I always remember my mom on her birthday. More and more as time goes by she looks back at me from the mirror. My mom was a bit of a character, always up for a good time, unfailingly generous and not one to be messed with. I like to remember her when she was young and healthy, gathering my siblings and cousins into the convertible to drive to the St. Louis Zoo for the day or taking a car load of teenagers to the skating rink. Ours was a home full of activity and other peoples kids and mom entertained them all.
She taught me grace under pressure and showed me how to make adversity into an adventure. It was by her example that I learned to stand up for myself and to let go of the small stuff. And, to be silly now and then because a big belly laugh is good for you.
Had he lived today would have been my dad’s birthday, 90 years I think, but I am not sure. He left us much too soon in the summer of 1981 and I have missed him every day since. When I was still a child my dad’s birthday was always the first of celebrations that filled the last week of January every year. We had cake and ice cream for dad on the 27th, then more cake and ice cream for mom on the 29th and another celebration of their wedding anniversary on the 29th. Celebrations at our house always added friends to family and included games and stories, usually jokes told by dad that we laughed at, again.
Like many daughters I idolized my dad; believed he knew everything and could do anything. He rarely disappointed. I remember he graciously sat between me and another girl whose dad was not around for a father/daughter dinner, he picked up her check and we drove her home. He was my example for how to treat people. When some of his nephews got into trouble, which a couple of them did often, their mothers called on Uncle Mitch to straighten them out. He would sigh, run a hand over his head, then get in the car to go see what he could do to help.
When my children came along Dad became Grand Dad. He loved hanging out with my kids and he was even more a hero to them than to me. My children were absolutely certain the Grand Dad would give them anything and everything they wanted and that nothing could ever be so wrong that Grand Dad couldn’t fix it. They were still children when he died. It was devastating for them. Now, years later, memories of Grand Dad are the best highlights of their childhood.
My favorite memories are of times when dad was joking around, when he was playing with his children then grand children. He and I played together in a golf tournament once and it was a disaster. I played horribly and Dad kept picking up the slack so that we finished just a step up from last. But we laughed off my wiffs and slices and enjoyed our time together. I said at the time that I would never put us through that again, but how I wish he was here to laugh at my third tee shot into the water one more time.
When my grandmother died I was not yet five years old and full of questions about why and where did she go. Finally Dad took me outside where the moon was rising over the trees with a bright star just to the left. Dad said that my grandmother lived behind that star and she could watch us from there, but we could not see her. Thanks, Daddy. I don’t believe there is a life after this one, but my five year old self needed that.
Today I spent time taking my elderly mother-in-law to the grocery and back to the independent living facility where she now lives. During the course of the day I came in contact with others of advanced age, mostly past 85 years, and several things struck me about the different ways people age. Some accept changes graciously and others struggle against every challenge.
At the restaurant, a buffet, where she wanted to have lunch there were several other senior citizens, some with family or friends and others alone. One lady out with what I would guess was her grand daughter pusher her walker along while the younger woman attempted to fill her plate for her. She rejected almost every suggestion, complained that there was no roast chicken, even though the offerings I noticed included fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, chicken fingers as well as roast beef, barbequed ribs and fish. She refused salad, saying she saw on the news that it was poison. The young woman patiently continued to ask do you want this or that until the lady finally said she had enough and they went to a table.
In contrast, a spry looking lady that I overheard tell her companion that at 92 she preferred easy to chew foods as she spooned dumplings onto her plate and commented how delicious they looked. When I went to get cake for Nana and me this lady was deliberating between strawberry jello or cheesecake. She asked me which I thought would be best and we had a very short visit.
On to the grocery store where I often notice human nature at its worst and occasionally at its best. For some reason there is always that couple shopping together with the man taking charge of the cart and defending his woman’s right to the entire aisle as if he is king of the place. It must have hurt when my cart, all by itself, rolled into his ankle right in front of the canned tomatoes. We survived and got Nana and her purchases back to her apartment with no unpleasant incidents.
There as my husband and I were carrying the bags down the hall I noticed a couple in front of us walking slowly along. She was using a walker as was he, but they were pushing those contraptions with only one hand because each of them was holding onto the others hand between them. Their heads were tilted together in conversation. That gave me a smile.
We will all either grow old or die young. Those are the possibilities. Some of us will remain healthy to the end and others will have to accept the limits imposed by illness. I think what ages one most is the negative attitude I saw today and what is most likely to keep one feeling young and healthy is graciously accepting what life gives us. I hope to live everyday until I die, not just struggle along bitching all the way. Not that I won’t bitch, I just hope to at least be jolly about it.
Hello and welcome to the thoughts inside the head of a happy heathen. Happy because of being a heathen, or non-believer if you will, and heathen because I refuse to practice or accept personally religious dogma.
What I do not believe is that there is a superior, all powerful, all knowing being in charge of all things. Neither can I accept that there is a master plan, or really a plan at all. To over simplify, stuff just happens.
What I do believe is that humans are our own worst enemy; that science is real and superstition glorifies that which is not real. I believe in being kind and honest.
There’s more, much more inside my old (almost 70 years) head and I will share that with you as time goes by. I hope to post about my neighborhood, the country, politics, history, the weird ideas that just show up in my mind and maybe something interesting that I see.
I never actually tried this blog thing before, but I hope it will be fun.