finally, I realized there’s no way to change the past, so it’s a waste of time to dwell on it.
Tomorrow I may not even wake up. I’m in what the famous scientist David Suzuki calls the ‘death zone’. No point worrying about what may come then.
All we have for sure is right now so we might as well grab it and enjoy every moment possible. I’m determined to live within this plan, so I wrote a little poem for myself about it.
YESTERDAY, TOMORROW AND TODAY
Yesterday is forever gone Nothing can change that.
Tomorrow may never come There’s no guarantee of that.
But today is ours to have So reach out and grab it.
Once upon a time long, long ago, I worked full-time and invited friends to dinners too. We’d have a children’s table, our large dining-room table extended with a folding table, plus extra places on the upright piano seat with place-mats on the flat surface over the keys. Those days are looonnnngggg gone.
A friend and I had lunch together yesterday. She’s interesting, I love her. She’s a devoted vegan. I didn’t have to worry — we ate out. Friday I’m having dinner with a young vegetarian. He’s my kind-of grandson. He’s been busy and hasn’t had much time for us to get together so I’m delighted. Again, I don’t have to worry — we’re eating out.
During this pandemic, some people won’t eat in restaurants. I respect that. Sometimes one special friend and I have lunch on a park bench nearby. She has definite food needs and always brings the lunch. I want to reciprocate, but aren’t brave enough. What can I fix for her??
Meanwhile years have passed and everything seems to take more energy. Energy? Where did that go? It eludes me at will and some days I can’t seem to hustle any muscle at all. My old arthritic bones act up whenever THEY choose. They aren’t thoughtful. They never make appointments ahead of time. I can’t picture many dinners happening at my place anymore, which is just as well. What would planning a homemade dinner look like? I’d rather treat when we eat out.
It seems what everyone eats today is more complicated. What my older friends consume is sometimes affected by health issues like high-cholesterol, diabetes, ulcers, medications requiring them to avoid certain foods, or allergies — and goodness knows what.
Do we become delicate flowers with age? Yup! What I used to call a cast-iron stomach doesn’t exist any more! I, myself, have developed allergies! (I’ve been told these develop as we get older, but I also believe some of it is due to chemicals added to our food to extend shelf life.)
My San Francisco kids do a lot of entertaining. Their friends are younger and don’t seem to be affected as much by medical conditions as my older friends. I guess I’ll just leave the dinner parties to them. If you visit me — let’s eat out.
I’m a delicate flower. I’ve got allergies to lots of chemicals, so I’ve never dyed my hair. Tired of lock-downs and not seeing friends, I wanted to do something new. My bright idea was to colour my hair purple.
Do I look good in purple? No! I NEVER wear purple. And did I do a good job? Are you kidding? I did a better job spraying water on my kitchen floor than I did my hair and I’m still trying to get the colour out of my white counter. Still, if you look really hard you can see a little purple. You may laugh. I did.
Someone who loves me enough to tell the truth (and shall remain nameless) emailed: ‘Yes! I see it! But people may just think it is the “blue hair” of old ladies who try to brighten their grey and leave the stuff on too long!’
I loved the following poem, ‘Warning’, long before I became old. You may too. Since this is National Poetry Month, this is a good time to revisit it. Enjoy!
‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph (1932-2018)
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beer-mats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Note: Thanks Andrew for helping me find a gentle and safe dye to use.
Are you getting as many fraudulent calls as I am? Are those villains out to get you too? It seems this pandemic has let loose more crooks than ever.
My phone rings as early as 5:30 a.m.` telling me my computer needs repairs, or the CRA is after me for not paying my taxes, or my credit card
My credit card number you say???
has been used so would I give them the number.
Goodness, don’t those idiots even check what time it is in my part of the world before they call?
They certainly know we’re spending more time at home and: we miss our loved ones whom we can’t see during these trying times; that makes us lonelier than usual and a new romance would be a welcome diversion; we might also be bored because activities we participated in are cancelled; and we’ll risk talking to a stranger on the phone as a result of it all.
If you’re older (like me) you’re ripe for the picking.
Computer needs fixing? Take it to a shop who repairs them.
We tend to be patient and although I doubt it’s true, we often idealize yesterday when we ‘think’ people were kinder, nicer, more honest and caring. Sorry to let you down but there were always crooks around and if you think not, you’re dreaming.
The world isn’t going to the dogs. Dishonesty isn’t new.
Ugh! I want what he’s got!!!
The caveman probably raided his neighbour’s den to commandeer meat, berries and women while the other guy was out doing what he should — hunting a mastodon.
Out doing what he should, hunting a mastodon!!!
Scam artists, I understand, trade information the way kids trade baseball cards. Sadly the same person is often duped more than once and considered worth another try.
There ARE predators out there…
Stay alert, be aware, be suspicious.There ARE predators out there who prey on folks like us. Better safe than sorry.
We’re having a hot spell — too hot for me. I’ve never taken heat graciously and it isn’t easier now.
Vinson, one of many blessings in my life, wanted to come over and treat me to a birthday lunch. Walking at noon in this heat??? I just couldn’t. I begged off.
‘How about I pack a little picnic,’ I suggested, ‘And we go to the park across the street and sit on a bench under a tree. You can treat me to lunch after it cools down.’
So we did that. It was lovely. What I enjoyed most was the interesting conversation we ended up having. Vinson said he learns a lot from me. (Important things like you can separate two sides of a sandwich using waxed paper. Ha, ha.)
I had to honestly respond that I, too, learn
Who would teach me if they didn’t?
a lot from him (and my other young friends Andrew and Alison). Who would teach me if they didn’t? Aside from showing me how to use my smart TV, newfangled telephone and new computer, they teach me current words or expressions which have changed through the years.
Judy, one of my favourite friends and also a member of our book club, brought us each a coffee mug which says ‘Reading is LIT’. I thought ‘LIT’ stood for literature.
I thought it stood for ‘Reading is Literature.
When the youngsters visited, I showed off my new mug. They chuckled and explained that ‘LIT’ is modern slang for ‘exciting’ or ‘excellent’. Aha! I am now a well-informed old lady.
That’s me behind Alison
One day, having lunch with Alison and Andrew in my neighbourhood, a local man came in and greeted me. I introduced him and after he left explained I regularly give him money — he is ‘mentally retarded’ and lives on disability. Alison said we no longer use that term, but now say such people have an ‘intellectual disability’. I’ve lived a long life and things change.
I am grateful to my young friends
Hey Andrew, I don’t have a photo WITH you.
who respect me enough to help me continue to learn. Besides threading needles for me, reaching items too high for me to get to, helping with my lack of technological skills and being willing to do whatever I’ve happened to put on my ‘To Do’ lists, they help me continue to grow as a person.
Thank you Vinson, Alison, and Andrew. I treasure you…
Things are falling apart all around me. First, I replaced my old computer, then the brand new one wouldn’t function, but you know about that already. Now there’s more happening. What’s going on??
Next to give up was my shredder.
Next to quit was my shredder.
That was understandable. The poor thing served me faithfully for years. Son Rafi helped order a new one online. (In the midst of COVID:19, stores are closed.)
Something like my new heavy shredder
It’s bigger, much heavier — and more complicated. It not only shreds in one direction, but in several at the same time. But, there’s no place to store the papers-to-be-shredded like I could in my old one. So the old shredder’s basket remains, adding more clutter in my office. Oh, well…
The latest to quit??? My toaster oven! I had one that was just that, an ordinary toaster oven. The new ones I saw locally aren’t that simple.
Sad goodbye to old simple toaster oven
The one I bought is also a ‘Convection’ oven. (I don’t even know what that is.) It came with l-o-n-g instructions — in several languages. The printing is so small, a magnifying glass was required for me to read it. I did. By the end, I was so confused, I had no idea where to begin.
It came with several parts but I had no idea where they were supposed to go. It didn’t say. Is it a secret? It has knobs which do various things, most of which I’m not interested in. Said knobs have tiny little things written on them here and there which I can’t see anyway.
New toaster oven: blue pen points to spot I painted with red nail polish
Thank goodness Andrew came by and set it to just make toast. After he left, I painted the spot he’d told me to use with red nail polish, because the original mark is so obscure, I would never find it. I had to tip the oven over on its side to see it. You can’t do that while it’s going.
I sure hope nothing else goes. I can’t cope with more ‘improvements’. As it is I still need to pull out the instructions twice a year when they change the time for the no-longer-new clock radio I use in my office. You can set multiple alarms and it has so many possibilities I can’t keep straight. If I were really clever, it would probably fix dinner and walk my dog — if I had one.
And, this week I’m having another birthday. Talk about falling apart. I may be next!!!
The last time my San Francisco crew visited, I teased Remy about his long braid. After admiring it, I suggested he not dare fall asleep at night because I would cut it off and glue it on for myself. He laughed. He wasn’t terrified. (I’m using his photo here with his permission.)
I had no idea it was called a ‘rat’s tail’. Why would I? It was my patient friend Celine, who made my first real braid and commented that’s what it looked like. I thought it was because my hair is grey and Remy’s is black, (like mine used to be).
Then, son Rafi told me it WAS called a ‘rat’s tail’. Imagine! I keep learning folks. Don’t we all NEED to know these things? Aren’t you glad I’m telling you?
I’m a determined sort. Ask my kids. It drives them nuts.
All I could do was make a small ponytail
So, I continued to let my own rat’s tail grow, but now I’m isolating because of COVID:19 and giving friends and others I love a break by not seeing anyone. I’m definitely not talented enough to make a braid for myself in the back of my head. Forget it. All I could do was make a small ponytail and hope for the best.
The lovely braid Samantha made
Then, finally Samantha visited wearing a mask, washed her hands 100 times, etc., etc., etc. but still beautiful. What a treat. She made a lovely braid for me. I loved it. The next morning, it was stubbornly curled up to the left and no way was it willing to straighten out.
Note the stubborn curl toward the left of photo
Want some good advice? Watch out what you wish for. You may get it AND regret it. I had straight jet-black hair and would have sold my young soul to the devil to have it curl. Well, now I’ve got what I then wanted so badly. My grey hair IS wavy. I hate it! It drives me crazy. It won’t wave the way I’d want it to. It is totally uncontrollable. Sometimes it looks like the 1920s. Oh, woe is me… I’m back to nothing but a silly little ponytail.
You mean I didn’t make you cry with this very sad tale about my tail??
I’d been there before. Several times. Still, when leaving, I headed in the wrong direction. I do stuff like that — very often.
Andrew and I were at a local hospital where I’d had an appointment with my hand surgeon. I wasn’t sure what the doctor would do about that troublesome hand, so I asked Andrew to come with me ‘just in case’.
As I was leading the poor guy astray, he gently reminded me we had to go in the opposite direction.
Andrew looking serious. (He hates taking pictures.)
‘I told you I have no sense of direction,’ I laughed, ‘You can believe it.’
‘A sense of humor is much more important,’ Andrew responded. He is SO wonderfully clever.
Where am I???
I burst out laughing. I do that a lot. As for a sense of direction, forget it. Turn me around in my bedroom and I probably wouldn’t find my own bed.
Andrew is right. My crazy sense of humor is helpful. I had just had the doctor cracking up because I asked him to marry me. (He said he would except he loves his wife.)
Then he showed me videos of his new baby, born one day before my birthday, and his little girl. He has told me I can ALWAYS get in to see him, which is terrific for me with my arthritic hands.
My doctor cracked up when I asked him to marry me.
I often get great service because of my nutty humor, bus drivers remember me and smile when I climb aboard and make sure I’m seated before they restart the bus. Busy professionals try to fit me in, and, admittedly, I sometimes take advantage of that.
This year, my wonderful, caring family doctor gave ME a Christmas present! I’ve made her laugh often, but she put up with me in tears when I was very dizzy. I adore her….
During the present crisis, I’ve agreed to not be stubborn and I’m staying in because everyone is reminding me how old I am. Old?
Well okay I AM old! And I tell my loved ones I intend to stick around until the last cheque/check bounces!
My vision wasn’t that great to begin with. I wore glasses by the time I was three and I’m surprised and grateful I’ve done so well. Still, I can walk by you and not acknowledge you — don’t be upset. I just didn’t see you. I’ve been known to do that, but never on purpose. Honest….
Don’t be upset or angry, I just didn’t see you
So you’re all on notice — if older friends like me walk by you and don’t say hello, give yourself and them a break. Know that we who are older treasure our friends more than ever. After all, we’ve already lost so many.
Here are a few tips from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind: As we age, we require more light. Make sure to have a bright, even and constant light source. Light is good, glare isn’t. Our eyes have more difficulty adapting to changes in lighting, so bright sunlight, glare from windows, or reflections make it harder to see.
Okay, so I don’t smoke but I like this picture with contrasting colors
Contrasting colors are helpful. Similar colors may not be a problem for younger eyes, but old-timers have a harder time discerning the edge of a carpeted stair or the rim of a white plate on a white tablecloth.
Being organized can also be extremely helpful so get with it. If things are always in the same place, life is less stressful.
Being organized can be helpful so get with it
You can make larger labels for spice jars, tins and containers by using a black marker. Rearrange furniture to reduce the possibility of tripping and do, do remove all those deadly scatter rugs.
Mark labels with black marker
Be creative and develop a system that works for you.
Happy Holidays to all. May 2020 be kind to us all.
It’s December. Where the heck did 2019 go? I remember when it started. Seems like yesterday. Is it a plot? Whatever, it surely is a despicable act. Whoever stole it is a truly evil villain and should be hung from the rafters.
In January I was extremely excited
I was thrilled with this 2019 calendar
about the new calendar my Chandra gave me. It featured Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doing her exercise workout. I was thrilled with it. I also remember wondering what to get Joe for his birthday. The guy is so creative with surprising me with unusual gifts for my birthday or whatever, it’s hard to do as well. ( Of course I know I don’t really have to.)
Wasn’t that just yesterday? What happened? How did it ever get to be December? Today, I started calling around to see if I may have forgotten 2019 somewhere in the neighborhood. After all, I AM becoming a little forgetful.
My local Safeway
I checked at my local Safeway. The gal at the service desk had no idea where it could be. She looked at me in utter confusion. She must not be too bright….
Then, I tried the Apple Farm
My local Apple Farm
where I buy my fruits and veggies. They had my gray gloves behind their counter and were happy to get rid of them, but nowhere did they have the year I lost.
I enjoy breakfast at Terra’s
I’m a determined sort. I went over to Terra’s, where I like to have breakfast. They once found my hearing aid, which fell out of my pocket, surely if they found 2019 they’d keep it for me. But, no, they didn’t have my year either.
The bakery where I sometimes buy bread? ‘2019? You’re looking for 2019??? Lady, have you lost it?’
‘Yes. I’ve lost it.’ What doesn’t she get?
I’m no quitter
If I were a quitter, I’d have given up, but I’m not. I decided to check at home. It can happen. I sometimes misplace stuff, don’t you? I looked under my bed. Nothing but dust bunnies there. Was it in a closet? No. A kitchen cabinet? No. The linen closet? No, no, no! Goodness me. I REALLY can’t find it.
Hey, we can use a little help here. Do you have it? This just isn’t fair….