What Will Each Year Bring- Wow #7

“I can’t wait ‘til I’m a grown up because…” says four-year-old Bryce. He has already began making plans and dreaming about his future. We talk about his thoughts on a career—“Being Dad’s work friend” and “Helping Mommy hold her camera.” He tells me that he wants to be an adult, because “I am excited to be a dad.” He has told me that he is not interested in drinking wine now, but when he is a grown-up, milk will no longer be his preferred beverage.

When you are young, there are so many milestones to look forward to, such as getting a driver’s license, being able to vote, drinking legally, and becoming independent. Each birthday is eagerly awaited.

At what point does that excitement turn to antipathy? For me, it was each new decade beginning at forty, when I truly knew I was no longer a kid. I watched my parents age, and with each passing birthday, new wrinkles appeared, trips to the doctors increased, and their memories deteriorated.

Grandpa’s travels became primarily limited to walking from the living room window to observe the neighborhood activities, to shuffling into the kitchen for a cup of coffee or his afternoon glass of wine. Grandma now spends most of the day in her recliner, with the television tuned to whichever station was last turned on by one of the nursing home aides or a visitor.

If this is my future, it saddens me. However, my gloom turns to hope when I dine with our new friend, a ninety-four year old gentleman with a perpetual smile on his face. He greets me by name and with a hug, and we have animated discussions about our lives—mostly his because he is so fascinating—and he tells me about his travels. He has seen the world—China, Thailand, Alaska, Germany, and Ireland. He does not look just backward on his life, but happily anticipates his future trips.

At this moment, he is on an adventure in New Zealand and hopes to visit the Galapagos Islands or Ireland in his ninety-fifth year. I asked if his family is uneasy with his solo travels, and he admitted that they are. He dismissed their worries telling me, “If something happens to me while I am away, what’s wrong with that? I have lived a long life, and I am happy now. I am doing what I want.”

What a great attitude, and what an admirable and memorable man! He is my hero! If I can still be physically and mentally fit enough to still travel and socialize thirty years from now, then birthdays will become a day of pride.

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Never Again!

When you are young, there are so many things ahead of you, which includes all the purchases you will make during your lifetime: cars, home(s), clothes, food, vacations, furniture, entertainment, etc. As you age, the purchases decrease. I have purchased four homes, and now, I think any other home I may buy will be when Dad and I decide to downsize. Certain items I have vowed I will never spend a dollar on again. Let me give you a few examples.

Cars. As you all know, we recently had to replace my Volkswagen with another automobile after the company lied, and was subsequently caught, regarding the emissions on the cars. I told the salesman that I would rather have a colonoscopy than face the pain and the games involved in purchasing a car. Can you imagine if you shopped for food the way you shop for a car: fill up your shopping cart (or buggy as it is called in the South), and then proceed to an office to negotiate a price?

Winter Coat. We went to a wedding in New Jersey this past November. I realized I did not own a nice warm coat, so I scoured the area prior to our trip in search of a cozy coat that was suitable to wear to a wedding as well as with my jeans. I found a nice, above-the-knee coat which I wore to the wedding and then hung it in my closet when we returned. It is now the end of January, and I have not worn it again. Thus, I will probably never purchase another winter coat during my lifetime.

Soap. Dad and I went shopping at Sam’s Club yesterday, where among the items on our list, was a bottle of liquid soap from which to fill all the soap dispensers throughout the house. We all know Sam’s is about BIG, so the smallest bottle of liquid soap I could find was actually two 80-ounce bottles tethered together. One was quite large enough, but we had to buy both. So I said to Dad, “That’s it. Now we will never buy liquid soap ever again.”

There will be more “final purchases,” which is not necessarily bad. Don’t cry girls. I have no immediate plans on going anywhere. All my health issues have been addressed and I have passed with flying colors. But I hate shopping, so knowing I have three items I will never have to shop for again makes me smile!

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Oopsy Daisy at the Kroger Marketplace

I was talking to Grandma recently, and she was expressing her concerns about the lapses in her memory. We discussed the plethora of problems associated with aging—memory loss, aches and pains (I told her I was headed off to physical therapy this week), wrinkles, and weight gain. I could continue, but this list is depressing enough.

This brings me to another story about Dad and me. Earlier this week, we headed to Kroger for a few items. We wanted to get two more of those super cool smiley face sponges which we first saw on Shark Tank, some batteries, and soap.

For those of you no longer living in the area, I must explain that our new Kroger, known as a Kroger Marketplace, is HUGE. Besides food, you can purchase anything from a new toilet seat if you are not looking for a huge variety of choices, expensive wine, toys, underwear, and a limited supply of furniture. And, it has a decent-sized food court. I told my book club we should consider having our meeting there one month. It’s just great.

So after we got some coffee at Starbucks, a juice box for Bryce, and 2 slices of cake, we sat down to enjoy a pre-shopping snack. Bryce picked up his cake, turned it over, and announced, “I don’t like skin.” I explained to him that I was positive he would just love the skin on the perimeter of his marble cake and then went on to tell him that the real name of the “skin” was “icing.” Needless to say, he enjoyed his chocolate skin and even asked to eat ours.

We then set out to locate the soap and sponges, and given the size of the store, I decided to swing by customer service first. The cheery woman behind the counter sent us to aisle #40 for the sponges and then handed us a directory for the remaining purchases, which were allegedly all in the same vicinity.

Dad found the batteries without a hitch while I went to the next aisle looking for the sponges. After Bryce chose a pink and a blue happy face (orange was definitely not permitted for this Clemson-hating family), I studied the directory, located “soap, bar” and informed Dad that we needed to go to aisle #3. He sighed and complained that we should have read the list before heading all the way to aisle #40, but we had no choice except to turn around and go back in the direction of the lower-numbered aisles.

We discovered that for some peculiar reason, the numbers began at “10.” Noticing our confusion, we were approached by a Kroger employee. When I asked her to help us find aisle #3, she walked us back in the direction of #40. Dad gave me a smug look because he was postive that bar soap was someone in the area of the sponges, and  then the Kroger woman and I discussed the fact that this would never, ever happen if a woman had designed the floor-plan.

As we continued on our adventure, I wondered what the heck this woman was thinking about, because I was observing the numbers continuing to increase. How would we ever find aisle #3 by heading in this direction?

You are all probably confused why I began this long-winded tale by discussing the woes of aging. It turns out, that at the end of the very high-numbered aisles, are some rows organized by letters. I turned to Kroger Lady with a puzzled glance, and then said, “But we are looking for #3.”

I handed her the directory, and pointed to “soap, bar.” She then laughed and said, “That is not a number 3, but a letter J!”

Oh, my poor old eyes! And that, girls, is another side effect of aging—the inability to read small print. Boy, did Dad have a good laugh at my expense. We left the store still not knowing where the aisles #1 through aisle #9 were located. That will be another Kroger adventure.

 

Back to the Days of Yore

Technology is great. We can connect with our family and friends in an instant via texts and “long-distance-free phones.” Losing our way is now greatly diminished because of GPS technology, and we can entertain ourselves via an endless array of games, movies, and television shows available on our smart phones, computers, and televisions. If we need a question answered, we turn to the Internet rather than heading to our local library. What would we do without these amazing machines?

However, Saturday night was a prime example of how technology has also robbed us of valuable time we lose because of these great necessities of life. How many hours do we whittle away when we set up our new phones and computers, fix problems with these wonders of modern times, and scratch our heads in puzzlement as we attempt to figure out how to set up a Twitter account?

We have become more impatient. Even three year olds are guilty of this as exemplified by Bryce, when he complained that a video on my phone was taking too long to load.

Last night, as Dad and I were about to settle down for “Saturday night at the movies” in our living room, our aging router decided to kick the bucket. Four hours later, Dad was finally calm, while I was ranting about how an evening on the prairie back in the days of yore was probably far less stressful than how we just spent our night.

I was thinking about a typical Saturday night at the Ingalls household. Caroline and the girls would clean up the dishes and then gather around the fire and sing along as Pa played his fiddle. Perhaps they read a book or took their weekly bath. In any case, they did not have their evening plans wasted by spending three hours trying to figure out how to put their technological house back together.

They did not fritter away an hour of their life getting into their horse and buggy to go down to the general store to pick up a new router. Ma and Pa did not need to deal with a millennial named Brandon who was mentally laughing at them because they just had no idea if they should purchase the $39.99 router or the $299 router. (Brandon, Grandma and Bampa Consumer were able to figure out how to put our house back together without your help. So there!)

I love all these gadgets–I really do. But sometimes I wonder if we all save more time or waste more time because of them. You all grew up with this, so what are your thoughts?