Change is Tough

“The Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus

This quote, along with “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” have been running through my mind a great deal the past while. Do you ever think, “Enough! I’m strong enough! Stop testing me!”?

For the past four years, I’ve been the primary caregiver to my parents. We lost Mom two years ago, and today, I moved my dad into long-term care. I had no idea how difficult the day would be for me. On one hand – he and I are both ready for it. He asked to move. I’m burning out. I know, deep in my heart, it’s the best move for both of us. With his vision loss, he was getting more easily disoriented in the house and it was scaring him. I was responsible for getting his meals, medication, doctor appointments, transportation, and keeping an ear open to make sure he was safe at all times. I couldn’t leave the house for more than an hour or two at a time. We were thrilled when a spot opened at one of the homes we had chosen.

Today was moving day. I thought I’d feel relieved. It’s the last thing I feel. I’m sad because Dad won’t be in the house anymore. As much of a toll as it was taking on me, I feel sad that he won’t be cared for by his family. I feel sad that Dad can’t see what a lovely place he’s at now. He’s got a room that faces the mountains and the airport runway. I know he’s love to sit and watch the planes take off and land. The home has pool tables, plenty of couches for cozy conversation areas, raised gardens outdoors – all things he’d enjoy if he was more able bodied and had his vision.

I’m concerned that he’s going to get disoriented in his new room, despite setting it up much the way he had it at the house. I spent 30 minutes having him walk to/from the bathroom so he felt confident he could find his way on his own. I had to teach him how to “see” with his hands in his new environment – a bit of a challenge for an 83 year old man who is also in cognitive decline.

I worry that he won’t get the care he deserves. I have no reason to believe he won’t, but this is brand new and it’s not me anymore. I need to put faith and trust in others. The people I’ve spoken with the past week, and met today, are lovely people. I’m sure he’ll be well cared for, but I’ll need to hear from him that he’s content.

Dad has to quarantine in his room for 14 days. My niece and I are the only two people who can visit him. His meals and activity workers will spend time with him – but will it be enough stimulation? Will he be bored? How scared is he?

Once quarantine is over, he can leave his room and socialize with others. He will require assistance to get out of his room and into the social areas. Will the staff remember he can’t see? Will they get him out and about? It’s all so new for both of us.

After getting Dad settled and hearing him say, for now, he is happy, we left. I cried all the way home. I feel that I’ve let him down. I know he’d say I haven’t.

It’s tough. Even though it’s a change we were both ready for, and wanted, we’re not prepared for it. Within an hour of getting home, I fell asleep. I can’t remember when I’ve felt this tired. It’s weird not having Dad here. Dinner time came and went. I didn’t have to get him to the table, get his meal ready, and his medication out for him. I don’t hear the TV blasting from his bedroom. There’s an emptiness in the house.

Dad’s move marks the start of more changes. There’s no reason for my roommate and I to live together anymore. I’m free to move. Our mortgage is due and it’s the perfect time for him to buy me out. I’m looking at being a home owner on my own for the first time in my life.

None of this was in the 5 or 10 year plan. Will there ever be a time when my life feels settled, when change isn’t the constant it’s been the past few years? Or, has it always been like this and, as I age, am I simply more aware of it?

So much of how we react to change has to do with mindset and resiliency. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to being a strong, dependable, optimistic woman who can handle whatever life throws at me.

Tonight, I want to be the little girl who misses her dad.

Midlife Sandwich

One thing our readers are sure to notice over the next few months is the different experiences Vanessa and I are having in our midlife journeys. While she’s experiencing all the ashram has to teach her, I’m at home learning lessons about caregiving at opposite ends of the life cycle.

One one end, I have an 18 year old son who is still living at home. He’s taking some classes towards a certificate, working part-time, and weightlifting. He’s developing skills and confidence I’ve never seen in him before. It’s a pleasure to watch him become the self-assured young man I always knew was within him.

On the other end, I have my 82 year old dad living with me. While my son needs less and less parenting, my dad requires more. Over the past four years, I have become Dad’s primary caregiver. He’s lost most of his vision and is no longer able to cook or bathe by himself. I take him to all his medical appointments, do his shopping, manage his money, and try to make life as interesting as possible for him.

I’m in a midlife sandwich. How I’d love to be able to leave the house for two months to go do karmic yoga at an ashram; to have the time to be in nature, learning, growing. Right now, I can barely leave the house for an hour. Dad can’t be left alone much longer than that.

At a time when I’m encouraging my son to find his independence, I’m watching my dad lose his. Just this week, Dad asked me to look into nursing homes. He’s starting to get lost in the house because he doesn’t have enough sight to help guide him. He thinks he’s walking in a straight line, but he’s not. He gets disoriented when he finds himself somewhere other than where he wanted to be. It’s frustrating for him and sad for me. This man who always seemed larger than life, who could solve any problem, who was so giving of his time and energy – he’s fading before my eyes.

It’s a time of such mixed emotions. I’m proud of my son. I feel sorry for my dad. I feel guilt that I can’t do more for him. I feel relief knowing he will be in a place that can give him the level of care he needs – and then more guilt because he won’t be living with family. I don’t know if he wants to move because it’s better for him, or if he’s doing it for me.

We all have our own paths to walk. My son is just starting; my dad is near the end. I’m somewhere in the middle.

“We Follow The Road We Are Accustomed To”

Above is a quote from The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. The book is about his journey on the SanTiago trail in Spain. My sister and I started planning a trip to Spain a few years ago that involved trekking on some of the trails. We got distracted (ok confession, I got distracted) as we talked about the adventure with other relatives. Soon the group had grown to 11 people and as we tried to accommodate individual tastes and wishes the trail got left behind. I have had lots of time now to reflect on the trip that actually happened and to wonder at the trip that would have been if I had stuck to the original plan. The trip was epic as I ended up in North Africa (Morocco) riding a camel in the desert. I don’t regret it and yet I do wonder what I missed.

The rest of the excerpt from the book reads…”We know which is the best road to follow, but we follow only the road that we have become accustomed to.”

I am a firm believer in “Redos”. They happened to me all the time. Do you ever get the feeling of “deja vous”? A real life scenario starts to unfold and then something triggers in your mind…wait a minute…haven’t I done this before…now what was I supposed to remember about this again? Dang…I know it’s really important that I (fill in the blanks). The event unwinds as it does and then later when the dust settles you find yourself going WTF? I knew the road. I knew what I wanted to change in my approach, actions, thoughts towards it and yet, here I am still reacting and acting the same way AGAIN! Sigh. I had the opportunity to follow the right path I chose not too. As I reflect on those opportunities and now chart what the alternate path would have perhaps looked like I am trying my best to be self aware. Please, if there is any chance that my higher power is listening, let me choose the best road to follow instead of the one I am accustomed to.

On Monday, I start on the road to the Ashram in BC. I have been on this journey before in 2013 and got side tracked. Wow, that long ago! 2 months to rewire this brain, thought patterns, habits, behaviors and anything else that no longer serves me to be well. I am extremely lucky to have the awareness that you can live “You do You”. It feels like I am going to throw up, I am anxious and unsettled. That’s a good feeling I think…lol. It tells me that by being uncomfortable I can finally get out of this self induced rhetoric. Short term pain for a longer more stable gain.

Day 5-The Purge Continues…Let’s Make Bread!

What do you do when you decide not to work at working?

A couple of packages arrived yesterday and I was curious as to was in them. My husband and I had made a pact not to order things online for the month of January. It’s only January 8 today and he has ordered two things. So much for that resolution!

I was pretty sure the packages must be his. Nope! The delays of parcels being delivered because of the Christmas rush had caused things I had ordered in November of 2020 to start showing up now. I just got rid of 6 bags of clothes. Guess what was in the packages? Never click on the links that show up late at night on Facebook before you know it t shirts like this show up in the mail.

Exhibit A-Late night shopping

We also promised not to buy groceries until the contents of our freezer, fridge and cupboards is reduced to staples that could feed 50 people for a month. While sorting out one of the cupboards I came across the breadmaker. Remember when making bread was a thing made easier by this contraption? We all thought we would use it everyday. The smell of fresh bread wafting through our homes. Well, best intentions for sure. The good thing about being a borderline hoarder is you usually keep all the packaging and booklets that accompany the gadgets. I decided to take a break this morning and fire up the old breadmaker. I can smell the Italian spiced loaf (recipe was in the booklet) now as I write this blog. My husband and I can’t pass up bargains and sometimes that gets a bit out of hand. A trip to a small town grocery store resulted in purchasing 15 blocks of a variety of hard cheese. The cashier was very helpful saying that you can freeze cheese. Geez Louise – do we really need that much cheese???

As I consume my cheese and Italian loaf, I am contemplating what to tackle next in my commitment to creating space. I want to make sure I am balanced in my practice to clear not only my living space but my metaphysical one also. After some sleepless nights, opinions from others, and financial considerations, I have come to the decision not to pursue a full time job right now. It’s uncomfortable – if I am being honest. I started working at the age of 8 where I babysat every Saturday. Back in the day, it was considered OK for an 8 year old to look after your kids. I took two breaks between then and now to have my kids.

What will I do will all that time space? Can I allow myself the opportunity to not jam pack it with distractions? Contrary to popular belief, I think that not having the routine of knowing you are expected to show up 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, and perform some tasks of which you get paid for, takes a lot of courage and discipline. Courage because others will judge you for it – lack of ambition, lazy, not employable, no motivation. To be honest, I have been judging me for it. 2020 was a wake up call. In 2021 I am awake! In the past I would have jumped right into another career path without thinking about it. As I clear out my “junk” I am willing to allow the space to exist empty for now. There will be plenty of time to fill it later or maybe never. I am OK with letting it remain open.

Bread is ready! Let’s go enjoy it!

30 Days Of Purging…Part Two

The benefits of living in a home for over 35 years is that you don’t have to pack up your stuff very often and move. The drawbacks of living in a home for 35 years is that you don’t have to pack up your stuff and move.

Let me give you an example of the level of excess going on in my home. At Christmas time I decided to decorate a small fake tree. Thanks to practicing the art of “out of mind…must not have one so go buy it syndrome” I purchased a new small Christmas tree. I then logically thought I needed ribbon and decorations for this tree, so purchased them as well. In the back of my mind I knew if I wanted to dig through the black hole under the stairwell I would find enough holiday knick knacks to put everything together, but I decided on all new this year since 2020 had been less than stellar.

Sharon and I agreed to “creating space” as our topic for January 2021. We alluded to the topic in our second podcast titled “Obligations, Traditions, and Making Space for Joy”. New year, new decade might as well clean the slate to gain some much needed space. What I didn’t count on was the level of work it was going to take to tackle this properly. I have attempted to “downsize” my possessions in the past and they just seemed to creep back into my house and life. This time I wanted to be more purposeful and permanent with the attempt. 

Like in the past, I started with a list of things I needed to buy in order for this to be a success. I needed storage bins, shelves, organizers and so on. I was about to go and purchase these things and then stopped…wait a minute, isn’t the objective to get rid of stuff instead of get more stuff? I had to think about this, my past behaviors and determine that I didn’t need anything but strength, determination and will power to get this party started.

Why do we always start with the physical and tangible things when we decide to create space in our lives? I have a theory, it’s because we can see the carnage. Well, let me clarify, we can see the borders of the carnage, what’s underneath is anyone’s guess.

The door under the stairs leads to a magical place of mystery and intrigue. Actually, it leads to a whole lot of things that haven’t been interacted with for two years or more. There is a couch in front of the door with many other items to prevent me from easily opening it. Baby steps everyone, this is a big project here. I pull out everything and try and organize it into piles of keep, throw away, sell and give away. 

I soon realize I have four Christmas trees plus the one I just purchased. To some that might not seem like many. To me? I had no idea that I had bought – some time in the recent past – almost exactly the same small tree I bought this year. I had almost 40 rolls of ribbon. Again, I had bought more ribbon this year. I am not going to go item by item here. Let’s just say there was a lot of stuff hiding in that magical black hole.

To make this easier on myself I have committed to a little less everyday for 30 days. So far? This is day 3. I have kept a little and made several trips to the Goodwill Store so that someone else can enjoy my excess. I have been brutally honest about if I really need something or not. I am leaning toward the “not needed” pile. Wish me luck. I am hoping it won’t take all year to complete this mission, and for now, I have committed to 30 days. I thought I would let you peek into my stashes just a little, so enjoy the excess while it lasts.

30 days of Silently Purging A Path To Clarity-Part One of Two

This year’s mission is to reclaim space. It will have to be a slow and steady process of sorting, evaluating level of connection and then making the decision…keep, sell, give away or turf. I can’t even fit this blog post into one post.

When things are physically apparent in excess it’s a bit easier to evaluate their worth and potential for future use or to purge. The piles can be seen, compared, and then dealt with as appropriate. What often gets missed is the things you don’t see. I know of people who rent storage units to hold onto momentos and family history. That makes some sense. I even got a notification that suggested I up my iCloud storage account as it was getting full. What? Something I hadn’t given much thought to was my digital storage footprint. It’s so easy to keep thousands of videos and pictures when you don’t print them anymore or save them to disks. You can even specify, in you will, what you want done with your Facebook page.

Here’s the thing about possessions – they come with a price tag and it’s not the one you think. In order for you to possess them you have to give up the space they occupy. The space can be tangible or intangible. The more you accumulate, the smaller the space becomes and sooner or later you either run out of space or find yourself trapped in a corner behind layers and layers of things you don’t value anymore.

One of the last places we tend to think about spring cleaning is in our minds, and yet it’s one of the most healthy things we can do to improve our quality of life.

We have all heard of Steve Jobs wardrobe preferences. Dress the same everyday to free up your mental state to concentrate on other things. It’s scientific fact that our brains only have so much capacity to concentrate on any given number of thoughts and concerns about anything and everything going on in our lives. If you are skeptical about this concept I recommend you try a weekend silent retreat. I won’t torture you with an invitation to take a seat in my mind during one of these retreats. Heck maybe your monkey is worse than mine?

As with anything, a whole lot of practice can create habits. Habits become routines. A regular routine of purging that which no longer serves me is a direct route to clarity in my opinion and my mind, body and soul.

I have routinely attended weekend silent retreats over the last few years. It usually happens in February and is hosted at a local convent. The place is on the edge of the coulees, nestled into the side of the hills and is cut off from outside noise. It’s pure outside noise deprivation for 3 days. Now, this either scares the heck out people or lights them up with eagerness to join. The first day is like going through withdrawal symptoms just like someone who is addicted to a substance. You don’t realize how loud your life is until it’s not or you take away the source. You don’t realize how loud ambient noise is or the degree of stimulation that bombards you daily until it’s cut off completely.

By the end of the first 24 hours you might experience headaches, physical pain or nausea as the noise purging starts. The practice begins each day with awakening before dawn (4:30am). The first meditation begins at 5:30 am and continues with the rising of the sun until the breakfast gong rings at about 7 am. There are 3 group meditations each day, afternoon naps, personal time and shared silent meals. Every movement of your body is tracked in your mind on purpose. One of the purposes is to recognize connections between your physical, mental and spiritual self. By day 3 you are becoming comfortable with the silence. If you are lucky you have purged some of your monkey mind. Believe me when I say that 3 days of listening to the crap of my inner musings is enough to make any sane or otherwise person exhausted. The retreat, if you can call it that, gives you a taste of what it would be like to decompress and let go of all that internal and external clutter that takes up space in your mind, body and spirit.

So for the month of January in the 2021 year I am starting a practice of letting go. Any good purge starts with some rituals that help to make them stick. We will share our journey and insights as we go.

Follow along with us as we delve deeper into the excess and discover that which we will choose to keep or let go of. We will also explore what is behind the door that connects to my basement stairs and other interesting crevices in my house and Sharon’s.

Lessons from an Owl

If you listened to our first podcast, I talked about owls and how they keep showing up for me. A friend of mine has animal spirit cards she has pulled for me a few times in the past year. The owl card is always one of them.

Every. Single. Time.

Her card deck declares, “When the Owl card appears it’s an omen that a boon or treasure is on the way, either in spiritual or material form. With Owl wisdom on your side, you’ll ‘see’ and ‘know’ exactly what to do with this boon…how it can further serve your dharma and bring abundance to the world. Trust that the wellspring of treasures is infinite.”

She told me to be aware of any and all owls appearing in my life. It started with a bag. I noticed I bought a cloth grocery bag with owls on it. Then, my neighbour brought over a plant in an owl container. I’d see pictures of owls, or they’d appear on TV shows. It seemed, weekly, an owl appeared to remind me that I’m on the verge of something.

A few months ago, my neighbour called to say there was an owl sitting on a peak of my house. I looked out a bedroom window, and there it was – a great horned owl. I simply watched it…or rather, stared at it. Have you ever stared at an owl? How do their eyes not dry out?

In the second podcast, Vanessa and I talked about being open for signs. Well, this live owl, sitting on the roof of my house, was definitely a sign. While I sat and stared at it, it was staring at me. I opened myself up to it.

“What are you here to teach me?”, I whispered, and then sat silently.

The owl had much to say. The following thoughts – no joke – came to mind in the hour we spent looking at each other.

  • It’s painful, but it’s right
  • Do this for you, no one else
  • I’m here for you. You need me. You are supported.
  • This is going to hurt, but it’s going to lead you to greatness.
  • Find joy – experience it, bring it
  • Joy brings peace
  • Wealth is coming (and I didn’t sense it meant monetary wealth)
  • Scratch your itches, see where it takes you
  • Ruffled feathers realign
  • Make time for, and look after, yourself
  • Stretch where you need
  • Slow down
  • Get ready to fly

It was a profound experience. I mean, seriously, who sits and stares at an owl? At the time, my husband and I had already decided to separate, yet live as roommates. I had no idea I was weeks away from losing my job, let alone job searching during a global pandemic when so many people were already out of work.

That owl was speaking directly to me at a time I needed to hear its message.

Wealth did come financially and spiritually. Through my network, a job found me. What was initially to be a contract position, turned into a permanent, full-time role before I even started. I took some of my severance package and garnered the courage to buy some stocks. So far, I’ve done well (my partner refers to me as his personal Warren Buffet). I found joy in spending more time with my dad, son, and dogs. I continue to find peace in taking the time to examine my life, appreciating where I’ve been and focusing on the “now” and what makes me happy. My ruffled feathers are realigning.

I’ve scratched some itches. I’ve always had the urge to paint. A weekend getaway with Vanessa and other friends for a painting weekend got me started. I’ve never done watercolours. I still don’t (I’m more musical than visually artistic), but I’m having a heck of a lot of fun learning, trying, and simply playing with the water and paint.

I’m still working on slowing down. Being a “Type A” personality, I’m very driven. I like to be working; having something to “do”. I’m realizing that spending time thinking, examining, finding what truly brings me joy is “doing”.

I’m still not sure what “boon” is coming my way. I don’t think it’s here yet. I still feel as though I’m on the verge of something. Hopefully, slowing down and creating space will invite it into my life.

The Essence Of Salt

The ying and yang of salt

I have always struggled with my relationship with my dad. He was a character. Lived life on his terms no matter what or how it affected others. In some ways I envied him and his ability to put himself first. In some ways I pitied him because when you only put yourself first soon others stop including you in their lives at all. My dad wanted to be free. He married an unwed mother(my mom) in a time when I am sure everyone around him thought he was crazy to do so. They went on to have 6 more kids. With 9 people living in a small space, privacy and freedom was at a premium. He was resourceful so he found ways to access and enjoy both of these things. After 45 years of marriage, on my mothers birthday no less, he announced that he wanted a divorce. Loaded up his station wagon and drove away without looking back.

Ah, if only that was the end of the story.

Salt has interesting properties don’t you think? If you explore the makeup of anything on this planet it contains some degree of salt. We can’t exist without it. I have always been curious about Ying and Yang, opposites that attract, cravings for things that aren’t good for you. I often wonder if it’s because of my dad and me trying to come to terms with who he was and my relationship with him. He loved salt. He would add it to almost everything. In his later years, when he was stuck in the hospital with high blood pressure and heart problems he would holler loudly when they took it away from him. My sister and I would sneak in packets of it when no one was looking and he would store them in his table drawer by his bed. He was 89 years old and stuck in his ways, the doctors meant well but didn’t know this man and his love affair with salt.

Salt wasn’t good for him but he didn’t care nor did he want to live without it. He was discharged from his stay and went on to live for a few more months after that. He was a hard man to be around if you had history with him. Yet, he was a fascinating dinner partner or guest if you didn’t know him very well. He was well read and knew a lot of facts about many things to keep the conversation going. A simple operation would have fixed his heart problems if he so chose but he was terrified of going under the knife. His dad had died in an assisted living ward when he underwent a hip replacement surgery. He associated his death with being operated on which wasn’t true but there was no persuading him otherwise. His love affair with salt was the same. It didn’t hurt him he insisted. His heart trouble, blood pressure were all misdiagnosis. He only took the pills because everyone made him…lol. He ate the salt when you turned your back and continued to live as he wanted.

The night he died a few close family were in the room with him. He had mentally checked out earlier in the afternoon in the emergency room but in true dad fashion his heart refused to stop beating. It would choose when to go and prove that the doctors wrong. Salt had not killed his heart. His heart was strong and lasted well into the night.

We chose to have him cremated. Some of his ashes were buried with his brother, some scattered over the prairies where he worked as a lineman for an electric company, some I kept to take to his 3rd wife in California and more we still have awaiting a trip back East to bury with his mom and dad.

The trip to California was something unexpected. I met with his new family that had taken him in and genuining seemed to love him. He had spoke often of the ocean, the beach and the sun. We chose a pier that was close by where I could sprinkle a bit of his ashes to honor where he had been happy.

I was standing on the pier, close to a corner that faced the beach and that had some shelter under a structure. I was looking down into the waves crashing against the logs. The water was almost black in the shadows, swirling up the beach then out again into the ocean. I tipped the container slowly downward and watch the wind catch the contents in a white cloud as it descended. Time stopped just for a few seconds.. the dust drifted aiming for the surface of the waves. The alchemy of the salt water and the porous material was fascinating to watch as they mixed together. The remains landed as a membrane on the black water. Spreading out like a serpent that kept stretching out vertically at first then undulating further and further to form a channel of cloudy white. I watched as my dad seemed to sigh and soak up the salt as if he was regenerating. It might have been my imagination but I thought I saw bubbles popping like epsom salts in a tub. I looked around nervously in hopes no one else was watching my dad reclaim his fill of salt. A white milky image took shape about 6 foot 4 in the water just for seconds before a big wave came crashing down to claim the ghost in the undertow.

Good for you dad I chuckled. I was happy he had found a way to stay true to himself even then. To reclaim a part of himself that he couldn’t let go of no matter what others thought or did.

We are made from this substance, it keeps us alive but also it can kill us if we indulge too much.

Such is the true essence of salt.

I Need Space!

What is it about Christmas decorations? Up until Christmas day, they make the house look festive. Boxing Day arrives and I want to put everything away. Suddenly, the house looks cluttered and busy.

Over the past year, I’ve had quite a few moments of purging. I watched some of the Marie Kondo (KonMari) shows on TV and started to look at my possessions and think, “Do they bring me joy?” Some do. Some didn’t – and they’ve been donated, sold, recycled, or thrown away.

Creating physical space, surprisingly, brought a sense of peace and satisfaction. A less cluttered environment created a less cluttered mind – something my 18 year old has recently discovered. Usually, he lives in a room that can be only described as “urban pig-sty”. Once in awhile, when we ran out of bowls or cutlery downstairs, he’d bring down his dishes and garbage.

A few weeks ago, he cleaned his room – top to bottom. A few days later, I see him carrying down his dishes. I teased him, saying, “It’s only been two days. You’re bringing down dishes?”

He responds, “I’ve been bringing them down everyday, Mom. Haven’t you noticed? I cleaned my room and it feels better. I’m going to keep it clean from now on.”

Having space, orderliness, and tidiness is necessary for me to function. When I was working on my Masters Degree, I had the cleanest house. I needed to clean and order to think. My mind couldn’t work efficiently in a space that was cluttered or untidy.

My house is, mostly, in order. There is space. Energy can move freely through each room (except the garage, which is my roommate’s domain. It drives me nuts). As I look towards 2021, I want to work on creating space mentally. My son is on the verge of adulthood, my marriage is done, and it’s time for me to create space to invite whatever life has to offer to present itself. I need the mental space to be open to new experiences. No longer defined as “wife” or “mother, I need space to figure out what it means to be me.

What makes me happy? What brings experiences, thoughts, ideas bring me joy? How do I want to spend my time and energy?

I need the space to figure it all out.

Senior Moments

You might think the title refers to moments I’m having myself. Nope. While, I admit, I do have a few “senior moments” of my own, I prefer to attribute them to “the time of life” I currently inhabit.

No, what I’m talking to is living with seniors. Three and a half years ago, my parents moved in with me. Mom died in April 2019, and I still have my dad. He is a never-ending source of amusement.

When he was more able-bodied, he attended a senior’s group three times a week. He came home one day and told me, “Those people are so funny.”

“Why’s that, Dad?”
“The things they talk about! They’re all so OLD!”

My dad is one of the oldest members of the group.

Another time, Mom and I took Dad to get his hearing tested. He needed hearing aids. At first, he complained everything was “too loud”. We explained he was hearing at the same volume as everyone else. He just wasn’t used to it.

Often, he’d have the TV blaring. We’d ask if he was wearing his hearing aids.
“Then, please, turn down the TV. You can turn up the volume on your hearing aids.”
“I can’t! My fingers are too fat!”

After a few months, he’d only wear one aid. I told him he needed both as they are stereophonic.

“I can’t. They hurt my ears.”
“Then we need to go back and get them fitted properly.
“No, I don’t want to bother you to do that.”
Because, apparently, shouting and/or repeating everything wasn’t a bother.

Do you want to know why they hurt his ears?

He spent a year wearing the aids in the wrong ears. The individual aids are colour marked to indicate left/right ear. Dad is colour-blind.

My favourite “senior moment” was teaching him to use the Google home mini to set an alarm.

“Dad, you have to say, “Hey Google to wake it up.”
“OK.. Hello Goo-goo. Hello. Hello.”
“No, Dad. Just say “Hey Google” like you’d say to someone on the street.”
“Hey, Goo-goo. Hello, Hello.”

Dad is nothing if not polite but Google was confused.

“Like this, Dad. “Hey Google. Set alarm for 8:00”
“Oh. OK – that’s good. It’s set now, right?”
“I don’t trust it. I’ll be surprised if it works tonight.” (We were setting it for 15 minutes later to test it)
“It’ll work, Dad. When the alarm starts, you have to say, ‘Hey Google, stop’ or ‘Hey Google, quit’. Whatever you want it to do, you have to start with ‘Hey Google’.”
“OK, I’ve got it.”

A few minutes later the alarm goes off.

“Ok. Thank you….thank you…That’s enough! Thank you! THANK YOU!!!! Why isn’t she listening? How do I shut off this damn thing?”