Tag Archives: old

Wild and Crazy: All in the Eyes of the Beholder

by Viv Sade

I am no so much bothered by getting old − I much prefer it to the alternative − but I am extremely bothered by getting boring.

Take tonight, the 64th anniversary of my husband’s birth in LaPorte, Indiana — Home of the Slicers (a required phrase after the word “LaPorte,” according to Indiana statute).

We decided to use some gift cards we received for Christmas and take in a movie and then dine at a local steakhouse — not something we do very often.  We were both psyched.

In the old days, on a date like this, we would have whispered sweet nothings to each other in the theatre, left without the faintest idea as to the name of the movie, had two or three cocktails at the restaurant, skipped dinner altogether and hurried home because we could barely keep our hands off of one another.

brian-viv-tacky-tourists-ps
The author and her husband no longer think it’s funny to pose as Tacky Senior Tourists, since they are now living as TSTs.

As it was, we went to an early afternoon matinée, got the senior discount, waited in a loooong line behind other cost-conscious Baby Boomers, and shuffled into the theater, complaining to one another that it must be Senior Cinema Discount Day — until we realized that we were the seniors.

The movie was good, but one man in the back of the theater laughed loudly at every scene, and since it was not a comedy, this began to annoy my husband. He would roll his eyes and grumble under his breath every time the man chortled, which made me laugh out loud, causing me to became the Second Inappropriate Laugher.

Most theaters now have nice, cozy recliners instead of those uncomfortable plastic bucket seats, which would have been nice in my youth, but these days, after I recline and use my coat as a blanket, I start to nod off just minutes into the previews.

We tried to identify the Inappropriate Laugher on the way out of the theater, but it was impossible. Besides, people were nudging each other and casting sideway glances in our direction, obviously identifying me as the Second Inappropriate Laugher, so we ducked our heads and scurried out.

On the way to the restaurant, I told my husband not to try and turn left unless he went to the nearby stoplight, which he did not do, and I inhaled sharply and might have screamed just a little as he pulled out in front of a truck and veered into the right lane. He yelled and forbade me from ever breathing or inhaling loudly — or for God’s sake, screaming — anytime he is driving.

It unnerves him, he said.

Not as much as pulling into four lanes of heavy traffic unnerves me, I thought but did not say. It was his birthday, after all.

Alive against all odds and seated in the restaurant, I ordered the sirloin steak dinner and the spouse ordered grilled swordfish, since beef always precludes a bout of no-doubt gout.

It was good, except that the Chef’s Special swordfish came with a side dish of white beans and kale. I’m a kale lover, but my husband often refers to the leafy green as “punishment.” So when I saw the fish atop a heap of beans and kale, I laughed, even as he narrowed his eyes and stared longingly at my loaded baked potato. I instinctively moved it closer to my side of the table.

On the drive home, we both looked at the dash clock in awe. By the time we drove the 20 miles or so home and pulled into our driveway, it was exactly 5:05 p.m. What a lurid night — well, afternoon, really — of debauchery and reckless adventure!

This led to a Senior Reminisce Moment. Remember when we would drink too many gin and tonics, sit on the same side of the booth in restaurants, forget to eat, stay up talking and laughing until 3 in the morning and then go to work three hours later?

Collective sigh from the two young-at-heart seniors in the front seat of the Buick LeSabre parked in their driveway.

As it was, we roused ourselves from our melancholy and simultaneously gave each other “that look.” We both knew what the other yearned for and wanted so badly. We could not wait a minute more to get into the house, run to the bedroom, tear our clothes off and …

… put on our pajamas and slippers and watch the latest episode of “Shameless.”

 

 

 

 

 

Getting old? Who’s complaining?

I used to hate the way my face was falling to the earth – outpaced only by my thighs.

The other day a lady asked the name of the chubby dog who was sleeping soundly and wrapped around my feet. I had to tell her it was my ankles.

The main problem with growing old is that even if you still feel young mentally, externally you begin to crack and disintegrate like a human pork rind.

But I’m not complaining. Every day I wake up is a great day; every birthday is a celebration.

I had always been healthy, but at 50 was hit with breast cancer. I never felt sick and came through the treatment of radiation, surgery and a five years of medication just fine.

Last year, at the age of 60, doctors discovered a tumor the size of Rhode Island growing between my brain and my ear canal. It was called an acoustic neuroma, the doctor said gently. All I could think to say was that it sounded like a great name for a rock band.

This all came within months of my daughter having a life-threatening adrenal tumor and my mom dying of breast cancer.

I don’t mind telling ‘ya – I was convinced the gods were conspiring to kill me – not just physically, but emotionally and mentally, as well.

Yeah, I know, I know – what doesn’t kill you …

Anyway, after a 13-hour brain surgery at I.U. Medical Center in Indianapolis, I was as good as new.

That’s a lie.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t drink. I couldn’t sit up. Heck, I couldn’t even roll over in bed.  Half of my face was frozen and numb because the tumor had wrapped around my right facial nerve. Someone had fashioned a turban out of barbed wire and attached it to my head with steel beams and iron spikes which were tangled in my bloody hair.

On the up side, I was on some pretty mind-blowing narcotics. Normally, I don’t even take aspirin, but after surgery, well, I was waaaay down in the hole with Alice and the White Rabbit.

My family members were there for most of my 9-day stay and did their damnedest to make me rip out my stitches and blow out my brain with laughter.

That’s the one thing I could do — laugh— albeit out-of the side of my mouth with a gurgling sound and one wide-open, freaky eye that refused to close, giving me the appearance of a mutant swamp monster. I didn’t care. Did I mention the drugs?

On the head trauma floor of the ICU unit, there’s not a lot of humor to be found, but my kids, husband, and siblings are experts at turning over big, black, ominous rocks and finding the potentially unfunny funny.

Every few minutes, around the clock, a staff member would come to my bedside, ask me to squeeze his/her fingers and ask the same questions: “Do you know your name?”, What day is it?”, “Where are you?” and “Who is president?”

I have married twice, taking both husbands’ names, reverted to my maiden name after my second divorce then married again and did not take his name.

My mom, on her deathbed, told me she had quit writing my names in the family Bible — there weren’t enough pages.

The first time the nurse asked me if I knew my name, one of my brothers quipped,  “Oh sure, start with the hard questions.”

My own children, after telling the hospital receptionist that they were there to see their mom, paused and looked dumbfounded when she asked my last name.

I’ve decided to be like Cher. It’s just Viv.

I did like to mess with the nurses when they asked if I knew who the president was: “Taft?”, “Churchill?”, “Weird Al Yankovic?”, “Grant? Did the North win?”

It was weeks before I could walk or take a shower unaided. I’ve never had to depend on anyone and there I was, helpless as a newborn. The gods were conspiring to humble me.

Accomplishing one goal at a time — walking up and down stairs, gardening for ten minutes straight, driving, going back to work part-time, and hiking 5 miles up and down a  Virginia mountain with my kids and grandkids five months after surgery – I recovered.

There’s still a slight palsy on the right side of my face but for the most part, my face came back home and my wrinkles returned. I no longer look like I got Botox injections from a one-eyed physician.

I was so happy to see my wrinkles that I made them a welcome home casserole with extra Oil of Olay.

I just wrote 751 words to describe an experience that could be summed up in five: I’m grateful to grow old. I don’t like the alternatives.

 

by Viv Of-Many-Last-Names

IU MEd angel day
A couple of dear friends delivered this angel to watch over me.
At the summit hiking in Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia – five months post-op.

 

 

Getting old sucks neti pots

Funny, I don’t feel old.

But my body dares to differ.

That’s the weird thing about aging – you feel the same, but suddenly it’s impossible to laugh too hard after drinking a Dixie cup of water without dribbling down your chin or legs.

My body hates me and betrays me every chance it gets. We used to love and mutually respect one another. We used to have dinner before sex and cuddle after. Those days are over. We’re broke up. Literally.

In the midst of a conversation with a store clerk when I am perfectly healthy, my nose will suddenly drip with no warning whatsoever.

I’ve put my back out twice just bending over to tie my shoes.

The only place my hair is getting thicker is on my chin.

I can’t relax during yoga class because I’m afraid I might fart.

On the plus side, I’m old enough that I don’t care if I say fart instead of “pass gas.”

And, I can’t use a neti pot from two to four hours before leaving the house. The last presidential election was proof of that.

In a hurry to vote and make it to work on time, I used a neti pot –  which I swear by for avoiding sinus problems – then rushed to the polls.

In a looooong line of people, many of whom I knew and recognized, I was having a lively conversation with one of the poll workers when I bent over to look at the district map that was taped to a table.

Saline water gushed out of my nose onto the map, which was – thankfully – laminated.

No $h!#.

People stared in horror. Some backed away.

It was almost as if I had told them who I was voting for – only much worse.

As I dived for a tissue in my purse, I tried to explain, without success, that it was only saline water from a neti pot.

I might as well have said I was suffering from Ebola hemorrhagic viral fever.

I was caught in a bad Van Gogh dream, looking into the terrified eyes of 80 people clutching their heads and screaming soundlessly with open mouths.

I know what I would have been thinking had I seen someone’s nasal passages spew a tsunami – “Hope that poor hapless sap stays away from me …”

The weird thing is that sometimes when I pour that little pot of water in one nostril, NOTHING comes out of the other nostril.

That’s when I should have a clue not to bend over for the rest of the year.

I mean, where does it go? It’s supposed to flow in one nostril and wash out the sinuses and nasal passages and then flow out the other nostril.

But sometimes … NOTHING.

Is my head a vacuous wasteland of saline water parks where cells dance and frolic?

I’m sure it has to do with aging. Everything does these days.

Maybe the saline packs into the recesses of my head that used to be filled with working brain matter, but are now empty chasms of space filled with meaningless phrases like, “Where did I leave my glasses?” and “Damn! Why did I come in this room?” and “Rutabagas scare me and my intestines.”

As they say, it sucks.

Or does it blow?

I’m just too damn old to know.