What's Not to Laugh?

Almost everything about aging–except grave illness and death–can be funny as well as disturbing. I try to find the funny and help us all get through it!

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Wandering thoughts…

I finally realized that the closest we’re going to come to owning a dog is the black licorice Scotties that my husband devours daily. (They’re sold in small tubs at Trader Joe’s.)

No maintenance—except for replenishment every so often—no barking, no vet bills, and no poop to pick up. (There are probably a lot of funny comments that can be inserted here, but I will refrain. Insert your own as you will…)

And the sad truth is that you can’t pet a licorice Scottie. Rather, you can try, but you won’t get the same warm feeling, and no happy tail will wag.  (If it does, check your medications for interactions.)

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I was intrigued by a quote by author and feminist Caitlin Moran, as published in the July 15 New York Times Magazine: “My core belief is that if you’re complaining about something for more than three minutes, two minutes ago you should have done something about it.”

Think how busy we’d all be—doing something about everything…

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Isn’t it odd that we’re asked to swipe our credit card to buy merchandise, but if we try to swipe that merchandise, we’d end up with a rap sheet?

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When we complain about rapid changes in technology, products, and procedures—so rapid it’s hard to keep up—do we sound like our parents and grandparents did at our age? Our parents may have been skeptical when new-fangled items (like answering machines) came on the scene. So it does happen in every generation, but new words, apps, technologies, celebrities seem to be coming at us at warp speed. Each day, as I read the features section of the newspaper, I ask questions like “What’s Reddit?” and “Who’s Nicki ‘Minaj?” My usual reaction after I pose the question is “Who cares?”

And if you do get a little comfortable with something relatively new, it gets replaced with an updated version that bears no resemblance to its predecessor. You’ll know what I mean if you now have Microsoft Office 2010.

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OK. That’s enough thinking for now. As radio announcers all over America used to say, “Stay tuned.”

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Losing it

The list of things I’m losing as I age is growing. Here’s yet another one: I used to be a good speller. Not enter-the-spelling-bee good, but I had a reasonable ability to write without questioning which letters to use or in what order. Now I find myself stopping in mid-word and thinking, “Is it i e or e i?”

Add this to things that were already on my loss list:

• My eyelashes and parts of my eyebrows. Thank goodness for makeup and those pricey lash-restoring products that may (or may not) work.

• Everyday words. It’s embarrassing to be telling someone a tale and suddenly stopping in mid-sentence with no clue what the word you need to finish it is.

• The names of actors and actresses I used to know well…along with the movies or TV shows they starred in.

• My near vision. I have remained nearsighted while most of my peers are whipping out their reading glasses or asking me to read the menu for them. But that’s changing. I still don’t need readers in restaurants or on the computer. But I can’t read the color names on lipstick tubes or the expiration dates on sunscreen. (I suppose there are worse fates…)

• My ability to get up out of a chair without grunting, crackling, and otherwise making a spectacle out of myself.

• My lack of self-censure in using “old” phrases like making a spectacle of myself.

Watch this space as I will continue to whine about the loss of other abilities. Feel free to add some of your own. I’m sure I will relate.

What to tell the children

I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem. How do you explain to your grandchildren why you’re not married to their grandfather anymore? Especially when you’re remarried and they’ve known their “step” grandfather all their lives? For privacy, I will call the two grandfathers Grandpa B (for biological) and Grandpa M (for through marriage).

My twin grandsons are 7 going on 8 next month. This situation came up only twice, and the first one was easy to handle. When the boys were about 4, one of the twins and I were playing with a toy, and I asked “Is this the one that Grandpa B gave you?” He nodded, then thought a while before asking “How do you know Grandpa B?” (I know we all think our grandchildren are remarkable, and I’m no exception. I could almost hear his brain cells coming together and colliding.)

Not wanting to frighten him with the word “divorce,” I thought about it and said “He’s your mommy’s father, and I’m your mommy’s mother.” At that point, he became interested in the cartoon on TV. When I related this conversation with my daughter, she told me he’d asked her the same question and, thankfully, she had given the same simple answer.

That was then. A couple of weeks ago, at least three years later, I was looking through a wonderful book my former sister-in-law put together about their mother’s family, beginning in Poland with an amazing photo of their great-grandfather. I knew most of the late 20th century relatives, so I enjoyed—a little wistfully—seeing photos of the family I was a part of for almost three decades. While turning pages, I was aware that my other grandson was standing next to my chair, looking at the book. Then I turned to the page showing a wedding photo of me and Grandpa B. Quietly, I muttered “and now the questions begin.”

I should have done a countdown, “Five, four, three, two…” because almost on beat, he said, “What? You’re married to him [pointing at the photo], but you’re living with him [pointing to Grandpa M, who was sitting nearby]?” All I could think of was a soft “It’s complicated” and went on turning pages. No questions followed pictures of Grandpa B with his second wife, but attention spans are short when you’re 7 and there are three cats in the house to chase. But he didn’t forget about this mystery. When we got home, my husband told me that he and this twin were playing outside soon after and the little one asked, “Why are you living with Grandma if you’re not married?” My husband said he was so surprised by the question that he said nothing.

“Nothing?” I was astounded. “So now he thinks we’re living in sin?” This is ridiculous, of course. First, because I doubt he’s heard that expression, and second, because in today’s world, the concept is almost archaic. How many celebrities decide to get married—maybe—after spawning two or three kids together? I don’t have statistics, but I’m sure it’s a high number. I’m not advocating it or rejecting it. It just is.

I’m not comfortable with my grandson thinking I’m not married to Grandpa M. But now that the teachable moment’s passed, how do I broach the subject? A psychologist I asked suggested I start with “Do you know what ‘divorce’ means?” I don’t like that approach. Other people have suggested that, at almost 8 years old, the boys must certainly have met kids whose parents are divorced. I’m not so sure.

We spent several hours with the twins recently, and the topic of Grandma and Grandpa’s living arrangements didn’t come up. So I’m off the hook for now. But little inquiring minds don’t give up so easily, and I know I’ll be asked again. I welcome your comments on how you or someone you know handled this issue—without setting off worries about their own parents’ marriage.

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