notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Balancing Act

This week, I had my usual lunch with Mom, but with an added treat. Both sisters joined us and we all had a fabulous visit.

We usually space out our visits on different days, so my mother can have lots of company, but being together this week was a treat for Mom too. She always mentions to me the pleasure she gets by seeing how we all love each other.

(We also had the youngest great grandson, not quite two, so we even had someone to lavish all our attention on – making it a special delight.)

It occurred to me that my sisters and I have had crazily different conversations of the 65 years I have been a part of the family.

From mastering the tricycle, to homework, to boyfriend strategy, to work dilemmas – we have had every conversation three sisters could have. And now we discuss retirement and Medicare options.

And during our Medicare conversation, it hit me.

My mother is one of us too.

We are all senior citizens – with pension checks, Medicare cards, and the search for comfortable shoes.

So now the generations have merged. My mother is still our mother, but time has also made her our contemporary.

We are all old together.

But my mother has been in the ‘Old’ business quite a bit longer than my sisters and I have.

And I’ve learned a lot about aging well from her.

Most importantly, I learned this:

Getting old is about Balance.

And yes, superficially Balance means just staying on your feet without falling over – and that is the fundamental trick to Old Age.

But I also see that how my mother succeeds in her nineties is by another kind of Balance.

She balances two undeniable aspects of Old Age:

  1. Accepting your limitations.
  2. Pushing past them.

 

And understanding where that line is – where the Balance is – is where you find the joy in being old.

I see my mom – every day –

Finding the balance between caring about appearance and enjoying the freedom of not fussing.  

Mom still wants to look nice, with neat hair and makeup, and fashionable and pretty clothes. But then she says:

“This is the best I can do for today, and I look good, or at least good enough.”

“No one cares anymore what I look like anyway. Sometimes that’s depressing and sometimes that’s really nice.”

“If I don’t have any food stains on my clothes, I’m well-dressed.”

On the other hand, a few weeks ago my sister took Mom to a shoe store that specializes in orthopedic shoes, as my mother’s arthritis has played havoc with the shape of her toes. Mom tried on a few pair, and then said to the salesperson:

“I’m not ready yet to wear shoes this ugly. Maybe next year.”

Finding the balance between staying active and recognizing physical constraints.

Sometimes we (mostly my sister – thank you, Chris) take her grocery shopping and sometimes she gives us a list. Sometimes she goes to Claudia’s for Sunday dinner, and sometimes she just asks them to bring her the leftovers. And sometimes I help with the laundry, and sometimes she just throws the towels down the cellar stairs to take care of it later.

“I can push the cart around the supermarket because it’s almost like a walker, but I don’t think I’ll go to the other end of the store today for milk.”

“I have decided not to drive anymore. I hate always needing a ride, but I know my reflexes are way too slow, and I could never hit the brakes fast enough in an emergency.”

“Don’t call me before ten. I need several hours just to get my parts moving.”

“I don’t mind going to the doctor and having that pain checked out. But I am not promising I’ll do anything about it.”

Finding the balance between being an active member of society and just letting go.

“I am definitely voting this year. But I may need an absentee ballot.”

“I am the oldest person in my retirees’ group. So I don’t go to the luncheon every time, but once in a while I say yes.”

“I need to cash this ridiculously small dividend check. If I don’t cash it, the company may think I’m dead, and stop paying me.”

“I know what’s going virus on the internet. They show it on the Today show.”

Finding the balance between worrying and laughter.

“With all this time alone, there is no end to the stuff I worry about. I have to continually tell myself to just stop it and go to sleep. Things will be better in the morning.”

“It doesn’t matter that I can’t reach up to the top shelf – I just keep stuff in the oven – I don’t use the oven anymore anyway. If you’re looking for the cookies, just look in there.”

“I try to clean the house a little every day – but you know something? When your vision is not so good, it doesn’t really matter, because you can’t see the dirt anyway.”

 

And most important:

Finding the balance between simplifying life and indulging oneself.

In the grocery store last week, my mother put the cookies that I like in her basket. But before we checked out, she had me run back to the cookie aisle and put them back. And get the ones SHE likes instead. Good for her.

And she enjoys scratch-off lottery tickets. She buys 6 a week. One each for Chris and her. And one each for Claudia and her. And one each for me and her. If we win a little, we buy more tickets. If it’s a medium win, whoever has the winning ticket keeps the cash. And although it has never happened, she always promises,

“If it’s a big win, we split the money!”

And more on treating yourself kindly:

“What I like best on TV is the romantic movies on Lifetime. I’ve seen them all a dozen times, but it doesn’t really matter, because I never can remember them anyway.”

“I haven’t got much for entertainment anymore, but I like when you show me the family pictures on Facebook from your phone.” (So I scroll through during every visit and she sees all the photos.)

“When your dad was alive, we always used to have a drink and some crackers and cheese while we watched late night TV. And I still do. I get in my pajamas and turn out the lights, and I have a little plate I make ahead of time with crackers and cheese, and a glass of wine. And to tell you the truth… sometimes it isn’t wine.”

And then she whispers,

“It’s whiskey.”

I love that we are now contemporaries as Senior Citizens.

She is the old lady I want to be.

0928161252-2_resized

Mom, 92, winds the music box for her littlest great-grandchild, not quite 2.

 

49 Comments

  1. A delightful post. My husband John and his mother were seniors together. My friend, Eleanor and her mother who is 100, are seniors together. My brother-in-law and his mother, 100, are seniors together. It could be a trend!

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  2. Very cool mother. I love that she’s not old enough for ugly shoes. My Mom was like that. No way she was wearing orthopedic shoes. It is about the balance.

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    • She is really having difficulty – and no shoes will fit her anymore except a couple of pairs of Skechers… but she absolutely hated the old lady shoes. “I’d rather stay home than go out in those,” she told me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I thought I recognized Sketchers. I have that same pair in a black color. She is lucky. My Mom had trouble with shoes at the end as her feet would swell. She cared about her looks until the end.

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  3. A great post and we should all have your mom’s attitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Not ready to wear shoes this ugly.” Love that! Good for her!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like best the statement on the shoes… not having a mother maybe I’ll be the mother – companion for my grown-up kids, who knows? And will not wear ugly shoes either.

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    • Good for you. I have no children, but I am hoping to be the crazy aunt.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love, love this… and I adore your mother! Such great timing too… we’ll be visiting my husband’s mother next week and I think if I tweak my perception of her as a fellow senior, it will deepen our conversations. The only thing is, she – at 83 – has way more energy and better fashion sense than I do, so I may be the real senior in that relationship.

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    • Maybe you can ask her to be your fashion consultant, and you can go shopping together. She’d probably love it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • How lovely this was to read. I lost both my parents almost 7 years ago, and this peek into your relationship with your mom was delightful. I read something recently about not using the word anti-aging but changing the word and our mindset to cool-aging. I love the idea and think your mom may already be on to it!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Christine

    We are so lucky to be able to spend time with Mom, sisters and wonderful kids like Adam and all the other grandnieces and grandnephews.

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    • I like sometimes to spread out our visits so Mom has lots of company, but spending time together this week was wonderful.

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  8. This is so beautiful and heartwarming! ❤
    Diana xo

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  9. This brought back so many good memories of my mother passed in 2012. She taught me how to maneuver Medicare and how to relax and enjoy retirement. We became great friends. This is such a special read. Thank you!

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    • Thank you. My mother continues to teach me how to enjoy life. And how to enjoy old age.

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  10. Your mother sounds absolutely delightful, Nancy. ❤ 🙂
    My mother and I were seniors together for such a short time.

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  11. I absolutely love this. I especially love the orthopedic shoe comment. Your post is so well written, explaining how she manages the balance. I’d like to be just like that if I make it to that age.

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    • Thanks Dianna. My mother has the loveliest outlook on life. For my whole life, she has been an inspiration, and the best role model anyone could have.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. jade

    Beautiful post and excellent tips, your mom is awesome! My mom just turned 80 and she is fit and full of vigor, for her birthday she secretly told me NO big party, and all she wanted to do was to go on a picnic and that is exactly what we did…just the 2 of us. It meant the world to her. 🙂

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    • A picnic together… how lovely. And what sweet memories you made.

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  13. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! Did this post hit home with me. I have a lot of the same issues with my mother, who is 86. She doesn’t handle it quite as gracefully as yours, but I am still impressed with how much she manages to do, and how she usually manages to accept her limitations without complaining. And I know that I am starting down that very same path…..

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    • Thanks. My mother says that she would only feel worse if she dwelt on her afflictions.

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  15. I think I need to keep this in a file marked,” Wisdom” and refer to it often.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This made me miss my Mom even more. And laugh at the whiskey bottle found in her dresser @ the nursing home. So much to love in this post!! MJ

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    • My husband’s Aunt Clara had a stash of chocolates. Whatever works!

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  17. Sadly, my mom didn’t live to become a senior citizen – she passed almost 30 years ago from complications of lung cancer at only 58. I hope you don’t mind if I borrow your mother for my role model. She is the “old lady” I want to be, too.

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    • I can’t imagine the sadness of losing your mother so young. But I’m glad I wrote this – it is a way to share my mother with you.

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  18. Doris Kennedy

    Oh how I wish I had contacted you sooner. I am here in Bristol until October 13th and would loved to have joined you all. I too am a contemporary now also (sp?) Have always loved your mom and can picture her giving these wonderful wisps of knowledge. She is a beautiful LADY for sure. Give her my love.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I love your mom! You are so lucky!

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    • No one could be luckier – my mother is the joy of my life. And my father was an amazing dad too.

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  20. I love this post. Your Mom is the senior we all strive to be. I’d like to think that, had she survived past 42, my Mom would have been just like this.

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    • Losing your mother so young is a sadness I cannot even imagine. I am glad I could share my mother with you – I know I am fortunate beyond measure to have her with me still.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I have no problem with growing older, I just not keen on growing old, my mum says the last couple of months she has felt old with her knees causing her so much pain that she has started to use a walking stick

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    • There are times my mother can hardly walk as well. That’s also when she feels very old. I just hope that as I age, I can be as philosophic about my issues as my mother is.

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  22. This was such a fun post. Your mom sounds like she’s a wonderful person to spend time with as well as being a great role model for aging on your own terms. Does she know that you blog about her?

    Thank you for sharing this on the Monday Blogs hashtag on Twitter.

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    • My mom knows I blog about the family quite often. I think she knows I write about her. I think she would be mortified if she knew that I sometimes post pictures. “Oh my hair!” she would say.

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      • That’s funny! 😀

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  23. What a lovely tribute to your mom and your sisters and all of you together. That’s the kind of old lady I want to be – like my mother-in-law was. I’m afraid, instead, I’ll be that crank yelling at little kids to “get the %@&#&$ off my lawn!”

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    • I little bit cranky is ok too. It keeps you sharp.

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  24. I read this to my 27 year old daughter and my 88 year old mother. We all enjoyed it and could relate to so much. Mom said your mom sounds like she is doing good. Aren’t we blessed to have feisty moms?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. This morning i looked at old photographs of my mother, who started life just before the start of WWI. It dawned on me that I only saw Hazel through the filter of a daughter. I know very little of Hazel who was a housemother in an orphanage, Hazel who was laboratory technician, Hazel the second wife of divorced man. Momma was an attentive mother, staying up long hours to make costumes for my ballet recitals. I always felt she loved me, but she was not really into children. Now, I think that too many women have their identity subsumed by motherhood. It is worse as a woman ages, because those who knew her before children have dispersed or died. That leaves a woman with only the eyes of children to see her, and that view is by its very nature, biased.

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    • Your ideas are extremely interesting to me. I am now just finishing up the first draft of a novel, where I look at the importance of motherhood to a women’s identity. Not having children myself, I have both significant regrets and thankfulness. But I am fascinated by the way motherhood consumes a woman.

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  26. What a heartwarming post:) You Mom is a girl after my own heart. I love that she fixes a little plate of cheese and crackers and sips a little wine er… sometimes whiskey in the evening. She sounds like a gem. I hope to be much like her someday. I’ll stick to wine though… lol

    Like

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