Grandmotherhood

“Is Everyone My Age This Forgetful?” also . . . “Is Everyone My Age This Forgetful?”

Oh, Dori. I think I'm you.
Oh, Dori. I think I’m you.

If, perchance, you happen to be like me and are a bit forgetful, I’m about to make you feel a whole lot better about yourself.  A. Whole. Lot. Better.  . . . . .I’ve forgotten some pretty big things lately.  For instance . . .

My car.

Not the keys to my car, not where I parked the car, no, that’s mere child’s play.  I forgot that I even had driven a car in the first place. Allow me to explain.

Just before Christmas, a friend of mine and I met for lunch at a local restaurant.  We had driven separately because I had errands to run before we met. She drives a humongous truck and the idea was, we were going to go to Home Depot after lunch because we each had ordered very large Christmas presents for our husbands online and they were both ready to be picked up. Being very good wives, we ordered large, heavy items.  From Home Depot.  A husband’s dream.  I ordered a new grill for mine and my friend ordered a power sprayer for hers.  (She is actually a better wife than I as her gift was both heavier and more expensive.)  After a delightful lunch, we both drove our vehicles the short distance to Home Depot. So far, so good, right?  Nothing strange about this scenario.

I feel it necessary here to rat on my friend just a tad: She almost went to Lowe’s instead of Home Depot!  They are across the highway from each other.  I SO wish this was the end of the “Oh my aren’t we forgetful, haha” story and my friend was the one who made the big blunder.  Oh no . . . it gets way better than that.

We parked our two vehicles and met inside the store at the customer service desk.   Our large and quite generous gifts were retrieved and brought to the front.  The grill was big but not too unwieldy, but the power sprayer was crazy heavy!  There was no way Linda and I were going to manage hoisting that sucker into the back of her truck.  No problem!  There were plenty of brawny men to help us out.  We were a little worried about how we were going to get it OUT of the truck, but hey, one thing at a time, right?

After the two items were placed onto and into the truck, Linda hopped behind the wheel and I hopped likewise into the passenger seat, and away we went!  Home Depot is on a very busy highway and this was just a few days before Christmas.  The traffic was insane, but we managed to work our way into the midst of it.  As we sat there with all the other vehicles, proud of our accomplishment, Linda’s head snapped to the right and she said to me, “Your car!”

“My car!!”

Oops.  It’s not often I have forgotten an entire automobile, but I definitely did that day.  As deftly as she managed her huge truck into the traffic, she worked her way back out and back into the parking lot.  And there sat my poor, forgotten little VW bug.  Windshield washer fluid-tears running down the hood.

But wait, that isn’t even as bad as it gets.  That’s just the warm-up story.  Just the other day, I hit a new low.  This actually bothers me more than the car situation.  It may not seem as big a deal to some of you, but to me, it’s huge!

One day I completely forgot to put on my make-up.

OK, now maybe some of you might not think that’s so bad.  Maybe you skip make-up some days.  I haven’t skipped putting on make-up a single day since the 8th grade.  I don’t wear a lot of make-up, but the only places I’ll go with a bare face is any room in my house and possibly the mailbox (if I’m sure no one will walk by).  I’m sure I must have applied at least a little blush before going to the hospital to have babies.  I’ve even been told I don’t look any different between my “make-up” face and my “non make-up” face.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m still going to wear it every day.

One day last week, I was sitting in the library.  I had been there a few hours and it was time to head home.  I went into the ladies room on my way out, did what was necessary and then went to wash my hands.  I guess I looked into the mirror for the first time all day.  On first glance, I thought to myself, “Wow, my make-up really faded today.” But then I squinted and leaned closer to the mirror.  To my horror, I realized that my face was as bare as the day I was born!! It was as blank as a piece of paper containing Donald Trump’s “Things I Need to Improve About Myself” list.  Horrified, I made for my car and my home and my bathroom and my make-up.  I mentally went through that day’s activities in my mind.  Who had I showed this blank canvas to?  Publix!!  I’d gone to Publix!  I’d even seen a woman I knew there (I don’t remember from where, though, of course . . . ) and even said a brief “Hi! How are you?”  Dear God.  It was a wonder she didn’t turn to stone right there near the canned vegetables!  I can just hear her telling stories back at . . . . church?  . . . . about that poor, unfortunate Thomas woman, really let herself go. The one good part about this day, though, was when I got ready for bed that night.  I didn’t have to wash my face!

I know all this being more forgetful stuff is all a part of getting older, but it makes me a little nervous.  What helps is hearing stories about what other people forgot.  I love getting together with my Book Club friends, a group of ten women who are all near the same age and experiencing the same things.  Our forgetful stories, though they seem awful when we actually do them, bring each other huge laughs when we share them.  It makes us each feel less broken and faulty.  When your friends are all becoming increasingly faulty too, it makes it easier to take.

So, I hope you feel a little better about yourself now that you’ve read how poorly I’ve been acting.  I’ll leave you with a quote from Maya Angelou.  She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I hope I’ve made you feel better.

 

School Days

“Red Rover, Red Rover, send Medical Help right over!”

This is for all my kinfolk out there who, like me, when you were a kid were either: 1.) Scrawny 2.) Non-athletic and/or 3.) Unpopular.  As for me, I hit the trifecta here.  Maybe you can feel my pain.  Actually, there is no residual pain, but only funny memories at this point.  Something today made me think of those dreaded days on the school playground and the gymnasium.

What did you call that class where you had to change into a hideous uniform?  We called it “Phy. Ed.”  Also known as “P.E.” or “gym.”  I forget what grade it was when our very small school started implementing the Phy Ed uniform.  The girls wore one-piece “outfits” that consisted of a red and white striped t-shirt top that connected to red shorts.  The longest zipper I’d ever seen in my life went up the back.  We were mortified at our appearance, which leads me to believe we were in those awfully awkward “junior high” years.  I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  The main thing I want to talk about is a horrible game we played.  I remember us being outside so it had to be only in the fall and maybe the spring in northern Wisconsin.  It was a game that delighted many, but struck absolute dread in me.  I’m talking about that one and only game . . . .

Red Rover.

Did you play that?  “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (insert name here) right over!!”  Two lines of kids stood facing each other on the field.  They all held hands as tightly as they could as a classmate would come barreling over from the other side and try to break through the clasped hands.  Who decided this would be a good game for children?  Attempt to either rip the shoulder out of the socket of one of your classmates, or at the very least, break some fingers or maybe an arm or wrist.  Or perhaps if you’re the runner, you could bruise your ribs by running between a couple of third grade brutes with hands like Sasquatch.  Heaven forbid you’re short and take a couple of linked arms to the neck as you try to break through!  I think some of my earliest prayers were Red Rover-related: “Please, God, don’t let him run my way!”  It was an easy-enough decision for me to simply let go of the other person’s hand I was holding, should a runner try to storm our “gate.”  But, if the other kid was a bit more competitive than I (which would be every other kid on the field), and he or she was NOT as willing to let go of my hand, thus allowing the invading attacker safe passage, I was doomed to get hurt.  If I did manage to disengage with whomever was holding my hand, I’d then face the scorn of said competitive classmate as he or she looked at me with disgust and snarled, “Why’d you let go?!”  Oh, the shame of it all. I just didn’t want a fractured wrist or a severed artery!  Is that such a bad thing?

I'm not buying those happy faces. Those little stick arms are about to get pulverized.
I’m not buying those happy faces. Those little stick arms are about to get pulverized.

According to my extensive research (google) I found out that we have the United Kingdom to thank for this game.  It has a variety of names, depending on where it’s played.  In China, it’s called “Forcing the City Gates.”  I guess I’d rather welcome weary travelers with open arms rather than try to hold them forcibly at bay.  It’s just the nicer thing to do.  It turns out that Røver is the Norwegian word for robber, so some say this game originated from a conflict in Norway.  Those darn Vikings!  I knew they were trouble!

Alas!  I survived those years and now don’t ever have to anticipate playing that game ever again.  Thank You, Jesus!  Of course, I haven’t even broached the subject of “Crack The Whip.”  No.  I can’t even go there.

Uncategorized

Crossing Bridges

Just breathe.
Just breathe.

Anybody else have a phobia about driving over bridges? Little bridges aren’t bad. And even some medium-sized ones don’t scare me to death, but great big bridges? I can get dizzy just thinking about them. My sister shares this affliction with me (we like to copy each other). I’d venture to say she has it worse than I. But there was one bridge in particular that just about put me over the edge. . . . um . . . bad choice of words! Let’s say that my unexpected encounter with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that spans Tampa Bay rattled me at my core! But that was a couple of years ago and here I am, still breathing . . .
I had been at my friend, Kit’s, over in Clearwater Beach for a mid-winter college-roomie weekend. It’s a jaunty 4ish hour drive from where I live on the west coast of Florida to her place on the gulf. I drove west at the start of the weekend going through farmland and citrus orchards. I greeted many a cow and orange on the way there. I met my gal pals at a mall in Tampa as two of our other friends were arriving from the Midwest into the Tampa airport – and from there we headed over to Kit’s (over a few bridges, mind you, not scary ones, though). We proceeded to have a delightful weekend, as we always do, and then, alas, it was time for me to head for home.
Relying on my trusty GPS, I plugged in “home.” I imagined I’d be going home the way I came – through farms and orange groves.
Nope.
My GPS was taking me a different route. Since I didn’t have the mall in Tampa in my scope this time, it was taking me south before heading east. I really like familiarity, and cows, but I know there are also more ways than one to get somewhere, so I just trusted I’d get home along this other route.
When I first saw the bridge, it was still a long way off.
What.     Was.      That?
I couldn’t even quite tell if the bridge was on my route, so I didn’t panic immediately. Oh no, that came a little while later. But panic, I did, to be sure. Even from far away, I could tell this thing was enormous. I didn’t know what else to do. I suppose I could have turned onto some other road and I’d hear “Recalculating,” and I’d be directed another way. But I still wasn’t certain that bridge was in my path. So on I went.
Why are bridges so scary? I can’t help but think when I’m on one, that all I’d have to do is turn my wheel a little to the right and I’d go right over the edge. It sounds crazy, I know. But it seems like such a little effort as turning my hands off course could send me careening to certain death. (I’m afraid of both heights and water so falling through the air in a vehicle into the watery depths below about paralyzes me.)
It became apparent I was to drive over that bridge. For some reason, cable-stayed bridges seem the scariest to me. Suspension bridges, though also intimidating, seem sturdier for some reason. Of course this particular bridge was the former and not the latter. I started to go up.
The pitch of this thing is incredible! It is so steep! I don’t like driving over steep hills, let alone a steep hill in the sky with nothing but water underneath!

sunshine-skyway-pitch
Look how steep this is??

Not knowing what is on the other side scares the daylights out of me.
As I was climbing this mountain-in-the-sky, my heart was racing and I could feel myself getting light-headed. Great. How about I just pass out while driving an automobile on a busy bridge in the middle of the sky? I knew that wasn’t a good option. So I started saying the first Bible verse that came into my head. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) First I said it quietly, but I got louder as my pulse (and the pitch of the bridge) increased until I was yelling. I’d repeat the whole thing and then just bits and pieces. I can only imagine what I looked like to passersby: A crazed woman white-knuckling the steering wheel of her VW bug, eyes bulging, chest heaving and screaming Proverbs into the dashboard. Not exactly a Chamber of Commerce photo opp.
Somehow in the midst of my shouting and breathing, I had a rational thought. Well, let’s say it wasn’t MY thought – I think it was God saying to me, “What are you so afraid of?” I knew the answer right away. Well, aside from the whole “I-could-turn-the-wheel-right-now-and-drive-over-the-edge” thing. The answer is this: I don’t know what’s on the other side. And here’s what I heard, not an audible voice actually, but I knew it in my heart it was God saying:
I AM. I am on the other side.”

I think at this point I was on my way down the other side of that high-pitched monstrosity.  My heart was still racing, but not quite as fast.  I’d gone back to merely saying the Bible verse rather than hollering it.  My hands managed to keep the wheel in such a way as to drive straight rather than, well, you know…

I made it to the other side.

I still don’t love to cross bridges.  In fact, I will avoid them if at all possible.  But I also know bridges are marvelous creations that link places together.  They really are things of beauty.  I guess it’s all in one’s perspective.  I’m trying to remember that even if I can’t SEE what’s on the other side . . . the other side of the bridge, the other side of a new project, the other side of a problem . . . . I know God is there already.  He told me so.

sunshine-bridge-at-sunset

How about you?  What are your “bridges?”