Tag Archives: getting old

The Red Angel

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I need to tell you a story:   

Prologue: The other day, I sat in the lobby of my condo building waiting for Hubsey to pick me up at the front door. As I sat on the bench, I admired the beautiful Christmas decorations all around me. A team of dedicated volunteers take time out of their lives every year to do this, and it truly is spectacular…inviting and festive to all residents and visitors who come through the lobby.

Main character: An elderly woman I didn’t know was sitting beside me, and I commented on how beautiful everything looked. She harumphed and said, “I hate that red angel on the top of the tree.”

The lines in the woman’s face deepened as she glared at the angel and added, “They should have put a white one, or a gold one, but not that cheap looking thing! It ruins everything!”

Point of view: Now the tree had to be 15 feet high, so from where I was sitting I had to really squint to see the details of this monstrosity she was talking about. But what I saw was a beautiful angel in a red velvet dress trimmed with white fur, sporting a set of magical feathery white wings. She was beautiful and angelic as angels should be, and simply perfect for the treetop.

Motivation: I thought about this woman for the rest of the day…I’m still thinking about her. Why was she so unhappy with this red angel and how could it possibly “ruin everything” as she said. And while I know deep down it wasn’t about the angel at all, I can’t help but wonder  what made her see the little red angel in that particular way?

Perhaps her children don’t call at Christmas?
Perhaps she deals with pain every waking moment?
Perhaps her shoes were too tight?
Perhaps Santa has forgotten her too many times?
Perhaps she is lonely?
Perhaps her father was a nasty drunk every Christmas?
Perhaps all her old friends have died?
Perhaps she has outlived her money?
Perhaps the colour red makes her see red?
Perhaps she was simply constipated?

Epilogue: Whatever the reason, the fact remains that we see the world from where we sit…together with all our glory and carbuncles. And our view is distorted by the amount of baggage we choose to drag along behind us.  Life’s a bitch, there’s no doubt about that! It’s how we deal with the successes, failures and challenges that defines how we see life’s ever changing landscape.

Serendipity: Coincidentally, someone tweeted this picture recently, which I would like to share with you. I don’t know the tweeter, so I apologize if I am using the picture without permission, whoever you are. But it’s a great message and if I knew who the woman was that I met in the lobby, I would stick it under her door. It’s never too late to see the beautiful red angels in our lives.

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See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

 

 

 

 

 

In My Dreams!

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old-people-friendly-happy-coupleYikes!  Have you noticed as we age, we start looking more like our husbands? We wear our pants higher, our underpants looser, our hair shorter, our shoes flatter and we even have the odd whisker popping out in the darndest places. And don’t get me started on the old-man grunts I make when I get out of a chair!

It’s a crap shoot:  What is it about getting older that makes us want to get special deals and free stuff? Is it because we’re on a fixed income, or maybe because we’ve lived long enough to earn a better price? Or do we just get cheaper as we age; afraid we’ll outlive our money in the reality game of aging roulette?

Cheap cheep: And you gotta luv how so many aging boomers eagerly morph into early-bird cottonheads. Not only do they get the wiggly worm, they get 2 for 1 dinners, 1/2 price drinks and doggie bags filled with mushy leftovers.

Like crows on a wire: Years ago, before I was a woman of a certain age, I used to visit my aging aunt Bernice in Florida. She never cooked and ate out all the time. I was horrified at how we would always arrive early and line-up  for dinner at 4:00pm. It was usually a buffet so the old codgers and codgerettes could get their money’s worth.

Free take-out: I remember once, aunt Bernice had forgotten to take a Ziploc bag into the restaurant. But that didn’t stop her. She simply fished a plastic rain-hat out of her purse – you remember the kind that folded up like a cheap fan? Then she asked me to load it up with chicken thighs from the buffet on our way out. Kill me now!

Words to live by: My aunt has sadly passed on and here I am, the same age she was at the time mentioned above. But I don’t feel old, I don’t own a plastic rain-hat and I don’t steal food from a buffet…as yet. And, as  Hubsey always says, “I don’t line up for food or sex.”

Stuck in time: In my dreams, I’m always 32. I know this because people ask me my age (in my dreams). I’m never any older and never any younger; always 32 years old! Slim waist, long blonde hair, killer stilettos, and not an aching bone in my body.

Reality bites: But then I wake-up and see that strange old woman in the mirror, and I ask her, “Who the  hell are you?”

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Pat Skene
See you between the lines!

Stand up to the Bullies – As the Condo Turns…

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As with any neighbourhood, condo buildings will always have their share of  crotchety old farts, who consider themselves the keeper of the rules. A friend of mine from Chicago tells me how someone shouted at her from his balcony at 10:00pm one evening, as she temporarily parked her car in the outdoor visitor lot. He told her she should park in the underground garage. And in the shared laundry room of her building, certain self-appointed snoops patrol the place like they’re on a reconnaissance mission to recover stolen support hose and granny panties. She gets up at 4:00am to do her laundry and avoid them.

This brings me to today’s topic.

Tip of the day – Stand up to the bullies

In my nearly three years here, I have encountered our resident enforcers on several occasions. They’re easy to recognize by their distinctive hatchet faces and beady eyes. I’ve been told with finger wagging precision by the hydro police to remember to turn off the lights in the pool and lounge areas when I leave. Another time, I offered to do a free author reading for the grandchildren of the condo development here, and the signs were ripped down from the bulletin boards because they weren’t approved by the sign police.      

Now I realize without rules we have anarchy. But without reason, we have stupidity. On a good day, I tell myself that these self-imposed guardians of the sacred rules are misguided souls who need to get a life.  On a bad day, I just want to tell them to go to hell.

As owners, we own our unit and everything in it. Common areas are shared spaces, not exclusive to a few obnoxious bullies. But like any bully, if we ignore them long enough, they’ll eventually go away. And if they don’t – release the hounds!

Until tomorrow…these are the days of our lives.

Downsize This!

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cartoon-lady-closet1-246x300The confessions of one woman’s trek through the perils of downsizing hell!

Have you ever seen an aging Boomer after the mind-numbing experience of shrinking a house into a condo? There’s a goggle-eyed, crazed look about the eyes that stays for months after the move. I see it with the new incomers here in our condo building. Happily, this stunned look seems to wane after a few months of swimming in the pool and watching someone else do the yard work.

Let’s get down to it: Okay, further to my post It’s Time to Sell, our house sold quickly. The next step was to snap on the rubber gloves and muck it out. So much stuff, so many memories, so little time.

Shocking secrets! I found this painful phase of downsizing a rollercoaster ride into perdition. There’s always one partner who is a collector of peculiarities, and in this case it isn’t me. Seriously! I’m not saying that my beloved Hubsey is an oddball, but rummaging through the darkest corners of our garage, we did uncover a collection of oddities that reflected his supreme oddness; like a large wooden-bin of coal, a case of moldy peach preserves circa 1922, a WWI bayonet with questionable stains on the blade, a well-used hookah pipe and a rather deflated looking blow-up doll. All these items had colourful stories screaming to be told. Unfortunately, they were dug out in deadly silence by our panic-stricken daughter and sniggering son-in-law, during a Saturday morning mucking-out-marathon.     

Painful stuff: As we sorted through the storyboard of our lives, a flood of memories washed over me, drowning out my sense of selection. How could we choose what things to take into our new life, and what to discard like abandoned puppies on a highway? Just how much could we squeeze into our condo and small storage locker? What were we to do with the gazillion tools in Hubsey’s workshop, the storage boxes stacked to the ceiling in the furnace room or the enormous pine box filled with old vinyl records? And would my new condo have space for my eleven rocking chairs? (Okay, so maybe I have some oddities too.) 

Shrinking our piles: We asked our only daughter to rummage through the pickings and take what she wanted. But the poor girl could only haul away so much – until sadly, her garage looked like ours did. The piles just weren’t going down fast enough, and our dreaded closing date was looming large! Short of finding a super-duper vat of Preparation H – nothing was going to magically shrink those piles. Fraught with emotions and the pure physical challenges of back-breaking work, we wanted desperately to turn back the clock and wake up from this nightmare. My sagely advice at this stage of the horror show is to do what I did: dig down deep, cry yourself to sleep and jump in with both feet!  This is going to hurt!
                                            We made our bed…and so we sleep,
                                            Our memories are running deep,
                                            It’s only stuff, we tend to say,
                                            But still it’s hard to give away.

                                            And as we buckle down to work,  
                                            We try hard not to go berserk,
                                            There’ll be a story here to tell, 
                                            If we survive downsizing-hell.
 

Check out my next post Mucking Out the Memories for the scoop on how we did it.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

                                        

Scary World of Aging

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As I flap around in my post-retirement years, I’m not happy about getting older. But when I consider the deathly alternative, I tend to buckle up and dig in. 

Brave new world: Last year Hubsey and I sold our home and moved into our first condo. Why we’re still married after going through the grueling experience of downsizing hell, is something of a mystery. We had so much stuff – all his old junk and my priceless collectables.  Well, we lived to tell the tale and now enjoy the comforts of our beautiful condo – despite being surrounded by a gaggle of cotton heads, dictatorial condo boards and antiquated rules. After decades in the corporate jungle, I’ve seen enough office politics to strangle a condor. So I plan to ruffle some of those dusty old condo-condor feathers. Old farts in corporate boardrooms and old farts on condo boards are all the same to me. To be continued so stay tuned…   

Scary stuff! This mysterious aging process can be almost as frightening as buying a new bathing suit. And besides the whole emotional gridlock of downsizing – how do I handle my husband losing his driver’s license due to a stroke? How do I cope with chronic illness, old bones and the shocking reality of my white hair? And what do I do when I discover Blackbeard’s whiskers popping out on my chin – or other unsuspecting body parts? And do I accept or reject the irresistible lure and blissful come-hither comfort of wearing granny panties and orthopedic shoes? Read the rest of this entry