I’m at a girls’ week where the average age is 67.8, okay, a mature women’s week. We are on a beach watching young families, teens and just a sprinkling of our demographic. We are the ones who are talking about these things….. You’ve heard that we can’t hear. You’ve seen where we are squinting at everything. You’ve watched as we fall down, misplace our glasses on our own heads, and look for the mayonnaise, the iPad, and the super-secret book with all our passwords while each one was right in front of us every time.
But I decided we need a twist on aging.
Did you know we have secret skills?
1. We are fluent in a rare foreign language. E-Way an-cay eak-spay ig-pay atin-Lay!
2. We can sing old commercials that were full-length songs:
Does your shoe have a boy inside?
What a funny place for a boy to hide?
Does your shoe have a dog there, too?
A boy and a dog and a foot in a shoe!
Well, the boy is Buster Brown
And the dog is Tige is his friend.
They’re really just a picture
But it’s fun to play pretend!
So…look, look, look
In your telephone book for the store that sells the shoe
With the picture of the boy and the dog inside
That you can put your foot into!
Buster Brown Shoes!
(I did not look that up…and yes, I can sing it.)
3. We have colorful histories about World War II, Korea, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, hippies, The Democratic National Convention…in 1968, life before computers, color TV, telephone lines, ‘party lines’, that you shared with your neighbors (or listened to with your best hold-your-breath-eavesdropping.)
4. Modern kids did not start the drug culture…just sayin’.
5. Today, on National Coffee Day, we too celebrate the joys of coffee that we drank at home for much cheaper.
6. Our music was considered revolutionary, rebellious and obscene….too.
7. We loved long hair on boys, although we, too seem to have forgotten that…… as we used to use Jesus as our answer to all those ‘squares’ who didn’t think long hair was cool.
So ask a person who you think is old this question:
“Can you tell me something cool about when you were young?”
Today you get to see one of my mistakes……..I made a video for the National Caregiving Conference, but as I’ve done since first grade in St. Aloysious Catholic School, I did not follow directions. So, I’m making another one………..but for a screw-up, it’s not bad. And the #NCC17 #NationalCaregivingConference said, “Hey, ……share it, anyway!” So, I am…because if there’s anything I do too much, it’s share!
P.S. I also think they said under their breath, “next time, read the directions.” But Sister Marie Genevieve said that a billion times and it never worked.
My mom has become obsessed with creating photo albums for her six children from the hundreds of photos in her treasure chest. She must make 6 copies of almost every photo, or at least as the photos progress and a child is added to the history books. I have no idea why this project might be frustrating for her 88-year-old self, do you? Duh, comes to mind.
Every once in awhile, when I’m in the mood for a little frustration myself, I stop over to my mom’s house to call the VA, or fix her iPad, or fight with Verizon. Invariably, we start to look at the pictures together.
Yesterday, she showed me this photo.
My Nana is the one circled in yellow. She is about 35 years old in this picture. Her name wasn’t even Nana yet, as my mom is the cutest little 8-year-old circled in pink. I made my mom go find a photo of herself at around the age of 35.
Then I came home and looked for one of me around the same age.
I would like to posit the following: Rather than continuing to punish women for adopting a youth culture look, perhaps we are actually just trying to enjoy life, look like we are having fun, and present a ‘picture’ to the world of what we actually look like, at the age we are at. Perhaps over the last 50 years, we started rebelling against being portrayed as “Nana” before we were even done having children. Perhaps, just because we have children doesn’t mean we have to wear orthopedic shoes, bras with no support, dresses made from tablecloths, or a hairstyle that would confuse us with Grandma Moses.
Perhaps my mother’s generation actually clandestinely started a revolution where women got to enjoy their youth, even if they had 6 youths of their own running around. Maybe that’s what began way back in the ’50’s and ‘ 60’s when no one was paying attention to the everyday housewife. And maybe that’s what’s still happening today to women in their ’50’s and ’60’s when no one is still paying attention.
My Nana apparently didn’t change her look for 60 years. My mom, on the other hand, created generations of hot tomatoes! Yay, Mary Ann!
Yesterday, I had the privilege of consulting with an attorney and his clients, who are dealing with the death of their elderly father and the need to place their mother in a dementia facility.
I just want to reiterate here how precious each and every true caregiver is. If you are caring for a parent, a spouse, a child, a relative or a friend, you are an unsung hero. You are likely losing time from work, money from Social Security, work, or retirement benefits. You are probably tired, angry, frustrated, exhausted, confused, and sad at least some bit of every day. I saw this in these clients. And I recognized it in myself from days gone by.
You are also filled with joy, comfort, love, and solace that you have the opportunity to provide so deeply for someone you love. Those emotions aren’t always on the surface. But you know they are there. Because these clients were now former caregivers for their Dad and current caregivers for their Mom they were experiencing all of this simultaneously.
All the hard work they were doing was right in front of us. Our conversation was complex and detailed. The wife had a file 5 inches thick with paperwork.
And yet… at some point….we were discussing very difficult decisions and how their Mom was ready to die as well. So I told them my constant conversation with my mother-in-law:
“Marie would say to me often, ‘Just bring the box, I’m ready,’ I related.
“And I would say to her, ‘Marie, I would, but the problem is, you can’t climb in the box, someone has to put you in, and with my bad back, I just can’t do that.’
Marie and I would chuckle and the conversation would change.
Which is just what happened here. One chuckle was enough for all of us to keep moving forward in our quest to help them and their elder with difficult decisions.
To all you caregivers, may today bring you a bit of laughter, a smile from someone or just a full heart, for you are certainly doing that for someone else. And for that, I thank you.
Okay kids….it’s time to laugh, even just a little bit…
How do you know if you are a caregiver?
If you are buying wipes and you don’t have a baby…..
If you have dozens of medications in your house and none of them are yours…..
If you wish some of them were yours…………..
If, when someone says ‘whine’, you break out a long-stemmed glass……..
If you get into your car and your car takes you to a nursing home but that’s not where you were going……….
If you’re so tired that you used Preparation H to brush your teeth before bed….
If you have dishes in the sink, laundry in the hamper, unpaid bills, and you drop everything to take your Mom to the doctor and the hairdresser and lunch and the bank and the pharmacy and the grocery store and the dry cleaners…….
If you have on two different shoes…..
If you just recently started using swear words that never came out of your mouth before….
If you are so well-versed in medical-speak that they ask you to check on a patient in Room 612 ……..
If when you say you’re going to the Vet, you don’t mean a place where animals get medical care….
If you use so many acronyms like HIPPA, AARP, HMO, DME, SNF, OT, PT, ER, that you start spelling your kids’ names instead of saying them….
If date night is now every Friday night in the Emergency Room….
Check with your spouse, your significant other, your friends, your therapist….you just might be one of us!
I was having dinner with a friend last night who lives far away from me. She was telling me about her parents and caregiving. I was flattered that this very busy, corporate woman had obviously taken the time to read several of my blog posts because she was very familiar with my ups and downs as a caregiver, attorney, and speaker.
The joy of this is that she was willing to share with me her hilarious story of taking her parents to a seminar on joint replacement since her mom was about to have knee replacement surgery.
As the nurse practitioner was speeding through extensive PowerPoint slides, my friend was furiously writing down notes to be able to deal with possible side effects, rehabilitation, medication and the personality changes that we all deal with when our elders have surgery…like, “I hate you because I don’t want to go to therapy and this hurts, and I haven’t gone to the bathroom for days on this pain medication.”
Meanwhile, her parents are chit-chatting with other future replacement recipients and asking their daughter to grab a brownie or two from the nice snack table that the hospital has put out to lure people to this presentation.
My take-away from this:
Just because you’re caregiving at home, don’t think lots of other people aren’t doing it from work, from afar, or from their mobile phones.
Caregivers love laughing at each other’s stories. We even know it’s funny while it’s happening, even though we may not be laughing until days, months or weeks later.
You never know who might benefit from your caregiving plight. My Nana was right: Misery loves Company. I feel certain Nana didn’t make that up. It sounds like something Shakespeare probably said. My five siblings and I must’ve made Nana pretty miserable ’cause we sure heard that a lot.
As I suspected, Brownies solve everything.
Thanks to my friend for sharing. I love hearing all your hilarious tales. Never be afraid to be It helps. I promise.
I have to say, we Baby Boomers can be a self-satisfied lot. There are all kinds of posts out there about how we did just fine with spankings, wooden toys that didn’t do anything, no car seats or even seat belts for that matter. Bad TV, bad diets, flammable pajamas, DDT, baby oil instead of sunscreen, none of that had a deleterious effect on us, right? We’re just fine, you young whippersnappers.
And if you Millennials had had it a bit harder like we did, walking uphill in the snow to school both ways, you wouldn’t be so lazy, entitled and clueless.
But take a second look, my friends. Our blessed Millennials may be gurus you will want to be looking to in the future. Here are my top six reasons why:
Millennials don’t work at a job for 30 years that they hate. They don’t even do it for 20 years, 10 years, or even 5 years. They know that’s stupid. If you have to work for that many years, you might as well try and be happy about going to work.
They are saving more money than we ever did. According to The Christian Science Monitor, they are better at saving and wiser about it. Money magazine agrees. You think you’re so smart? You will be happy when your Millennials can throw a few bucks to your home-health aide to keep you out of a nursing home because you didn’t save any money. They will be too, because they don’t want to be your home-health aide.
Our kids work pretty darn hard, harder than we did. According to the Boston Globe, Millennials are workaholics, probably because they are in jobs that they like. Since they are not willing to stay in a job that makes them miserable, they work harder when they find jobs they like. And they keep looking. So maybe that search for happiness isn’t so selfish after all.
Millennials actually value their work-life balance, according to Forbes. Even though they may be workaholics on one hand, on the other hand, they are known for taking pay cuts to have a work life balance. When they have families they want to be with them. This is a big plus, especially since they are saving more than any other generation before them.
They do and know how to embrace technology. Adweek tells us that they are ever-willing to learn new things. As technology is speeding us up every day, we better have someone to help us with it. I don’t know about you, but I try and find a 12-year-old every time a new app comes out or I can’t figure out how to use my iPhone.
They’re pretty freakin’ smart. Even as we have bogged them down with unimaginable student debt, they listened to us about education. They are the most educated generation ever. I like being surrounded by smart young people. Although just this week my daughter chastised me for ‘mansplaining’ something to her. I corrected her immediately: “I’m not mansplaing, I’m MOMSPLAINING.” That’s always acceptable.
So stop bad-mouthing Millennials. First of all, you raised them. Aren’t you proud of anything they’re doing? Secondly, look closer, they actually have their shit together. In many ways, much more than Baby Boomers. Finally, respect, people. Remember when you were 25 and your parents wondered if you had listened to anything they said? Millennials listened alright, and they took what they needed and left out the bad advice.
To Millennials: We’re still your parents, don’t get all up in our grills, either.
What better time to try and laugh than now? I’m trying….really, I am.
My mom provides me with great material, although I don’t think she means to, and I don’t think she’s always happy to be the topic of a humor blog on a regular basis.
My friend, Lisa on the other hand, LOVES being my topic. I was thinking of her today and all the antics we’ve been through in the last seven years since she fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I know, I know, it doesn’t sound funny, but we became the Lucy and Ethel of healthcare.
There was the time I dropped her off with our best friend, Terri to walk a few blocks to the hospital for a check-up because there was a water main break and traffic was horrendous. I thought it would take me hours to navigate the streets and park. As Lisa and Terri literally waded through the streets of Philly, I found a parking spot in 5 minutes right in front of the hospital.
Then the neurologist wanted to do a stay-at-home brain scan. This is where they wrap your head like a mummy and put some electrodes in there and record you for three days. After they wrapped her head, we decided to go to Marshall’s to look for a hat to cover her mummy-head. Not one hat would go over the wrappings, no wonder the Mummy was so mad, not a fashion was made for him. From Marshall’s we went to the park to do a photo-shoot. Yeah, I just couldn’t pass up that opportunity.
We had to drive an hour into Philadelphia every time she needed to see her eye specialists, which was a lot. It took us at least 10 trips before we figured out that cheap parking was right in front of the hospital and easier to get to.
Then there was the time they changed the procedure to check-in to the eye clinic. They decided that people could check themselves in, using computers. The computers were tightly packed into an area where you had to stand up to use them. This doesn’t seem weird, but a lot of the people in this eye clinic use walkers and wheelchairs. They can’t fit into the space where the computer is located and if they’re in a wheelchair, they can’t reach the computer. AND remember this is an eye clinic. All of the patients are having trouble seeing. We practically peed ourselves trying to figure out how this is a good idea.
Then I took her for surgery and she had to be back in the hospital at 6:00 AM the next morning. It was a long day and a quick night, so we stayed at a hotel right across the street from the hospital. I forgot we were parked in a parking garage between two big cement barriers and ripped my side-view mirror right out of its socket. It dangled from its electrical cord attached to the car. After having it bang against the door for five blocks, I folded the mirror into the car, had to keep the window open for the 50-mile drive home in February snow, and the hi-tech mirror blinked right into my face every time I needed to change lanes or turn left.
And you thought dealing with health issues wasn’t any fun!