Old People: an Anti-pitting

I never had a chance to really get to know any of my grandparents. I’m envious of those who have had that opportunity. My paternal grandfather passed before I was born, and Dad and Granny had a falling out long ago. (I met her once.) My maternal grandparents lived in Germany and we lived in Canada. We weren’t well off, and flights were expensive so visits were rare. They came to Canada a few times, but the language barrier was daunting. (Somehow, Opa taught me to play chess when I was 6 or 7 during one of the rare visits. I remember him being a very nice man.)

I deal with a lot of seniors at the family-type hair salon where I work. (I work at a grocery store too, but that’s a whole other thread entirely.) When I first started, they raised an eyebrow at my appearance (the ever-changing weird hair colors, the black clothes, etc.), but now they know I’m a strange but nice girl, and I enjoy the ribbing and jokes.

A lot of the ladies are veterans, and have great stories and sometimes the raunchiest jokes. They’re a hoot.

I’m under threats from one of them, who is now 82, that if I give her an “old lady” hairdo she’ll take me outside to the parking lot and give me an ass-kicking. She would, too. She’s fantastic…her and her live-in boyfriend (of 20 years) golf 3-5 times a week, are in a darts league, and are active in the community. She’s a singer, and they go to the veteran’s homes and she entertains her “old boys” who get to have a beer or two and listen to the old war songs.

Another that stands out is Glad, who is 93. She lives in her own house and is fully self-sufficient still. She’s at every hockey game and football game, up drinking beer in the stands and cheering her heart out. She walks everywhere and never spends all day at home. She’s never been married, and when I asked her if she has a boyfriend she said, with a sly wink and an impish smile, “Sometimes”. Good for you, girl. She gave me tequila for Christmas.

It’s sad when you see them failing, but some have told me that they’re ready to go. They’ve had long, great lives, tears, and lots of laughs. Some are a bit cranky or in pain, and the world has changed a lot for them. A little understanding and patience goes a long way.

Do you know any great seniors?

My mother-in-law. She’s 68 and still an Engergizer Bunny in human form. She’s out there building ROCK gardens for the condo complex, and up and down ladders cleaning windows for her senior friends “because, you know, they’re old and they can’t do that anymore”.

Last Christmas, mommio’s favorite charity thrift store gave her $500 in gift certificates to grocery stores and department stores as thanks for her 5,000 hours of volunteering.

Good luck getting her at home. She’s always off on the bus to Tofino and Long Beach for the weekend or a day’s outing to China Beach or hiking the local beach and picking blackberries along the way. Her second husband used to say she was a locomotive, barrelling down the hallway or sidewalk with steam coming out her ears. I really think she’s going to pass away in mid-step, steaming her way to the bus stop to go here, there, and everywhere. :stuck_out_tongue: but :frowning:

The seniors who have touched me the most were the gentlemen who were Volunteer Drivers and who took my mom to and from her radiation appointments. It enabled me to work those days and break my focus from her Stage 4 diagnosis.

My great-aunt Dolly (my Grandpa’s older sister, one of 12 kids in that family) married Tommy when she was 93 and Tommy was 95. They spent about 7 years on southern California beaches, living it up. They were so much fun to be around!

My aunt Jeanne, who at 78 was still asking my young nephews to go to the WWF matches with her. She was that fun lady with the gold sandals and the dangly earrings and the bright lipstick, and she could curse like a sailor and play a mean game of poker. She was also a great shot with firearms, both for hunting and for target practice and self-defense.

161 of them!

My mother is the oldest of three sisters, the oldest survivor of six siblings. At 75, she’s the senior bookkeeper for an east Texas Account firm. She works 60-70 hours a week, takes care of her home, and attempts to manage her family’s lives in her spare time.

Her older sister, my aunt, manages her husband & her mother in law. She’s a strong old broad, my favorite aunt.

My younger aunt is another matter. She & her husband had a passel of daughters & adopted an uncle’s daughter. They joined a cult, first born of the whatever…my uncle by marriage used to molest the girls on a regular basis. He’d go before the “congregation” & proclaim I-have-sinned, & was told he was forgiven. Never mind what the kids felt. One daughter fell away from the cult. She was told she’d contracted cancer; her mother told her it was because she wasn’t of the faith. Anyway, my “uncle” died; my aunt & daughters now life in a small town in the Oklahoma panhandle. The daughters aren’t allowed an education past high school; it’s expected that they’ll marry older men to take care of them.

I honor my mom & my elder aunt. My younger aunt has a lot to answer for (there’s another thread about wierd cults…can this be added to that one?)

Love, Phil

My Mum’s in her 70’s and still golfs and curls year round.

Great thread idea BTW.

My folks are cool seniors, too. Retirement for them (other than assorted health issues) is one long party, interspersed with cruises for a change of scenery. They’re invested wisely and are…very comfortable. When Dad had the house built, he had a special room made with it’s own humidity and temperature controls for his wine-making, and man is his wine good! The basement was specially designed for his pool table (6 grand, and this was years ago…it’s beautiful) , so you could always use a full-sized cue from wherever you’re shooting from. I once rested a bottle of beer on the side of the table when it was my turn to shoot. His eyes bugged out of his head. :slight_smile:

Their parties (and they’re often) are kind of amusing. Everyone gets there around 4, eats a huge, glorious meal, then the drinking, music, pool and laughs start. Around 9 or 10, everyone starts complaining about sciatica and doctor’s appointments the next morning, and they slowly clear out.

Mom’s health is excellent, her only medication is a multivitamin. She’s had two hip replacements, and nothing can slow her down. Dad’s been really sick sometimes (cancer, feeding tube for 3 months, needs a shoulder replaced, etc), but his upbeat attitude and intelligence are inspiring. He didn’t even finish grade 10 (joined RCAF), but managed to self-teach himself all about computers and now is a helpless internet addict like his daughter.

I love my parents.

I could write about my relatives and why I love them and why they are so awesome, but I want to write about a complete stranger instead.

I have no idea who this man is, but by the looks of him, he’s pretty old. 80s? At least. 90s? I have no idea. He just looks even older than the people I’ve seen him with, who are all clearly well into their retirement years.

I saw this group of people 2 or 3 times back in September during my dragonboat practices. While we were out on the water, this other boat came out, and it was filled with all of these old people, just doing their best to paddle in sync and get the boat moving, and seeming to be having a hell of a good time. And among these men and women, sitting right in the centre of the “engine room” (the centre 8 paddlers) was this very old man, with stringy little arms and a big old grin on his face.

During those practices, my team was practicing for a 2km race, over a 500m course with 3 turns. One day, as it happened, we ended up paddling in an oval around them, and I heard their coach call out “watch this team, watch their reach and their synchro” and I glanced up and saw the paddlers sitting and watching us, but that one old man was going one better - he had his paddle up in the air and was trying to imitate us, rotating his shoulders out and trying to get a feel for the correct technique, still grinning like crazy.

They say that dragon-boating can be done by people of all ages, and all physical activities, but it’s still a pretty hard sport. I thought it was so cool that this old guy was not only out there with a bunch of other old people, out having a bit of fun, but that he was actively trying to learn this new sport. I hope I’m that enthusiastic about life when I get to be his age!

I have always enjoyed the company of people older than myself, they have knowledge to share and such interesting stories to tell, plus they are good listeners. The really fun ones are full of piss & vinegar and say outrageous things :cool:
Now that I’ve passed the half-century mark, I try to be be the nice older guy with the kids.
I don’t even yell at them to “get off my lawn” :mad:, lawns are meant to be enjoyed, not just looked at :slight_smile:

I am soon to be 66 years old, so I am a Senior, but I still work full time, have a great family life, several hobbies, and travel a little bit.
My mother was one of the greatest seniors I have ever known. Only two years before she died 4 years ago, she would just call us and say-" Watch my house, I will be gone for a couple of weeks." She would drive out to Arizona or California, or up to Ft. Worth to visit family. I hope to be the same when I grow up!
In November, my wife and I are driving from Texas to Philadelphia to vist my 98 year old uncle. He renewed his driver’s license at 95, but took it back to them last year because he just doesn’t want to drive anymore!

My grandmother is 81, a joy to be around, and completely free of any of the prejudices that unfortunately sometimes go along with people of her generation.

She’s an ardent Obama supporter, and complains about Bush and McCain just as often as an average Doper. Last weekend, the whole family went out to a restaurant for her birthday. One of my sisters works at an amusement park that gets rented out one day a year by a large group of Jewish people. This apparently requires some extra work on the part of the staff and she was complaining.

“Yeah, and I bet they’re cheap and try to haggle over the prices, too!” laughed the husband of another sister, which made several other family members start laughing.

My grandma frowned and waited for them to stop laughing, then said, “Now, they’re just like any other group of people. Some of them may be cheap, but others are very generous with their money.”

How cool is that?

I also trade books with her and take her to library book sales and train her on how to use the Internet, and I probably spend more time talking to her than I do to any other member of my family. My Nana rules! :cool:

One of the greatest regrets in my life is that I never knew and talked to my grandparents more. My maternal grandfather died when I was very young- he had fought in the Boer War etc- but my other parents were there and because I was young and stupid I never bothered. I try telling my daughters this- do they listen?

And it extends to Grand Uncles and aunties and all thier friends- the stories of the Great War and the depression I could have known about.

My husband and I have a friend who’s 88. She goes to nursing homes and senior care centers to teach classes in memory and analytical skills. She is a retired professor of early childhood education and has written curriculum in the field. In World War II, when she was a graduate student at Kent State University, she was an officer in the Civil Air Corps, trained as a spotter for enemy aircraft. We run into her most often at book fairs, where she goes to collect vintage children’s books for her collection. She also holds classes for seniors in making pop-up books of events in their lives.

Never mind. I realized my entire post was about my dead grandparents, and as such, wasn’t really about old people at all.

Anaamika : post it anyway, I’d really like to hear it.

With some trepidation, I’m facing my 39th tomorrow. What gives me some hope, though, is that when I’ve asked seniors what their best years were, they invariably say their 40’s. They say that they were young enough to do everything, but old enough not to give a crap what anyone else thought.

Another piece of advice I’ve gotten from several of them: When you look back on your life, you never think “Wow, I sure worked a lot, and kept my house super clean, that was great.” The important things are being a good person, and spending lots of time with family and good friends. We all have to work, that’s a given. But when it comes down to a choice between scrubbing the floor and spending an afternoon laughing with a pal, the floor can wait.

Hence, my apartment. I’m going shopping with my girlfriends, instead.

Well, sure, if you insist. :slight_smile:

I was actually just musing about my (maternal) grandparents this morning. If you all ever have time, go to Google Maps and load up the India/Pakistan border. Look for the city of Lahore. That’s where my grandparents lived, and the place they had to flee from, three young children in hand, when the Partition was drawn. They did it in the middle of rapes, murders, kidnapping, robbery, and my grandfather, who was a doctor, lost his entire practice and all of his clients and had to rebuild in India.

A lot of people in my family say I take after my grandfather. I like to hear that; he was a very admirable guy from all accounts. He used to take care of Untouchables in that era, when they really didn’t have many rights if any. My grandmother used to take the Untouchables’ wives into her home and talk to them and help them.

Grandfather used to greet everyone, high and low, on the streets, even though his “class” was really high because he was a doctor.

These and a few other stories have been told to me, and I love to hear them. I make little noises in my sleep just like my grandpa, apparently. I write like he does. I have his curly hair.

I am faintly envious of people who have met their grandparents. Mine died before I was born. I would have liked to meet them.

My paternal grandpa I know nothing about but my paternal grandma blessed me and called me her favorite grandchild and gave me a solid gold ‘Om’ (24K) which I still wear sometimes. I still wear it often.

Your grandparents sound amazing. I would have liked to meet them, too, I’ll bet they would have had some amazing tales to tell.

One more story and I’ll stop posting, I swear. I’ll try, anyway.

It was during WW2, in French-occupied Germany. My Opa, a mechanic, was recruited (forced) to leave his family and go work as a mechanic in another village. My Oma was left alone with my then 5 year old mom. Oma went on a search for food, which was scarce, leaving my mom in the care of a neighbor. She was several kilometers away from home, with her bike basket full of potatoes, when the French soldiers nabbed her. They claimed she had too many potatoes, and must be harboring fugitives and chucked her in a cell. The other women being held told her stories about the beatings and rape that would happen at night…all Oma could think about was my mom and she wanted OUT. She made such noise and fuss, shaking the bars and demanding to see the commanding officer, that they got sick of her and let her go. They kept the bike.

When the Nazis rose to power, they went from town to town with a list, and took any vehicles that they deemed useful to the war effort. Opa had a motorcycle, which he intended to keep. He took it apart into a million little pieces, wrapped them carefully, and buried them around the yard, keeping a map so he could find everything later. When the Nazis came, he said he had sold it. When the war was winding up, the foreign occupying soldiers (I can’t remember what country) also came for the motorcycle. Opa told them the Nazis took it. :slight_smile: When all was said and done, he pulled out his little map and a shovel, and soon had a motorcycle again.

I’m working at a alumni breakfast this weekend, and I’m looking forward to seeing our favorite alumnus there. Class of 1939, he is. I hope I get to sit next to him, but everyone else wants to too.