Having made a quick trip back to the land of dinosaurs and blowing desert sand for the Christmas holiday, I was able to catch up with all my friends who have now officially stepped into “seniordom.” These are the folks who are now into their 80s. And surprisingly, there are quite a few.
First up: My mother in-law. Granny. She’s the one who lives in senior housing but hasn’t moved across the hall to the “assisted living” side. Yet.
She’s about due, though. So Granny spent about nine days in the hospital recently due to a bout of pneumonia. She was upset that they sent her home. Not because she felt like she wasn’t well enough to go home yet, she was just diggin’ on all the attention. The nurses coddled her, she got flowers, she got to eat some pretty decent food, and she didn’t have to get up and go anywhere. It was kind of a “staycation” for her.
She had her moments of forgetfulness where she couldn’t remember what day it was, or why she was in the hospital … but her best senior moment was when she started buzzing frantically for the nurse as if her oxygen canister was on fire. The nurse ran into her room prepared to gel up the paddles, and there’s Granny about to turn blue because she couldn’t find her keys. Her mind was spinning like a top out of control and she carried on about not being able to locate her keys until the nurse made a bedside phone call to my sister in-law, who spoke to Granny and said,
“I have your keys and your purse.”
“Oh. Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m sure.”
She settled back down and the nurse resumed normal activity until the situation started all over again about 10 minutes later.
The nurse walked back in rather than burning up the rubber soles on her shoes and Granny started in again on her keys.
The nurse picked up a marker and wrote in huge letters on the dry board in Granny’s room “Susan has your keys and purse.” Situation resolved.
Now that Granny is at home, she still has trouble remembering what day it is and what time it is, even though she has 20 clocks in her little apartment. Seriously. She collects them.
She now says she wants to move across the hall so someone will take care of her all the time.
Hopefully Santa will be able to fulfill that wish.
Next up, Senior Sample Number Two: My very independent friend Mia. She’s had some health problems and is six months older than Granny, but she looks about 20 years younger and is on the go all the time. She really seems to have it together until you talk to her for more than 15 minutes. That’s when she starts telling you how she’s called her hair dresser and read her the riot act because the girl was too busy talking while cutting her hair. Then she called the physician’s assistant and cussed her out because she felt like she got the short end of the stick on her last visit to the doctor. Then she admits to threatening her nieces and nephews because they want nothing to do with their father, who is her younger brother. He’s a total b-word. She forgets how badly he treated her on his last visit, where she had to kick him out. Lots of drama until she segues into telling me a story about a woman who was suffering from cancer and seemed to be almost instantly cured by the water she started drinking. Seems the woman bought this machine that removes all the alkaline from the water, thus improving her condition.
“It’s a Festivus miracle!”
So Mia wanted to buy some water from this gal but the woman doesn’t sell the water, you see. She sells the machine. The machine costs about four grand. Mia is impressed because the woman tells everyone that selling this machine and helping people who are ill is her “ministry.”
“Oh,” Mia adds, “and she’s a Christian!”
To which I add, “And she is selling snake oil to people like you who are gullible enough to believe her story. It’s folks like you that get preyed upon because you’re older, you have health troubles, and you want to believe that everyone who calls themselves a ‘Christian’ would never lie.”
It had never dawned on her for two seconds that it could be a scam.
I have to tread lightly or I might end up on the other end of a good cussing out by Mia.
And finally, Senior Sample Number Three: Uncle Arthur.
Technically, he’s not an uncle, just an old family friend.
His daughter relayed a story recently that sounded like it came straight out of my dad’s house.
Seems she and her husband and their two daughters were over at Arthur’s house raking up the huge yard. They spent most of the day raking and cleaning, and were putting the yard debris on a tarp they’d brought along to drag out to the woods behind his house. They’d also discovered quite a large piece of plastic that Arthur had in the storage shed, so they used that too, to make the work go faster. Two pieces of plastic are better than one, right?
A couple of days later, she gets a phone call from Arthur who is having a hissy because someone has stolen his sheet of plastic and he feels that the neighbor has stolen it because,”He’s been eyeballing it ever since I brought it home!” She replied that her husband had used it and had put it back and she would find out where and call him back.
Being a little irritated that he never said “thank you” for all their hard work, she put off calling him back. He called again a couple of days later wringing his hands and wanting to call the police because he’d been robbed, but she put him on hold and found out where the plastic was.
“Under the wheelbarrow,” her husband told her.
That was fine. He settled down after that.
She went to see him a few days later and he answered the door with his feet wrapped in plastic bags from the grocery store.
She had to close her eyes and take a deep breath to get prepared for this particular story.
“What’s up with the plastic bags?” she asked.
“My feet are really dry, the skin is peeling off. So I put lotion on my feet and wrap the bags around them.” He pads around the house all day
with plastic bags on his feet.
She said she had to go into the bathroom and bang her head on the wall.
When she came out, he opened the closet door and several hundred plastic bags fell out like snow flakes.
She sat on the stairs in the hallway and asked, “Cocoa butter or Jergens?”
“Jergens. It smells good.”
Well, at least he’s creative and has found a way to recycle plastic bags.
I told her that she’d know he was certifiable when he started yelling at the squirrels in the yard.
After naming them, of course.
Like my dad did.