Old Age : A Dangerous Excuse for Congenital Flakeyness

I was born lacking a sense of direction, blind to physical details, and inclined to value feelings more than logic and intuition more than facts.
The up-side of this is a gift for seeing creative possibilities and having the motivation to implement them for making people happier.
The down-side is having to always leave the house early, because you know you will end up taking a “scenic” route no matter how many times you’ve been there before and the odds are it will take at least fifteen minutes to find your car to get home from any parking lot.
When my friends and I began hitting retirement age, even those who were born with internal GPS’s and a penchant for noticing and remembering the exact number and level of parking spaces, seemed to be “losing” those enviable talents.
“Hooray!” I thought, “I can finally blame my inadequacies on age and won’t have to put up with my friends rolling their eyes whenever I get caught wandering about in my usual fog.”
My children have always said that no one will notice if I am losing it, since I never had it together.
I can still drive, while two friends, who were there for me when my life was in crisis years ago, no longer are able to drive. One lives with her daughter out in the country. Her daughter works full time, so Barbara is house bound all week.
My other friend, Hilde, lives fifty miles away in a very nice nursing home. Her daughter also works, so she spends most of her time reading in her room alone.
I have felt so blessed that I have the chance to be there for them by taking each of them out to lunch, window shopping, to a botanical garden, or art museum at least once a week. Both of them need to use a walker and I sometimes also need one for walking very far. Because of the distance between their residences and the complication of so many walkers, I usually take each of them out separately on different days each week.
Last week was shortened by a holiday with family and a trip out of town, so I decided to attempt taking them both out to the delightful Aquarium Restaurant in a huge mall about sixty miles from my house.
Whether from delusion or the onset of senility, I decided that I would be able to find it easily since I had been there several times before. NOT!
I parked close to what I thought was the mall entrance closest to the restaurant.
We just took their two walkers, because I wasn’t having any pain that day.
Naturally, I had mixed up the entrances and we found ourselves with a longer walk than we usually attempt. Since it wouldn’t take much longer than going back to the car, reloading and then unloading the walkers again at the next entrance, we made our way slowly through the crowded mall, with a few pauses to get our breath. But our two hour lunch made it worthwhile. The food was delicious and the fun of watching all the unusual fish was an interesting change from our normal days.
To save my friends from the longer walk, I positioned them seated on their walkers at the nearest exit, while I walked back to get the car. About the time my hip began to protest my pace, I realized that I had turned the wrong way and needed to retrace my steps back to where I left Barbara and Hilde and then go on to the next exit where we had parked. By the time I got back to Barbara and Hilde, both my hips were protesting painfully, so I just went on without stopping to tell them what I had done. A big mistake.
As I headed back through the mall, the pain became so severe that I had to find a chair and sit down for a few moments. Neither of my friends has a cell phone, so there was no way to let them know this was going to take a much longer time than we expected. The pain would let up and I would start walking again as long as I could bear it. Then I would find something to sit on for a few minutes. I finally made it to the right exit and went bravely out into the hot sun. No car anywhere. I felt sure I had parked very close to the door and in plain sight from it. By now sweat was running down my face and my hip pain was tempting me to sit down on the pavement until someone offered to help. As usual I had waited until I despaired to begin praying.
As I finally prayed, it occurred to me that a large SUV had pulled in between my car and the entrance and was completely blocking it from view. Thanks be to God! I made it to the car and turned it toward the exit where I hoped my friends were still waiting.
I thought I remembered a Mexican Restaurant at that entrance, so I watched for the sign. And drove and watched and drove and watched and drove and watched, until I realized I had no idea where I was or where my friends were. I turned around illegally, then noticed the police car stopping across from me. I just kept going, driving slowly and praying desperately that I could find them without having to call in the police. I finally spotted them still waiting inside the doors to an entrance next to a Macaroni Grill, not a Mexican Restaurant.
Well they both start with an M.
They wheeled out to the car at warp speed, asking anxiously if I was all right. I threw the walkers into the back and sped off, determined to put distance between me and the police. As I described my adventures, my friends nodded empathetically.
I asked Barbara what she would have done, if I hadn’t returned when I did. She said there was a security policeman near-by and she was getting ready to give him my cell phone number and ask him to call me. I breathed a sigh of relief. The oldest of us three, Barbara at ninety, still had her wits about her.
Of course, when I finally got home, I realized that I hadn’t turned my cell phone on that day.
The challenge now is to convince their daughters that I’m not losing it. I’ve simply never had it together, but somehow I’ve always managed to get us all home safely as long ago as Hilde and my adventures getting lost consistently in our twenties and my doing the same with Barbara in my fifties.
If they think I’m senile, our days out may be cancelled. No more using age as an excuse for natural flakeyness.


About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of eleven, great-grandmother of five. 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator; Presently part time Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper for Architect husband of fifty-nine years.

Posted on June 2, 2013, in Answered Prayer, Gifts of Age, Humor, Personality, relationships, Spiritual and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Myra Berghane

    Gosh, I can relate to this! I too am directionally challenged and two weeks ago when I was returning to CT from my granddaughter’s college graduation in MA, I made a wrong turn found I was headed for Cape Cod, not RI!. We should start a club – The Flakes: summer or winter, we’re here!

  2. I love that: The Flakes: summer or winter, we’re here! You need to start your own blog, Myra. I would love reading it.

  3. Would love to see a sitcom with this adventure. Thank you for making me smile. Glad everyone was found and made it home safely with no tickets. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  4. I was feeling pretty optimistic about you until the part where you said you hadn’t turned on your phone. Glad you connected with them and got back home!

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