Transcript of "'Am I getting old?' 'Oh, no, not you.'"
Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you.
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Table of Contents1. Dont laugh at my jokes too much. Thoughts on senior nookie, assisted living, love after eighty,and unexpected bliss at the end of life.2. Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you. The wonders of the Internet... the stubborn obstinacy of fartoo many Senior Citizens. Generations colliding in cyber space. Some thoughts.
Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you.Dont laugh at my jokes too much. Thoughts on seniornookie, assisted living, love after eighty, and unexpectedbliss at the end of life.by Dr. Jeffrey LantAuthors program note: Suddenly, I burst into a song that made us both laugh. In my croaky voicecelebrated worldwide for its almost incredible ability to hit every single note wrong, there I waspositively warbling one of the most beautiful tunes ever written,"Dont throw bouquets at me/ Dont please my folks too much/ Dont laugh at my jokes too much/People will say were in love!"And then, as unexpected as I had been when I lurched into song, he responded in kind:"Dont sigh and gaze at me/ Your sighs are so like mine/ Your eyes mustnt glow like mine/ Peoplewill say were in love!"It was my father. It was a recent Saturday during one of our regular "tour dhorizon" briefings on thestate of the known world and the current disposition of all its inhabitants. He was relating the latestinstallment of "love among the ruins," the latest red-hot gossip from what he will call "theinstitution", the assisted living facility where he and my step-mother Miss Ellie now reside. And, asusual, nothing, absolutely nothing, was lost in the telling of this sizzling soap opera, an opus withmore twists, turns and unexpected strands than "Desperate Housewives."Todays "Extra! Extra! Hear all about it!" installment was the latest in the continuing saga of twopillars of the senior establishment, Mrs. Winterbotham, a slip of a lass at 88, and her "sweet boy"Ronnie, lithe and plausible at 90. Before continuing, I feel duty bound to tell you what follows issensual to a degree, a matter of grand passion, skullduggery, labyrinthine conspiracies, and frequentnaps and bathroom breaks by all concerned as well as gossip, at once malicious, envying, poignant,unrelenting, and always worth the telling.But before that happens, you must re-hear "People Will Say Were In Love" (for I suspect youalready know and cherish it as I do). Youll find this loveliest of love songs in any search engine. Itwas written in 1943 by Oscar Hammerstein II and composed by Richard Rodgers for the firstmodern musical that ever was, "Oklahoma!" Go listen now. Itll make you feel very young andhopeful all over again... and that is the point of this story... and the song.What my father told me.My regular phone conversation had to be postponed a bit because, as he told me, he and Miss Elliehad a very special and delicate mission to undertake; he was sure Id understand the necessity toreschedule. I murmured concurrence, and they went out to gather the latest amatory intelligencefrom their dear friend Amanda Winterbotham, there to dispense unstinting empathy, understanding,and the wisdom that we are all supposed to get when aging, but mostly never do.We muddle. We age. We muddle some more. We die. Most annoying. That is why as we age weneed good friends more than ever... because we didnt learn quite as much along the way as we needor as we over confidently thought we had. This is why all known languages feature such pungentexpressions as these: "Theres no fool like an old fool." "A man growing old is a child again."(Sophocles). "Age is a high price to pay for maturity." (Tom Stoppard). And... but you get the drift...These are the facts.http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 4 of 10
Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you.Amanda Winterbotham is a woman of education, sense, solid principles, her own teeth and a nicelittle nest egg in rock-solid securities which proved their true worth by not collapsing in the recenteconomic melt-down. She also bakes often and lavishly and has the ability to tempt compliments outof even the most jaded and pernickety of world-weary epicureans. She is also a woman and thereinlies the rub... for such a woman, for all that shes barely on the sunny side of 90, still likes a kiss anda cuddle, though she feels embarrassed at her age to own up to it. Why should she?After all, her well-heeled, utterly respectable parents, Top Drawer, (for she is a Winterbotham of theOyster Bay Winterbothams) christened her "Amanda". This as every student of the Latin languageknows means "She who must be loved". The tense, I remind you, is the hortatory imperative. Makea note of it. I put it to you: what chance did she have with dapper Ronnie near at hand and desirable,a hunk at 140 pounds dripping wet, with a penchant for the grape and an eye for the ladies. So longas she is the lady in question and her "sweet boy" means every sweet thing he has said to herAmanda is satisfied. Basta.On this basis, Ronnie and his walker are regularly seen en route to Amandas nicely appointedapartment, ensconced in that apartment (with the once ever open door now often closed), or exitingfrom that apartment at all hours, a crumb of blueberry scone on his lips -- and a smile.There this tale should have ended, two people hitherto facing each new dawn as listlessly as the last-- now enraptured with each other, engrossed, glad to be alive. Yes, it should have ended there... butit most assuredly did not."People will say were in love."People talk. Thats what we do. We talk when were happy. We talk when were sad. We talk whenwere lonely. We talk when were not. We spend most every waking moment thinking about whatwe have just been told... talking... or contemplating the very next thing we intend to say and theundeniably fortunate individual to whom we intend to say it. Talking is our metier... and each andevery day we pursue it... especially when we have a piece of glorious intelligence we just cannotbear to keep to ourselves.No, it must be told... and told at once. Nowhere is this more true than in the senior residences we call"assisted living" where there is ample time, hawk-like vision, and a desire to know all... and tell all.Gossip is omnipresent, unending, told with aplomb, laced with wit, shrewdness, exquisite malice anddiabolical humor. This was the price for Ronnie and the pleasure of his company. Was Amanda, dearAmanda, prepared to pay it?Dear Amanda was bewitched, bothered and bewildered by... her children (who gave long looks ofdespair while bleating endless variations of "Mama, at your age!"). By... old friends who knew herlate husband. They reminded her that Queen Victoria always remained true to Prince Albert... whycouldnt she do as much? The serving staff (composed of young people distinguished by tattoos andear rings) weighed in and said "Go for it!") But the minister who came with a message ofbrotherhood, redemption and the necessity to tithe gave her stern looks and sterner admonitions tostay chaste for Jehovah. What had begun as an affaire of the heart was now a burgeoning scandal.And so she asked my father and Miss Ellie to come for some of her delectable short bread (thesecret was a drop of fine sherry in the dough) and advice.Clarity amidst cacophony. My father at his best.My father for close to 90 years has been known as a sympathetic friend, a ready ear, discrete, a manof strong views but greater empathy; above all fair, someone who would tell you the truth as heunderstood it without lording over you, making you feel inadequate, weak, a fool. As such AmandaWinterbotham wanted his opinion... and Miss Ellie wanted him to give it. Why?http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 5 of 10
Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you.First for the sake of helping dear Amanda, who was by now severely stressed and embarrassed by avery private matter now anything but. But perhaps more for my fathers sake. Hows that?Because since moving into assisted living just a few months ago, my father has felt disoriented,depressed, despondent, regarding this residence not as a home but a holding tank for the GrimReaper... He was in dismay, unhappy, burdened by thoughts of an eternity too fast coming, way toofast... a man who had spent his life helping others was now too focused on himself.Did Miss Ellie, perhaps, whisper a timely word in Miss Amandas ear? If so, I shouldnt be surprisedfor women throughout the ages have known just what to do in such situations. This is why I can seeso clearly in my minds eye my father and Miss Ellie, proceeding slowly down the hall, stately, eachwith a cane and consummate dignity. Amandas door was open... Ellie entered first. Was there at thatmoment a special look that passed between the ladies? I cannot say... but my father later told me itfelt good to be helpful again... and how did Mrs. Winterbotham know chocolate chip cookies withextra chocolate chips were his favorite? How indeed... But I could imagine Miss Ellie singing..."Dont take my arm too much/Dont keep your hand in mind/ Your hand feels so grand in mine/People will say were in love./And so they are and do not care who knows...http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 6 of 10
Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you.Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you. The wonders of theInternet... the stubborn obstinacy of far too many SeniorCitizens. Generations colliding in cyber space. Somethoughts.by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.Authors program note. Did you ever see "Gigi" the 1958 musical by Alan Jay Lerner and FrederickLoewe? You should. It burned through a fortune to recreate lush, opulent Third Republic Paris andbesides the music is lovely. One song in particular touches my heart -- "I Remember It Well".Its a duet between Honore (Maurice Chevalier) and Mamita (Hermione Gingold), long ago loverswho meet up in the twilight of their lives and reminisce about what happened way back when... andwhat they remember; definitely not the same thing.Honore gets his every reminiscence slightly wrong; Mamita is spot on with hers. Honore isembarrassed, chagrined at his errors... but the lady doesnt mind. She retains an abiding affection forhim... and even in his errors she sees he retains an abiding affection for her. Yes, its a lovely,beautiful, bittersweet tune... go now to any search engine. Listen well. Tenacious memories are justone touch away and waiting now for you to release them. Bring an extra handkerchief.Another missed phone call... another missed opportunity. Another irritating moment for each.It just happened again. The Missed Call Syndrome. This time he called me.... and missedconnecting. So I called him back... and missed connecting. So now both of us, my 88 year old fatherand I (aged 65), remain disconnected, and irritated with each other. "Why cant the boy be there atjust the moment I want to talk to him?", he mutters. In return I say with pronounced pique, "Whywont he use a webcam? It would make life so much easier for both of us."Welcome to the clash of the titans, where one old goat continues to cause unnecessarycommunications problems.... and his know-it-all IT son fails (yet again) to show Dad the error of hisways. Thus the Mexican stand-off continues... with both parties irked, irritated, and more than a littleexasperated with each other. Whats going on here? Just this. Two obstinate generations, each used togetting its way, are battling to make their communications with the other easier... for we do, I think,truly want to communicate with each other, so long as the other party is dictated to, not dictating."Get an email address that works."Technology to be effective must be simple and easy to use and must not create more problems thanit solves. By this test the email program used by my technically clueless dad is useless, for it causesnothing but problems, not least the fundamental problem that it actually blocks all my email to him.As you may imagine this causes a ton of problems of the "Did you get my email the other day?"variety.Why does he keep this completely ineffectual program? Not because its "easy", because it mostassuredly is not; not because it delivers his mail promptly without hassle because it fails that test too.Ill tell you why he does it... because he feels (though he has never given me the satisfaction ofputting his unconvincing case in my unscrupulous hands) that he, having worked a long lifetime forothers, is entitled, the end approaching, to have those others (chief amongst them me) work for him...never mind that a completely fast, thorough and easy email system is at hand.Rigor Mortis before death.http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 7 of 10
Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you.We all know that rigor mortis comes with death; is in fact an undeniable symptom of that death.Sadly, for many, especially in regard to tech skills and proficiency, rigor mortis comes well beforethe end. Common sense dictates that if you want the substantial and undeniable benefits oftechnology, you must keep up-to-date. But obstinate seniors, like dear old dad, wont keepup-to-date. They have done much for others; they have little time remaining. They dont wantcontinuing education and the "joys of learning". They insist upon being catered to, waited on,kow-tow desired but not required.Thus if they fail to listen, fail to learn the necessary steps to put technology to work for them and socreate a heap of unnecessary problems, this is unfortunate, but so what? And so they approach theultimate arrogance and deep-seated selfishness of the "Let them eat cake" lady herself, the late,unlamented, backward looking Marie Antoinette, sovereign queen of unthinking, unrepentant,adamant ossification. (If he ever discovers Ive written this, Dad will kill me, especially as thecomparison is true and apt! One can, after all, forgive anything but the unanswerable truth.Fortunately he doesnt know how to access my articles at jeffreylantarticles.com Hes tried; no cando; and thats that.)"Get a webcam! Get a webcam at once!"Writing emails, particularly if you are of the "bread-and-butter", copperplate hand generation likedad, takes time and careful attention. Words matter; finding just the right word is a courtesy theynever neglect. And they all honor Mark Twains trenchant line, "If I had more time, Id write you ashorter letter." As a result their emails are not just written but edited, corrected, refined, no textmessaging allowed; a real letter sent but never responded to in kind by anyone less than 70 or so.And so another failure-to-communicate incident is born, to smolder and explode without warning.How different things would be if hed use a webcam -- a webcam Im wiling to GIVE him!Consider the following: I have a webcam; my brother has a webcam; my sister has a webcam; herson and daughter each have webcams. Only my father does not have a webcam, considers thevexatious unsettling matter settled and considers all attempts to get him hooked up and active a graveimposition; unjust; an affront; the very idea lese majeste.He has for just such moments of offense and insolence and outrage his certain response: "Im old, Imtired, I cant do it, Im falling apart; its hard; its difficult; its...", but you get the picture. How cananyone transgress against such a paladin, now ancient, frail, venerable... and absolutely determinednot to change anything, not by a jot, much less a tittle?And so the matter unsatisfactorily continues day after day. We are both of us getting older, which isjust another way of saying we are getting more and more obstinate by the minute. He frets becausehis time is dwindling with anxious celerity and so each day the little he still wants becomes moreurgent. Why cant I see that?... But I do see that. That is why I want him to be on a webcam, easily accessible to me and his otherwired progeny, not least the only two grandchildren he will never know as well as he ought becausehe is ludicrously behind in what it takes to touch them, share, learn as they hobnob everywhere onEarth and never care to think or understand what he wants, much less help him get it.His failure to master even the rudiments of the communication techniques and services that existreinforces the very thing he fears most; disconnection from family and friends, alienation, a feelingthat worsens daily that he is not merely aged but irrelevant, obsolete, passed it, already not merelymoribund but actually dead by inches.He sees a webcam as a threat, exposing all that he does not know. I see it as my only and best chanceto connect with him easily and always before that chance is gone forever and I am forced to lamenthttp://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 8 of 10
Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you.what might have been... a state of affairs that chills me now and will haunt me until I, too, am dustand an inadequate memory to those I have loved."This too shall pass."This is one of my fathers favorite expressions. He has used it with me over and over again as ameans of lessoning lifes plethora of pains and even some moments of exuberance and euphoria, astoo much of a good thing. Now I shall render these words in quite a different way, as an admonition,a warning, an already far too late wake- up call, a clarion to action before even the little I can donow becomes far more than the days ahead will leave me.And so, I shall again do what I have tried to do so often... I shall say, out of a love which must neverbe forgotten, what needs to be said and which was never said better than this: "Do not go gentle intothat good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light". Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) insisted onthis to his father. I cannot do less to mine and so I shall tell him this...Aristides de Sousa MendesDo you know this man? You should. Born in 1885 in the Centro region of Portugal, he became adiplomat in the days when Dictator Antonio Salazar ruled. He was stationed in Bordeaux in 1940when the Nazis invaded France. Bordeaux was a prime exit port, a city engulfed in war and chaos; aplace to which refugees, many of them Jews, fled, looking for any way to escape. Mendes wasordered by his government to provide no aid, no escape. That was a decree of death. But Mendes wasa man of life.Thus, between June 17-July 8, 1940 he issued over 30,000 exit visas to refugees and displacedpersons, some 12,000 to Jews. One man, just a few days, thousands saved. Needless to say, hisgovernment disowned him, stripping him of diplomatic status, his legal profession, of everything infact except the certain knowledge that he had done the right thing, the righteous thing, the lifeaffirming thing.And you must do the life affirming thing, too. Thus understand that it is out of our love that weinsist upon your advancing, focused on whatever span is left; still opening windows, howeverdaunting, not closing them. If you will not do this for yourself; then do it for us, as yet another gift ofthe father. For in such a way, you choose life and hope, something we will surely address andcelebrate when we have our first joyous meeting online by webcam. May it come soon.http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 9 of 10
Am I getting old? Oh, no, not you.ResourceAbout the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a widerange of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home businesstraining, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting,hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 onlineHome Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.Republished with authors permission by Elizabeth English http://LizsWorldprofit.com.http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 10 of 10