Monday, January 26, 2015

What would you do?

I feel as though my neighbor is under a big boulder, and any minute, either the boulder will crush her, or an errant wave will topple her and carry her off who knows where.
I have a special dilemma and I could use your help.

Here it goes:
A neighbor of ours, who just celebrated her 95th year, who attends book groups and political chats whenever she can get a ride, is having difficulties getting around in her walker, doing simple tasks like bathing and cooking, and depends on a relative who lives on her premises, to do grocery shopping and occasional cleanings. The trouble is that neither she, nor her relative are really able to do much, so, neither one can clean up after himself, herself, and neither can keep the house up. Each cooks for his/herself, and neither has energy to do that well. The result, they are both malnourished, unkempt, in a house that is slowly gathering detritus.

Would you contact social services under these circumstances?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What chapter are you on?

(our granddaughter Jasmine, Hubby and me at Redfish)

Forget what you heard or read about retirement.
Forget what your idea of a perfect retirement is.
Forget the cruises, the cottage by the sea, the ideal life you thought you wanted in retirement.
What you need is to be among young people for the rest of your life.

There. That's the secret to old people's happiness. Keep yourself available to young people and your life continues to be fun, unpredictable, full of pleasant surprises, and most of all, engaging and distracting. If you have to spend all your disposable income to stay close to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you will not regret it.

You'll need more distractions as you grow weak, infirm, grumpy.

Distracting? Yes! Young people are spontaneous dis- tractors. They will jump up and start dancing, or break into a song, drive off to the supermarket to pick up ingredients for ice cream at the drop of a pin. Young people will distract you from what worries you the rest of the time. With them around, you only see the arc of their lives, the future still unfolding with millions of possibilities, rather than the way your knees send shooting pains every time you sit on the toilet seat.

You'll need to see how your money can improve your grands' future.

Really? Can't you just spend it? No. Your doctor, pharmacies and clinics have you tied down already. You might have some fun at the mall. But since you have no more room in your house for extra anything, what's the use? You could go out to dinner every night. Yes. But you are diabetic, and eating out caused you to become so. Now, you have to settle for salads and fish at most places, with no extra salt or butter or anything. You should have gone out to dinner in your twenties, and then to the gym. But you had neither the money, nor the time to do either of these.

You need to live a year full of possibilities.

How? You may not see much in the way of possibilities for yourself, except perhaps needing new reading glasses, replacing that bridge in your mouth, and getting the local handyman clean the gutters at the end of winter. All routine events. But see life that your grandchild in college is living, and your memories of those days remind you to go shopping and pack up a care package for the youngster. You would have loved getting those extra socks in winter; jars of peanut butter; even a special delivery of pizza during final weeks.

Life will teach your grands many lessons.

But you, and only you can teach him/her that family remains close through thick and thin. That distances don't count any more. That mistakes help your footing. That knowledge is lost if not applied. That everything we do, and say, and convey through small gestures, everything adds up to create our soul, to give us patterns and attitudes and desires that help us thrive under all circumstances that will appear in our travels through life.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"Unbroken", a review.

I am a movie buff. For me, a quick lunch, a matinee, and a walk on the beach after the movie to retrace our viewing pleasure or displeasure are ideal date events. I confess, I almost didn't go see the directorial debut of Angelina Jolie, Unbroken. The New York Times had said some unpleasant remarks that had me thinking, no, I don't want to see too much violence. And no, I don't want to see another WWII movie.

I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, the movie is a story of survival. And a story of how prisoners of war are treated. But the way it was directed, the intimate nature of each and every scene, left me in awe and admiration.

What Ms Jolie did was to de-mythologize all the big events that we have known through other movies, The Olympics, The War, The Japanese Camps, even immigrant life. She showed a remarkably graceful and realistic view of family life with just a few scenes, a mother making gnocchi-a scene the later soldier dreams about, father disciplining and directing the family with just a slap on the head when the young man becomes distracted in church, the climate of the times with schools and athletics helping children find a passion and a way to succeed . That graceful and realistic touch takes your breath away in the war scene when the bombardier plane falls apart and crashes in the ocean.

The cinematography of how a plane full of bombardiers operates under attack is one of the best war scenes I've ever seen.

The movie covered epic themes, immigrant life, war, survival, degradation. Yet, throughout, the audience experienced these things intimately, in the kitchen and the back of the bleachers, in the plane and the inflatable boat in a sea of sharks, on a dirty bed in the Japanese war camp, and on the pain and humiliation each word and each slash was delivered.

"Unbroken" is a remarkable movie.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The purpose of life.

As I sat across from my husband with a platter of seafood at Portside Restaurant in Charleston, a fishing village north of us, I saw this couple hard at work digging clams for the time it took us to eat our platter. Hard work to move about in the muck with rain gear, trying to remain upright while observing the movement of bubbles at your feet. Even if they didn't fill their bucket with clams, these folks would go home pleased. Later, after they opened  a can of their favorite beer and steamed their clams, they would have feasted the end of another year with friends and family.

Their supper will be reproduced in many parts of the world, people eating what they gathered, or grew, or bought at the local store, food that their parents had used to celebrate these events,  to say goodbye to another year in a memorable way. While our imagination colors our memories with rosy colors, and warms our dreams with candied stories, these simple tasks, gathering food, surviving storms, staying warm, celebrating with rituals, these are the memories our children inherit to share with their children, and grandchildren.

Our purpose is to stay alive, as best we can.

In this way,  paraphrasing Jodorowsky, we create the soul.