On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

A holiday weekend seems like a good time for another look at the lighter side of getting old.

Paddy and Mick, two retired gentlemen, chartered a small plane to fly them into the Canadian Rockies for a week of moose hunting. They had a great week and bagged 6 of the large animals. When the pilot came back to pick them up, he objected.

“The plane can only handle 4 of those,” he said.

The two old timers argued heatedly “Last year we shot 6. The pilot let us take them all, and he had exactly the same plane as yours.”

Reluctantly the pilot agreed, and they loaded all 6. However, while attempting to cross the mountains, the little plane couldn’t handle the load and went down. Miraculously, surrounded by moose bodies, Paddy and Mick survived the crash.

Climbing out of the wreckage, Paddy said,” Any idea where we are?”

“Yeah,” Mick said. “I think we’re pretty close to where we crashed last year.”

Dad didn’t have too much trouble with overloading a vehicle, but he had problems finding his way around as his dementia began to progress. When we were preparing to move to Florida, their house sold early, so they moved in with us. He lived in Carrollton for 20 years, but approaching the town from a different perspective was disorienting. Once he wanted to go to the bank, but he couldn’t find it, so he gave up and came home. And then there was the day he REALLY got lost. He left the house after lunch to take Mom to the beauty salon. The next time I heard from him was at 9:30 that night when he called from a convenience store about 5 miles away asking me to come get them. He had driven who-knows-where for over 9 hours with no idea of where he was or how to get home. He had no cell phone, and I was frantic, wondering how long I should wait before calling the police. Not long after that I confiscated his car keys.

Three elderly gentlemen were talking about what they wanted their grandchildren to say about them in fifty years.

“I would like my grandchildren to say, ‘He was a successful businessman,’” said the first man.

“I want mine to say, ‘He was a loyal family man,'” said the second.

Turning to the third man, the first one said, “What do you want your grandchildren to say about you in fifty years?”

“Me?” he said. “I want them to say, ‘He certainly looks good for his age!'”

I have good genes when it comes to aging. Mom and Dad always looked years if not decades younger than they were, and I’ve been told I wear my years pretty well. I see a line here and an age spot there, but I don’t plan to resort to Botox or plastic surgery. I feel like I earned every line in my face, and I’m going to wear them proudly.

Three older mothers were sitting on a park bench in Miami Beach talking about how much their sons love them.

Sadie said, “You know the Manet painting hanging in my living room? My son bought that for me for my 75th birthday. What a good boy he is. See how much he loves his mother.”

“You call that love?” said Gertie. “You know that new Cadillac I just got for Mother’s Day? That’s from my son Bernie. What a doll.”

Finally, Golda said, “That’s nothing. My son Stanley is seeing a psychiatrist on Park Avenue five times a week at $150 a session. Do you know what he talks about? ME.”

Golda might not be so proud if she knew what Stanley was saying about her. When my first marriage broke up, we all saw various professionals with a wide variety of letters after their names that supposedly indicated they could help us sort out our problems. I saw an individual counselor, and Mom was paranoid, thinking I might be talking about her. I quickly reassured her that I wasn’t. I lied. Christian saw a counselor he called Dr. E, and apparently they talked about me a bit. Sometimes Christian was quiet about his sessions, but sometimes he shared. It was sometimes hard to hear, but it was always helpful. Considering how he’s turned out, I guess I can be as proud as Golda.

As Mr. and Mrs. Smith reached retirement age, Mrs. Smith became concerned about their health. She set up a routine for both of them that included regular visits to the doctor, lots of exercise, and a low-fat diet that included lots of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Mr. Smith was compliant, but he really missed some of his favorite foods, especially his bacon and egg breakfasts.

In spite of Mrs. Smith’s efforts, fate intervened, and the couple was killed in an airplane crash. One minute they were sitting in seats A12 and B12 sipping apple juice and munching on salt-free pretzels, and the next moment they were being ushered through the Pearly Gates by Saint Peter.

“Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” he said. “We’ve been expecting you. Let me show you to your new home.”

As they approached a beautiful, two-story mansion, Mrs. Smith said, “Oh, this is lovely. Will we each have a room, or will we share one?”

“Oh,” said St. Peter. “The whole house belongs to you.”

“How much will that cost?” said Mr. Smith.

“Nothing. There are no mortgages in Heaven. Now let me show you the golf course out back.”

“That’s the most perfect course I’ve ever seen. How much does a round of golf cost?”

“Nothing. There are no green fees in Heaven. You’ve had a long journey. You must be hungry.”

With that, St. Peter took them to a dining hall where they saw a lavish buffet table loaded with all kinds of rich, luscious dishes.

“Oh, I can’t eat any of this,” said Mr. Smith. “I’m on a low-fat, high-fiber diet.”

“Not any more. There are no calories or cholesterol in Heaven.”

Mr. Smith turned to Mrs. Smith and raised one eyebrow. “You and your bran muffins,” he said. “We could have been here five year sooner!”

Mom and Dad’s health improved while they lived with me. I monitored their medications carefully to be sure they didn’t miss a dose or double up on anything. I also watched their diet, and although we had occasional treats and ice cream after dinner almost every night, I didn’t buy the salty and sugary snacks they favored. Aunt Fay once told me she believed that Dad would have had another stroke long before he did if he had not been in my care. Hopefully it will be a while before I follow them into the hereafter, and they won’t be too mad at me by the time I get there.



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