Blog Archives

A Life of Crime at Ninety? Maybe Not.

Not long ago, one of my friends mentioned that she no longer had fingerprints. They had worn off. So, several others of us in our late seventies and early nineties checked, and discovered that ours had all pretty much worn off also. The thought that we could turn to a life of crime now tickled our fancy.
As we speculated about this, mental pictures of us attempting to rob a bank had us laughing helplessly.
Our scenarios varied from the image of us making our getaway on our walkers at a snail’s pace, to attempting to escape with one of us waving a water gun around, another holding the money bag, while the third struggled and had to ask the guard to open the door.
Another possibility got us howling. Since I’m the only one of us able to drive anymore, but am also known for distractibility and erratic short term memory, the others pictured themselves waiting helplessly outside the bank clutching the money bags, after I had been tempted away by a Sale sign and forgot all about them.
Another likelihood was all of us forgetting where we had parked the car. And we were pretty sure that we would be nervous and have to ask to use the bank’s bathroom before leaving.
We decided we had missed our chance for a life of crime, printless or not.

The Gifts of Age: Part Five: If Old Age is Better than the Alternative, We Are All in Deep Doggie Doo

People talk about the stress of being a working mom, as if stress ends when either or both jobs stop.  Who are they trying to kid?

Old lady stress is 24/7.

Little Old Lady Stress
Second Stand-Up Gig

At night, as soon as you get your pillow nest all arranged to support aching backs and knees and burrow gratefully into it, doubt enters the room.  Did I lock the doors?  Did I turn off the stove?  Did I switch the wet wash to the dryer? Did I take my pills? Yes, I think I did all that tonight. No, that was last night. Oh hell, I better go check.

Then, because your bladder is your only body part that’s gotten more active with age, there are at least three trips to the john every night.  And since your early warning system is now deceased, these are made at warp speed, even on a walker. Panic is a great motivator. There should be an olympic competition for this.  You wake up tired and wonder why.

The disconcerting end to what seemed like a reasonably nice day is realizing that you have gone all over town smiling today without your upper dentures.

It’s hardly uplifting to look up phone numbers in your personal directory, when it lists more dead people than living.  And even after purging the lists, in six month’s it’s already back to gone again.

The first stage of dementia is becoming childlike in saying whatever you’re thinking out loud, then wondering why everyone is looking at you like you just farted.

The fact that you can’t introduce your best friend isn’t so bad, since she’s your age and can’t remember your name either.  But when you mix up your grown son’s third wife’s name, it’s a whole different ball game.

When you see on face book that the younger members of your family are comparing miles walked or jogged each day, you think to yourself, If I had a pedometer, it would show at least ten miles walked each day looking for my glasses, my purse, and my coffee cup, coming back inside for my car keys, and going in and out of rooms at least three times each before I remember why I went in. No wonder I’m so tired at night.

Your new four letter word shouted frequently is WHAT? And a dinner party of peers is mostly everyone shouting WHAT? and then pretending to hear the replies.  Though irritating, it doesn’t really matter much, since no one will remember anything by the time they get home anyway.

Cleaning gets increasingly complicated when vertical surfaces are covered with the latest in home decor for the elderly, post it notes.  And there are also stacks of everything imaginable on all level surfaces, because now out of sight, means lost forever.

Sudden loud noises bring out homocidal urges you haven’t had since your kids were teenagers.

Your hearing turns mysteriously obscene, as you now confuse the initial sounds of words and can’t believe they are saying that on primetime TV.

Going to lunch with a friend involves a ten minute struggle to untangle the walkers from the back of the station wagon. And going to the mall with several friends is like a parade without a band, slow moving lines of walkers, the rolling kind.

When you express worry about some of the disasters being experienced by of others your age, your children encourage you to be thankful that’s not you.  And you mentally add the word, yet.

Many weeks, if you didn’t go to so many funerals, you’d have no social life at all.  And you remember that you used to wonder why your older friends were depressed.

When everyone’s talking about diets, you’re thinking, Sure. Like I’m going to give up my last pleasure in life, so I can look good in my casket.

Your grand and great-grandchildren are the bubbles of joy in the cesspool of old age, but also the barbs of reality.  When sitting in your lap, looking up at you with their big innocent eyes, they ask, “Grandma, why do old people have turkey necks?”

And you grit your teeth and freeze a smile on your face, when your great-grandson proudly introduces his fiancee, the tattooed lady with enough metal appendages to set off airport security alarms.

There’s really only one thing worse than getting old, (I’m personally going to be really pissed if it turns out to be death).  To me, it’s your husband getting old.  Most of us thought if we married, we’d always have someone able to open jars, move heavy furniture, and clean the gutters.  Another fairy tale bites the dust.

But other than these, old age is a piece of cake.  Whenever you can get to the bakery.

House Beautiful Enough for Those Over Seventy and Nearsighted

We have all our lighting on dimmers.
I don’t wear my glasses in the house.
I try not to do anything to make tracks in the dust on tables. (Luckily my husband can’t see well either.)
A leaf blower on my walker is easier on my bad back than vacuuming.
I spot mop the kitchen floor when my feet start sticking to it. I put on my glasses, spray 409, and rub the spots with a rag under one foot.
For $5.97 at Walmart there are washable house slippers with dustmop bottoms. They feel great. You can also order child sizes on line for the grandchildren. You can make a game of getting them to scuff their feet in corners and under tables and chairs.
We downsized, so now there are full plastic boxes under all the beds. A foot in a dustmop slipper scooted around the edges is all it takes until actual adult house guests are scheduled.
When we moved into our small new house, I considered having all the furniture refinished, but decided that would be an exercise in futility with as many grandchildren as we have.  Besides, those teeth marks, cola rings, and heel prints represent lots of memories.

Plants cover a multitude of furniture scars and are a cheap way to decorate. At our age we’ve ended up with a whole lot of lovely houseplants from family funerals.  Shedding leaves can be scooped back into pot plants for mulch as I walk by.  My husband is allergic to mold, so I keep plants in vases of water in the areas he uses daily and simply rinse them out once in awhile. To avoid extra trips, I roll my large plastic watering can around the house on my walker.

Since I’m old, short, unsteady on ladders, and out of sight means gone forever, we have no kitchen cabinets, just a walk-in pantry with open shelves.

When the garbage has Stouffer’s Boxes in it, I take it out before my husband comes home.
He’s probably not fooled, just glad he didn’t have to take out the garbage.
When I put the right two kinds of canned soup together, it appears homemade.
If my husband has cereal for breakfast, melted cheese, ham, and egg on toast can be dinner.

I buy cheap saucepans so I can throw them out when I’ve been smoke detector forgetful while cooking.
I consider myself lucky, because I get plenty of exercise forgetting why I’ve come into rooms, and searching the house for my glasses and things I have put away for safe keeping, evidently for eternity.
Kleenex boxes, wastebaskets, post it note pads, and pencils strategically placed every six to eight feet save me time and frustration. (I can get an idea for a blog or something I need from the grocery and forget it before I can get to my computer.)
Designing our house so a bathroom is just steps from an outside door has cut down on panics (and mopping.)

Building our house in the woods on a lake with the back of our house all long windows means no matter how long any recuperation may take, we have constantly changing beauty to see. And we have birds, waterfowl, deer, racoons, and even foxes to watch at the birdfeeders.

But we’re close enough to town that when my husband had serious chest pains, I got him to the E.R. in four minutes.

Being old has its challenges, but once you’re brave enough to face it, there are ways to compensate.