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Posts Tagged ‘Seniors’

The day audibly begins at seven am, nearly every day. I hear a greeting, or a bump on the floor above my downstairs apartment, and know that one or both of the dear people upstairs are ready for the routine that puts them above and beyond any married people I have ever known personally.

The sounds morph into a stair creaks, and two sets of footsteps that stop for the next half hour. I know where they stop. It is at the double recliner love-seat that is well named. My daughter and her husband are sitting there in bathrobes with their bare feet up and the morning paper out. If the TV is on, I don’t hear it.

What I do hear is two voices. TALKING TO ONE ANOTHER! Often there is just a comfortable burble of sound, intermittent, and reciprocal. Sometimes, like this morning, there is an outburst– I don’t hear the words. It sounds heartfelt, but I can’t really tell the nature of the passion… excitement, assertiveness, or consternation? Can’t tell.

What I do know is that these people spend the first half hour of each morning at a regular meeting with coffee, newspaper, and each other. They share the news. They offer their opinions. They don’t always agree. But they always talk.

My daughter and her husband have been married for 33 years. They are dynamic, opinionated people with an inbuilt portion of “feist” that is not boring, and is sometimes volatile. They have powered through serious differences of opinion, and some big weather-changes. My own marriage did not survive such stresses, but theirs has.

These two are evidence that love is an action verb.

Living with relatives is a dicey matter sometimes. And I am mindful of the stresses to my own marriage caused by the in-house residency of my own mother in years past. No doubt my former husband suffered somewhat silently. We didn’t talk to each other every day at seven. Sometimes we didn’t talk to each other at all…other than in passing. We lasted 20 rather passive-aggressive years.

Neither of us found success in remarriage. We never learned how to “love”, v. trans. Not at least the talking back and forth kind of love.

Today there was an outburst…just about fifteen minutes ago. Footsteps went rather loudly up the stairs at 7:30 am…to the shower. As usual.

Outbursts are not terminal here, with them. They are fearless about communication of nearly any sort. They work the muscles of this marriage. Sometimes they get sore.

But they talk to each other. And answer. Every day.

I am in awe. And not walking on eggshells here. Seems as if their stability will withstand the presence of a mother-in-law. If not, they will say so. I count on it by now.

Old Swimmer

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Notes from the hearth: Being settled in the safe and sane confines of a vintage trailer is good for the wayfaring Senior. A few stepping stones away is the doorstep of my eldest daughter who is running, essentially, a boarding house for family refugees, and such a place one would never wish to graduate from! She’s a magical homemaker, serving up vittles worthy of royalty on a regular basis… and smoothing all the ruffled feathers brought to her home, and turning her husband to on a thousand fixit needs that effectively bring her foundlings into the bounds of self-sufficiency, step by step.

She points out to me that living in a trailer is a great training grounds. She knows…she lived in this very trailer with her husband for three or so years while they put their own house through a vast renovation some ten years ago. Her husband, a contractor, of course did these improvements “in his spare time” (read “hardly any time to breathe, actually”). So it took a long time.

The place has everything one needs for living, but in such efficiency that one HAS TO put things away where they go or else one cannot walk. Like a small boat, you have just enough room for your needs, and no extra. If you need extra room, you have to dump stuff out of your life. One pot, one pan, one whisk, etc. Use, wash, put in cupboard. Soon you are like a short order cook, reaching automatically to where the pot lives and finding it there every time, since there was no place to put it other than where it fits.

For a haphazard soul like me, this is the best boot camp imaginable. I always did say I liked simplicity. Now I get to really orchestrate daily and immediate simplicity or I die of “stuff” in the way. And the more I succeed, the more I like myself!

Will I be able to do this same thing in my new shop? That remains to be seen. The garage at my other daughter’s place is full of boxes containing my working materials and tools and supplies. Really a LOT of it.

Time will tell.

But for now I am remembering a precious meal with family last night with my littlest grandchild prancing around in her auntie’s very high heeled shoes pretending to be a grown up, and my eldest grandchild confident and wise chatting with two of his younger cousins about cars and computers and life. My children scarfed up traditional and original and new culinary wonders with abandon and lots of appreciation. We love each other here, in spite of being very much individual eccentrics, most of us. It’s just GOOD.

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BACK HOME TO HESTIA

Seniors have plateaus just as growing children do, only in reverse. They grow smaller, blinder, deafer, more forgetful and then they begin walking not so well.

They have been depending on the Social Security system to keep them through the downward spiral and tuck them in at the end in some sort of respectable way— not a mass grave or dumpster.

That’s pretty blunt, isn’t it?

Well, blunt is the blow, I am telling you from my current viewpoint, being at the flat part of a new lower ledge of the series of plateaus.

When beautiful winter makes you stiff and exhausted and unable to keep your own fire stoked, it IS a blow. Instead of inviting folks to come by and warm themselves, you find yourself hunkering as close as you can to a frail little lightbulb, and if you are lucky, your grown children recognize that you need a REAL fire, since you have nearly totally lost your own.

Senior Solution; Hermes heading home to Hestia

My travels (the other side of the story–did you click the link in the title?) have taken me on journeys rewarding and then other journeys that were clearly designed to be instructional, often with a large discomfort factor.

“Well, it’s how I am,” I explain to the kids. “I just TRY things.”

The counterpart to Hestia , the stay-by- the-fire goddess, was Hermes the traveler-adventurer god, strikingly different from Hestia, but a very close friend and neighbor to her.they were a duo who were the best of friends who did not marry and likely would  never have been compatible mates, so different were they.

I think I’ve got some humanoid  (sub-godly) traits of each of these opposites and I am now traveling from Hermes-mode back into Hestia-mode for the preservation of body and soul.

I am not alone. The economy, you know has yanked the rug out from under many hard-working retirees. And the cruel winter just past, and the inability of this 74 year old body to spring back in the expected way it always has — it’s a rude surprise that happened in one winter’s time.

Mortality is a subject that comes into stunning focus maybe once or twice during most folks’ lives, especially when a “close call” happens or when a dear one dies. Most of the time we let the matter of death simmer quietly on the back burner to be dealt with “later.” It’s not number one on our list of favorite things to plan for.  Once we have the matter of soul settled, we relax.

A winter like the once we just had in 2011-2012 brings the motality matter into sharp focus. When one has no way out of the cabin but to stumble down the moutainside a quarter mile in ice covered snow up to the knee caps, and one has a trick knee that will not operate properly on the downhill slope. It’s cllimbing down a steep slope so you can get to your car parked in a plowed area below. Then you dig out your car, and go to the store and get supplies. Then you park your car where it was before and get to carry the packages of supplies back up the mountain, and you have to stop every five steps to catch your breath.

This is not ordinary outdoor fun, it’s a real test of your physical plant, and my body did not pass it well at all. I really did feel as if I might die. I actually imagined that the local mountain lion might be considering me likely prey (wounded small mammal), and be planning his attack. I tried to make myself look big while bending over to catch my breath. I dragged my groceries rather than carry them, and I said loud things in all kinds of voices, mostly gruff.  I tried to sound as big as God.

“Mom, we have to get you OUTTA there,” the kids said. And they were right.

So my primeval wonderland is standing out there looking in my big windows, looking at me with sad leaves and the birds are gone because I have weaned them away from regular feedings. The intimacy I have enjoyed with the forest spirits– plants and animals– is being stressed now with the reality that I am having to pack up my belongings and journey away from them.

I do remember that comforting hearth, and the groaning board, and the laughter and pranks of my dear ones around the room. And now my young are strong and seem to have endless energy to fix, and do, and make. Yes, I will, as they suggest, come there and stay a while.

The love has changed hands so often between me and my children, and has been so thoroughly tested by fire and has come through stronger because of it, that I am secure in the bond, and content to lay aside my traveling cases and rest at their hearth and learn their new foods and teach their new generation the old stories.

They can afford me, they say, and I can come and rest there until my strength returns so that I can at least do the things I do well. They will do the things that are too much for me now. And it is with honor that they receive me at their table.

“Mom, you did the same for us for such a long time. You taught us how.”

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