Monthly Archives: October 2012

Who Says Seniors Don’t Know What’s Going On?

Any given morning will find upwards of 30 residents sitting in the lounges, chatting, busy with puzzles, gossiping and drinking coffee. Sometimes there are many more than that and the place becomes noisy and crowded. We sometimes drift down, grab a cuppa at the counter and look for friends. Then we sit down and join the action, or inaction, for an hour or so.

This morning was no different. I had some work to finish off and at about 11:00 I went to the lounge. I found one person sitting there: my wife, reading the morning papers.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Where is everyone today?”

“I’ve no idea. Not a soul has come in here all morning.”

We scratched our heads and went up to our apartment. Only when I switched the TV to see the lunchtime news did the penny drop – “Superstorm Sandy!” I yelled. “That’s where everyone was this morning! They’re all glued to their TV sets watching the storm flattening New York!”

We were amazed at the level of interest.

Don’t underrate us old guys. We know what’s going on. We’ve been around so long we don’t make a fuss of these things. True, we haven’t seen a Hurricane Sandy before but we are old enough and wise enough to expect anything. We read the papers, listen to the radio and watch the TV – when we can keep awake, that is. In casual conversations with some of the residents I sometimes ask, “So what are you reading now?” And the answer I in variably get is, “Oh I haven’t the patience to read books any more. I stick to the papers these days, Time or Newsweek, you know…”

So we may miss out on the best sellers but we’re up on the news!


A Real Senior’s Birthday with a Birthday Cake and Birthday Presents

She turned 85 yesterday and last evening she celebrated in real style. We received our invitation a week ago, inviting us to attend her party to be held in the multi-purpose hall downstairs on Monday evening at 7:30. It even had our table number written in the corner. We organized a gift, dressed for the party and showed up in good time.


A catered affair, no less, with about 100 excited and hungry guests. Wine flowed, there were a few balloons floating around and the food tables were laden with a great selection, especially chosen for senior palates. A few speeches were made and the atmosphere became quite emotional as old friends stood up and proposed toasts and recounted 40, 50 and 60 year-old tales of friendship. The birthday lady responded briefly and the waiters dashed around filling our glasses.

We worked our way through the main course and then headed for the sweets table. The caterer understands the human mind, quite well, I thought, as I picked up a cookie that by its taste was filled with pure milk chocolate. I had two of those and then spied the trays of cheesecake. The cheese was not that 5 percent stuff that is advertised to keep your cholesterol under control for the next 100 years. This was full-cream cheese. I have now exceeded my cholesterol allowance for this and a couple more years.

At the coffee counter I checked my watch to see if it was decaffeinated time yet and then went for a double espresso. By the way I slept last night it was double caffeine as well.

All in all a great birthday party! We look forward to the 86th and 87th

A Senior’s Trip to the Supermarket

Years ago when I was much younger I jumped into a taxicab and found myself with a “senior” driver who didn’t stop complaining about his age. I was fascinated at the guy’s observations on advanced age. “When I was young,” he said, “I couldn’t afford to eat in expensive restaurants or buy food in these fancy deli stores. Now, after years and years of hard work I have money and I can afford to buy food anywhere. The problem is that none of the food I hankered for in the old days agrees with me, so I still can’t eat it.” I remember laughing at the man then.

But of course what he said was true. I went along with my wife on a supermarket trip the other day. As soon as we stepped inside we went off in different directions, she to buy sensible, healthy food suitable for our ages, me in search of the goodies I hanker for. The cheese counter, the bins of pickles and olives, the wine and liquor shelves, the nuts and dried fruits and then back to check on the olives again. I came home with a tub of olives sprinkled with red Mexican chili powder. That stuff can wreck a healthy digestive system in seconds. I love it but the tears that stream down my cheeks and the pain in my chest prove it doesn’t like me!

I hung around the butchery counter for a while eying the steaks, but in the end I backed off. I remembered that even in the good old days a piece of hard steak could bring on an attack of indigestion that lasted for days. In the end I got the indigestion in the check-out line when I saw the prices…

Harry, Are You Alright? Please Wake Up!

We had another one of those false alarms on Friday in the lounge. It was full of residents, all busy with their free coffee and cake, conversation and arguments were raging up and down, a few great grandchildren were running around and getting in everyone’s way – normal Friday morning bedlam. I looked around to watch the action for a moment and there was Harry, fast asleep in an armchair. I envied him being able to drop off in the midst of all the noise. He even had a small smile on his face as though he was far away in some serene place, undisturbed and uninvolved.

I see Harry often. Our apartments are on the same floor so we often bump waiting for the elevator and we chat about important stuff, the weather, the food, politics and make other small talk. A big man, he seems quite fit although he uses a cane to get around. He seems to be one of those quiet men… never speaks unless spoken to. Always has a smile on his face.

I glanced at him again and saw that he had not moved. Of course, after that I kept turning to look at him. After all, how long can a man sit without moving? Finally the penny dropped. Harry had left for some other place. No noise, no hysterics. Like a magic show, he had just got up and was gone.

I got up, crossed the floor and stood looking down at him. Mike joined me and we stood uncertainly for a moment, looking for a sign of life.

“He’s gone, huh?”

“How can you tell?”

“Dunno. Just gone.”

“Should I go for help?”

“Yeah, may as well…”

Harry came to life at that moment. He blinked, fixed the smile on his face and said, “Hi guys! Have we had coffee yet?”

Its not how old you are, but how you are old.

When’s Your Next Birthday?

I noticed a strange thing yesterday. I was out having lunch with two old friends. Actually they are “doubly old” – both are 89; and I have known them for a long, long time. One has already turned 89 and the other will turn 89 in a couple of months. At some stage in the non-stop conversation over the food the younger one said something like, “Well I’m 89 years old and I know what I’m talking about!” I looked at him in amazement: he still has a couple of months to go and here he is pushing himself over the 89 year bar? Why? I know that youngsters do this. One of our grandchildren at age 16 would answer the question about his age by saying, “I’ll be 18 in 22 months.”

I guess we all have a thing about our next birthday, no matter what the number is. There’s no counting backward in this game of life… Perhaps grandson’s system works well among the older generation as well. “How old are you, Pop?”

“In 22 months I’ll be 100!”

Sounds right, doesn’t it?

Here in the retirement home, birthdays are celebrated in public. On Friday evenings there is a music program. It is light, usually someone with a guitar or on the piano who sings popular songs (to which every resident sings along or at least hums to). At the last such concert of the month, the list of those residents who celebrated birthdays is read out, each is called up and receives a small gift from the management. In a flash you can see lips moving as the question ripples through the audience “How old?” So, in a matter of seconds, everyone knows how old everyone else is. There are few secrets among the old, it seems.

To An ‘Almost Old Person’!

I never really liked the terminology “Old Person” but this makes me feel somewhat better about it.

And if you ain’t one, I bet you know one! Anyway, I got this from an “Old Personal friend of mine”!

‘Old Person’ Pride

Old People are easy to spot at sporting events. During the playing of the National Anthem, ‘Old People’ remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment. They know the words – and believe in them. Old People remember World War II, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Normandy and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing. They remember the 50 plus ‘Peacekeeping Missions’ from 1945 to 2005, not to mention Vietnam.

If you bump into an Old People on the sidewalk he will apologize. If you pass an Old Person on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady. Old People trust strangers and are courteous to women. Old People hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection. Old People get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children, and they don’t like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies. Old People have moral courage and personal integrity. They seldom brag unless it’s about their children or grandchildren. It’s the Old People who know the country is protected, not by politicians but by the young men and women in the military, serving their country.

This country needs Old People with their work ethic, sense of responsibility, pride in their country and decent values. We need them now more than ever.

Thank God for Old People.

What Happened To My Old Retirement Dream?

Back then when I used to think about retirement, I had several different scenarios in my mind. One was a clear picture of me sitting on a river bank somewhere, lazily trolling a fishing line across the water and waiting endlessly for a bite. It was all nonsense. I fished only once or twice in my life, I was bored stiff each time and I have never lived close to any river.

Another picture, more realistic and based on my activities for a number of years was that of me, pipe in mouth, scrunched up over a spinning pottery wheel and churning out little pots and coffee mugs. Other pictures featured me lying on the couch reading, or watching little grandchildren playing on the lawn. Only the couch picture ever came anywhere close to reality. The little grandchildren all grew up so fast that by time I got to retire they were towering over me.

Retirement has worked out to mean writing a blog – a self-inflicted activity designed to keep me occupied for a couple of hours each day, an odd hour of work here and there for an old engineering company, sitting around in the coffee shop downstairs and gossiping with the neighbors, exercising, searching for books in the library, surfing on the Internet, and exchanging mindless emails that go around. And then there is the TV which can wreck all your plans.

There is a famous quotation on the subject of life and retirement: Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming—-whew—-what a ride!!!”

50 Shades of Grey…. In The Retirement Home

The erotic fiction book that is currently sweeping the world has nothing to do with this retirement home… or any other retirement home, as far as I can make out. Shades of Grey here refer to hair color and sometimes skin pallor. That’s it. Nothing to get excited about.

The Fifty Shades of Grey causing a stir around the world, on the other hand, is a 2011 novel by British author E. L. James. Set largely in Seattle, it is the first installment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate and a young business magnate. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism, all in all, a book designed to be a best-seller.

From the back row of the stepped auditorium at last night’s concert where I sat, I could look down and count many more than 50 shades of grey. We can boast every hue of grey from titanium white to African rhinoceros grey, which is about as close to black as you can get.

Shades of grey appears in other contexts as well: In certain parts of Tel Aviv there are still remnants of the old days of shady grey money, but here in the retirement home, grey means just like it sounds, good old grey  hair,  just like our grandparents had, before the dyes hit the market.

After I had counted the shades of grey, I counted the shades of pink, meaning the bald, me among them. 50 Shades of Pink would make a good book title as well…

Bone Building Exercises for Pain Relief?

The chair exercise lady saw me hobbling along the other day and asked what was wrong.
“It’s my back,” I said. “I’m using one of those old backs, you know…”

“Come to my bone-building classes,” she said. “Sundays and Wednesdays at 9.”

“Fine,” I said, “they will help my back?”


“I’ll be there.”

So this morning me and my aching back were banging at the door at 5 minutes to 9, ready for an instant cure. The session started with free standing exercises, arm swinging, head rolling, shoulder twitching and hip twisting, nothing to get excited about. I managed everything quite easily and felt no extra pain in my back.

After about 15 minutes, we were asked to collect weights from the big box in the corner. I got mine, two small barbells, each marked 1 kilogram. I sneered, thinking back to my days in other gymnasiums, where the barbells started at 10 kilograms. So I took my two  1 kilo pieces of steel and swung them around, lifted, curled, twisted and tossed them, all the time impressed at how they were helping my back. After about 10 minutes of this I noticed that each 1 kilo barbell now weighed 3 kilos so I went a little slower. My back responded well, sending smoke signals when I overdid anything.

Another 15 minutes passed in boring movements, all well controlled and painless – I kept thinking of the old exerciser’s adage, “no pain – no gain”, and I noticed that the 3 kilo barbells were now 6 kilos each, weighing heavily and moving slower, no matter what the exercise. I still managed everything.

Finally the punishment was over. All that remained was to get down on my knees and push the two 25 kilo barbells into the corner. I guess they use a crane to get them back into the box.