In honor of grandparents

Are you one of those people fortunate enough to have had time to spend with your grandparents? Were you perhaps the lucky recipient of stories of the “old days” when men were men and life was good, when a dime user to buy a three-course dinner and “junk bonds” was not even in our vocabulary, when your word was your bond and trust was a given? Did you gaze at that wrinkled visage atop a body that seemed in a perpetual state of shrinking never quite knowing what would next escape their puckered mouth? 

Grandmothers are just antique little girls. ~Author Unknown

Grandparents – we all had them but not all of us were able to experience first-hand what they had to offer. Often gone before our time, we get by on pictures and scattered stories telling us of their lives. And you know there is a quite a conglomeration of stories when our parents crack a quick smile as they gaze off into the past and relive special moments. Memories a plenty I am sure because if they were anything like my parents, they had to have been characters. 

My grandkids believe I’m the oldest thing in the world.  And after two or three hours with them, I believe it, too. ~Gene Perret

We occasionally hear how something we do reminds others of a grandparent. It could be a simple expression or it could be the way we turn a particular phrase. It may be something as insignificant as the way we walk or as important as the way we treat a fellow human being. We sound like or look like or act like Grandpa Jacob – if we had only had a chance to meet him face to face.

Grandparents are similar to a piece of string – handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of their grandchildren. ~Author Unknown

I was fortunate enough to spend time with my dad’s mom who lived into my college years. We shared many weekends together at family events as she lived only 40 minutes away. I clearly remember visits when we would stay up late and watch old movies while gnawing on a pickle the size of a meatloaf. I remember her dry sense of humor, her love of bridge, her evil hissing black cat who allowed no one near except Gram, and  her playing the piano while brave family members stepped up to sing along. I remember when my family and I were on vacation in Maui and we got the news that Gram had passed on. And I remember the emptiness that I felt wondering what had been the last thing I said to her while she was on this earth. I sure hope it ended with “I love you”.

A grandmother is a babysitter who watches the kids instead of the television.  ~Author Unknown

Grandparents know it all but generally prefer to dole out wisdom slowly. They could overwhelm us with why something should be one way because their experience tells them so. The focus of their attention could be to correct each and every character flaw and mistake the grandkids make. But loving  grandparents take the high road and just smile knowing that no one is perfect but if there was a grandchild even close to perfection it would be theirs.Leave the discipline to the parents – grandparents get to spoil and then return grandchildren when the day is done. 

When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window.  ~Ogden Nash

Those of us who lived part of our lives along side our grandparents are blessed. Looking back I think we realize that. And I hope by our actions and deeds that our children learn to respect and treasure and experience their grandparents while they are here. The reality is we will all one day be grandparents and it sure would be nice to be appreciated and loved in a like fashion.

I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather – not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car. ~Will Shriner

To grandparents everywhere…

Whats good for the goose

The old saying “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” was more than likely penned by a goose. (If anything, the saying should read in reverse – you know, a happy wife means a happy life!) The idea that what works for me is fine for you is at best narrow minded and at worst a recipe for disaster. There is little room for selfishness in a relationship that will have enough challenges already as we grow old together. Life should be about giving and getting, about making an effort and compromising for the better good.

 

In retirement where we spend most of our time in close proximity to our spouse, a successful plan of action requires behavior that is sensitive to the needs of all where both parties are happy within the situation. Independent activity and interests are an important piece of the puzzle but the majority of time will be spent together. I believe that in retirement, compromise and tolerance become the go words.

A relationship of mutual giving and tolerance typifies those successful marriages that we respect and envy. Older couples who have been together for 40-50-60 years have come to accept the little things that would quickly drive an otherwise sane person over the edge. A little annoying – perhaps – but we are committed to each other for the duration. How amazing it is  to look back from our senior point of view to that young couple of so many years gone by still together, for better or worse. All that elderly couples have gone through and survived builds a foundation based on shared memories and experiences, highs and lows, good times and not so good times. This mutual history is unique to each couple and if life becomes challenging as we know it can these bonds solidified with time can be our saving grace.

How significant  is it that papa Joe clacks his teeth eating  corn on the cob when he willingly worked two jobs during the early days to put baby Bobby through a private education? The Mrs is getting a bit forgetful as the years advance but not so long ago she was the wizard of Wall Street as she stretched meager earnings to cover all basic needs for the family. A successful record of making it this far together is the core that can assist us in the years ahead.

A great marriage is not when the “perfect couple” come together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences. ~ Dave Meurer

That said, what can the goose do for his gander and visa versa to assure that foundation does not weaken with the onslaught of time?

 

 

Do something to break up the routine – the same thing day in and day out becomes monotonous. And with no one in near proximity except for our spouse who do you think will bear the brunt of our restlessness? An unannounced dinner out at the new restaurant in town, a ballet for her even though he is not too keen on the whole danging-in-tights thing, flowers for no reason delivered to him or her, a back rub, a weekend away to the coast, or just doing that little something known only to you two that causes you both to laugh like kids and enjoy the moment.

– Show an interest in something that excites your spouse – it may not be your cup of tea but it is not just about the goose (or gander where appropriate). Fishing – the opera, a hockey game – a chick flick, monster trucks- shopping malls, sports bar – elegant dinner – you get the idea.

– Break out the photo album and relive the moments that brought you two to where you are right now.

Happy couples have learned how to keep both the goose and the gander satisfied.

It’s really a matter of making the effort to do the things that only you know are important to your spouse.

Don’t you want to see again that smile that results from that simple, silly something you do?

Make it happen…

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.




Forget about it

I got up the other morning ready to start my day with a plan of action clearly defined in my mind. Ready to get to it and clear some of those to-do items from my activity list, I was dressed, fed, a nice cup of steaming coffee in my hand, and heading to the door. As usual, I checked my pockets before closing the automatically-locking door behind me – good thing too as I had forgotten my car keys! No biggie – I turned around and headed to the little ceramic bowl where I always put my keys. But they weren’t there. Where had I left my keys?

I retraced my steps from the previous day trying to remember exactly where I had wandered upon arriving home the night before. Did I go to the kitchen first? Or did I head straight upstairs? Had I emptied my pockets or did I leave the contents in my pants? Where the heck were my keys?

Forget About It

One curse of growing older is the unavoidable reality of a diminished memory. How easy it becomes to misplace something and how much more challenging it seems to finally track down the missing culprit. We used to be proud of the speed at which we could access nimble memory banks to quickly call out the name of a song we heard  on the radio. It took but brief moments to associate the name with the face of a movie star. And Jeopardy was fun as opposed to what now more commonly proves to be confounding.

The gradual forgetfulness happens over time and to varying degrees but it will be our companion long into our retirement years.

Various “mind exercises” are available to fight back – crossword puzzles, Sudoku, bridge, memory games – and all likely have some positive impact. We can make a conscious effort to focus more on exactly what we are doing rather than act out of habit – for example saying out loud “I am putting my keys in the cat box” so we have a better chance of recalling the exact location. We can attempt to slow down our hectic pace of living so actions do not become a blur with little significance.

But the reality is we senior citizens are just not as sharp as we used to be (no offense intended – one senior to another).

Fear not -I believe I have discovered a silver lining. Our senior moments and dulling memories can be a blessing in disguise. What is he talking about you ask…just listen:

I am happy to forget

How terribly burdensome it would be if we remembered EVERY detail of our lives up to this point. What we ate, what we said, what we heard said, what we dreamed, what we did right and what we did wrong. If we remembered everything how could we even hope to keep it all straight?

The saying goes that women “forget” the real pain of childbirth or at least experience a softening around the edges or there would be very few second children born let alone number three or beyond.

I think that this softening of memories can be a positive thing. A few examples:

  • Whatever it was that my wife and I disputed the other night is not significant (as long as we have made peace). Better to move on and forget about it.
  • The same mistakes made by politicians and leaders of the world, over and over with the same predictable results – I choose to forget about it but I sure wish they did not.
  • Mistakes I may have made during my life cannot be undone. If I fret over them I only bring on stress that I cannot appease as I cannot change the past. Forget about it.
  • The price of gas not so long ago – I have no choice but to forget about it as I wipe a tear from my eye.
  • The feelings of loss and pain that have been scattered through the years. If we are unable to forget to some extent or at least soften around the edges our painful  memories, they remain ever-fresh and vivid, a part of each day. Unable to put them behind us we cannot move on to the acceptance stage that is necessary for our mental health. If only we could forget

Losing our keys or forgetting the name of a song are trifles that though annoying do not often endanger our lives.

Some things we are sad to forget but unfortunately have no control over what happens to our memory.

Some things we are better off forgetting.

When we have no choice in the matter and we become upset, when we feel like we are literally “losing it”, I recommend heeding the words of a wise gangster from the movies who so sagely said, “forget about it…”.

 

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.