Archives for posts with tag: Aging


A couple of days ago, I had a look through some of my past posts and was stuck by the trend of negativity toward the old, or aging, in general.  If there was a thread of agism emerging, I set my sights on squashing the trend and writing some positive things about my experiences with the elderly.  I have been blessed with some very positive relationships by virtue of some years volunteering and working in residences and old age homes.

There.  I waved the white flag.  I’m not a hater.  Honest.

I never dreamed that only one day later I would go to bed with a pocket full of new stories.

Yesterday I was in the pharmacy and lined up behind a sweet old woman who had just finished paying for her items.  She was having difficulty getting her credit card back into her wallet because her hands were shaking.  She was frequently glancing back at me apologetically and, as fate has it, the harder she tried to move faster, the slower she went.  A couple of items dropped out of her purse and her face wore a grimace of the stress she was feeling.

The cashier was folding her arms and looking frustrated.  She beckoned me toward the counter, and said, “Come on up.”

I said, “I’m not in any hurry at all.”

The lady was scrambling and once again the cashier said to me, “I can ring you through.”  At this point she swept the woman’s purse, together with her purchases, down the counter with her arm, not unlike a pinsetter in a bowling alley.  There was no reason I could see for rushing her.  No long line up.  No busy store.  All I saw was one impatient cashier.

I remained rooted, “I’m not in any hurry.  Let her finish…it’s okay.”

To the older woman I said, “Take your time.”

She finally was able to get herself organized and departed with a smile of relief cast back my way.

Shortly after I left the store, I stopped to allow an old gentleman who was carrying packages, to cross the road in front of me.  He was trying to hurry but was only accomplishing walking that kind of hop-like step involving far more vertical distance than linear travel.   His back was rounded in deep kyphosis which caused him to keep his gaze directly on the ground ahead of him.  I wasn’t sure he was even aware of my presence, when at the last moment after crossing, he turned to give me a deep and courtly nod that would have rivalled anyone in the upper echelon of 18 or 19th century society.  I grinned from ear to ear and he grinned back.

Later that morning I had the pleasure of encountering Doris, who is more than 90 years young, as we waited together in our Doctor’s office.  I offered her my seat in the waiting room and she proved to be worth her weight in gold in the entertainment she provided.

We jointly joked about speaking to the Doctor about providing us with tea and cookies, “…since he’s kept us waiting so long!”

“Do you prefer tea, Dear, or coffee?”  Doris asked me, “Because I’ll speak to him about setting out both, if you think that would be best.”

We enthusiastically agreed that the Doctor really should home-bake the cookies,

“…after all, nothing store-bought will do, certainly not.”

Truth be told, our doctor’s longest wait time would be a dream day for any other doctor’s office I’ve heard of, so it truly was all in good fun.

We continued with some banter over the Bruins and the Leafs and she recounted her thrill at receiving a personal card from Bobby Orr for her 90th birthday.   Although, she said, her daughter had needed to send “her Bobby” both the card and the dollar for the stamp…and he never returned the change from the price of the stamp.   She said she is still considering writing him a letter to ask him for that nickel!

Everyone in the office was in giggles thanks to Doris.

In each of these situations, I made an offering of one small thing;  I slowed down and made space for an older person.  In each situation I was rewarded ten-fold;

By a smile, by an acknowledgement, by a story.

The elderly have many gifts to give.  As we all do.  Let’s slow down and find some time to give them.


Recently, my aging mother received a telephone bill that was significantly higher than it has been in several years and so she, being her feisty self, promptly called the Phone Company and complained.  At the end of her negotiations, she wound up with four calling features, and a bill ten dollars a month less than before.  Yay mom!

At the same time that my mom negotiated this new plan on her phone, she also purchased a new set of cordless phones.  This is where I enter the picture.  Mom was completely unable to set up the new phones because her fingers “wouldn’t work” to plug in the chargers, nor could she transfer the numbers from her old phones into her new ones.  I tried to explain to her that the process to add numbers to a phonebook from Caller ID was pretty seamless, but she asked me to come over and help.

When I arrived, I remarked to her that I was glad she now had Call Answer (which, after years of busy signals we had all been begging her to get) and she asked me why I would think she had Call Answer.  I told her that I had left her a message on her new Call Answer but she insisted she didn’t even know she had it and certainly hadn’t set it up yet.

Hmmm…I thought.  That’s odd.  I was sure I had heard a new message and that the phone had picked up on only one ring.  Maybe not.

So I asked her what features she did have on her phone and she told me she wasn’t sure.  We decided to call the Phone Company and find out.  Sure enough, Call Answer was one of her new features and I asked the gentleman to tell me how to set it up for her.

We hung up and, armed with her temporary passcode, I attempted to set up her Call Answer.

“I’m sorry but you have entered an incorrect password,” the computer said.

I tried again.

“The password you are trying to enter is incorrect,” the computer told me again.

I whispered to mom, “Are you positive you haven’t set up your call answer because I think I remem…”

“NO! I told you I haven’t!  I haven’t TOUCHED it!”  Mom was now getting cross.

“Okay…it’s just that your temporary password, which is your phone number, isn’t working, so I thought maybe you might have changed it to your usual password.”

“I haven’t changed ANYTHING!” Mom insisted.

I tried again, without any luck, and so I decided to call back to the Phone Company to tell them something was wrong.

The gentleman put me on hold to investigate the problem and, once again, I repeated to my mom that I thought I remembered leaving her a message.  I told her that her voice recording had been different, but that, since then, her recording was back to her old answering machine.

My mom was now very exasperated with me and said, “I’m TELLING YOU I HAVEN’T SET UP ANYTHING!  I haven’t changed any passwords!  I haven’t done ANYTHING….The ONLY thing was something that they had that was THEIR voice saying… SOMETHING… and I didn’t want THEIR voice so I did my OWN voice but that is the ONLY thing… and other than that I HAVEN’T changed my password and I haven’t set up ANYTHING.”

AHA!  Crystal clear.  Clear as mud.  Finally.

The man then came back on the phone and I politely informed him that I was pretty sure I knew what had happened, I was sorry, and I would call him back only if I needed to.

I hung up the phone, accessed Call Answer and typed in my mom’s favourite password.  Then I pressed speaker.

The voice ringing through the kitchen said, “You have thirteen messages.”


Mom had watched me type in her code and her jaw dropped.  Then she burst into tears.

Explanation?  Mom set up Call Answer and forgot.  Then she had left her answering machine on, so it was beating Call Answer to the punch when she wasn’t home.  And Call Answer was taking messages whenever she was on the phone.  Apparently people had been telling her for a couple of weeks that they were leaving her messages but she wasn’t getting them.  Now we knew why.

We held one another for several minutes and cried…

This getting older stuff sure isn’t for babies.