Saturday, February 13, 2016

Is a Card Gift Enough for Valentine's Day?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and people will be showering loved ones with cards, flowers, boxes of candy shaped like hearts and maybe even jewelry. The lucky ones, that is.

I’m usually one of the lucky ones, but we just came back from a quickie vacation in Florida and I don’t want Vince spending a lot of money on me. Not that I would ever stop the man if he insisted.

But he has given me more sparkly things than I have fingers, necks, earlobes or wrists on which to wear them. True, a girl can never have enough sparkly things – but I’m practicing restraint this year.

This would just look silly.
Yuh huh. I can too practice restraint.  (Okay…sometimes.)

And, truthfully, Vince shows me every day that he loves me by working as hard as he does. And he tells me so when he texts me T-O-Y (thinking of you) during his busy day. And when he surprises me by bringing home a bouquet of flowers on a random Tuesday "just because." So we don't necessarily need that one day out of the year to say "I love you" to each other.  

Rather than going out for an expensive Valentine’s Day dinner where the wait is long or the meal is rushed so the tables can be turned quicker, this year I bought some NY strip steaks and a nice bottle of wine. We’ll have a salad and maybe some roasted redskin potatoes. I might even get ambitious and bake something sweet for dessert.

Maybe.  I sometimes have grandiose ideas that don’t come to fruition.  If I don’t get out the Kitchen-Aid or preheat the oven, Vince could always have an ice cream bar from the freezer.  I could make it all fancy and serve it on a heart-shaped doily.  Yeah, I’m starting to think that’s the way to go.  I’m not sure I want to dirty the Kitchen-Aid today.

And, after all, nothin’ says true love like a dark chocolate almond Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar

Plus, I bought him a nice card. I got it a few weeks ago when the Valentine’s card selection was at its peak.

Yesterday I went to the store and the pickins were pretty slim. I couldn’t even find one that wished both a mother and a father Happy Valentine’s Day in one card – so I’m just going to have to call them. My parents will probably appreciate a call even more than a card anyway, so it’s all good.

I did find a generic Valentine’s card that I could have sent, but it wasn’t very impressive. And when I turned the card over and saw that it was $4.99, I was horrified. I mean, I’ll pay $4.99 for a nice card, but c’mon. A red heart on the front and the inside reads: “Happy Valentine’s Day!”?  Sheesh. That’s worth maybe a buck and a quarter – tops.  That Hallmark card writer must’ve lost his creative mojo that day. Either that, or he had recently broken up with someone and wasn’t feeling the love just then.

But if the price of greeting cards goes up much higher, I may start taking after Vince’s Aunt Betty.  When we saw her in Florida earlier this week, she told us a story about taking her granddaughter shopping once upon a time.  While they were at the store, Aunt Betty started perusing the birthday cards.  An elderly lady was standing next to Aunt Betty also looking through the rack of cards. 

Finally, Aunt Betty picks one out and calls her granddaughter over to her.  She says, “Here – read this!”  Her granddaughter reads the card and compliments Aunt Betty on the lovely choice and the perfect sentiment.  And then Aunt Betty plucked the card out of her granddaughter’s hand and put it back in the rack.  She said, “There – that was your birthday card!” And they both laughed.

But the lady standing next to Aunt Betty had a look of utter astonishment on her face, which only made Aunt Betty and her granddaughter laugh harder. 

But my guess is that the lady probably thought to herself, What a great idea! I wish I had thought of that myself.

Of course, the flaw in Aunt Betty’s plan is that we don’t always have our loved ones at the store with us while we’re shopping for whatever occasion it is that requires a greeting card.

I once knew someone who opened the birthday card I bought him, read it quickly, said “thanks” and then tossed it immediately in the trash.  Talk about wearing a look of utter astonishment.  I mean, you’d think he could’ve at least waited to throw the thing out until after I’d left.  But I made it a point to never again buy that person a card. I could have just as easily taken the cash and thrown it directly into the garbage can. No thought required.  

Conversely, I’m one of those people who treasures cards that I receive.  To me, it means that someone has taken the time to select a card and either mail it to me – or has actually delivered it in person.  You can’t beat that.

I still have cards from when I was a kid.  And, okay, so I haven’t saved every single card I was ever given – by this age, I’d need a separate storage facility to store them all in. But I do have a great many of them and when I see them, I’m reminded of that time in my life or the person who cared enough to send the very best.  (Oops. Another Hallmark reference. And, no, I don’t have stock in the company.)

Some people think occasions like Valentine’s Day are simply a way for greeting card companies, florists, chocolatiers and jewelers to get people to part with their hard-earned cash.  And there may be some truth to that statement given the amount of advertising they do.  But the holiday has been around for a bunch of centuries and who are we to disparage it? 

I like it when someone tells me they care – and it doesn’t just have to be my Vince, either. I cherished the Valentine’s Day cards I received in the mail from my Nanna when I was younger. She’s gone now – and I miss hearing from her. I’d even be okay if we could go shopping together and she showed me the perfect card she selected just for me – and then put it back in the rack!

So Happy Valentine’s Day, Aunt Betty. Thanks for the story. And this, by the way, is your card! 

And Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. I hope you have a sweet day. And even if you don’t have anyone special to celebrate it with, know that there are lots of people in your life who love and care about you.

Heck, take the time and do something nice for yourself. After all, you’re worth it. It could be sparkly. It could be some pretty flowers.  

Or maybe just have one of those dark chocolate almond Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars. No heart-shaped doily required.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Trendsetter I Am Not

I’m not exactly what you would call “cutting edge” and I’m not much of a trendsetter.  Sometimes it takes me a while to get with the program and follow a trend.

And sometimes I avoid the program altogether.

Like, for instance, when the ripped jeans trend started, I couldn’t follow it. All I wanted to do was take a needle and thread to the tears in those jeans and stitch them back together.  Not the point, I know, but it was a look I could neither accept nor pull off.

Fortunately, my avoidance of cutting edge trends has saved me from later embarrassment a time or two.  As proof, I have two words for you: Parachute Pants.

Nobody looked good in those things and MC Hammer is still probably mortified. Sure, he made a lot of dough from his 80s hit, You Can’t Touch This, but in that getup who wanted to touch that? 

Enough said.

My trend avoidance isn’t solely related to fashion either.

When people stood around the proverbial water coolers at work discussing the latest doings on their favorite television shows, I was usually on the fringes staying silent because it was a series I hadn’t started following.  In fact, it’s only years later that I now know what the fuss was all about on series like Breaking Bad and Lost and Dexter.

Thank goodness for Netflix.

As a matter of fact, I have only just recently jumped on the bandwagon of a certain film series. You’ve probably heard of it – Star Wars?

Yeah, that one.  I had never seen a single installment of Star Wars. Ever.

I don’t know why, really. It’s not like I detest science fiction-type movies or anything.  After all, I really liked The Matrix and the Terminator and Men in Black.

Plus, Harrison Ford was pretty cute back in the day. (I still like him now, but would hardly call him “cute”!)

So when my sister, brother-in-law and niece were in town over the holidays and wanted to see Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and asked me to join them, well, how could I refuse?

Besides, it’s not like I’ve been hiding under a rock for the past thirty-nine years since the first Star Wars movie premiered. I know all about R2D2 and Chewbacca and Princess Leia and her gold bikini. And something about Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia being brother and sister.  And, of course, I have heard the line, “Luke, I am your father” about a bajillion times – even though I also know it’s a misquote and Darth Vader never actually said those exact words.

Just for grins one time, I played a game of Star Wars trivia – and won. Go figure.  I must be good at guessing.  Or all that trivia passed through my subconscious at one time or another through the years.

So now I can no longer say that I’ve never seen any of the Star Wars movies. And who knows? I may even have a Star Wars movie marathon so I can really make sense of this latest installment.
 
Just don’t expect me to change my ways and become a cutting-edge trendsetter.

I have only ever worn green or blue nail polish when my Halloween costume demanded it and I don’t understand ombre hair. It still looks to me like someone forgot to make an appointment with their stylist. 

And speaking of hair…don’t even get me started on the whole man bun thing…


That’s a trend that needs to go away. Now.  Because it's unlikely that I’ll be around in another thirty-nine years to finally get it.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The BIG Trash Can Story

This is a story of the BIG trash can in Jane’s Domain. Normally, we wouldn’t be talking about things like trash cans as there really isn’t much to say about them.  Or so you’d think. 

But has that every stopped me before? Of course not! 

We can’t exactly call Trash Cans pretty. Oh, I suppose you could go all Pinterest on them and decorate them with stencils and paint and Mod Podge and such. But, in my opinion, they still wouldn’t be pretty.

So what could I possibly have to say about Trash Cans, you ask? 

Well, see, last week – while we’re still in January and I’m in the “Let’s Get Organized!” mode – I decided that I couldn’t stand our trash can situation any longer. 

So I ordered a new one. More about this in a minute.

When we moved into this house three and a half years ago, the previous owner left her trash can here. It is functional, true. And it has wheels, which seem as if they would be handy, but the can is not very sturdy and the wheels don’t roll very well.  So we are usually forced to half carry, half drag the can to the curb.

And – most importantly – the can doesn’t hold very much.  Perhaps the previous owner was better at leaving a smaller trash footprint than we do, but we frequently discovered that we couldn’t fit all our weekly trash into that one can.

So we (meaning “I”) often left the trash in bags on the floor of the garage until it was Garbage Night and then we (meaning “Vince”) had to figure out how to fit five bags of garbage into a can that holds about three.

Needless to say, neither of us is fond of Garbage Night.

Plus, a few months ago, the garbage men, er, “sanitation workers” hauled away our trash, but ran over the lid to the trash can.  Thanks, sanitation workers! 

So even though I struggled to push the lid back into its original shape before it got run over, it never fit correctly on the trash can again.  Which meant that once the lid was down on the can, it could be lifted off only with a winch and/or a body-builder on steroids.  As I have neither of those handy on a routine basis, I rarely attempted to remove the lid in order to deposit a bag of trash into the can. 

So last week I compared prices for new trash cans.  And, boy, was I shocked.  Lemme tell you: trash cans ain’t cheap!  Nevertheless, I was determined to solve our trash situation. 

Normally, I would simply order from Amazon.com using my Prime membership (and “free” shipping), but their prices were significantly higher than the local Lowe’s Home Improvement store.  Plus, it would be nearly a week before the can would be delivered.

Instead, I knew I could order online from Lowe’s and go pick it up that afternoon without paying a delivery charge.

And the benefits!  The can from Lowe’s has a permanently attached lid, so that it would never again get run over by sanitation workers.  It has sturdy wheels so we never again have to drag the can to the end of the driveway. It is large enough to hold all our trash. And the reviews were overwhelmingly positive.

Satisfied that I’d made the correct move, I purchased the can and drove to Lowe’s to pick it up.  It was, by the way, a frigid 18 degrees outside.  But I assumed it would be a quick trip and I’d soon be home basking in the glow of solving our trash problem.

I arrived at Lowe’s and showed the paperwork to the clerk who sent a runner to the back of the store to retrieve my trash can. This took about 20 minutes and, while I realize Lowe’s is a big store, it wouldn’t take me 20 minutes to reach the back.  So I figured the runner maybe took a smoke break while he was back there.

When he eventually wheeled the can up to the Service Desk, I thought, Yeah, that’s definitely big enough.

Never did I think, Hmmm, I wonder if it will fit in my car?       

I should have.  Because it didn’t.

I confidently wheeled it out to the parking lot and up to my car. My four-door Audi A4.  A sedan.  NOT a truck or an SUV, as were just about all the other vehicles in the parking lot. And now I know why. 

But I thought I could simply pull the front passenger seat forward as far as it would go and then slide the can into the back seat. 

Yeah, that didn’t work.  While the bottom of the can fit, I couldn’t get the top of it in.

So then I popped the trunk and I folded down the back seat. And attempted to lift the can into the trunk, but couldn’t even get the bottom part of it in. 

By this point, I knew that pretty much the only way I would’ve gotten that can home with my car was to either strap it to the top – or drag it behind the car. 

Neither of those options sounded reasonable.  Plus, I didn’t have any bungee cords.  And, yes, I was at Lowe’s and could have gone back in and purchased some, but I’m not well-schooled on bungee-cord application.  I’m never really sure where to hook them securely without pulling off important parts of the car.

In defeat, I turned around and headed back into the store wheeling my brand-new trash can. I took a little comfort in the fact that since it was only 18 degrees outside, probably no one was watching me and laughing as I tried to fit a 64-gallon trash can into a small sedan.

The clerk suggested I rent a truck from them for $65  – something I was loathe to do.  Or they could deliver it for – you guessed it – $65. 

I told the clerk that I’d simply find a friend with an SUV or truck and would be back to pick up the can. 

Except that their paperwork showed that I had already picked up the can.  So in order to keep their paperwork straight, they had to “return” the can and then reapply payment to a “new” trash can. Which would then be waiting for me in the back of the store.

This process took another 20 minutes. By this point, I was sincerely wishing I had paid the extra money to Amazon.com.

But I was determined to get that infernal trash can home, so I spent the next two days trying to figure out who would take pity on me and drive me to Lowe’s to pick it up.

Fortunately, I have wonderful neighbors. I explained the trash can situation to Suzy who arranged a trip to Lowe’s with Pat who came to my rescue. 

Pat’s husband has a big red truck (I suppose I should know the make and model for reporting purposes – but all I know is that it’s shiny and new and has a fancy interior and you have to climb up really far to reach the seat.)  It certainly seemed big enough to handle my BIG trash can.

So we walked into Lowe’s and picked up that trash can and confidently wheeled it out to the truck.  We picked it up – and slid it in.

I’d love to report that it fit easily inside the truck, but it barely fit!  We had to bungee cord it in. (Apparently Pat is more well-schooled on bungee cord application than I am.) 

Nevertheless, we were able to close the tailgate and get the trash can home safe and sound. 

So now my trash can situation is solved.  But, strangely, I’m still not excited about Garbage Night.

Hunh.  Wonder if I should check Pinterest for those stencil and paint and Mod Podge ideas?

Nah. I’m just happy the darn thing fits in the corner of our garage. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

And How do YOU Pronounce the Word “A-U-N-T”?

When I was a kid, we were instructed to call my mother’s sister “Aunt Ethel.” And to call my mother’s cousins “Aunt Babbie” and “Aunt Dorothy.” 

The first one was legitimately an aunt; the second and third were, technically, cousins.  We were second cousins or once removed or something like that. But since they were grown-ups and we were kids, we were not allowed to call them by their first names and had to put the “Aunt” in front as a sign of respect.
                                                                                                                             
But that wasn’t a big deal to us. Well into my adulthood, I continued to call these ladies “Aunt” – whatever  – and couldn’t imagine calling them by their given names.  (And, okay, so technically, “Babbie” wasn’t her given name.  But she rarely used her first name, which was Louise.”  I‘m not even sure where the name “Babbie” came from!)

But I digress. As usual.

The difference is that our parents are from New England. And they pronounced A-U-N-T as Ah-nt” rather than “Ant” as so many of our friends from the Midwest called their relatives.

As kids we didn’t like being different, so whenever we could get away with it, we used the Midwest pronunciation.  And by “getting away with it” I mean whenever my mother wasn’t around.

If she was within earshot and heard us use the “Ant” pronunciation, she’d sternly correct us: “She isn’t an ‘ANT’ that crawls around on the floor,” she’d admonish. “She’s your ‘Ah-nt’!”

If Mom wasn’t watching, we’d usually roll our eyes and then dramatically repeat the title loudly using her pronunciation.

Even though we thought it sounded strange and weird.  We weren’t, after all, from New England.  We were from Ohio.  And Ohioans pronounced it “Ant”!

But we somehow managed to survive our childhood. And rarely was an “Aunt” harmed with whatever pronunciation we used.  They knew we loved them no matter what we called them!

Fast-forward to my sister’s kid, Chloe.  My sister instructed her to call me “Aunt Jane.”  Unlike our mother, however, Chloe was not required to call meAh-nt” Jane.

Unless, of course, our mother is within earshot. And then we hear the same ol’ thing all over again.  “She isn’t an ‘ANT’ that crawls around on the floor,” she’d admonish. “She’s your ‘Ah-nt’!”

My sister and I just grin at each other. And, okay, so we still roll our eyes.

Just a little.

Chloe complies with Nanna’s admonishment, but even she will dramatically repeat the title loudly using Nanna’s pronunciation.

Until this past Christmas, however.  Chloe is now 12. And you can’t really tell a 12-year-old the ways of the world without their checking Google.  So Chloe Googled “Aunt” and it spit out the verbal pronunciation as “Ant.”

True enough, there is another pronunciation in Google – the way my mother pronounces it. But Chloe somehow avoided that one altogether. 

Her Nanna, on the other hand, doesn’t really care what Google thinks.  And she continued to remind Chloe about the correct pronunciation. 

Apparently Chloe likes saying my name – so eventually she started spelling it.  “’A-U-N-T’ Jane,” she’d say, “will you play a game with me?”

Eventually it got to the point where she would spell “A-U-N-T” Jane so fast, it almost sounded like she was calling me Auntie Jane – and that just made me laugh.

I started calling her “N-I-E-C-E” Chloe, but that just didn’t roll off the tongue as easily, so eventually I stopped and reverted to my affectionate name for her, which is “Little Missy.”  She usually laughs whenever I call her that, so I haven’t stopped.

It will be all too soon, I imagine, when she’ll just roll her eyes if I use that term of endearment, so when that happens I may stop.

Maybe.


But no matter what she calls me, I know Chloe loves me.  And that’s what counts – right?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Does Strenuous Coughing Count as Exercise?

So an entire week has passed since we rang in a brand-spanking new year.

And I still haven’t taken down my Christmas decorations. Our fully decorated 7-1/2 foot tall Christmas tree stands forlornly in the corner of our living room feeling sorry for itself that we neither light it nor look at it anymore.

Ack, the shame!  Not taking down Christmas decorations by January 2nd is pretty much a major sin in Jane’s Domain. 

But I have a good excuse. Or at least since I’m the “Jane” in Jane’s Domain and I get to pardon the sins, it’s an excuse I’m willing to accept.


I have, you see, caught yet another cold. This is the second cold I’ve had in the last two months. I barely had time to replenish my stash of Kleenex before the next round of sniffles started.

I’m telling you, if there is a flying germ anywhere within a 20 foot radius, it will find me. Apparently, I’m a great host. I serve snacks. And I must’ve given that ugly green Mucinex Man the wrong impression because he thinks he’s welcome any ol’ time.

So I’m trying to be a little less hospitable.  I’ve hauled out packages of Dayquil, Nyquil, cough syrup, nasal spray, cough drops, and, yes, Mucinex. I’ve taken them at various times and in various combinations in the vain hope of lessening my symptoms.

Yeah, like any of that has worked.

I’ve napped a lot this week, which certainly has helped me catch up on any missing sleep from those pre-holiday late nights.  And I’ve had no appetite, so that has helped the New Year’s diet that I didn’t specifically resolve to start.  And I’ve coughed so much, my core feels like I’ve spent the last week doing continual crunches.

It’s not a diet and exercise plan I’d recommend, though.

For one thing, phlegm is not pretty.  And for another, no energy leads to a messy house with overflowing wastebaskets full of wads of used Kleenex. Also not pretty. Especially when your middle is too sore to bend over to pick up a wastebasket.

And did I mention the fully decorated Christmas tree in the corner of my living room?

That’s enough to drive a somewhat obsessive-type person like me a little batty.
.
We’ve run out of basic food supplies such that I’m feeding Vince chicken noodle soup without the chicken. And I’ve been hoarding the milk to make it last yet another day for coffee (me) and hot cereal (Vince). 

Fortunately, I believe I’ve turned the corner on this cold and while a fit of violent coughing rudely awakened me at 4 am, I woke up no longer feeling like I’ve been flattened by a semi going 90 mph. 

So I think I may be able to venture out and do a little Krogering.  I’m going to need some chicken to add to a new batch of chicken noodle soup.

Because now Vince is sick.

Sigh. 

And so it goes…


Friday, November 20, 2015

Nothing in Life is Ever Really Free

This morning I received an offer from Shutterfly for a free 2016 calendar. And I thought, hey…you know…free is good. So even though my sister makes us a “Chloe Calendar” every year featuring photos of my favorite niece and her activities from the previous year, and I look forward to receiving this annual keepsake, I figured we could always use another calendar. 

So I thought I would take advantage of the offer.

But, oh em gee!  If I had but known how many blasted hours this little project was going to take, I would’ve clicked right on by that free offer!

Finding photos to include on the monthly pages was one thing…but then finding individual photos to insert on special days (birthdays and anniversaries) was quite another.

Not only that, but then I had to do the thinking thing and figure out whose birthday and anniversary was when.

Oh, sure, I know off the top of my head when my parents’ and siblings’ birthdays are – I’ve had that information stored in the old noggin’ since pretty much the third grade.  And adding spouses and children was not a major effort as the numbers are limited and my long-term memory is still not too bad.

Heck, I can still recall the birthday of my best friend from second grade, even though I lost track of her somewhere around the mid-70s and have no earthly clue where she is now. (But FYI, Michelle - I’ll still be wishing you a mental happy birthday next July 8th!) 

But start adding Vince’s family (in-laws, steps, halfs and everything in between), friends (his, mine and ours), and extended family (is six degrees of separation too far out?), and, well, I fear I’ve started something I’ll never finish in time to claim my free offer!

Oh, and there are, of course, stipulations on the “free” offer. Like, for instance, I only have until Monday to finish this calendar and place the order.  And, while I haven’t checked yet, I suspect I’ll end up paying for shipping.  So if I find out it’s a lot of moolah to ship one measly little calendar, I may not end up ordering the thing at all.

Sigh.

Suddenly, the idea of spending $12.95 for a pre-made calendar at the local mall is starting to sound really good.

But, knowing me, I’ll soldier on with this little project until it’s completed.  I may be a procrastinator and it takes me forever to start a project, but I’m pretty tenacious once I actually dig in. 

I guess this means I should stop writing and get back to work. 

…now where did I put that photo of Great Aunt Matilda on my dad’s side? I think she’s his third cousin once removed.  She should definitely be in the calendar – right? 

Lord, help me.

Friday, October 30, 2015

How Lucky I Am.

I was cleaning out the refrigerator this morning wondering how it could possibly get so dirty so quickly.  Feels like I just cleaned it out the other day. 

In truth, it was probably six months ago, but, y’know, time goes fast.  Especially when you’re doing things you looove – like scrubbing the interior of the fridge.

Yeah, I’m fibbing.  I’d have to be insane to actually enjoy cleaning out the fridge. 

Oh, that’s not nice.  I suppose there is someone out there who enjoys performing those sorts of tasks.  The only enjoyment I get out of it is when it’s done.  Well, that – and when I open the fridge later and am pleasantly surprised by how clean and orderly it is.

But, anyway, I was thinking as I was donning those lovely yellow rubber gloves and dunking my hands in the hot, soapy water, that I’m actually lucky. 

I’m lucky that I can still get the dirt out of both the lowest drawers and the highest shelves in the fridge.  I’m lucky that I have the strength to scrub the parts that need scrubbing. I’m lucky to have the dexterity to pull the glass shelves out and carefully clean them without breaking the glass.

And, even though my vision is far from 20/20, I am lucky to still be able to see every speck of dirt and mysterious splotch of gunk that is in that fridge – and I have the ability to clean it.

Hunh.  Who knew there were reasons to feel lucky about cleaning a fridge?

I suppose I feel luckier to be able to do these sorts of mundane tasks when I realize how many people out there are unable to perform them. 

Like a friend on Facebook who is wheelchair-bound. She recently posted that she dropped a bag of chips onto the floor – and was unable to pick them up.  I loved that she kept her sense of humor and said it was probably a hint that she shouldn’t be eating the chips! 

But it made me realize that if I drop something on the floor and make a mess, instead of being annoyed, I should feel fortunate that I am still able to crawl around on the floor to clean it up.

Guess I’d better make a note and remind myself of that the next time I knock over that mega-sized bag of basmati rice, as I did recently. Instead of the, um, choice words I actually used, I should instead have been muttering, “I’m lucky…I’m lucky…I’m soooo lucky!”

I think we all tend to take our health and abilities for granted and only realize how fortunate we were when those things are gone. 

Take, for example, my parents who recently spent nearly a week with us here in Columbus. We celebrated my mother’s 90th birthday, although she doesn’t remember she’s 90.  Or perhaps she just conveniently forgot that little fact on purpose. Who knows? It’s hard to tell with Mom who has been dealing with Alzheimer’s for the past several years. 

One moment, she will seem like her old self and will carry on an intelligent conversation, and the next moment, she is whispering under her breath about how confused and scared she is.  Each and every time she does the latter, my heart breaks a little more for her.

I try to give her a reassuring hug and casually repeat whatever fact she can’t remember and is stressing over, whether it’s where she left her purse or how old her granddaughter is. But I try to fit it into the conversation so she doesn’t know I’ve heard her.

Mom still tries to pretend she’s that strong, sharp, eagle-eyed woman who never missed a thing.  I’m not sure she realizes how much she has changed or how noticeable it is to the rest of us. 

But no matter what, I try to keep in mind that she is the woman who has loved me my entire life. Who took care of me when I was a baby and didn’t know how to dress or walk or speak.  And when I was confused or frustrated over a simple task like tying my shoes, she was the person who clarified and explained and instructed. She never made me feel stupid for not knowing something.  And she encouraged me every step of the way.  So if I can do those things for her now and still allow her to maintain her dignity, then I am honored to do so.

And then there is my dad.  His macular degeneration has progressed to the point that we wonder how much he actually sees.  He does a great job of pretending around us because, I suspect, he doesn’t want us to intervene and mandate that he and Mom move to an Assisted Living facility. 

He’s much more comfortable in the house they’ve lived in for nearly 50 years. He knows without looking where the silverware and glasses are stored. He knows exactly where in the fridge the milk resides. And he doesn’t have to figure out which remote operates the television and which button mutes the commercials. On the other hand, our complicated system with three different remotes confuses him.

But, to be fair, they confuse me, too. So it’s not necessarily about age or diminishing vision.

Yet, Dad cannot see the dirt in the refrigerator shelves or the mysterious splotch of gunk at the bottom of the vegetable drawer – so my sister and I surreptitiously clean it when he’s not around. 

Or I off-handedly mention that I’m doing laundry and will wash his sweater that has stains from food that fell off his fork at dinner the night before. When he does laundry, he cannot see the spots requiring pre-treatment, so their clothes come out of the dryer still stained. And to see my once-dignified, capable, and always-in-control parents wearing stained clothing makes me so sad.

So, yes, I’m lucky that I can still scrub a tub or clean the floor or wash the inside of the fridge.  I’m lucky that I can do laundry and our clothes are clean and (relatively) free of permanent stains. And I’m lucky that I still know how old my niece is or where I left my purse – even if I sometimes have those brief lapses when I forget where I left my keys.

Ah, but doesn't it look clean and organized?!
Aging happens to the best of us, despite every attempt we make at staying young. So today, especially, I’m reminding myself that I am lucky.  I may not wake up full of energy and completely pain-free (and unwrinkled) as I did in my younger years, but I woke up capable of accomplishing most of the things on my to-do list.  

Well, except perhaps the one thing on my list. Replacing the burned out light bulb in the 15 foot ceiling in the living room might just be beyond my capabilities today. But, hey, I never claimed to be Superwoman!

And instead of sighing as I haul yet another load of clothes from the dryer to the bedroom to fold and hang and put away, I am taking a moment to look at the canvas print in my laundry room that reads: “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

Hmmm.  Truer words…


So however you spend your day, take time to appreciate and enjoy it. For these ARE the big things. 

And, yes, even the cleaning out the fridge thing.