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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Did You Say?



One is supposed to write about what one knows. So guess I can’t write about being a man in his eighties or being the Thompsons’ dog. I can, however, write about being a woman, in her eighties. It stinks. 

End of blog.

Just kidding, because I don’t want to have to try to think up something else to do this afternoon... Since I have been a widow for 20 years one thing I’ve learned is that I’m not even half as fascinating as I thought I was.

I know tons of stuff and have also learned that I can clear out a room full of people in one minute nine seconds when I try to educate them or tell about olden times. For example: our entire family sat by our one radio listening to President Roosevelt speak. As a child, I knew the sound of his voice, his wife’s name, and his dog’s name. FDR was the only president folks my age knew until World War II was nearly over. My aunts - six of them plus three wives of Mother’s brothers - were often present so I picked up juicy tidbits whispered back in a large kitchen. For a long time, I was the youngest grandchild in Mother’s family and they apparently thought I was deaf. I could have blackmailed any one of them! Plus, they often said outrageous things about whomever was not present. None of the women in my family liked Eleanor Roosevelt because she did lots they disapproved of  - her speaking voice was awful; and she was just plain ugly. Of course, in later years, she was highly respected and I give her lots of credit for her role of first lady and the fact that she tolerated FDR’s foolishness! She should have had him castrated.

Being old just about changes everything. Few things that you put in your mouth - or smell, or touch - are the same, or in some cases not even available. That’s not all bad, actually. When I was growing up and the doctor told Mother to give me half an aspirin, she had to cut one in half then dissolve it in water then threaten me with murder to get me to take it. I still remember that awful taste. By the time Dee was born, baby aspirin were like a miracle. Smell also dulls as one grows older - I love perfume but with only a partial sense of smell, I hope I don’t absolutely reek!

When Dee and I used to go out more often, we noticed that some people would talk to her or ask questions as if I were not standing right there. Dee most often just said “Ask her, she can talk.” At times, I was so tempted to do or say something really gross. But drooling is so messy and if I got tickled, I’d wet my pants sure as hell ! Ugg! Nurses in doctors’ offices are bad about it. One even went out to the waiting area not too long ago, and asked Dee questions she had just asked me. A young intern, doing a rotation with my doctor, actually called my cardiologist to see if I’d really had a procedure she was trying to talk me into. You see, I think this problem has been exacerbated by the onset of Alzheimers and other forms of dementia. Old folks have always been with us and we just accepted their odd or funny behavior. They sometimes forget things, talk loud, or give unwanted advice. Oftentimes they take pain medications, as I do for arthritis, and those can have side effects.

Years ago, in Marietta, Mother had a dear friend who lived about 7 or 8 houses down the same street. Her elderly little dad would wander away, ring every doorbell and ask each lady of the house if she’d please go to bed with him? They just told him “no” and closed the door. Someone would call his daughter and she would come get him.

If you live with or are a caregiver to an old person, God Bless You! Give them a little extra time; speak a little louder, and try to keep a sense of humor. I am blessed that my beautiful Dee takes exquisite care of me but there are some fine nurses too.


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