Friday, April 06, 2007


Warning: If you believe this is a symbol of fine dining--
this article might be about you.

April 6, 2007

Nearly everyone I know, it seems, is suddenly dealing with wacky aging parents. This is no surprise as we ourselves are not exactly spring chickens. Those of us fortunate to still have aging parents are headed into (or are well into) the wacky years.

Now of course, I am not talking about my own parents. No. My own parents are not getting wacky in their old age. And they read this blog regularly.

I am talking, of course, about everyone else's parents. Here are a few stories to illustrate this point:

-Friend A from college: her mother goes out to lunch and finds she has trouble paying the bill. She can't figure out how much it is and she is fumbling with the change. When she gets in the car she can't remember how to buckle her seatbelt. Her lunch friend does the logical thing--reaches over and buckles her up so she can (get this) START DRIVING!!! (well her lunch friend had to do it because she herself has macular degeneration and it wouldn't be safe for her to drive). Blocks later my friend's mother runs a red-light and crashes into another car because as you have no doubt guessed by now--she was having a stroke. On the upside, no one was hurt and she's recovering well. No report on the friend who was helpful enough to buckle her up.

-Friend B a neighbor: her parents live in Florida, God's waiting room. One day dad feels the symptoms of a heart attack coming on so he decides maybe his wife should take him to the hospital. He lets her drive (this is perhaps the first and only time he allows this). They do not call 911--that's for emergencies. They set off to the hospital but he insists they not drive to the closest hospital because that one is "No good" so they drive another hour and half to a better hospital. Miraculously he survives to attend another early bird senior special at the Cracker Barrel.

-Friend of a friend I don't even know but heard about: She goes to visit her mother in St. Louis. Her mother has to go to Steinmart every day (Steinmart, I am told, is like a TJ Maxx--a dishelveled discount department store that offers bargains for those willing to wade through a lot of crap surrounded by crazy people). She goes every day because "You never know what will be new." She yells at the young manager (who does not yet have crazy parents of his own but is starting to recognize the type) because he has the nerve to "move things around every day so I can't find anything." One day the daughter says she does not care to go to Steinmart with her mom. That's okay, mom is going anyway. She asks her daughter --who has lost a lot of weight--"What size are you nowadays? 10 or 12?" "No mother, more like a 4 or 6." "Right, okay a 6 or 8." "No, mom, I just said, a 4 or 6." When she comes home from her daily pilgrimage to Steinmart (even the name of that store makes me want to laugh) her mother has a treat--she has bought her a new wardrobe. Everything is a size 8.

You get the picture. You have parents. They are aging. You have your own collection of wacky stories. Though if you need some general topics to get started here are two: old people and being tight with a dollar or my personal favorite--old people who tell pointless stories in real time.

Speaking of pointless stories--I do have a point to make here--it's that apparently growing old means you grow wacky. I mean we all knew our parents would get older. We all knew their bodies would slow down, and maybe even their memories would fade. But what we didn't bargain on is that they would become different . Organized parents can get disturbingly sloppy. Disorganized parents can become fastidious. Parents who taught us important values can start ignoring them when convenient. Parents who once juggled full-time work and young children without complaint and little sleep are suddenly overwhelmed and "busy" with the overwhelming task of --of what?--being retired?They are always "busy, busy, busy."

Our parents aren't just getting older, frailer, or more forgetful--they're getting wackier and this can be challenging to live with. To quote Coffee Friend 2 who has the great fortune/misfortune of living around the corner from her retired parents, "At least twice a day I want to take my parents by the hair and bash their heads together."

So there you have it. And the worst of it all is that if they're ALL getting wackier we all know the inevitable truth--we will too.


  1. So nice to know we are currently exempt from whacky.
    Busy Mom & Dad

  2. You are currently exempt but things can change quickly...

  3. I scrolled your whole blog - looking to lift the Aunt Bea photo for my Facebook picture...your blog is delightful, and look forward to reading it more thoroughly when I am not building a better FB at my desk job. Best - Aunt Bea

  4. Dear Aunt Bea,
    Thanks so much and good luck with your Facebook page!