I have decided to change the way I view growing old. I am not going to feel sorry for myself. I am going to find the humour in it. Starting right now just before 2012.
I had my young friend in to dinner this evening. She is just out of the nest. A mere 55. And she still has her sense of humour. There are a few years to go before she gets where I am. Can’t wait to see how humourous she is then.
Anyway we got to talking about the changes we are experiencing in our Golden Years. And we concluded that conversation, not sex, is the most exciting pastime for us these days. And the most challenging. Why? Because usually we can’t think of enough words to make a sentence unless there are two or three of us together. For example ,one conversation I had three nights ago, as we were sitting back sipping half a glass of wine ( our stomachs can’t take more than that) went like this:
friend : I can’t stand that funny guy.
me: you mean that Canadian fellow?
me: me neither
you know who I’m talking about?
what’s his name?
Me neither. He played The Brinch.
You mean the Grinch?
Yes. That one.
Ummm no. Name’s not coming to me.
It’ll come later.
Yeah. It’ll just pop into our heads.
This is a very typical verbal exchange at 60. And I mean VERY TYPICAL.
In fact most of the time it takes three of us to articulate any idea. Combined we made one barely adequate brain. We fill in missing words, prompt each other when we forget what the topic is and provide encouragement to dare jump into the verbal pool.
Well two days later the name hadn’t popped into my head at all. So I had to stoop to ask my daughter some questions that I thought would open my memory box. I couldn’t tell her about the earlier conversation. I couldn’t say I didn’t remember Jim Carey’s name. So I went through the back door so to speak.
” Who played the Grinch, Erica?” That was a perfectly acceptable question since it could be a number of funny people.
“Jim Carey, ” she answered. She didn’t even have to think. No problems yet with her 33 year old brain.
“So it was,” I answered . ” Slipped my mind there for a moment.”
God will get me for that.
My hand movements have tripled as I’ve grown older. Some people might think I have Parkinsons. Wrong! I am unconsciously using sign language . I am on the doorstep to second childhood after all. Notice babies. They are always moving their arms , legs , fingers and toes. That is because they haven’t yet learned speech. You know how it goes in the circle of life, right? Well, I’m closing up the loop.
I just don’t grasp new vocabulary easily any more either, particularly since their is no relationship I can see to the object and its name. At one time words were derived. They came from some Latin , French , German or other root.
My daughter bought me one of those ear thingies that you use when you are driving. When that little mobile phone rings Oops ! cell phone. Mobile is archaic now, isn’t it? Or am I getting confused? When that cell phone rings I just press a button and behold ( another archaic word ) I can carry on a conversation with the caller. Well you think I could remember what the thingy was called when I was telling my friend about it? Not likely. She heard me talk about what she understood was a schooner in my ear. Actually I deserve a medal for getting half the name right and for remembering the name of a body part. But Blue Nose and Blue tooth convey totally different images. In all fairness though why the heck would it be called Blue Tooth? Where is the Latin derivative there? It’s black. And the closest it gets to a tooth is when I stick it in my ear. Negligible proximity. I am becoming illiterate!
Unhappily I am also totally illiterate when it comes to remotes. I can handle a remotely operated toy. I can use the remote for my television . I can visit remote islands. I live on one . And I am not remotely interested in wrestling or boxing nor am I remotely familiar with operating my family’s remotes. My little grand daughter wanted to watch Dora on television. To do that the sequence is : turn on the tv, find Netfix ,click on children’s shows and then , Dora. Not difficult. After all I did graduate from university. Problem. Which remote ? There are three. All have numbers, letters, menu, play, fast forward, enter, cable , tv, vcr , dvd, pause. etc.
None have Dora written on them.
I spent fifteen minutes, pushing buttons , snapping my wrist, holding the remote up , down, to the right , left , straight ahead. Changed remotes . Repeated the process . My index finger was bobbing like a wireless operator’s sending out a May Day. But no darn Dora could I rouse from the denisons of the cyber depths. In fact I didn’t even get the tv on! You’d think that if you press the tv button that would be enough. Hah! Now you have to press “tv” , then ” enter”. We haven’t progressed that far after all have we? Through all my finger gymnastics my little darling stood patiently waiting for her nanny to find her program . She had complete faith in me . I was her nanny, her friend , teacher, her idol , for goodness sake and I WOULD find that program for her. I was trembling like a shaking paint can. Sweat poured off my brow, the shallow furrows in my forehead became canyons. No luck. Then came the absolute proof that my two and a half year old grand-daughter had surpassed me in the cognitive department.
Realization had dawned on her. She understood. The pedestal tipped and rolled over. I fell below gutter level. She might as well ask her rubber ducky to find Dora for her.
She picked up a remote control. Keep in mind there were three of them. She tapped one key with her tiny finger and behold ( that archaic word again) the tv came on, a beautiful blue screen. But there was not a moving shadow to entertain us. I gave up. We didn’t want to watch Dora anyway, did we. “Let’s play tea time.” Problem solved.
I give a whole new meaning to brain drain. In my case the cerebral fluid is gushing down the drain.
I leave my kitchen doors open. Never did that before. And I know I do it. I bet if I look in there now, a cupboard will be open. Yep ! It is! A door poised to knock out more of the grey matter that I can’t afford to part with. I enter rooms with purpose and confidence , skid to a stop realizing I haven’t a clue why I entered. I put my glasses on my head so I won’t misplace them and spend hours searching for them. Unfortunately the top of my head is out of view of my eyeballs. At least so far it is. With all the shrivelling and drooping that might be corrected too.
I meet people at social events . And I know you are supposed to say the name of a new aquaintance at least three times if you want to remember it. And as you chat try to fit the name into the conversation like;
Oh! pleased to meet you, John.
Where are you from, John?
Oh yes, John , I know that place well. Spent a couple of days there last year, in fact.
Have you lived here long, John?
My dementia is showing. John sees someone he just HAS to catch. Bye , John.
This leaves me bewildered. There is no music to the ear like hearing someone you just met saying your name. I know I love the sound of my name rolling off someone’s tongue. If men would remember that in bed, how much better their marriages would be. Judy! Judy! Judy ! Ahhhhh Judy. How romantic is that!
Not many people my age are all there. Truly! Figuratively and literally. I am not all there or, rather, here. There are parts of me all over the place. Lost count of the teeth that bid adieu to my mouth over the years. And the cyst on my finger. Gone now. One on my head. Gone too. And last year it was my gall bladder. I have a smiley face on my belly albeit it is angled with the mouth at my navel and the two eyes about four inches to the right and north . It marks the entry site of the probes , cameras and what not. Anyway presumably my gallbladder is not with me any more. Sixty years we spent together and now she is gone and other than the happy face on my belly, there is nary a sign she ever was. For all I know she could still be hiding out in the nooks and crannies of my digestive system. You never know about those doctors. Who’s to know he didn’t just poke her up under a piece of intestine when he stuck that probe in the eye of that Happy Face ? It should be a requirement that when something is taken from your body, it be wrapped up or frozen or something so that you can see for sure that he really did the jobbie. .
They should have put a tag on my body part to match it to the one on my wrist for verification. They did it when they removed the babies from my womb. Even if I didn’t need proof of the procedure. That is one memory that lingers. But it is a good thing they tagged us because there were times when, except for the bracelets , I would have returned my children. That is the real reason they put those bracelets on you , you know. Too many parents were bringing the babies back.
I remember one time searching through a trunk that belonged to an old boyfriend’s deceased grandmother. In it was the loveliest gemstone you ever did see. It was cerulean blue. Isn’t that word lovely? I have no idea what cerulean is but I read it in a poem once. And this seems like a good place to use my new word for the year. And there were speckles of black and green. She, the grandmother, must have valued it because it was in a beautiful , not cerulean but, royal blue velvet bag. Surely it was a secret treasure. I envied my boyfriend his inheritance. What I could do with that rock! It could be cut to make earrings, a ringstone and a pendant. The possibilities were endless.
We wondered where she had acquired such a jewel. She wasn’t a wealthy woman. Nor did she win any lotteries that would have enabled her to purchase such a thing.
We were baffled.
Then realization dawned . A grin spread across my friend’s face. A chuckle gurgled in his gut, travelled to his chest and throat where it shot across the tongue and exploded from his mouth . HA HA HA HA HA ahahahahahhhah. He was in pain. Red vessels popped out on his face.
” Nan’s gall stone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ”
Its origins aside, gall stones have a certain beauty. I am convinced if oysters can produce pearls, and humans can make gallstones we could compete. I could be a contributing member of society long after my brain is gone. Just put me in an incubator and let me produce. Surely with the progress we have made in science they can tweak my DNA and have gems on demand. Good marketing and gall stones could be the new gold standard.
A few days ago I read a blog called Perks of Cancer. The very young 44 year old woman , a cancer warrior as she calls herself , is making it her goal to think of 100 advantages to having cancer. It is a wonderful blog full of humour in spite of pain. It got me to thinking about changing my attitude about aging. So I tried to list 100 positive things about growing old. I couldn’t think of one. Remember the brain! I no longer have one.
Why did I start this post? I’ve forgotten already. Oh yes I want to change my attitude and look at the humour in the remaining years of my life. Perhaps I will have enough grey matter to do a future post.