Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Z - Zombie

Z is for Zombie

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


How did I settle on Zombie - as part of my Retirement and Aging theme?

Well, to begin with I love zombie stories.  I read and watch a lot of that theme.  For Z the word Zombie immediately came to mind.  But then the real challenge - tie in Zombie with my theme.




In Aging Backwards by Miranda Esmonde-White, she dedicates a significant portion of the book to exercises specifically selected for older adults.  One section - Straighten Your Posture - uses a movement she calls Zombie.





Instructions: "Completely relax the upper body, bending forward with knees bent and arms relaxed. Sway slowly side to side - then slowly straighten your back to stand straight, rolling up one vertebra at a time."

Bingo!!!  
Zombie is now my final word in this challenge.
  Thank you Ms. Esmonde-White.

Zombie is literally my final bow as I exit this challenge.


Thank you all who followed me to the very end.  
I sincerely hope some of my observations have been interesting,
or put a smile on your face,
or gave you something to think about,
or, at least, gave you a peak at one person's journey through this last stage of life!


And just incase you are wondering!
I probably can get my body into this Zombie position.
The getting out ... that's the tricky part!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Y - Young

Y is for Young

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


I love discussing the idea of 'Young' in a blog series
focused on Retirement and Aging!

Is age really just a number like they say?


If you are 50 talking with a friend who is 70,
 you might feel young.  
But if your 70 year old friend is talking to a friend who is 90, might your 
70 year old friend feel young?
Or
might you just feel you are talking with a friend who has something
to offer, and 'young' or 'old' doesn't enter into the equation?


What age is 'young?'  
Is there an official number?
If you are young at 29 years old on Tuesday, but Wednesday is your 30th birthday,
are you suddenly old at 30, 
or were you just old at 29 and you didn't know it? :-)
Or
might you feel the whole discussion of 'young' and 'old' is
a waste of time and focus on what you contribute to your society at whatever your age?


If you are comfortable in your own skin, 
your natural color hair, your well-earned facial wrinkles, 
 the clothes on your body,
 regardless of colors, or patterns, or style,
regardless of what anyone else thinks of you
 ... is that young?
Or
is judging a 'book by its cover' when talking about humans
an expression of your own ignorance and insensitivity?    

So what do you think?


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday Update: Flu, A-2-Z, and Maryland Sheep and Wool

The Flu

Today marks exactly 2 weeks since my first flu symptom and I am extremely glad to have it in my rear view mirror.  Of course, colds and the like never depart from me without leaving a few non-contagious foot prints behind.  Like drunk and disorderly party guests who refuse to go home, my nose will run for another week until my sinuses sadly realize - the party is over.

I would love to report that I am totally recovered  - but unless I stay on the steroids my doctor prescribed, the sore throat returns - the sore throat that landed me in the ER a week ago because I simply couldn't swallow - the sore throat that could have resulted in an airway obstruction if I hadn't visited the ER to get help.  Although this flu is in my past, looking back at it I am more frightened by the event than I was at the time.  I slept with cold packs on my throat for two nights before seeking help.  One of those nights I could not close my eyes because of major nose bleeds - both symptoms were on top of others I was dealing with at the time.  I now have serious respect for the flu.

My husband is a few days behind me on this flu journey, but he started Tamaflu earlier in the illness so he beginning to turn the corner and climb back slowly and painfully to health once again.

A-2-Z Challenge

I am within days of completing the A-2-Z Challenge.  Thank God for preplanning, writing, and scheduling of posts before the first day of the event.  I would have 'crashed and burned' because of this illness if that work was not done in advance.  My hats off to those who created and posted in real time.

I had to abandon the visits to other blogs, however.  No energy and no way to catch up when new posts are added all the time.  The part I participated in was fun.

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

I am going to get cracking on sanitizing our condo - we are expecting company next weekend for Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Weekend (MDSW) held the first weekend of May every year.  We are expecting out of town guests for this event.  It is the 'Mother of all Sheep and Wool Festivals' in the country. I believe it is the oldest and the biggest fiber fair - with close to 300 vendors.  Events, demonstrations, classes and everything fiber related fill 2 full glorious days.  This year, however, I am starting from a major energy deficit due to illness so I won't be getting around to visit every single vender.  That is fine.  I really don't need anything with regards to yarn.  I have no intention of spending a lot of money. I just need time to soak up the feel-good vibes of this event and take in all the visual splendor that is always Maryland Sheep and Wool.

This is a yearly event for me!  I always say, "I would need to be dead to miss this fair."  I have amended that statement - "I would need to be dead or down with the flu to miss MDSW."  When you are 'too sick to knit' (a statement I never imagined EVER saying)  - attending MDSW is not even on the radar.


















Saturday, April 27, 2019

X - Xi

X is for Xi

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

You know what Xi is, right? 
I use that word at least once a day - sometimes twice!!!


Now, to provide full disclosure ... I don't actually say that word in conversation, or write that word (except for just now) in my correspondence, or even stretch the truth by saying I could use that word in a sentence.  I couldn't even give you a definition until I looked it up ... just NOW.

But use it, I have.

I DO use the word - Xi - because ... wait for it ... I play 'Words With Friends!'  And thank God for the word Xi - because there aren't a bunch of words that begin with X - I know - because I looked them up for this challenge!

Anyway - Xi - is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet.  
Thank you Greek people!

What does that have to do with Retirement and Aging?

I play a lot of word games now.  Keeping my brain engaged and flexible is one of the necessary "to-dos" of retirement - 'cause if you lose that organ's function - you can just pack it up and go home.

So - 
Yea - for Words With Friends
 and Yea for the Greeks. 
You two gems are contributing to my mental well being as I age.

PS - and Yea for A-to-Z,
because without the challenge, 
I wouldn't have bothered to look up the definition of Xi either!!!

Friday, April 26, 2019

W - Wedded

W is for Wedded

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Several years ago my daughter gave me a small book called Wait For Me: The Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage, by Judith Viorst.  She received it as a gift from Ms. Viorst who she knows.  My daughter gifted the book to me.  In this post - as I discuss nearly 50 years of marriage - this June - to my husband, I will feature small quotes pulled from the book.

It destroys one's nerves to be amiable
every day to the same human being.
Benjamin Disraeli 

I remember a time when my husband and I traveled to an anniversary party thrown by my family for my grand parents on their 50th wedding anniversary.  We were either engaged or newly married.  I could not imagine 50 years ... so far off - almost an impossible period of time.

The Irritations
I am only trying to help
When I observe that every tie that you wear has been stained
By food you have failed to transport to your mouth from your plate,
And you're only trying to help when you tell me I've gained, 
Along with a lifetime of wisdom, a bit too much weight.
Judith Viorst

When facing our own 50th anniversary in June, I marvel at how different we both are today from who we were in 1969.  Would we have been drawn to each other in 1969 if we were as we are today?  Probably not.  My husband and I are now as different as a circle is from a square.  But we established a home and a family ...  as well dealt with the joys, sorrows and struggles of life.  Most importantly we learned to also make room for each other to grow into the people we are today.  We made so much room for change that the people we are today are not natural pairing of like minds as you would expect in a long marriage.  But that may be the key to our success.  We allowed that difference to develop and we didn't use it as a reason to divorce - as many may have.

In every marriage more than a week old, there
are grounds for divorce.  The trick is to find,
and continue to find, grounds for marriage.
Robert Anderson

The number of couples making it into retirement together (regardless of the years married) is probably pretty good based an informal sampling of my peer group (not scientific I know.)  But couples married in their 20s that are still married to the same person at the time of retirement - well, that number is smaller, I would guess. Finding a reason to divorce seems much more common than finding a reason to stay married for 50 years.

The Consolations
In a world here everyone's powering on and off,
In a world where hacking doesn't refer to a cough,
In a world where nothing on earth is too arcane
For Google to instantaneously explain,
And tattoos aren't only for thugs but for the elite,
It's nice you're as twentieth-century,
As stubbornly twentieth-century,
As hopelessly twentieth-century as I am.
Judith Viorst


So although I didn't see this anniversary when I was younger (and I can recall a few other times when I wasn't sure we would make it), we did make it to that 50 year mark!  How did we do it?

  • First - We didn't try to change each other. Although we get in each other's way at times, our paths in life are not "our path" - it is more like "my path" and "his path" but parallel.  
  • Second - We believe in the traditional vow we took.  Nothing fancy or made up.   To love, honor and obey until death do us part (although the 'obey' part I have kind of fudged a bit.)  I believe the wording of this traditional vow is the hardest of all vows to keep - short and to the point - no gray areas or wiggle room.  
  • Finally, I guess we were just a bit lucky.

Wait For Me
So just in case there's a place where we go when we die,
And just in case you should get there before I do,
I don't, when it's my turn, want to spend eternity
looking for you.
So let's decide where we'll meet.  Let's decide
Where you'll wait for me.
Judith Viorst

Will we make "until death do us part?"  Yes.  But the thought of being the one left behind knocks me  off center a bit.  You see, I married my husband right after my college graduation ... moved from my parents home into our new life - not one day spent as an independent adult.  All those years we shared the responsibilities of living.   But since his disability I have taken over all the responsibilities - from  bills to trash - and everything in between.  I can take care of myself if he dies first ... so that is not the problem.  But who is the person I will be if that happens?   Not someone's child and not someone's wife.   I will need to sort all that out if given the chance - independently, without anyone's help.   It may takes some time, but I'll land on my feet I am quite sure.

I always have.

We've been through "I told you it wasn't worth all that money."
We've been through "For once in your life admit that you're wrong!"
***
Most of the time, what's good overrides aggravation,
And so far we've somehow escaped some really close calls,
Suggesting we're in this together for a duration
That could continue long after the curtain falls.
Judith Viorst

Where is love in this discussion?   Despite all the songs, love stories, poetry and movies ... love is not an easy emotion to define.  It's not uncommon to hear a divorcee admit to still have love for the former spouse.  They just couldn't live together.  As a younger person I would not understand that kind of relationship.  Now after 50 years and lots of growth - I do understand it.  In my heart I believe that there must be more than love for a successful marriage that has staying power well into retirement.  That is true for us - and I believe it is true for a lot of people.







Thursday, April 25, 2019

V - Vigilance

V is for Vigilance!

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


My mom was in my home for 5 years - and in Assisted Living and Nursing for 3 years.  But for two years prior to moving in with me - I could see changes happening.  This elder person who happened to be my mom was showing signs of ... well ... at first I wasn't sure what the signs represented.  She still lived independently, she still drove, she still paid her bills, she still went to church and the senior center, she still did everything she did before.  But something was changing and I couldn't put my finger on it.

Decline can happen slowly.  It can easily be overlooked.  Seniors are great at hiding short falls in behaviors.  Early in their decline they are probably aware of some limitations - aware that they can't do things they used to do, aware that some tasks become just too much, or too confusing.  And they are also aware that they are probably beginning to fail in some indefinable way.  They compensate by hiding that fact from others - because independence is the last jewel of a persons life - something to be locked away where no one can take it.

Family doesn't see a lot in the beginning.  I know.  I didn't.  I saw a tiny red flag in a sea of normalcy.  A tiny red flag that probably is just an imaginary spec of dust.  And subterfuge is not difficult for an elder to perform in a sea of normalcy if family isn't paying close attention. So initial years of decline can artfully be hidden from the casual eye.

This inability to see is so common in families.  I know that some members of my family were unable to see what I saw.  Does that make them bad people?  Absolutely not.  But just like any other familiar thing in your life - you can overlook, fail to see what is in front of you. Or sometimes you see the problem but really don't want to see it, admit it is happening - and minimize it in your mind.  It is normal.  But so is being aware normal.  Hopefully someone in a family is aware - it is elder family member's safety net.

When does that safety net needs to be activated? That is were Vigilance needs to step in!

Vigilance
 is no more than the action or state of keeping careful
 watch for possible problems or difficulties.

It doesn't mean stepping in at the very first sign of a memory lost, a forgotten name or an item misplaced in plain view.  We all do that.  No, vigilance means being aware of behavior patterns or problems that are new or maybe developing.

My vigilance began 2 years before mom moved in with me.  When I started paying attention, I tried to make excuses for what I was seeing.  I wanted my mom to live the rest of her days independent, happy and loved.  But at some point my excuses were piling up.  I became vigilant without even knowing I was doing it.  I started my slow campaign for a move into a more secure and safe development - maybe one for seniors - with some oversight.  I really didn't think she need more than that.  At least at that point - it was what I thought.

After 2 years of discussions (and 2 years of her further decline), I realized she needed more than a little oversight!  I finally convinced her to move in with me.  Within one week of that move, I discovered just how far she had declined and how exceeding good she was at hiding that fact.

My gut, my vigilance for those 2 years was telling me a 'truth.'  She needed help!  I didn't realize how much help until she moved under my roof.

Over her last years my vigilance slowly expanded to all parts of her life:  medical appointments, medication administration, driving, illnesses, hospitalization, rehab stays, assisted living, and nursing care.  I literally became her voice, her eyes, her decision maker, and even her 'mother' when she got confused.  In her last days when she was unconscious waiting for death, the nursing home administered a drug to reduce her anxiety through the dying process.  I approved of that.  But they wanted to give her an oral drug - and she could not swallow!  It was to be administered under the tongue.  But it made her cough every time.  She was in a coma-like state - not aware of her surroundings, but she still required someone to be vigilant on her behalf.

If you have an elder person in your life - don't forget to really see them.  Don't see just what you want to see - really look, be aware, be vigilant.  Don't let that person slip through the safety net of their own world because you haven't been vigilant.





Wednesday, April 24, 2019

U - Unaware

U is for Unaware

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


When my mom mentally began to fail in her late 70s, I was unaware of what was ahead.  I was unaware of exactly how much energy if would take of me to be her caregiver.  I was unaware that I would have to break promises I made to her regarding nursing home care.  I was unaware that as her brain failed her, I would find myself at times short of patience.  I was unaware of the total sacrifice of my personal health and emotional well-being I would have to make to care for her until her last breath.

I was unaware of so much.

What I did know was that I could not turn away, put her care in the hands of someone else at the first sign of problems ... not until I tried, until I had no choice.

Mom lived with me for 5 years and then 3 years in Assisted Living and Nursing Home Care.  At our first family meeting with the facility's disciplines of Nursing, Social Service and Life Enrichment, I marveled on how giving, caring, patient and engaging the staff was with my mom.  There was never a harsh or impatient word with her or any of the residents (and I visit a lot and watched a lot.)   I commented that I understood very intimately how hard this elder care was - because I had walked in their shoes for 5 long years.  I will never forget the Social Worker's response to my observation ... "Well, of course, we can do this well.  There are many of us and we work 8 hour shifts.  There was only one of you, and you worked 24/7."  I struggled to keep from tearing up in front of this stranger.  She was aware of the price I paid every single day - she knew very well the sacrifice that was needed.  For the first time in 5 years I felt understood.  Until that moment, rightly or wrongly, I felt I was surrounded by people who were unaware of what I gave of myself for my mom.

I believe that all caregivers who take on this vocation are unaware at some level and underestimate the personal expense it will demand.  It was an isolating life, and it is truly a 'marathon' with no finish line.

It has been 12 years since I moved mom into my home.  When I think of that decision and how unaware I was of the effort I was taking on - I look back and think ... would I do it again?

The answer is - yes!
The other "choice" I could not live with.
I have no regrets.

Would I want my children to take on this effort - on my behalf?
No.  Never.  And I have already told them so.
I know the cost.
Mothers protect their children.
They are unaware.



 





Tuesday, April 23, 2019

T - Time

T is for Time

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Do you remember when you were young and Time seemed to pass ever so slowly?  You wanted Time to go by fast so you could get to the next thing!

  • the next birthday - especially the BIG ones: the first 'teen birthday,'  sweet 16 birthday, or the big - 21st birthday.
  • the big holidays - for me December dragged on so slowly till Christmas.
  • first day in first grade, graduation from high school, first day in college.

Curiously, the older you got, the faster time passed!  When my son signed up for the military and I dreaded the arrival of the day he left for boot camp.  He was on a delayed admission so we waited months before he left - but that time passed in a blink of an eye for me - probably dragged for him.

Time passes no faster or slower than it did centuries ago.  It is just our perception of the speed of time ... but I find it interesting that almost all people share the same perception.  It is probably the only perception in life that we share exactly the same way!

As I aged I looked forward to retirement and having more time.  No one really has more or less time.  Said properly - I would have more control of how I spent my Time in retirement - rather than having more of Time.  And that is the joy of retirement.  

What is not so joyful about Time and retirement is that I am older now.  I know my life span is limited - my Time is limited.  Maybe I have 10 more years, maybe I have 20 ... or maybe I have only 1.

Time becomes more precious - I don't want it to pass quickly. I want Time to stick around a bit longer.  I still have a looonnng list of things I would like to do and see with the Time I have left. 

As I get older the value I place on time is similar to the person who gets a devastating terminal diagnosis.  That person knows for a fact they don't have 10 years or 20 years or maybe not even 1.  What they do have rather suddenly is an increased value of Time.  They see each day, each hour, each minute through a different lens.

I am using a different lens now. 
My only regret - I didn't change lenses 
sooner.

Don't have regrets.
Change your lenses now!  







Monday, April 22, 2019

S - Swedish Death Cleaning

S is for Swedish Death Cleaning

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Bet I got your attention with that title.  
It is a real thing and it caught my attention as well.

Swedish Death Cleaning for Beginners:
How to Declutter and Downsize your way to a happy home and life
by Sara Hodges.  

WOW - I thought.  Death Cleaning!  How is that different from any of the other declutter, downsize, minimize, frugality readings I have done?  Can there possibly be anything new "under the sun" on this series to topics that I haven't seen yet.

The simple answer is yes - and I have actually seen this done but did not realize what it was!

I am a long time down-sizer, a sometimes frugality proponent, and a dabbler in the minimalist movement!  I have done my fair share of reading on all those topics from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (from the 1990s) up to and including Marie Kondo's recent best seller  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Since the 1990s I have cleaned out, organized, downsized, decluttered and drove my self totally nuts - making room in a 2,200 square foot town house for returning family members to live.  First it was for my mother-in-law who was in hospice for lung cancer (yes, I was her caregiver too), then for a returning son after military service, then for a daughter during a down time, then for my mom who was no longer able to live on her own, and finally for myself and my husband as we did the traditional senior citizen downsize - to move into 1375 square feet of condo space. I thought I knew a lot about this topic - 'cause I had lots of practice.

What could this little book offer me - except the answer to what was 'death cleaning.'

Grims-ville!  I thought.
 So, of course, I read on!!


What the heck is Death Cleaning?

The author says it best on the first page of Chapter 1 ...

"To put it simply, the art of Swedish death cleaning is about ridding your home of possessions that you don't want, need or use, so when you do happen to kick the bucket, your loved ones are not left with the grave emotional task of shifting through 80+ years of your stuff.  It's a blatantly honest approach to decluttering your home and a very transparent way to look at all the things that you possess."

Light bulb time!  
Ok, I get it!
Clean out your own stuff
So your relatives don't have to do it for you.

I will say that the words "art" in relation to throwing things out ... and "kick the bucket" in relation to dying - made me smile a bit.

Before you say why should I care about Death Cleaning - let me share a story about an uncle that my cousin shared with me.

My Uncle Walter died the month before my mom.  His son, my cousin, called me a month later to offer his condoences.  We hadn't chatted in probably 30 years.  But we both lost parents within a month of each other.  It was good to talk.

Uncle Walter lived in the same house he brought his bride to in the 1950s.  He died in 2014 and his wife pre-deceased him by many years.  You might anticipate, expect, understand ... if his house was filled to the brim with all the little items of living until 90 and on his own as a widower for many years.  But you would be wrong.  At his death, he left behind a totally cleaned out house - with only the items he needed to live.  His closets were totally bare except for his one personal clothes closet, excess furniture was gone, surfaces were totally clear.  My cousin said when they entered the house after his father's death to prepare it for sale - they discovered the wonderful gift he left behind for his children ... a house that required no cleaning, no repair and no clean out!  NONE!

My Uncle did 'death cleaning' without knowing about this topic or book.

So death cleaning may not be important to you - but it is a wonderful last gift to give the ones who love you.

Yes, I have swept my life clean of things that were redundant and unnecessary in downsizing to this smaller condo.  But I am not done yet.  My downsize journey going forward with be for a different audience other than myself.  It will be for my children - so when they are in the midst of grieving (after I kick the bucket,) they won't have to be further weighed down by the weight of all my stuff.




Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Update - Walking and other stuff

Hello all

Happy Easter to those who celebrate this religious holiday.

Just a little update - in between all the A-2-Z postings.

I missed last Sunday's check in.  I didn't want to miss today's check in.

The bad news is nothing to report on walking ... because ... I have been too sick to do anything beyond take naps, stare at the TV with glassy eyes or listen to an audio book.  I thought this might be another cold (6th of the season), but, no, nothing simple like a cold. After 4 days of increasing symptoms I visited a mini-clinic near me.  Flu A, was the diagnosis.  Apparently it was a strain that was not covered by my flu shot.

Friday was my birthday.  It was a pretty miserable day - feeling terrible - rain - and all our weekend plans cancelled.

Saturday morning I woke up even worse.  Could . Not . Swallow!!  Eyes both blood shot red red red.  So I returned to the clinic ... who bounced me to the ER!  Six hours later - after fluids to get me hydrated and a CAT scan of my neck and a push of steroids through the IV to shrink my swollen throat and blood work, and new prescription drugs - the diagnosis still is  .... All Flu.  Flu.  Flu.

And Saturday night, while I was feeling half way to human again - my husband spiked a temp of 102.6.  We are not out of the woods yet, I fear.

Walking??  Well, its been over 2 weeks since my shoes have hit the pavement - no walking unless you count the steps from the living room recliner with TV to the bedroom and back again (between naps.). The flu really takes it out of you.

All I can say is I am glad that I wrote and scheduled all the A-2-Z postings in March.  At least that goes on without me.  I am behind visiting the blogs in the challenge, but may be able to catch up at some point.

While I am in a flu-coma I am listening to the audio book Gone With The Wind.  I know I read the book a very long time ago and I saw the movie and I probably listened to this audio version before - but it has been great fun to hear the story again - and at 44+ hours of listening (long book), it should distract me until I am more well.  There is a lot of civil war history in this story, of course, but it is the kind of history I really enjoy:  how people lived, what was important to them, what that war was like for the civilians - the inside story that is often missed in factual retelling of history books.

I'll check back next Sunday with an update when I am not a human germ making machine (hopefully.)



Saturday, April 20, 2019

R - Rollercoaster

R is for Rollercoaster





I sometimes think of the stages of life like amusement park rides.

Image result for carousel free clipart
123RF.com

Infancy and childhood

 Merry-go-round: safe, colorful, happy, great memories, different ways to ride - in carriage, or up and down on a horse, or on a stable giraffe.  Innocents.  Joy.  Learning.  Loving.  Eyes wide open.  Parents near by.  All is wonderful.

Image result for fun house clip art
iStock

Teen Years

Fun House - only sometimes not so fun for teens or their parents.  Ride in to the Fun House and expect the unexpected:  scared, happy, laughing, screaming, crying, and when the ride is over, come out the other side whole (hopefully) and happy that you don't have to go through THAT again!

Image result for ferris wheel clipart
Clip Art Mag
Adult life

Ferris wheel - predictable highs and lows, time to interact with the world from a rather high safe position, without too much risk, but ... as with anything there is always some risk.  Sometimes people fall off those things and get injured or die before they get to the final ride - rare, but it happens.  Just like in life.




Image result for roller coaster clipart
clip-art.com

Elderly Life

A Rollercoaster - especially the roller coasters of old.  Those rickety ones made of wood (that rollercoaster enthusiasts say are the best) and are pretty dangerous.

Now prepare for the 'thrill' ride of your life,
(and prepare yourself for the longest run on sentence you will ever read.)

The ride starts out slow with a steady creep upward, feeling good, life is grand, the view feels free and open, you can see it all, no work - just play, free time to spare, and pulled along predictably by life,  nearing the top ...  until a sudden down turn hits (usually an illness) catching you by surprise,  and the slide down may be fast and huge ...  until things level out a bit and you begin to climb again, out of that health-hole slowly, regaining strength and health, the view improves again, you near the top ... until you come to another downturn, surprised AGAIN, your brain says this can't be, and reaching a new lower level then before ... but then you rise slowly up, improving and improving, looking for the view which is beyond your reach, and never as high up as before,  but you settle for a 'new normal,'  the view is not so grand but you cope ... and so repeats the up and down of the senior experience with new lower normals each time you fall.

That, dear friends, is the amusement park of life!
Not always fun, but I would argue,
 it is definitely worth the trip!!

After all, 
the view from the very top of that first hill on the rollercoaster
 is spectacular
as is the whole ride of life!!




Friday, April 19, 2019

Q - Quality of Senior Medical Care - an Opinion

🎵 Happy Birthday to me. 🎉
🎠 Happy Birthday to me. 🎡
🎼  Happy Birthday, dear me! 🎶
🎉  Happy Birthday, to me. 🎊

Finally, actually 72 years of age - today at 8:45 pm.  I remember my 30th birthday.  Mom called to wish me a Happy Birthday.  She said she was calling at the exact time I was born 30 years ago. 8:45 pm!  I laughed and said that ... no, mom, I was born at 8:45 am ... she had missed it by 12 hours.   Mom quickly corrected me saying, no, I was born at 8:45 pm.   She was there and aware of the time - AND this was before I could tell time!!!  8:45 PM

Crap!  Here I was commiserating ALL DAY LONG that I was 30 years old, when in fact I was only 29 until just that moment.  I had been cheated out of 12 hours of being 29!!!

Today is my 72nd birthday and I elect to take those 12 hours of being 29 TODAY!!
 And so ... as you read this post, just know
 I am the oldest looking 29 year old you will ever see!
(at least until 8:45 pm - and then I will be the youngest looking 72 year old you will see!!
haha!)

*****

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Ok, back to the blog challenge!  A more serious topic!

Quality of Senior Medical Care

Quality of Senior Medical Care is a serious concern of mine.  Medical care is pretty good in my area - I have no problem with the quality of medical care generally.  But during the last 8 years with mom, I learned that the medical care system is designed to keep you alive - at all costs - without consideration for the quality of living - Period, The End.

It can sometimes forget that living is more than just a beating heart!

More times than I can count, I needed to intercept / interpret / evaluate the need for care for mom against what that care would do to her in the aftermath.  Let's take an example:

Mom was diagnosed with a rather large aneurysm on her descending aorta from her heart.  I agree, that is a very serious life threatening condition.  She was in the hospital, however, for one of her many UTIs (Urinary Track Infections), that are SO common in the elderly (and yes they do hospitalize the elderly at times for this condition.)  I can't remember how they discovered this aneurysm in her chest, when her complaint centered in her belly - but they did. When the doctor told us of the aneurysm, he said something like ... "Really, this is serious, typically we wouldn't discharge her with this aneurysm and would insist on surgery to fix this.  It is a big, big, big aneurysm.  What did you think?" ... I looked at him.  Was he kidding??  What do I think??  So I told him. "There would be no surgery.  My mother's health was not good (many many other issues).  If she didn't die on the operating table, she would most certainly be bed ridden for the rest of her life, because the enforced weeks of bed rest would totally sap any little strength she had now.  She would never recover to her current disabled status."  I remember his eyes got big.  I am sure he noted in the chart that patient's daughter refused treatment for a life threatening condition.  He was off the hook.

The important point here is that the elderly need an advocate with them to guide the decisions of a hospitalization - ideally 24/7 advocacy, - because care in a hospital is 24/7.  Mom was suffering mildly from her dementia at the time of this conversation.  She could converse normally to the unfamiliar ear.  If I wasn't there, I don't know how that conversation would have played out.  Would she say yes?  Would she say no?  The bottom line is that doctors want to 'fix' things - they don't want to release a patient with a life-threatening condition no matter what their age.  I get that.  But sometimes you have to balance quality of life over longevity of life.  High quality medical care can keep you going for a very long time - but it can also hurt you if not managed in a humane and reasonable way.

And just so you know the full story, mom died 4 years later from dementia - not from that aneurysm which did not show on her death certificate ... or from her kidney failure or her Cardiac Heart Failure (CHF) or the painful boils on her legs or from the arthritis throughout her body - it was her brain disease, dementia, that was first on her death certificate that killed her.  Surgery I believe would have certainly taken her from this earth earlier.

Was I right or was I wrong!  I guess it is a matter of opinion.  But all the decisions I made on my mom's behalf are decisions I can live with - to this very day.  I believe I gave her more life - not less - and the quality of her life was surely better than trapped in a bed.

Mom was in the hospital many many times.   I was with her always.  Sometimes I would walk down the hallway to the cafeteria and I would see other very very old folks in beds - many without anyone to speak for them.  I always felt badly for those folks.  Always.

I have a special soft spot in my heart for only 3 things in life:
children, animals and the elderly!
Everyone else can fend for themselves!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

P - Pets


You know ... when I did the letter G earlier in the month - I featured my grand child.  If you missed that post - click here.  And if you didn't miss that post, click here, anyway. My grand daughter is just that cute.

No really - I'll wait ...

And ... because I know you didn't go back -

The picture doesn't do her justice!
She is a seriously cute kid!

P is for Pets

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Why did I begin my P post with a picture of my grand child
 (other than the fact she was worth a second look?)

My very first 'grandchildren' had 4 legs!  Pets are 'family' to me. I know that point of view is not universal to everyone!  But if you have pets you probably understand that it is the only way on earth to get complete and total unconditional love - without judgement or expectations or anything else that gets in the way of human interactions.

For the elder citizen, that unconditional shared love is important to emotional and psychological health.

Just the presence of a dog or a cat in an assisted living or nursing home raises the quality of life for the residents.  In my mom's assisted living home - they had a resident dog.  Some of the homes had birds and one resident was allowed to bring her cat with her.   On my initial tour of the facility, I knew the moment I saw how pets were integrated into the daily life, this place cared about more than just the physical well being of their residents. They were interested in the whole person.

So ... here are my very first grand children.

Meathead

Meathead "Meaty" is gone now.  He was my son's first dog - and English Bull Dog.
He lived until almost 12 - which is a long time for the breed.
He was adored ... and he knew it!  He was well behaved and dignified in his later years.
We called him 'The King' and he lived up to that title.  He is most certainly missed.

Grimace

Grimace was a Pug, my son's second dog, and he is also gone now.
Grimace and Meathead were buds!  Grimace was a rescue.
Over the years he became a bit confused about who his owner was.
He LOVED his grandma so much that towards the end of his life
he believed he belonged to me and was just visiting my son.
We were soul mates - that dog and I - and I miss him so very much.

Milo

Milo is a French Bulldog and he belongs to my daughter.  He is now the senior
member of the collective family dogs and considers himself
now to be 'The King.'  (Frenchies actually think they are born King.)
Milo is now in his senior years.  His grandma loves him so dearly.
We share some of the same medical conditions and are about the same relative age!
And that age would be 'old.'
Live long, dear Milo!


Olivia

Olivia (Livvy for short) is another rescue and is a mixed breed dog - Mountain Dog and  Hound.
She had a rocky start in life, but she hit the jackpot in finding her 'forever' home when my son and
daughter-in-law adopted her.  She is sweet, mild mannered and smart as a whip!
Her vocabulary is amazing.  She is devoted beyond measure to my
daughter-in-law who found her at the pound.  Grandma calls her "girl friend" cause she
is just that special.
Live long - dear Olivia

Ragnar

Yep!  Another English Bull Dog.  What to say about Ragnar (Rags).  Firstly,
this picture is young Rags.  He is all grown now, but I love this picture.  He, like all bulldogs, thinks he is King.
He is fun, overly energetic, overly athletic, exceedingly crazed, ADHD kind of 'guy.'
But he is loved loved loved for all his qualities - and he loves you back
with big enthusiasitc sloppy kisses - which grandma isn't a big fan of -
but she knows his heart is in a good place.
This dog is smart as a whip too, and probably has a great vocabulary -
but in typical bull dog fashion, he hears what you say and needs time to "think about it"
before getting back to you on your 'request.'  Ha!
Live long - dear Rags, but please, just slow down a little. Ha!  

Just so you don't think that my kids have ALL the pets, here is a picture of my two boys - right, cats!  Since my grand dogs visit often and I walk them in the neighborhood, neighbors were surprise to discover I had cats ... not dogs!!

Max and Wally

Yes, they are brothers!
Max (left) and Wally (Right)
Max died 2 years ago from life long kidney disease - a condition we treated
with every other day with subcutaneous fluids - for 9 long years.
He was kind of a miracle kitty because of his long life span with that disease.
Wally is still with us.  He is going on 12 years old and still going strong.
Did he miss his brother when he died?
Not one little bit - in fact - Wally blossomed as an only cat.
More outgoing, friendly, loving and inquisitive.
Guess he was glad to finally step out of his brother's shadow!
Live long ... dear Wally!  

Life without pets would be
 a poor quality of life for me at any age!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

O - Old

O is for Old


#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


Or specifically - How old is old!


I know I planned to base my posts on personal experience - but really - this particular post would be pretty darn short if I didn't do some research.  It might look like this.

How Old Is Old?

Oh, maybe 95!

The End!

I know.

If you are 25, my current age of 72 is old, but from where I stand, it is not old!  And you can get back to me when you are 72, and tell me what you think is old then!

I managed to find a free ebook on line called 40 Issues for an Aging Society - a Guide for Students, by J. James Cotter, PHD.  It is a very readable quick work - 90 pages printed out (yes, I printed it out) and it covers a broad range of issues (a "starting point") on aging for students (so, inquiring minds do want to know.)  The book is grounded in research with many many references for further reading on each topic.  In his introduction he makes this statement:

"The Aging Tide is coming in.  We have a new frontier of age and aging.  In 1900 about 1 in every 20 persons was old.  By 2030, it will be 1 in 5.  The fastest growing population group is those over age 85."

Wow!  He is talking about me and my generation (crap!!). Those numbers were staggering to me.   In 2030 I will be 83 - approaching that 85 mark.  Being born in 1947, I am at the beginning of this baby-boomer generation that is flooding in behind me.

The third section of his book is called:

How old is old anyway?  The changing View of Age.

It begins with a quiz.

How do you know when you're old?
    A - It's the number of years since the date on your birth certificate
    B - It's how much more effort if takes to walk up that long hill.
    C - It's when society tells you you're old.
    D - All of the above.

His answer?  D - All of the above is the answer.    Hmm....

Dr. Cotter quotes the work of Ken Dychtwald in Age Power.  Mr. Dychtwald suggests a change in the way we look at older ages.  He suggest these categories:

      Middlescence - 40 to 60 years of age

      Late Adulthood - 60 to 80 years of age

      Old Age - 80 to 100 years of age

Ok!  I am liking Mr. Dychtwald's ideas!  I am ok with the label Late Adulthood!!

I am not saying that to be funny!  It is pretty much how I feel physically and mentally.  Granted, sometimes in the morning I feel more like 90, but once I get my "engine running," I feel like I aways did in my 50s!

Increased life expectancy has changed the definitions of old.  Dr. Cotter makes the point that in Ancient Rome the average life expectancy was 20 years!  Gosh!  That sounds sooo short.  Glad I wasn't born then.  In America around 1900, the average life expectancy was 45 years.  I wouldn't happy with that either.  Today, at my age of 72 - my average life expectancy is 84.  Of course Dr. Cotter notes that many elements play into those totals - "the advances in medicine and health care, ethnicity (inequality persists,) and environment."  But as you can see - the definition of "old" slides upward as time goes on.

Not to be a "Debbie Downer" - but I can't help feeling that man is designed by nature to live only so long.  We are organisms, after all, and not meant to live forever.  I wonder if we have finally pushed the envelope of exactly how long we can live productive healthy lives - given the limitations that are probably hard wired into us!  Just a personal observation - not based on anything I have read.


Dr. Cotter ends the chapter on 
How Old is Old
 with this statement:

      "The best definition of old - 
ten years older than your current age."

I was thinking the same thing!  














Tuesday, April 16, 2019

N - No

N is for No!

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


Ahh!  
The Power of No!


I knew the power of No when I was 2 years old - about 70 years ago.  But, as all children learn soon after they learn that glorious word, parents like Yes better than No.   No ... the word fell out of my vocabulary pretty rapidly - especially when it was followed up by time outs, angry words, and fewer treats!  (I am willful, not stupid!)

No got very little use until I was in my 50s.  And I am very sorry to have waited so long to resurrect the use of the word No.

In retirement and in your older years, No, becomes very very important!  The word No becomes your friend.  My mom was a Yes person until the day she died.  I guess she learned from her parents as I did - that Yes was easier.  It pleases everyone when you say it.  And generally, it makes life easier to everyone else if you say Yes.  But it typically makes your life harder when you always say Yes.

I got a lot of practice saying No to my mom when I was her caregiver.  "No, mom, you can't put that hearing aid in your mouth."  "No, mom, you can't drive your car if you go through red lights."  "No, mom, you can't refuse this medication if you want your heart to beat normally."

I even got good at saying No to doctors and nurses.  "No, my mom can't have contrast for her MRI - her kidneys are failing!!"   "No, I won't let her be discharged from the hospital until you fix the XYZ problem!!"  "No, she can't swallow pills.  Use another method (duh)."  I said No to those folks a lot.  And let me tell you ... doctors generally don't like it when patients and caregivers speak their minds.  They are looking for a Yes!  And if you ask them to explain exactly why your No should be changed to a Yes, some doctors just don't have the time for that!

I made sure my own children were paying attention to all the times I was saying No on my mom's behalf!  Listen up my darling children - It is ok to say No on my behalf if I can't speak for myself in the future.  No, I don't want to be kept alive by machines.  No, I don't want to live with either of you.  Assisted Living or Nursing Care is just fine if that is what is necessary!

My daughter is employed in the Retirement Continuing Care Industry, and she understands the needs of seniors, knows my wishes.  She has it all worked out, however, in her mind.

She informed me recently that she will not need to stand up and say No for me ... because she won't get a chance to get a word in.   I will be busy shouting my orders, directing my wishes, pointing my finger at everyone and saying No, No, No - loudly and often!*

😝

She's probably right!


*PS - One other thing about No people.  They aren't all that easy to take care of in their senior years! I intend to be a handful!!  (If my children are reading now - there is a whole lot of eye rolling going on.)



Monday, April 15, 2019

M - Mortality

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter



M is for Mortality


I read on Facebook
'Humans are the only creatures on earth
 that are aware of their own mortality.'

If this was on Facebook it must be true.  
Ha!

Don't know if that statement is correct - lots of discussion on other websites when I googled that comment.

Mortality can be a difficult subject no matter how you approach it.

I believe for the young, the idea of mortality is a distant theory-like idea, unlikely to occur anytime soon, if ever!!  It is sort of a 'maybe,' but surely not tomorrow or the next day!

It is only when you are older - maybe retired - that you start to think about how much of a life you have left ahead of you.  I am 72.  That is not a mid-life age number no matter how you work it!  Another 28 years would put me at 100,  but I don't feel strongly about reaching 100.  If I could see age 90 - another 18-20 years - that would be nice.  Trying to determine how much longer you've got is really a silly exercise.  Tomorrow is not promised to anyone - not even someone who is 19 years old.

Of course that doesn't stop me from speculating about it.  I was ponding my mortality one afternoon while I was out for a walk ... and what things around me would still be there when I am not!  Ok, stupid thought really.  Once I settled on the fact that EVERYTHING would still be here after me - I had to laugh.  I am the only object in this present moment with the shortest expiration date. Ha!  Note - I said 'object.'

None of this examination of my mortality included people around me - just me outlasting stuff -  duh - stuff doesn't die!! You just have to visit an museum to know that some stuff hangs around for centuries.  Weird thoughts and where the heck to they come from.  Then it occurred to me ... isn't it possible that the idea of my own mortality is something I still 'dance around' even at the advanced age of 72.  Is one's own mortality so difficult to fully and completely accept that you just can't imagine the world without you in it?

Things changed a bit when my grand child was born, and I started thinking about the milestones of her life against my own life expectancy.  Would I be alive to see her graduate from high school, get a driver's license, her first boy friend, marriage?  I never examined those questions in regards to my own children - I was young enough to say - "Well, of course, I will be around for all that."   Remember one's own death is only a theory in the mind of a young person.  But now ...  how many milestones could I expect to see for my grand daughter at my current age of 72?

I became a grandmother late in life. I'll miss a few of her life events, I know.  I won't say those 'misses' didn't plague me a bit - but in considering my own mortality in the number of birthdays left verses her growing up into the cutest little person ever - being present every day makes the most sense to me.



In fact this actual examination of my own mortality against the milestones of my grand daughter's life gave me some peace of mind on this topic.  How lucky I am - I was here for her birth, I saw my son become a fabulous father, I saw her first Christmas, her first birthday, her first steps, her first words, her gorgeous smile!!

I feel like every single day of her life that I witness is precious and important!
The question of mortality?? 
Just not that important!

I can live the rest of my days 
comfortably with the thought!










Saturday, April 13, 2019

L - Loss


#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

L is for Loss

A realistic overview of Retirement and Aging cannot be complete without talking about the topic of loss.  It is, unfortunately,  a depressing but predictable and part of the aging story - universal regardless of your income level or social standing.  For example - even Prince Philip in England has finally had his driving privileges withdrawn after a serious motor vehicle accident.

The impact of age and its resulting losses knows no boundaries.

All humans experience normal gains and losses throughout their lives.  Generally normal gains out weigh losses easy in life.  What is different in the elderly, is that losses far outnumber the gains as each year passes.

If you are not following my line of thinking let me offer an example of my mom's gains and losses in her years with me.

Mom had lived a very normal lower-middle class life after dad died in 1970.  She was a secretary, she never owned property, she drove, owned a car, saved money, and traveled.  Sure, she had losses during that time, but she also had many gains.  Independence, consistent employment and standard of living, a growing group of friends, great health, a close family, a comfortable retirement and lots of free time.  It was a typical gain-and-loss kind of life - the kind most of us live.



But then aging started to slow down her retirement mojo and her losses began to outnumber her gains.

It was noticeable in her late 70s - the losses looked something like this:
  • Trouble making decisions. (A loss of confidence??  Maybe.  But not her style)
  • Unable to balance her check book. (Definitely a red flag - she was always smart and great with numbers.  My husband took that over.)
  • Watching TV shows with little or no story line to follow. (She stopped reading for the same reason.)
  • Friendship circle began to shrink - some moved, some died, and some just slipped through the cracks of memory. 
These were all small and manageable losses, and she could function well enough to "fake it."

As the cost of living began to over take her retirement income, we encouraged her to move in with us.  That decision took 2 years to make and she was 80 at the time of the move.  The move represented a partial loss of independence, but a gain for her in the family "safety net."

Once she was living with us I noticed other losses.

  • I noticed some odd behaviors.  (Loss of logical thinking.)
  • She got lost driving to an event in her old neighborhood. (Loss of some memories.)
  • She once drove through a red light while I was in her car. (Loss of attention??)
  • She began to have problems parking in pull-in spaces. (Time to give up driving.  A BIG loss of freedom but a huge gain for safety.)
  • Poor decision making on medical issues. (I started attending her doctor appointments.  I had to monitor her medications.)
Now we had reached the point of frequent hospitalizations where the losses built one on top of each other.
  • Heath status declined along with quality of life.  (Loss, loss, loss)
  • Frequent falls.  Frequent infections.  Frequent in patient rehabilitations.  (Each episode a loss - with a new lower level of "normal.")
  • Finally unable to climb the stairs into my townhome.  (Loss of strength - resulted in a move to Assisted Living)
Serious losses that she could never get past.
  • She moved into Assisted Living - a high quality community. (Loss of regular family contact - although I visited her 4-5 times a week.)
  • Retirement "nest egg" she so carefully built over the years began to shrink with great speed.  (Every check I wrote on her behalf made me sad for her - $9,000 a month eats up years of careful saving.  The speed of loss at this stage is enormous.)
  • She resisted community activities.  (Loss of regular social and mental stimulation.)
  • Her health surprising remained stable for 2 years before she developed skin ulcers on her legs (a sign of other pressing medical problems beyond control due to her age.)
  • A last hospitalization resulted in placement in the Nursing Home.  (That loss was the biggest of all - she never wanted to be in a Nursing Home.)
  • Her dementia during this time was sliding downward quickly.  (Loss of names and faces and relationships.  She even lost her ability to swallow.  She never lost her faith in God.  Even in the worst of times she would pray.  I think she continued to know my face to the end - even if she didn't know my name.) 

Her losses always became my losses, too.  I struggled as her caregiver to fight back against this aging decline and dementia.  I lost the fight every single time!  And I cried a lot during this whole downward slide.  I hate to lose and I hated watching her lose!

There are a few blessedly lucky and genetically gifted seniors who live independently and in good health well into their 90s.  THEY are the exception.  We all hope we can win the 'Age-Well Lottery!'

I no longer mourn my mother's dead.  
Everyone will die.  
It is the way of nature.
I do continue to mourn my mom's losses.  
She deserved better from nature in her last years.
She was cheated!

One last sincere request from the heart of a caregiver. 

The next time you feel annoyed with a senior ... any senior ... try to remember -
  almost all seniors are losing slowly with everyday that passes.  
Try to show patience - understanding - compassion.
But most of all - patience!

You have not yet walked in their shoes.
  I guarantee, 
it will be harder than you can imagine.


L
IS FOR LOSS

THE ABSOLUTE WORST LETTER OF THE ALPHEBET!

Friday, April 12, 2019

K - Kinks


K is for Kinks

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

If you are under 50 you probably don't know what I am talking about
when I say "kinks."  
Over 50?
 I bet you do!


I remember being a morning person in my 20s and 30s.  That sunny morning disposition died miserably somewhere in my 40s.  

Mornings became a periods of "adjustment."  Could I get out of bed without injuring myself, without talking to anyone, without losing my way to the coffee pot, without burning myself with hot coffee - and - without spilling it on my way to my LazyBoy recliner to sit take that first sip ...  all those individual victories without caffeine.

Much of my morning routine now is based on avoidance activities - honoring the messages my body sends about little "kinks" that must be eased out gently before anything too demanding is done ... like answering the telephone.

And after about age 65 - those "kinks" need to be considered at other points during the day as well ... like ...
  • Like when I attempt to turn over around 3:00 am and my calf muscle seizes up with excruciating screaming pain.  My actual 'favorite' experience (NOT) was when BOTH legs seized up at the same time. Attempting to jump out of bed to break the cramp looked like I was trying to balance on 2 broken legs!  My husband is legally blind so he missed my herculean effort.  
  • Like when I get out of bed in the morning and my body says "Not so fast. Walk carefully and deliberately no matter what your bladder is saying."
  • Like when I attempt to get out of my car after a long drive, and my back and knees remind me - "Hey, you must be kidding, we've been sitting quietly for over an hour - and NOW you want us to jump into action??"
  • Like when I have been knitting for a few glorious hours stress free hours, binge watching my favorite Netflix shows, and I decide to release my fingers from a knitting needle to scratch my nose and I hear the message radiating up my arm from my fingers - "You can knit or you can scratch but you can't do both so close together!!" 
These are the "kinks of my 70s." 
 I can hardly wait to experience the future kinks.
The Kinks of my 80s
The Kinks of my 90s  

Thursday, April 11, 2019

J - Juggling


#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


J is for Juggling

If you are older, try to remember the many tasks your 25 year old self juggled in one day.   If you are still young - take a moment in your busy day to check out your future.  

Let see ... I pick a typical Friday when I was 25 years old, married, a grade school teacher and pregnant.  

Friday looked like this:
  • Pop out of bed before 6 am
  • Dress while sipping coffee (thankfully set up the night before.)
  • Feed the cats before breakfast - Clean the litter.
  • Feed myself breakfast standing at the counter making a bag lunch
  • Make a quick grocery list for food shopping (budget for the week was $20, ha!)
  • Quick review of Friday lesson plans 
  • Commute to work
  • Stop for weekly gas fill up on the way
  • (We will skip the school day where I juggle the hundreds of things grade school teachers do in 8 hours.)
  • Gather up next week's lesson plan materials and papers to grade. 
  • Commute to grocery store - Fridays were food shopping day right after work - and stop by the liquor store to pick up some cheap wine fizzy something.  Liquor wasn't a no-no for a pregnant woman 45 years ago.
  • Do a fast unpack of groceries, a quick clean up of the apartment upon getting home
  • Fix dinner, eat quick, and clean up
  • Prepare a few dips for chips and veggies for visiting Friday night friends.
  • Slap out board games and snacks
  • Grade a few papers while waiting for guests to arrive
  • Entertain until say midnight
  • Spot pick up after company leaves
  • Set up the coffee for Saturday morning
  • Hit the sack at 1:00-ish am.
  • Inserts bunches and bunches of bathroom breaks in-between other things (remember - pregnant!)
Saturday
  • Off and running again for weekend fun activities and school work prep.

This is the 72 year old me - trying to remember what the 25 year old me juggled 45 years ago.   Exhausting to my eye now - but I don't remember being all that tired then.

That was then!

Today!

Some demands are gone, of course, and some are changed - no job, no commute, not pregnant for sure.  Still married - however, husband is disabled (legally blind), and needs more assistance.  Today a 72 year old me might prepare for a Friday - with company like this.  

Wednesday (Yes, Wednesday!!  Give me a break - I am older.)
  • First off, there is absolutely NO POPPING OUT OF BED on any day of the week!! 
  • Make a list of everything I need to do - without the list I would just sit and knit or read.
  • Vacuum and dust.
  • rest
  • Prepare the menu and grocery list for the next week and for Friday company.  This prep is exhaustive - checking cookbooks for recipes and reviewing grocery store sales.
  • rest
  • Cook Wednesdays dinner, eat and clean up.
  • Assist husband with finding an item he has lost, or searching Amazon for something he wants to purchase, or sending an email on his behalf, or problem solving a computer issues he cannot find on the screen, or picking up prescriptions on his behalf. 

Thursday
  • Food shop - this takes all morning now - no fast spin through the grocery store.  There is more checking for cheapest prices, reading food labels to insure a choice is healthy, doubling back to previous aisles to get things I missed the first time through. (Lots of doubling back.  Sigh.)
  • Unpacking groceries and repacking certain items - freezing, labeling, reorganizing - making sure things are where my legally blind husband can find them independently.
  • rest
  • Begin to prepare food for Friday night company dinner.
  • Order take out dinner - which I pick up because my husband doesn't drive.  Reality check:  No standing and cooking tonight's dinner after food shopping and cooking for the next day.  
  • Assist husband again with something.


Friday
  • Compete food prep for company
  • rest
  • Do a pick-up sweep through the house
  • Do a liquor store run - for company and for us  - Yes, we have a nice cocktail once a day - one of the benefits of aging and not giving a sh*t.  (See?  It isn't all gloom and doom.)
  • Clean the guest bathroom so it isn't a health risk, ha! (I don't think I ever worried about health risks at 25 - remember, young ... I was going to live forever!)
  • rest
  • Set out appetizers (now I call them appetizers instead of snacks 😝)
  • Serve dinner and entertain until about 10:30 - fading out occurs about that time after company prep.
  • Pick up after guests
  • Collapse in bed around 11:00 pm
Saturday
  • Recover!  Schedule nothing! 

So what lessons have I learned about juggling all the balls of life with this exercise?  
  • Thank God I am not trying to juggle a job as well.  Yea!!! For Retirement!
  • Lists were never part of my 25 year old life - my brain retained everything.  Everything I tell you!!   Today?  My brain still retains stuff like before, but the retrieval window is extremely short.
  • I can't abuse my body by eating crap appetizers only!  We serve dinner.  (Sigh, those were the good old days, when dips and chips were good enough!!) 
  • The cost of living is crazy more than almost 50 years ago.  Weekly food budget has increased from $20 to $120!!
  • Question of the Day:  When do I get to retire from cooking dinner!!!  My next life: Marry a chef, who wants me out of "his kitchen.".
  • Still taking lots of bathroom breaks - 72 years old, you know! 
  • I remember laughing at my mom who would schedule exactly one thing a day on her event calendar!  One thing!!!  I couldn't imagine why!   

I get it now, mom. 
Sorry.