Tag Archive | aging

Technology at Our House

My Toy Maltese, Miss Chantilly Lace—“Tillie” to a few of her closest friends—is a devoted old soul.  Next month she will turn 70 in dog years.  By the hesitancy in her eyes when I call her to jump onto my bed, or to dance a whirling jig on her hind legs for a chewy bacon treat like she used to, it’s evident that Father Time and aging are not being kind to her.  Her little knees ache at times, making her an excellent weather forecaster for those rainy days.  While she’s a bit slower to get going in the mornings, she still has spunk, making the rounds of her vast kingdom—my back yard—lecturing the squirrels, chasing any unidentified birds out of her territory and keeping it safe for her family.  Knowing Tillie is on the alert is a comfort and a blessing.

She loves me, has been deeply devoted to me since I purchased her as a puppy from a kindly retired veterinarian in Ardmore back in 2002.  Yet there’s a definite fickle streak in that tiny six pound body.  She will attach herself with wildly enthusiastic abandon to any visitor who comes through our front door.  Her captivating black marble eyes instantly charm, yet when sensing a new situation and not completely sure of her reception, she escalates her nervous habit  (we all have them, don’t we?).  In fact, the welcome mat at the entrance to my home says, “Beware: Dog cannot hold its Licker!”

There are those times when her lack of licker control can be a nuisance.  Yet she will always calm down, especially if you’re willing to perform an undercover operation.  Just cover your lap with one of our small fleece throws; then she immediately scoots under, settles in beside you, goes completely silent—and off to sleep.  Licker silenced.

But if you want to really see the blazing fast communications technology at our house, come around to the side gate.  Thomas Edison invented the telephone and the telegraph.  My Maltese created Tilliepathy.

Waiting for Daddy’s truck – in Colorado, 2005

I mean, just look!  The grass-worn path from our gate to the back door is getting deeper and deeper with use.  The instant Tillie sees her Daddy step out of his diesel F-250, she abandons her lookout post at the gate, makes a beeline for her doggy door, and meets him as his key turns in the lock.  Our Tilliepathy is pretty dependable; very appreciated; and a memory that I cherish, whether it kills the grass, tunnels through snow, or fills with seasonal rains…that’s love in action!

Twirling on the Coffee Table or DON’T OPEN THAT BOX!!

I’ve been reading a book which totally fascinates me.  Granted, you always need to read with the Scriptures in mind and with your intellect intact—in other words, don’t believe everything you hear or read at face value.  Nonetheless, I’m captivated by the basic ideas in the book, “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge and its companion book “Wild at Heart” which explains the same concept in relation to men (same authors).

And I saw it in action, within myself—and my childish, if femininely justified–actions this afternoon.

We need pots and pans.  We REALLY need them.  The ones we have are worn out, the lifetime non-stick coating has way outlived its lifetime, the lids don’t fit tightly anymore, in fact, some of the lids have no pots, and vice versa.  I’ve put off the purchase for 8 years, it just seems like a lot to spend on me.

I did my thing, which is researching in depth online and by interviewing my friends and reading dozens of reviews regarding this pan and that.  I finally narrowed it down to the ones I wanted–and discovered some really NASTY reviews, that made me back out.  So I started over, repeated the same process with new information and came to a new conclusion.  THESE (Emeril’s hard anodized set) had many things going for them, and although they also had a few really vicious reviews, for the most part I was satisfied that I’d done my thorough investigation to the ultimate.  I was choosing the best set.  So I ordered them.

The part of the story you don’t know is that Vernon (my longsuffering husband) saw a set of very nice pans previously that were on sale, and suggested them.  I’d read about them, did a bit of research, and ordered them.  He was in on the operation, he approved, and he was fine with that.

So the very next day when I discovered the failings of the original set and eventually found the Emeril set at $50 cheaper, I told him that I switched, and he seemed satisfied with that.  I did tell him.  Ok, ok, so he was reading a novel, he wasn’t listening with “both ears”.   But we had already decided on the purchase, this was both a savings and a switch to a better brand, so how could he complain?

A day or two later the UPS truck went down the street and I said something like, “I hope that’s my pans, they should be getting here any day now,” to which he replied, WHAT PANS?  I thought you canceled them!!

What?  You mean that little, ‘oh, we can’t really afford these, we should just cancel them and buy a cheap little skillet and a cheap little pan and let it go’ speech?  You took me seriously, you silly boy?  I overreacted and insisted that 1) he had approved the first purchase, 2) this was less money and 3) he never heard me say I had cancelled the purchase.  He insisted he heard and knew nothing, until we were barely speaking.  I was hot but fortunately not hot enough to cancel the purchase.

A few days went by and we forgot the whole thing, it seemed.  We were both looking forward to the pans’ arrival.  Vernon went to the door this afternoon as he said, “That’s UPS, I guess your pans are here,” and went out to retrieve them.

I’m female.  Hormones, idiosyncracies and all, the old “mysterious nature ” and all that.  I plead “female” as my defense.  But if you’re either female or you’ve been married to one for years you totally know where this is heading.

He came back inside the front door with the huge box when I said, “Just set it down right there” meaning the recliner that’s just inside the front door.  That way it would be at waist level when I opened it and I could get the pans out okay.  Did he do this?  No he did not.

He marched straight into the combination kitchen/dining room and put the box squarely on the dining table out of my line of sight.  Disturbing? Yes.  I’d just have to go get them and bring them back in the living room so I could open them.  THEN he proceeded to OPEN the box, and take out each pot and each pan, exclaiming over them.  I was livid.  How could he open my pans?

Ever seen a little girl of 3 or 4 playing dress-up, or all dressed up in her Sunday best, and climbing onto the coffee table to twirl and whirl, and have her Daddy tell her how beautiful she is?  That’s just natural, isn’t it?  That’s the way each of us is made.  We want to be unique; we want to stand out; we want to shine and bask in our Father’s approval.  Many of the typical passages in life for a woman are momentous in her mind, in her heart.  Her first pair of high heels; her first real date; her first purchase of a sofa or dining table, those material things that show she is a woman with taste and individuality—simply a grown-up version of the little girl saying, “See?  Aren’t I pretty?”  “Didn’t I do well?”  (This is the jist of the book “Captivating”).

And here was this….this boy getting into my things.  Opening what it so happens is only the second set of pots and pans I have ever actually picked out by myself.  He OPENED them!  He took all the wrappings off, even read the instructions out loud to me…(I was good, I didn’t cover my ears and go yeayeayeayeayea the whole time).

Now I could have been the grown-up, mature woman I’m supposed to be at 59 years of age and said, Sweetheart, I really wanna open those all by myself.  Leave them for me, please?  And he might have done so.  Most men would.  Most.  But I just didn’t believe that he would have stopped what he was doing.  But like I said, I could have done the adult thing.

You’re waiting for the punch line, aren’t you?

I jumped up, ran to the guest room and proceeded to make up the bed while seething, little rivulets of smoke coming out of both ears.  He came down the hall behind me and asked me something.  (this reminded me of that poor little goat they lowered over the raptors’ fence in Jurassic Park, victim waiting to be devoured) I don’t remember what he asked, something like, “What are you looking for?” and I snapped at him.  I kept making the bed (funny it didn’t need making before, it’s now 5:30 p.m. of course we had to make it right now) and then saw the vacuum, so I grabbed and proceeded to vacuum THE ENTIRE HOUSE.  He knew something was wrong.  He HAD to.  But did he stop me?  Did he apologize?  Did he ask me what he had done wrong?  Or what he could do to help me? No.  He just kept out of my way.  (Big mistake, guys.  Jump in and take your punishment, get it over with).

When I vacuumed our bedroom I saw a basket of laundry that I had folded earlier and set on the bed.  I dumped it and proceeded to hang up and put away the clothing there.  He brought a load from the dryer into the bedroom and to his credit, began to fold his own clothes, although he lost points for tossing towels and my things out of his way and ignoring them.  I oh, so virtuously folded them, too, before he had a chance.

I wish you’d had a bird’s eye view of this, the two of us standing on opposite sides of the king bed, folding clothes and not speaking.  In retrospect it’s hilarious.  The toy maltese and chihuahua were cringing, peeking from under the edge of the bed.  Smart dogs.

Now I said I could have (and should have) chosen the adult behavior.  But I’m sorry, he’s a 55-year-old man, he’s been married for years (before me) and should know better than to usurp a woman’s pleasure in opening her new tools.  Would I have run to the garage and opened and set up his new drill?  His new thingy to fix the truck engine?  I know better, that’s his thing.

So, this little girl has lost the chance to open her treasure.  To ooh and ahh and carry on about how pretty they were, and how delighted I am that we finally were able to purchase them.  They’re sitting on the dining table still, waiting for me.  Yuck.  I told him he needs to put “his” pans away somewhere.  And so it continues.

I even thought of something to use them for and went to the kitchen and chopped an entire onion in preparation for making French onion soup, my favorite (which takes 3-4 hours to simmer).  Yet then I realized I’d been making my snotty remarks about “he” should put away “his” pans now that “he” had opened all of them himself.

If I chose the large saucepan, pre-washed it, dried it, and used it, it would water down the whole big hissy fit that I put so much energy into.  Wouldn’t it?

So although I’m starving, and the soup sounded SO good, I just got out a zip lock bag and quietly put the onion slices away, washed the cutting board and utensils, and left the kitchen.

Some days, you just can’t win.

Maybe I’ll make soup tomorrow.   But not until he uses a pan first.

The “Best of Times”

    I had the privilege and blessing of being in the “right place and time” this week.  I was working at my church, helping prepare for vacation Bible School.  A church member called in and asked the secretary if she knew of anyone who could help them out in a pinch.  The caregiver for his 88 year-old mother was unable to continue, so they needed someone immediately to care for her, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week–either on a permanent basis, or at the very least until they could find someone to hire.  I spoke up and volunteered.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to; not even sure I’d be able to provide the level of care they needed.  But somehow the Lord was standing right behind me, and kept pushing me, or so it felt.  I couldn’t say no.

     So I went home and packed a bag and my laptop, and drove the 35 miles to Geneva’s house. I found a beautiful brick home, timely and classic, well cared for, and orderly, just like the lady I came to meet.  I was greeted at the door by the most horrific din, all produced by a mini-hurricane of a Yorkie, all 2 ½ lbs of him livid that I would dare to enter his domain and endanger the safety of his mistress.  I knew this would be a challenge, but I also knew that there was a great deal of love powering that tiny beast.  And I knew that when he understood that I came to help, we would be friends.

      Amid the barking and growls, while protecting my ankles I met a delicate, lucid, beautiful woman, her silver hair a graceful halo about her face.  It didn’t take me long to surmise that she’s reached that stage where—like my Mom said when she was there, “you feel like you have to test the ground every time you take a step.”  Her body may be failing her, but her spirit is as lively, as strong, as powerfully in love with her Lord as it was when she met Jesus and was baptized at eight years old.

      Geneva has her favorite stories and loves the finer memories, although the ones that have faded are a bit of a worry to her.  Yet that’s one of the prices that age demands of most of us.  And as we proceeded to get to know each other, she shared some of her favorite memories with me.  I treasure every one of them, and wanted to share them with you here.

 BEULAH

      She loves to speak of her sister Beulah, 17 months younger, a lady she’s very fond of and very close to.  (Beulah called this morning and spoke with her, just checking up on her).  Geneva told me about the time these two sisters would play outside together in the sunshine.  They had the best time mixing up their gooey concoctions, fashioning mud pies and decorating them with sticks and pebbles.  Then they searched for some unsuspecting customers they could serve their treats to.  She said, “I loved my Mama and Daddy so much, they just cared so much about us, they would come home after working hard all day and after dinner they would come out and sit outside and let us serve them our delicious mud pies!”

      “We kids had to work hard, we had the task of shocking oats.  Do you know what shocking is?  You know, after they run the binder, until they thrash the oats, we put the oats together in shocks.  My poor sister Beulah resisted.  She just didn’t want to do it, and Mama and Daddy really got onto her—everybody had to help.  But what they didn’t know was that she was coming down with something awful, and she was sick in the bed for eight long months.  But they didn’t realize she was sick.”

      “When she was bedridden for all that time, I felt so sorry for her.  I had to go with Mama and Daddy to shock some grain, and some people had a puppy there.  When I first saw that puppy, I thought of Beulah.  I begged my Daddy for the puppy, and he let me keep it.  I held it close and it kept licking my face.  So they let me take it home to Beulah.  That puppy helped keep her happy while she was sick.  Beulah and I was always close.  Now she’s my age, just 17 months younger than me, and she’s caring for her son who’s been so sick. I admire her, it’s so sad.  It’s gotten so he can hardly walk. But she takes really good care of him.”

 GENEVA’S MOTHER

      I could just see the strong shoulders, the head held high, the God-fearing, powerful woman that Geneva described to me.  It moved her so that tears ran down her papery cheeks when she explained,

      “You know, people that missed out on meeting my mother really missed it.  When Mama started praying, it was so powerful.  When she prayed, her feet just about left the floor.  You’d think she was going right up into heaven.  It was amazing.  I knew one other sweet lady in our church that prayed really well, but nothing like my mother.  Whenever the preachers held a revival, the deacons in the church would always come and get my mother and take Mama around with them to visit people on account of her powerful way with prayer.  She was amazing, the Lord just blessed her something terrible, how He blessed her!”

 HER FATHER

      “Mama and Daddy had five of us girls, and no brothers.   We had a cousin who lived with us for a while; he was a good boy.  Daddy always loved us so much, he would tell us he didn’t want no boys, that he was just happy with what he had.  We knew he was pretending, every man wants sons, but that’s what he said.”

      “Daddy was kind of short and Mama was tall.  Whenever someone wanted to take their picture, Mama would make sure that he was standing up on something so he was taller than her….it tickled me.”

 HER FAITH

      “I remember a troubled man in our community that people had prayed for a long, long time.  When he came finally forward in church one day and he was saved and baptized, I can still see the look on his face.”  Geneva teared up here; she told it to me several times over several days; each time she repeated it, she would tear up again.  That man’s expression was so heavenly and it touched her deeply.  She didn’t know it, but the look on her face was pretty special at that moment as well.  I could tell that this was a very powerful memory for her.

      “It was beautiful, and when he told everyone his testimony, it was so wonderful.  I can still see the smile on his face.”  She questioned me more than once, why it is that we retain some memories so clearly while others fade into obscurity?

      In my “know-it-all” way, I said that those that have meant the most to our hearts are the ones etched the deepest.  She thought about that, and just smiled at me.

 HER FAMILY

      Geneva gazes at the portrait on the fireplace of that beautiful couple, her husband Don and his beautiful wife.  She mentions him often, and tells me again how much she loves and misses him.  Upon reflection at one point, she said,

      “When Don and I first married, we lived in Oklahoma City and he worked at the airplane plant down at Tinker Air Force Base there.  But he had always wanted to return to the farm so eventually we came back here.  So together we milked cows and ran a dairy.”

      “You know, every one of us five girls married good men, and lived with them for about the same length of time.”  Looking at the fireplace again, at all the other photos of her children and grandchildren, she added,

      “If I remember right, all my children, all my grandchildren, and all my great grandchildren are Christians.  And you know, (her heart in her eyes) it just makes you feel good to know that they are.”  We listened to a worship service on TV this afternoon, and I expected her to listen for a few moments and then nod off.  Instead Geneva was riveted to the screen, listening to every word—I finally realized she could hear little of the television with the volume at normal range, so we cranked it up almost to the max, and she seemed to really enjoy the whole service.  At the end of the show, they sang “I’ll Fly Away”.  Those now familiar tears brimmed her eyes as she smiled at me.  We sang it together, following the words the closed-captioning was printing across the screen, my alto complementing her sweet, resonant soprano.  At the end of it, her eyes twinkled when she noted,

      “I remember Mama singing I’ll Fly Away.”

     Funny, when you look back, how often we actually FIGHT the draw of the Spirit to get us to do things He wants us to do.  And when you go through the steps He wants you to take, the blessing is so pronounced, so powerful that it’s just overwhelming.  My only question is, why do we fight it so?  My never-ending need to be in control?  My spirit wants desperately to be Spirit-controlled; but my brain just doesn’t think anyone else knows better than it does.  This is going to be a life-changing week.

My Answer to 59

Nope.  Not doin’ it.

I wasn’t bothered by 30.  (Actually, it’s more accurate to say I never saw myself as being 30 years old); at age 17 or so I began to tell people, “I’ll never see 30.  I just know it.”  Till I turned 30, of course.  And 29 years later, you can see my accuracy rate for prophecy is 0 for 1.  Oh, well.  And at the time chasing all the kids and enjoying our adventure pretty much kept me occupied.

40 didn’t bother me because I was enjoying having the older kids chauffer the younger ones, and too involved in cooking for the Church, leading my little Bible study, cooking and being sponsor at CCLW summer camp, and watching our thousands of teenagers grow up and leave the nest.  Actually only 5 of them, but since there were 4 twins involved with tons of friends, it seemed like thousands at times.

Turning forty is somewhat like approaching the vistas you’ve seen from afar.  As you near a turn you can see the vast expanses beyond; this is my personal realization of what “they” mean by ‘life begins at 40.’  There was obviously SO much life on the other side of 40.  I was excited to step across that threshold.

Next I crossed the fat black line labeled, “Fifty.”  That was a long and winding road between 40 and 50.  There were beautiful scenic overlooks, a few dramatic and romantic rest areas–but on the other hand there was a lot more uphill country, rough and unpaved road, and certainly directions I never dreamed I would be asked to travel.  And then they took a slow descent in grade, and we’ve somehow slid all the way to 59.

But as I said at the beginning, no way am I going to settle into a matronly and subdued 60.  Not happening.  The first reaction I had to actually turning 59 years old was “nope, not gonna do it.  I’m going backwards now; next year I’ll be 58 again.”

First step:  Purchased a Treadclimber.  Not for the faint-hearted or the sedentary who’ve spent 30 years in an administrative  chair tied to a computer.  And the first day on that ____ thing?  4 minutes.  FOUR MINUTES!!!  But it’s getting progressively easier, and we’re upping the minutes.  Before long I’ll actually make it through the commercials!!

Second step:  Silver Sneakers.  The fantastic support group of other wanna-be’s in my age group, trying to fight the valiant battle of time, gravity, and lifestyle.  We meet at the local Rec Center three days a week, and work our ample fannies off.  My energy level has skyrocketed, and my mood hitched a ride too.  Doing simple tasks has gotten easier, and the aches I notice now are not the “aging” aches but the wow, was that a good workout aches.  And those are somehow more acceptable.

Third step:  Emptied the two extra bedrooms, and got rid of ten  years of accumulated stuff.  And junk.  And clothing that I can finally say will never fit me again.  Well, almost.  I did manage to keep my few favorites that I’m DETERMINED to wear again.

Fourth step:  Decided to laugh every day.  I mean, tears down the face laughing.  Today it was easy; I just tuned into one of Jim’s old commercial outtake videos.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yAjrk3XIAc&feature=related  (Jim is a whole article by himself; he was my brother’s close friend growing up…can you imagine having Jim pop in for dinner and harrass you as a kid?)

I also found Tim Hawkins and plenty of other Christian comedians too, so it’s not that hard to do.

Fifth step:  Write in this blog every day.  Oops.  Not keepin’ up with that one too well.  Oh well, we’re a work in progress, huh!  The joy is in the journey!!

Enough for today; I’ll add to this as we go along….so at this speed, I figure I’m back to 52 by now….I hope all of you reading this have a memorable Easter.  I watched the Passion of the Christ last night; it impacted me so deeply that I have to keep reminding myself it’s a joyous holiday and not a time to feel horrible for what we put Him through…  I know He understands.  I count on that.  And the best part of it all?  Each day is one day closer to seeing Jesus face to face!

I bid you peace.