In 2009 I had the opportunity to spend both quality and quantity time with my mother while she recovered from surgery. Her recovery took about eight seconds—for which I’m very thankful—but then I got snowed in at her house.
Here’s a photo of her bedquarters. [Get it?? Like headquarters?? Oh, I crack me up.]
From this command center she was able to direct and supervise all activities. Like me clearing two feet of snow off my car.
Spending this much time in her home was illuminating because I hadn’t lived with my mother since about 1982. Also because for about that same amount of time, I’ve been the oldest person I’ve lived with.
My mother has taught me many valuable lessons over the years, like these gems.
• Don’t giggle and fidget in church, but if you can’t help yourself, scoot over near another family so as not to shame us.
• Red wine vinegar is not the same as red wine.
• When arriving home after a long car trip, no one uses the bathroom until the car is unpacked.
• If you pay a kid a quarter for every tick they find on themselves after camping, they’re likelier to inspect their nooks and crannies more diligently. Plus, they’ll also check the dog.
As you can see, she’s a wise and wonderful woman.
And that weekend she taught me something else … how to be 78 years old. She’s actually ten years older now, but has grown weary of teaching me things. If I want to know how to be 88 years old, I’ll just do these things with more verve and gusto.
If you, too, would like to know how to act 78 years old, this will get you started.
- Get up at 4 a.m., make a pot of coffee and read for three hours. Then go back to bed, making it seem like you get up early AND sleep late simultaneously.
- Upon waking, immediately turn on the TV and make a full pot of coffee.
- Eat constantly, but only tiny dabs of this or that.
- Coffee, coffee and more coffee.
- Watch TV but only for about 90 seconds at a time because everything reminds you of a story … or something you need to remember … or a question you’ve been wondering about for several years. Glance wistfully at your computer, knowing all answers live there, but also knowing said answers prefer to hide from you.
- Turn the coffeepot off.
- Two minutes later, brew a cup of tea.
- Make sure you are—and this appears to be of the utmost importance—make sure you are AT ALL TIMES within three feet of a box of Kleenex. If you think you’ll breach that perimeter, pluck a couple and shove them into your pocket or your sleeve or between two buttons on your shirt.
- If you don’t bathe by noon, just take a “PTA Bath” reminding yourself that the mailman doesn’t care how you look. [Hint: The A stands for armpits, but the P and the T are not words an elderly woman with a proper upbringing should say. Except to her daughter. Who will crack up and tell all her friends what a hoot it is when old ladies lose their inhibitions.]
- More coffee.
- Even though you’ve cooked two-and-a-half million chickens for Sunday dinner in the last 50+ years, confess you never really liked to eat fried chicken. This makes your daughter feel guilty. Especially after she buys fried chicken to stock the fridge during your recovery.
- When recovering from surgery, eschew stairs, Scrabble and salt. But not sherry.
My mom rocks.
What will you do when you are 78 years old?