Thursday, August 31, 2006
Because I work with the elderly, the subject of aging comes up often. Such conversations are generally prefaced with "Do you remember.." Unless that which I am asked to recall, occurred before the Korean War, I usually do remember.
Today Mrs. W. shared with me an e-mail she had received from a friend. Her friend's grand daughter had asked her how she felt about being old. The lady was taken aback by the question and decided to give the little girl the answer after she had time to think about it.
I wondered how I would answer that question if it were posed to me. How would you answer?
....I didn't have much time to dwell on it as Mrs. W. began to read her friend's answer to the question. I was impressed by how eloquently the woman had replied. (She gave me a copy and some excerpts follow.)
I know I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, or my loving family for less gray hair, less wrinkles or a better figure. I have become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or not making my bed, or for buying that useless ornament that I didn't need because it was so cute.
....I am entitled to be messy, to be extravagant, to smell the flowers. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon before they understood the great freedom that can come with aging.
....Whose business is it if I choose once in awhile to read ,or play on the computer, or watch TV until 4 am and then sleep until almost noon? I know I am sometimes forgetful. But then again, some of life is just as well forgotten, and I eventually remember the important things.
....Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or watch a child suffer, or a beloved pet get hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is sterile and will never understand being imperfect.
....I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn white and to have my youthful laughs to be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.
....As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself as I used to do. I have even earned the right to be wrong.
....So to answer your question, I like being older. I am not going to live forever, but while i am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. I shall eat dessert every single day (if I want).
....So today I wish you more years of growing older and enjoying life.
I don't know if the woman's granddaughter understood the answer, but I hope a copy of that e-mail is saved and given to her years from now.
....When I got home from work and sat down at the computer, I remembered an e-mail I had received from my brother-in-law awhile back. It too had dealt with a youngster trying to understand the life of elders. It is sure to strike a cord with a lot of readers.
....I took the liberty to add some Maxine toons; she has become the patron saint to those of us who are Baby Boomers and older.
"Hey Dad," one of my kids asked the other day, "What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?"
...."We didn't have fast food when I was growing up," I informed him. "All the food was slow."
...."C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?"
...."It was a place called 'at home,'" I explained. "Grandma cooked every day and when Grandpa got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it."
....By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it:
Some parents NEVER owned their own house, wore Levis , set foot on a golf course, traveled out of the count ry or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears AND Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.
....My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow).
....We didn't have a television in our house until I was 11, but my grandparents had one before that. It was, of course, black and white, but they bought a piece of colored plastic to cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and the bottom third was green, like grass. The middle third was red. It was perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across someone's lawn on a sunny day. Some people had a lens taped to the front of the TV to make the picture look larger.
....I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called "pizza pie." When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still the best pizza I ever had.
....We didn't have a car until I was 15. Before that, the only car in our family was my grandfather's Ford. He called it a "machine."
....I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn't know weren't already using the line.
....Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was.All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. I had to get up at 4 AM every morning. On Saturday, I had to collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.
....Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. Touching someone else's tongue with yours was called French kissing and they didn't do that in movies. I don't know what they did in French movies. French movies were dirty and we weren't allowed to see them.
....If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don't blame me if they bust a gut laughing.
....Growing up isn't what it used to be, is it?
MEMORIES from a friend:
My Dad is cleaning out my grandmother's house (she died in December) and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea. She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to "sprinkle" clothes with because we didn't have steam irons.
....Man, I am old. How many do you remember?
....Head lights dimmer switches on the floor. Ignition switches on the dashboard. Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall. Real ice boxes. Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards. Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner. Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.
Older Than Dirt Quiz:
Count all the ones that you remember (not the ones you were told about) - Ratings at the bottom.
1. Blackjack chewing gum
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
5. Coffee shops or diners with tableside juke boxes
6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers
7. Party lines
8. Newsreels before the movie
9. P.F. Flyers
10. Butch wax
11. Telephone numbers with a word prefix (OLive-6933)
13. Howdy Doody
14. 45 RPM records
15. S&H Green Stamps
17. Metal ice trays with lever
18. Mimeograph paper
19 Blue flashbulb
21. Roller skate keys
22. Cork popguns
25. Wash tub wringers
If you remembered 0-5 = You're still young
If you remembered 6-10 = You are getting older
If you remembered 11-15 = Don't tell your age,
If you remembered 16-25 = You're older than dirt!
How'd you do? For the record, I scored a perfect 25!
I might be older than dirt but those memories are the best part of my life. Don't forget to pass this along!! Especially to all your really OLD friends....
...God grant me...
The senility to forget the people I never liked
The good fortune to run into the ones that I do
And the eyesight to tell the difference.
Curmudgeon responsible for this post: Hale McKay at 12:20 AM