Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Journal of a Living Lady #344

Nancy White Kelly

Our son Charlie thinks his parents are ancient. He never really says so, but I can tell by little statements he makes now and then. He just turned 29. We did have him late in life, but decrepit we are not.

Funny how your prospective changes as you edge closer to the other end of life’s spectrum. Elderly is always ten years away. While Buddy is a dozen year older, I hardly consider myself a senior citizen. Yet, I must admit that the signs all point to the advent of my golden years.

It was with amusement that I discovered an official name for my presenting condition. The acronym is A.AA.D.D. which stands for: Age-Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. My symptoms usually start in the morning and are most prevalent if Buddy is away for some early event which is usually breakfast with his buddies.

I go to the kitchen to put the coffee kettle on and notice that my pot of petunias needs watering. While heading toward them with the water left in the kettle from the day before, I see that the cat bowl is empty. I put the kettle on the dining table to fill the cat bowl. It is then that I notice the unopened mail from yesterday. I stop to flip through the bills, tossing the excess envelopes and junk papers into the trash can which is full. I pull out the plastic liner, tie it up and start to the corner of the kitchen where the box of new trash bags resides. The phone rings and I place the garbage bag in the center of the kitchen floor.

After a brief conversation, I try to remember what I was doing. Oh, yes, the tea kettle. I find it on the dining table wondering why it was there instead of on the stove top. On the way to fill the kettle with fresh water, I see that the petunias are still wilted. On the way to attend to the flowers, I observe the still empty cat bowl. I place the kettle on the dining table and rattle the bag of cat feed. The cat races into the kitchen and lays at my feet in a position that says, “Scratch me, please.”

I put the bag down and rub his belly. When I return to an up-right position, I ask myself what I was doing. Oh, yes. The coffee kettle. There it is again in the center of the dining table. On the way to the sink to fill the kettle, I kick the bag of trash in the kitchen floor. That is no place for the trash, so I place the kettle on the table and take the bag outside to the dumpster. On the way, I notice that the yard flowers need watering. I connect the nozzle and drag the coiling green hose closer.

Good grief! I am still in my pajamas. My Mama taught me better.
I lay the hose amongst the flowers to continue that task as I head inside to find some clothes for the day. Passing through the kitchen I see the kettle on the table. I stop to retrieve it and observe that there is still no trash bag in the garbage can. Heading to the kitchen corner to get a new one, my eyes catch sight of the empty cat bowl again. This time I determine to stay on task.
After dressing, I fill the kettle with fresh water and put it on the gas stove eye. In the meanwhile, I head to the computer to check my email. A half hour later I catch a whiff of the melting plastic handle of the then dry kettle.

In spite of my slow start, I make my coffee and take my usual place in the den recliner and pick up the newspaper. Now, where are my reading glasses? Not a single pair is in sight, much less in reaching distance. I sit for a moment to reflect on the effort it would take to arise from the recliner and perform a search.

Inertia sets in. My eyelids get heavy and a brief morning nap ensues. When I awaken, I make my way to the kitchen sink to wash my coffee cup.

Oops. No water comes from the spout. How could that be? Of course. The well is empty from the water hose which I left unattended.
Bottom line: At the end of the day, there is still no food in the cat bowl, no liner in the trash can and the paper is still folded.
Maybe Charlie’s silent assessment of my senioritis is right. It does seem I am spending a lot of time these days thinking about the hereafter. What am I here after?

Don’t be too smug. Senility is sneaky and reveals itself in other subtle ways. Try this. Say "silk" five times. Now spell "silk." What do cows drink? If you said “milk,” then join the senile crowd.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Journal of a Living Lady #342

Nancy White Kelly

Buddy and I recently took a week-end trip to the Chattanooga area to attend a Coin Show. Sometimes we go as vendors and rent a table on the bourse. Other times we go to buy additional stock for our coin shop.

One restaurant that we frequent is well- known for its down-home food and atmosphere. On this trip Buddy and the waitress struck up an immediate rapport. Though her first name wasn’t really Sue, Buddy, in his usual comedic style, addressed her by this made-up moniker.

Sue had lightness in her voice like a young girl, but the creases around her eyes and the stars on her apron indicated she had been a worker in this restaurant chain for a good while. In-between stories of years long gone, Buddy forgot that he was supposed to be ordering breakfast. Finally the entertained waitress pretended to write Old Timers Special on the ticket and disappeared with a grin.
When Sue returned with a huge order quite to the liking of Buddy, she mentioned that she was a registered nurse prior to becoming a waitress. Her explanation was that she changed jobs because of “short-term memory problems.” I found the occupational transition a bit odd, but Buddy nodded enthusiastically, acknowledging that that fully related to her difficulty in remembering. Sue’s problem, however, was far more serious than advancing old-age.

Sue’s unwinding story, told between trips to our table with condiments and coffee refills, was moving. She related that a couple of years ago, while driving to the home of her sister, she noticed that her left foot felt “asleep.” Sue shook the foot vigorously and continued driving thinking that she must have positioned it at an odd angle on the floorboard. Moments later, Sue felt a tingling sensation creep up her leg. Minutes later her hip felt numb.

Sue steered the car into the parking area of a combination service station and convenience store. Being a nurse, she knew something was badly wrong. By the time she reached the counter, her speech was slurring.

The store workers were rude and told her to move along. “We don’t want drunks on our premises,” the cashier said.

Sue tried to explain, but the cashier motioned her away. In disbelief, Sue struggled back to her car and drove to the sister’s house.

Sue managed to open the car door one more time, but this time fell to the ground. She was having a stroke.

After several days in the hospital’s intensive care unit and a lengthy rehabilitation period, Sue regained use of her body. Her mind, she says, “is pretty slow now.”

Sue’s sister didn’t forget the terrible treatment of her sibling at the convenience store. She confronted the cashier and manager and asked if they remembered the stammering lady who asked for help. They smirked and the manager referred to Sue as the “drunk lady.” Sue’s sister explained that this so-called drunk lady wasn’t intoxicated, but was having a stroke. She calmly informed the store manager that everybody would know about their lack of compassion and assistance.

The newspaper was told the story. Afterwards, television and radio stations relayed the incident. Local customers were enraged and called for a boycott of the establishment. Eventually gas and store traffic became a trickle. The owners were forced out of business.

Maybe this wasn’t a happy ending, but a deserved one. The media is powerful and, in this case, championed the telling of Sue’s story.
Buddy finished his breakfast and slipped a sizeable tip into her smock pocket.

The Ye Old Coin Shop probably took a loss on this trip, but I am proud of my compassionate husband. He may have a short-term memory, but he has a long-term heart.