Friday, February 10, 2012

Napping and scolding our days away

During the Superbowl my husband found he needed a nap before half time.

When he woke up, he confided he is too old to die young, no longer middle aged unless he lives to be 116, and we need to plan for our retirement.

I reminded him he retired four years ago, and I retired last year.

His senior moments are lasting longer these days.

I don't know why.

It could be the medication he takes for cardiovascular disease, blocked arteries, fluctuations in blood sugar.

Maybe it's a side effect of blood poisoning a year ago, the little strokes during surgical procedures, the heart attack or concussions in his childhood when he played hockey and took a few whacks to the head.

Forty years ago, friends and I read  magazine articles that helped us determine if we were fashionably dressed, in love or happily married but now I feel adrift in uncharted territory.

I wished for sage advice on things like how to get someone to stop driving, shoveling snow, incorrectly filing income tax reports, using the stove.

Most of all I wondered if someone has the right to make medical decisions for himself, in defiance of doctors or ambulance attendants.

Today, I read letters my grandmothers sent forty years ago.

Dad's mom wrote how Grandpa turned  the television as high as the sound would go, but the loudness let her know when she was in her garden that he was busy, happy and safe.

She told funny stories about Grandpa's driving, how she guided Grandpa down expressways and on small town streets, warning him of pedestrians and stop sign as he drove 25 miles an hour, stopping in the middle of intersections for red lights, driving in circles on the same on and off ramp on the freeway, getting lost.

He made the shortest trip into an adventure, she said.

He drove that way for three years, because he refused to let her drive or give up his license, he backed their car into a friend's house, at forty miles an hour in reverse.

"The police confiscated his license," she wrote, "and he is heartbroken but I'm glad no one was hurt, and I wasn't the one who broke his heart."

She wondered if, had she been with him that day, he would not have parked the car sideways in the road and put the car into reverse instead of drive, then floored the accelerator when he wanted to go home.

"Sometimes men and children just have to learn the hard way," she concluded.

What everyone remembers most about Grandma and Grandpa is how their love just grew bigger as they became older, Grandma living to be 94 years old and Grandpa, 89.

She never complained or tried to change Grandpa and although she wrote to a young wife and new mother, she gave sage advise to the old woman I've become, even though she's been gone twenty years now.

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