Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Senior’s Glimpse into Hell

I had to have a form filled at my HMO office this morning. “No big deal,” I told my wife, “I’ll be back in 20 minutes.” I found parking and ambled up to the office. There was no one in front of me at the reception desk and I mentally corrected the 20 minutes to 15. I dropped into the chair, handed over the papers to the smiling secretary and explained what I wanted. She nodded and I was pleased that she understood my request. As she entered my number into her computer, the phone rang. She ignored it and went on with my work.

After another minute her mobile phone rang and she ignored that too. I was impressed. The door opened and a little old lady entered, yelling her request as she came into the room. Another phone began ringing and the old lady simply raised her voice so she would be heard. At this point the secretary lifted her mobile phone. “It maybe my daughter,” she said. She spoke for a moment and put the phone down. The two office phones were ringing out of sync and off-key and the little old lady was still trying to make herself heard. I was amazed at the callers’ tenacity.

The secretary asked me for my ID number and I started calling out the nine digits over the noise of the phones. She motioned me to keep going with the number. I gave her the last three numbers of my ID, the door opened, a man came in and the mobile phone rang again. She picked it up, held it to her ear and muttered something.

“Excuse me,” said the man who had entered. “I have a question.”

“That number you gave me is wrong,” she said to me. The first phone began ringing.

“I’ll come back later,” I said standing up.
“What’s your hurry?” she asked.

“You’re never going to get the number right with all this,” I said gesturing around the room.

I left. All the way along the passage and even in the parking floor I could hear the phones ringing.

And this is only 2012. Imagine how it’s going to be in 5 years time…



I’m getting fat and lazy – and loving it!

Most of us spend busy lives – working, running around, chasing after things, rushing here and there, always short of time, always taking short cuts and always forgetting one thing or another.  Mine was like that. And then we moved to a retirement home and presto! A magic change.

This is an alternative lifestyle. Living in a retirement home is different. But there is a drawback that is a trifle worrying.

I never have to leave here, in fact if it wasn’t for odd forays to the supermarket or to the bank… There is a mini-market here in the building. This involves an elevator trip of 3 floors and pushing a miniature sized trolley back to the apartment. The bank comes here once a week, enough for my needs, and I can do my business, such as it is, on the spot. The gym is here, complete with instructor and muscle-making machines, the art studio is here. The pool is under my balcony and there’s the library next door. I am force-fed culture at the 6:30 lecture every evening and I don’t have to go outside to find a synagogue. There’s even a movie once a week.

As far as food is concerned, there is a dining room which I can choose to visit or not and which even allows me to take food up to the apartment. For company there is a coffee shop and lounge and to cap it all there is a hairdresser through that door in the corner. The nurse and doctor are in the clinic and a dentist comes around.

I can’t think of anything that’s missing but I keep wondering about the difference in lifestyles between then and now. This one is dangerous – it consists of doing almost nothing!

Welcome To the Retirement Center – Home Of Professional Nappers

Napologists, that’s us, the residents of the Sharon Gardens Retirement Home. We are specialists in the art of the sudden nap, the instant drop-off, the unplanned forty winks and the unannounced doze. We do it wherever and whenever, with no forewarning. One moment we are side by side with you, deep in a serious conversation and next moment, three seconds into your response to our last sentence, we are gone, eyes closed, breathing heavily and minus all those craggy lines on our faces as we sink into a peaceful snooze and take a break from the hullabaloo of 2012.

We feel no guilt at our sudden evaporation and we are not ashamed of our behavior. We just know what 40 or 140 vital seconds can do for you. Have you never been surprised at the strong come back we make on our return from Napland? It’s the snooze that refreshes, that keeps us Golden Agers on our toes and allows us to deal with all the young traffic swirling around us, with their noisy and interruptive electronic assistants.

There was a time when I was guilty about napping on the job or in the conversation or in the middle of a critical point of a TV program. All that’s behind me. In my golden years I have earned the right to drop off occasionally.

According to snooze professionals the nap should be no more than 30 minutes. Longer than that, your body will want to sleep till morning. Extended naps cause grogginess. Better to set your alarm clock and keep it short. You should also take your nap about the same time each day. Very funny – if I could control the times of my naps I would be able to control the world. My system is much better; I drop off when I drop off. If you are ever surprised by my dozing off, you are only half as surprised as I am.

Hah! There’s Nothing Wrong With My Memory. I Just Lost My Grip…

What literally scared the daylights out of me happened like this: I was off to the painting studio to produce another old master. I went into my study and picked up the 3 cloth bags that I keep my painting stuff in. There are little pots and tubes of paint, brushes by the dozen, rulers and odd shaped pieces of wood and metal – a true artist never knows when he may need a funny shape. The bags are heavy. I rode the elevator down to the studio level, but got off at the ground floor.

My wife was standing there waiting for someone. She said, “There are nice fresh oranges in the supermarket. Won’t you buy some?” I nodded. I went to the supermarket and bought a couple of kilos of nice fat, round oranges. I then walked down the stairs to the studio level. I most have looked a bit like a camel with 3 bags of painting goods hanging from one hand and 2 plastic bags of oranges hanging from the other. In the studio, I got myself organized. I needed a dark color for a line that I wanted to add to the painting. I had dreamed about it all night. I put my hand in the bag and to my surprise the bag wasn’t there.

I searched around me. 2 bags of oranges, 2 bags of painting stuff. One bag had disappeared. I went back up the stairs to the shop, asked the man if he had seen my bag. He laughed. In the retirement home I bet he gets “Have you seen my…?” queries all day. No bag. Back up to our apartment. No bag. Back down to the studio. No bag. This is how it happens? You lose it in one minute? All the people I know who have lost ‘it’, have done so slowly over months and even years.

Depressed, I went back to the apartment, made myself a cup of coffee and went over my movements again. Nothing, except I knew that I had left with 3 bags of painting stuff earlier. Okay, so I’m now one chocolate short in my box, I thought. I will still manage. But I kept thinking about the incident. 2 days later I bumped into one of the admin staff.

“I lost a bag…”

“With paint and stuff inside?” she finished. “It’s on the floor in my office.”

“That’s the one. Where was it?” Can you hear the relief in my voice?

“Someone found it on the stairs where you must have dropped it,” she said.

So much for my camel. He’s definitely losing his grip…

Who Says I Don’t Like Old People?

One of the things about running a blog is that you receive comments from people scattered around the world. As always when you let everyone have their say, some of the comments are great and others are critical. I have no standard procedure for dealing with them.

But today’s mail brought a comment from someone who says: “You mentioned at the beginning that you never really liked the term “old person,” but I bet that is because you associate old with a lot of the negative stereotypes that our society reiterates to us. Things like, ‘all older people are lonely, sad, complaining, etc.’ I am glad to hear your perspective may be changing away from some of these negative beliefs.”

I’m not really sure that I never liked old people. Now that I have joined the club and live happily among them, I like them. They are kind, mostly smiling, helpful, and considerate. They are interesting and sometimes fascinating. More important, they, I mean we, have come to terms with life. The rat-race is over for us. Not that we dropped out; we retired. We are still with you but sitting in the bleachers, watching the world from the sidelines, anxious to see that you newcomers carry on our good work.

In out 80 years of management we brought the world from a short-lifespan, smelly, disease ridden, pedestrian society to one of health and longevity. We got rid of the worst diseases and showed you how to work on the rest. We brought in education, transport and technology; we did a million different things to improve the world. Some bad stuff got caught up in there as well, but that’s inevitable.

I spend much time, these days, listening to seniors’ stories. They are simply amazing. Sometimes it’s impossible to grasp what the human being can endure, survive and reach an old age and still be able to tell the story. I like us old people…  Old people are awesome!

My Friend Wastes His Time at the Doctor

My friend here at the retirement home, Sid, had a mixed day yesterday – a doctor’s appointment, one of many. This is his story: He tore out of his parking slot at the retirement home and headed for the doctor’s office some 20 kilometers and 2 towns away. He hit his first problem as he turned onto Highway 4 which was choked due to a never–ending construction project. He sat fuming for 25 minutes. Once past that he broke the sound barrier to the next town which was also choked due to their inability to cope with the traffic pouring into their town. This time it was a 30 minute wait. He zoomed past the building where the doctor is located and started looking for a parking place. He found one a kilometer down the street and walked, jogged and limped back.

He was an hour late for his appointment and hot, sweaty, nervous, irritable and in a foul mood. The doctor was sitting behind an empty desk, alternately clicking on the mouse of his computer and drumming his fingers as he waited for a customer. He looked at Sid and grunted, not inspiring confidence in his new patient. Sid explained the complicated problem that another doctor had said he suffered from and he listened in silence and then pointed to the couch. The examination was quick and painless. Sid said, “He poked me all over, grunted a few times, probably in disappointment, and then said, ‘I don’t know why you are here. Go away! There is nothing wrong with you!’”

Sid: “I was out of there like a shot! I took a leisurely stroll back to my car and drove home to the strains of Mozart on the radio. I was home in half an hour!”

Good news from a doctor can even solve traffic problems.


Should I Really Join Facebook?

When I bought my iPhone, I thought about the 30-year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a mobile phone that plays music, takes videos, pictures and communicates with Facebook and Twitter. I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grand kids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way.
My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of my entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I now keep my iphone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the supermarket or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue-tooth phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I used it once when I was standing in line at Coles talking to my wife and everyone within 50 meters was glaring at me. I had taken out my hearing aid to use it, and I was talking loud!

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside that gadget was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, “Re-calc-u-lating.” You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn when possible. Then if I made a right turn instead, well, it was not a good relationship. When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross roads and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven’t figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have to run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the supermarkets. You would think they could make a decision themselves, but this sudden “Paper or Plastic?” every time I check out just leaves me confused. I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking stupid, but I never remember to take them with me.

Now when they ask me, “Paper or Plastic?” I just say, “Doesn’t matter to me. I am         bi-sacksual.” We senior citizens don’t need any more gadgets. The TV remote and the garage door remote are about all we can handle.

Are You Ready For An Extra-Long Marriage?

All of a sudden we have a string of major wedding anniversaries here at the retirement home.  One invitation we received was from a couple up on the eighth floor, Ben and Rose, who will be celebrating their 60th anniversary. We went to the modest party and were truly impressed at the length of their marriage. A week later we heard about a couple on the third floor who will be celebrating 65 years of wedded bliss. Their neighbor told us about them and asked us if we could suggest a suitable gift.

Today we received an envelope from the sixth floor. The Bells. They sent a beautiful card made by their fifth great-grandson who is an art student. “Please join us for drinks on the patio on November 30th at 6pm. We will be celebrating 70 years of happiness together.”

“Wow!” I thought, “That’s a long time to be married to the same person. I hope they are a happy couple.” And indeed they are. In fact, they are role modes in this retirement home.

In the old days when life expectancy was 50 years, a marriage too, was limited. As life expectancies increased so have marriage records hit new highs. A couple in their 90’s – not such a rare phenomenon in today’s world – may have been married for 70 years with ease. A generation is traditionally taken to be 25 years and nothing will change that. So a couple in their nineties can easily chalk up a 70th celebration.

Make you think, doesn’t it? So before you take that walk down the aisle and utter the binding words, be sure about your soon-to-be-spouse – with good health and good genes on your side you will be in for a long innings together!


The Never-Ending Monologue of Martha

I was sitting by myself in the coffee lounge the other day deeply immersed in the newspaper and looking forward to the moment when I turn to the page after the sports section to start the crossword, when I felt someone plop down next to me on the couch. I scooted over three inches to the left to give them room and then looked up and smiled a greeting. The attractive woman smiled back and said, “Good morning”. I nodded and went back to my paper.

She said something which I ignored. I was not in the mood for company. She said something else and I looked up at her. She was looking at me, but her eyes were completely blank, glazed over, unseeing and uncomprehending. Then I listened to her conversation. It was a continuous stream of nothingness, no pauses, no commas and no full stops. The words were joined physically but were not in any order or sequence.

Then I understood. A dementia victim of some sorts. I excused myself and moved a few armchairs away. Martha sat where she was, chattering along, smiling at the funny things she said, and frowning at other words. An hour later nothing had changed. Martha was happily talking away. I had a cup of coffee in front of me and was immersed in the morning crossword battle.

Another hour passed and a pretty young Philippine caregiver appeared. She walked up to Martha, put her arms around her and kissed her on the forehead. Gently she helped her to her feet and the two of them walked off, hand in hand, in the direction of the dining room.

The New Golden Agers Diet – “The EPOL”

Yesterday I was at my local Checkers store buying a large bag of Epol dog food for my loyal pet. He loves this stuff and thrives on it. I was in the checkout line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had – an elephant? So, since I’m retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn’t have a dog, I was starting the Epol Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn’t, because I ended up in hospital last time, but I’d lost 20 kilos before I woke up in intensive care with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is that you fill your pockets with Epol nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. I have to mention here that practically everyone in queue was now enthralled with my story.

Horrified, she asked me if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off the pavement to sniff a Bull Terrier and a car hit me.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard.

I’m now banned from Checkers.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of daft things to say.