Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘LAUGHTER’ Category

Valentine’s Day is the yearly event that causes more headaches and heartaches than any other. Some may disagree, saying that Christmas is more stressful, but I’d bet my best red lipstick that more psyches suffer on February 14th. than on any other day of the year.

Think of it. The idea alone is masochistic. It’s the day chosen to show people how much you love them. Conversely, if you receive no such declaration, you may assume that no one loves you. It’s a logical deduction, even for a child.

Speaking of children, flash back to that brightly covered box in the front of the classroom, the one stuffed with carefully chosen paper Valentines? Remember how you waited with anxious breath for your name to be called, how everyone counted their cards, perhaps spread them out on their desks for others to admire? What must have been going on in the head of the classmate who received no cards? What a harsh reality for a child! Who knows what residual complexes remain once they become an adult?

I sympathize with people who are alone on Valentine’s Day, caught up in the melancholy envy of those in love who are out celebrating. But here’s the clincher: being in love does not guarantee Valentine’s Day will hold any romance, and relationships can be put to the test. I’ve learned that the hard way.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love my husband dearly, but romantic expressions of love are not his strong suit.

His proposal to me was muttered under heated breath when, at 17, he pressed me against my parent’s back door for a goodnight kiss. “You’re gonna marry me, right?”

The budget for my engagement ring was negotiated between us. He would spend the proceeds from the sale of some musical equipment, not a dime more. I was too thrilled with the prospect of being engaged to dwell on the budgetary constraints.

To be practical, my wedding night was spent in our new apartment, rather than a hotel room. His best man and ushers had stayed there with him the night before, and the place looked like a charity bazaar after a three-day blitz. In the corner of the bedroom sat a partially dismantled car engine, evidence of his latest project.

Have things changed since our marriage? Over thirty-two years have passed, and my memory may not be the sharpest anymore, but truthfully, I can’t actually recall a Valentine’s Day that was the kind of romantic surprise women dream about. Therein lies the problem. Women fantasize about such things all their lives, but men are just not hard-wired on a parallel path.

I observed the “out-of-sync” interplay between my parents for years. Mom would watch soap operas where men planned extravagant and imaginative surprises for their loved ones; but Dad was another story. He’d leave a greeting card up on top of the fridge for her to see. Sometimes, there would be a heart-shaped box of chocolates with it. Once in a while, there would be a cheque inside the card, and his name scrawled hastily, devoid of any personal message. Of course, my mother did less. She was from an age where ladies did not bother to even reciprocate Valentine’s gifts. I can’t imagine how he would have reacted if she had.

So, though I’ve never really expected grand gestures from my own husband for Valentine’s Day, secretly, I’ve always hoped. I’d see the romantic gift a friend would receive, and I’d grow wistful.

As V-day approached, I’d inevitably become more and more anxious, gearing myself up for the inevitable letdown. Sometimes, he’d completely forget. Other times, he’d say he was planning various things for months, then he’d go on to tell me why none of it could be accomplished. To be honest, I believed him. An “event planner” he’s not.

“I wanted to take you somewhere special, but couldn’t decide where to go.”

“I was going to buy you roses, but they seemed such a waste of money.”

“I thought you’d rather pick something out yourself.”

“I didn’t know what you wanted.”

“I wanted to get you something sexy, but I figured you wouldn’t wear it.” Now, there’s a story behind this line. Years ago, he ventured into an erotic clothing store and bought me what the salesperson claimed was a negligee. Actually, it was four strips of very sheer blue material, two down the front, two down the back, perhaps three inches wide at best near the upper end and wider towards the bottom. Ribbons attached the strips to each other. Problem was, I could only wear it if I stood stock still. One twist and those two strips down the front no longer covered the “essentials.” At a time when two little sons might run into our room at any time during the night, it wasn’t too practical. We both laughed, he a little less heartily, and he’s shied away from sexy purchases ever since.

Another time, he brought me home a card and lovely wrapping paper but no gift. “I couldn’t find anything good enough,” he said, frustration dripping from every word. He seemed to have developed a “tic” while he was out too.

Sometimes he says, “What do you feel like doing for Valentine’s Day?” Of course, what I want is for him to plan it for me. If I actually suggest that, he looks like he’s about to have a stroke from the pressure of it. He’ll say “I thought we should go out for dinner,” but he’ll say it that night, at 5:00 P.M., when there’s no hope of getting reservations. Then he’ll squirm in remorse.

Once, we had a romantic dinner, and we followed it by going to a movie. “Total Recall” does nothing to keep the “warm and fuzzy feeling” alive, believe me.

But after all this time, I’m almost used to it. The truth is, he’s special in every other way that counts. He brings me tea and tells me I’m smart and beautiful all the time, even when I’m feeling like Phyllis Diller on her worst day. And I don’t think his lack of romantic inclination reflects anything more than an inability to recognize the special, small gestures that can be so heart-warming. In other words, big, expensive gestures occur to him, but limited by budget and circumstances, he flounders.

So, if Valentine’s Day is spent like so many other “dates,” I’ll be prepared. A dinner out if I make a reservation, followed by a tour around The Home Depot, and an early return home. Then, perhaps, a glass of wine each, a fast “I love you,” and we’ll each depart for our separate televisions. He’ll watch “This Old House” or The Antique Roadshow,” and I’ll watch a taped soap opera, probably General Hospital, so I can watch Jax as he plans a superbly romantic evening for his current lady-love.

If I grow envious, I’ll remind myself of what my husband said to me recently. He was removing wallpaper from a room, and he commented on the strong, unhealthy fumes from the stripper he was using. Then he added, “It’s okay. As long as I see your pretty face just before I die I’ll be happy”

Okay, so it sounds corny, but it goes a long way towards making up for Home Depot on Valentine’s Day

(published in the Globe and Mail, Feb. 14/05 under title: Valentine’s Day façade, Valentine’s Day feeling)

Read Full Post »

popolivelargeHow do you know when a guy really loves you? An old song asked that question and suggested that it was “in his kiss.” But these days, kisses are doled out so freely that they’ve depreciated, so what’s the answer to that age-old query now? Is it in the romantic gifts of flowers, candy, or jewellery traditionally given on special occasions like Valentine’s Day? Is it in the gestures of support we get on a regular basis – the sudden compliment, the chores done ungrudgingly around the house, the much-needed dinner out?

All of these matter, but I may have found the definitive answer to whether your partner really loves you. It’s the extent he/she is willing to go to protect you from harm.

Now, many people have told me how lucky I am to have a “superhero” for a husband. He is devoted and protective, a “Saint Bernard” of a man. Standing six-foot four and with hands the size of a catcher’s mitt, he moves through life like a force of nature. Few people would ever challenge him on a physical level, and being loved by him brings a sense of safety and security. But there is one aspect to his readiness to protect that can have a downside. Occasionally, his reactions can be considered a little extreme. I know, because several years ago, he tried to save my life.

It was late-May, unseasonably warm, and I was in the kitchen preparing supper when one of our sons burst into the house, his shirt blood-splattered and his knuckles skinned. It was obvious he’d been in a fight.

It wasn’t anything that I hadn’t seen before. Life near a large suburban community carried its share of danger, and he seemed to have inherited his father’s reactive adrenaline surges when he felt threatened.

Before I had a chance to speak, he started telling me what happened. “I just had a fight with Matt*,” he said, closing and locking the door.

The news wasn’t totally unexpected. I knew my son’s temper and I knew Matt*. Even as a youngster, he could be trouble. Now that he was older, with the rumour of a tough gang of friends to back him up, he seemed a legitimate threat.

Our young “caped crusader” supplied a few more details of the altercation then jumped into the shower. An hour later, he left for work, but not before telling us to keep our eyes open for a strange car in the driveway that night. “Play it safe and keep the doors locked,” he said, only half-jokingly.

Despite our paranoia, the evening passed uneventfully, and soon it was time to turn in. Our bedroom was warm (we had no air conditioning at the time), so we left the windows open and the blinds up to catch the breeze. A ceiling fan added to the comfort.

Miles from the city, it was dark except for moonlight. I squeezed earplugs in to drown the regular sounds of stray cats, crickets and my husband’s snoring, and snuggled down for the night. Despite a few pangs of worry about our son’s safety, I finally drifted off.

I was asleep less than an hour when I felt my husband’s big “paw” shaking my shoulder. I was startled, only half awake, and my earplugs muffled his words. Irritated, I asked him, “What is wrong with you?” My first thought was that he was having an unusually intense dream. He was agitated, almost panicked, and covered my mouth to stop my questions.

More than once, I tried to sit up, but he pushed me back down. He was frantically whispering something, but what? Finally, I managed to get an arm free to yank out an earplug. “It’s Matt and his friends. They’re shooting at us,” he hissed. “They’re in the backyard.”

A loud and rapid-fire, “Pop, pop, p-p-p-pop, p-p-pop” filled the air. Still, the meaning of his words didn’t register. Unlike my superhero, my adrenaline had flat-lined in my sleep. I looked towards the two large windows in our room, and realized screens would offer no protection from the volley of bullets outside. In the space of a few seconds, my lack of understanding turned to terror. I couldn’t move.

Suddenly, the shots seemed to grow closer and louder, and my husband went into rescue mode. He started to pull me onto his side of the bed. The problem was that in the confusion, he wasn’t explaining why he wanted me there, and I was too stunned to think it out myself. He also couldn’t see well enough to move me carefully. In one fell swoop, he threw his arm around my neck, grabbed me by my head, and yanked me backwards, off the bed and onto the floor on the other side.

Together we waited, our hearts pumping wildly, until silence came. I’m not sure how much time passed before we decided it was safe to move. We were still too frightened to stand, too sure they were lying in wait. Finally, my husband slithered across the floor and made his way to the windows. He reached up from the side and was able to pull down the blinds, hiding us from our attackers. Then, he crawled his way to the doorway and turned on the light.

The source of our terror was right before us!

Floating high above our bed was a partially-deflated helium balloon, a souvenir from my husband’s birthday the month earlier. It had come loose from its doorknob mooring and taken flight. 

How can a helium balloon mimic the sounds of gunshots, you ask? Just get it caught in the blades of a ceiling fan.

My neck was a little stiff and sore the next day, and my husband felt pretty foolish, but one undeniable truth came out of it all. My husband will always protect me, even if he kills me in the process.

I guess that means he loves me.

~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: “Matt” is a pseudonym.

Read Full Post »

renovation-roulette-1-mIt’s occurred to me that one of the greatest tests of a marriage is that dreaded of times, the renovation period. If your home is over twenty years ago, it can seem a neverending cycle, and if either one of you is even borderline attention-deficit, that’s the time it will show up in spades.

Such is the case in our home. My husband has the energy and ambition of two men half his age.  That can be both a blessing and a curse. Understanding his thought patterns can be like following a billiard ball as it richochets from ball to sidewall to pocket. He’s knocked a kitchen wall down at one in the morning because of a sudden inspiration. He’s started gigantic projects without planning the workspace or storage for such a huge undertaking.  At times, it makes me want to pull out my hair, but compared to women whose husbands lack that kind of confidence, I consider myself lucky. Point my husband in the right direction, clear an area for him to work,  remove all the breakable items around him, and he’s off to a great start. But leave him to fend completely on his own while I go and try to write? Don’t count on me getting much done.

Twenty-odd years ago, I read an article called “The Truth About Men and Housework.”  It was written long before “political correctness”  guided everything in print, and we thought it was hysterically funny because in my husband’s case, at least, it was completely true. One of the things it stressed is that by their very nature,  men prefer to work “in packs.” I remember one part in particular that went something like this:

“Your husband will be three steps up a ladder and call you to hand him something he forgot to carry up with him.  Don’t worry. You can finish your shower later.” 

The writer wasn’t suggesting laziness throughout the piece, but a man’s need to have someone nearby to comment on their work and assist them in some small way, speeding up the process.

That’s the pattern my husband and I have settled into, and it works for us.  Perhaps it will for you too. I am much like the operating room nurse. I keep track of the renovation “instruments,” otherwise he’d spend a couple of hours of the day searching for his measuring tape, or the Phillips screwdriver he just had in his hand, or the dropcloth he had yesterday. I’m the one who runs for the paper towel if he splatters paint . I hold the light up so he can see if the drywall paste is on smoothly. I constantly shift things around him as he makes progress in the job, all part of my own obsession to keep things under control. It works for both of us. I stay calmer and he avoids tripping on things and breaking an ankle.  After all, he’s a big guy, and if he falls, he falls hard.

He’ll also work non-stop, forgetting the time. I remind him to come and eat, and I bring him tea and cookies when it’s time for a break.

Now, before you start thinking that this is all a little too “Stepford Wife-ish” for you, I should tell you that it’s not always sweetness and light. When he messes up badly or loses something for the tenth time that dayand his frustration level skyrockets, that’s my cue to let him howl at the moon alone.  His tirade generally doesn’t last long. Ever heard of a surgeon carry on an operation alone without the surgical nurse to hand him the scalpel?

Not to worry though. Unlike the surgical assistant, I stop short of wiping his brow.

Read Full Post »

humor20105I’ve heard it said that comedians are, in their own private lives, not all that funny, that they are often regular “sober-sides.” Woody Allen comes to mind, and I realize I’ve never heard him laugh. No matter what Jerry Lewis says in an effort to be a clown, you just know that underneath it all he’s a bastard.  Ignore the good guy facade. This isn’t someone who cracks jokes in an effort to lighten everyone’s mood. And we all know that some comedians don’t even bother trying to hide their nastiness. Remember Don Rickles?

I say this all because lately, as you’ve no doubt noticed, my sense of humour is seriously lacking, and I’ve not even been able to fake it. That’s scary, because all of my life I’ve been told that I can be rather funny. My witticisms actually made people laugh. Not only that. I’ve been called a “blue-skier,” someone who’s almost foolishly optimistic. What the hell happened? Did my rose-coloured glasses simply lose their tint with the passing of time?

Seriously. Is it my age? I mean, the older you get, the more “bad stuff” invades your life. If something catastrophic happens when you’re younger, you assume that a lifetime of bad luck has simply hit you all in one big chunk, that from that point on, only good things await. At least that’s what my logic told me. Had a rough few years in my twenties and then I figured, “Whew! Glad that’s over with! Now let’s get on with the good life!”

But once you’re older, your outlook starts to change without you even realizing it.  bad stuff starts to happen, sometimes quite regularly. You gear yourself up for the next big blow to you or someone you love. What a way to exist! It’s no wonder no one’s smiling around me!

I try to look on the bright side. I really do. It’s about survival, right? I seek out every bit of good news I can, because otherwise, I’d drown in doom and gloom. There’s been so much of it lately.

I mean, just since my last journal entry a few other gems have invaded my world, or its periphery.  Yesterday, my cousin’s wife, a woman I’ve yet to even meet, was the victim of a “hit and run.”  It started out as a good news story, because she’d been a good samaritan, had stopped to help a woman who’d been struck by a car. For her goodness, she was nearly killed by someone else who drove into her and kept on going: the juxtaposition of her compassion versus the driver’s disregard boggles my mind, makes seeing the light side of anything very, very hard.

Today, we made a last ditch effort to stay financially afloat until our house sells by applying for money from my husband’s locked-in pension fund. It’s under a new government endeavour called the Hardship Accessibility Programme.  There is nothing laughable about that at all, unless it’s as a comedy of the absurd. How surreal is it that we somehow arrived at this point? If we can find a way to laugh about all of this, to make jokes someday and chuckle with our grandchildren about the whole experience, we’ll either be the most well-adjusted people in the world or we’ll have lost our marbles too.

So why the hell am I so fixated on my disappearing sense of humour? It’s because of this blog, actually, and my half-hearted, on again, off again efforts to find a place for myself in the writing world. You see, someone suggested I solicit ads to generate revenue here. Of course, that would assume I’d have a large enough following, a readership that would somehow morph into enough clicks to make a financial difference. And then, the very next day, didn’t I read about dooce.com? For those of you who don’t know, dooce.com is a mega-success, a blog started in 2001 by Heather Armstrong, a young woman (thirty-something, I’m guessing) who’s somehow attracted enough of a following to not only support her family but to garner a book deal, all based on her perspective and comments on life.

Go figure! I had to check her out. It didn’t take long to realize her appeal. It was her style – irreverant, in-your-face sarcastic humour that in our better moments, we are all capable of, but in our weaker moments, we forget.  And I thought to myself, that used to be me, or close to me, anyway. Where did it go?

I want it back. That “edge,” that bit of fight that younger women use to such great advantage. It’s what keeps us going, especially in times like this. It’s what keeps us from feeling and acting like victims. No one wants to be around victims so why the hell would anyone want to read about one? That would be moi, for those of you who haven’t read back enough to recognize the signs.

It’s a lot to think about. But there is one bright spot. In the midst of a stressful discussion, I burst out laughing today, thanks to my darling husband. As we age, I may be losing my sarcastic “edge,” but he seems to be losing his vocabulary. We were talking about a rather negative news item, and he called the person featured in the piece a “well-do-ne’er.”

I laughed until I cried. It’s a start.

Read Full Post »

baby-cupidValentine’s Day is the yearly event that causes more headaches and heartaches than any other. Some may disagree, saying that Christmas is more stressful, but I’d bet my best red lipstick that more psyches suffer on February 14th. than on any other day of the year.

Think of it. The idea alone is masochistic. It’s the day chosen to show people how much you love them. Conversely, if you receive no such declaration, you may assume that no one loves you. It’s a logical deduction, even for a child.

Speaking of children, flash back to that brightly covered box in the front of the classroom, the one stuffed with carefully chosen paper Valentines? Remember how you waited with anxious breath for your name to be called, how everyone counted their cards, perhaps spread them out on their desks for others to admire? What must have been going on in the head of the classmate who received no cards? What a harsh reality for a child! Who knows what residual complexes remain once they become an adult?

I sympathize with people who are alone on Valentine’s Day, caught up in the melancholy envy of those in love who are out celebrating. But here’s the clincher: being in love does not guarantee Valentine’s Day will hold any romance, and relationships can be put to the test. I’ve learned that the hard way.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love my husband dearly, but romantic expressions of love are not his strong suit.

His proposal to me was muttered under heated breath when, at 17, he pressed me against my parent’s back door for a goodnight kiss. “You’re gonna marry me, right?”

The budget for my engagement ring was negotiated between us. He would spend the proceeds from the sale of some musical equipment, not a dime more. I was too thrilled with the prospect of being engaged to dwell on the budgetary constraints.

To be practical, my wedding night was spent in our new apartment, rather than a hotel room. His best man and ushers had stayed there with him the night before, and the place looked like a charity bazaar after a three-day blitz. In the corner of the bedroom sat a partially dismantled car engine, evidence of his latest project.

Have things changed since our marriage? Over thirty-two years have passed, and my memory may not be the sharpest anymore, but truthfully, I can’t actually recall a Valentine’s Day that was the kind of romantic surprise women dream about. Therein lies the problem. Women fantasize about such things all their lives, but men are just not hard-wired on a parallel path.

I observed the “out-of-sync” interplay between my parents for years. Mom would watch soap operas where men planned extravagant and imaginative surprises for their loved ones; but Dad was another story. He’d leave a greeting card up on top of the fridge for her to see. Sometimes, there would be a heart-shaped box of chocolates with it. Once in a while, there would be a cheque inside the card, and his name scrawled hastily, devoid of any personal message. Of course, my mother did less. She was from an age where ladies did not bother to even reciprocate Valentine’s gifts. I can’t imagine how he would have reacted if she had.

So, though I’ve never really expected grand gestures from my own husband for Valentine’s Day, secretly, I’ve always hoped. I’d see the romantic gift a friend would receive, and I’d grow wistful.

As V-day approached, I’d inevitably become more and more anxious, gearing myself up for the inevitable letdown. Sometimes, he’d completely forget. Other times, he’d say he was planning various things for months, then he’d go on to tell me why none of it could be accomplished. To be honest, I believed him. An “event planner” he’s not.

“I wanted to take you somewhere special, but couldn’t decide where to go.”

“I was going to buy you roses, but they seemed such a waste of money.”

“I thought you’d rather pick something out yourself.”

“I didn’t know what you wanted.”

“I wanted to get you something sexy, but I figured you wouldn’t wear it.” Now, there’s a story behind this line. Years ago, he ventured into an erotic clothing store and bought me what the salesperson claimed was a negligee. Actually, it was four strips of very sheer blue material, two down the front, two down the back, perhaps three inches wide at best near the upper end and wider towards the bottom. Ribbons attached the strips to each other. Problem was, I could only wear it if I stood stock still. One twist and those two strips down the front no longer covered the “essentials.” At a time when two little sons might run into our room at any time during the night, it wasn’t too practical. We both laughed, he a little less heartily, and he’s shied away from sexy purchases ever since.

Another time, he brought me home a card and lovely wrapping paper but no gift. “I couldn’t find anything good enough,” he said, frustration dripping from every word. He seemed to have developed a “tic” while he was out too.

Sometimes he says, “What do you feel like doing for Valentine’s Day?” Of course, what I want is for him to plan it for me. If I actually suggest that, he looks like he’s about to have a stroke from the pressure of it. He’ll say “I thought we should go out for dinner,” but he’ll say it that night, at 5:00 P.M., when there’s no hope of getting reservations. Then he’ll squirm in remorse.

Once, we had a romantic dinner, and we followed it by going to a movie. “Total Recall” does nothing to keep the “warm and fuzzy feeling” alive, believe me.

But after all this time, I’m almost used to it. The truth is, he’s special in every other way that counts. He brings me tea and tells me I’m smart and beautiful all the time, even when I’m feeling like Phyllis Diller on her worst day. And I don’t think his lack of romantic inclination reflects anything more than an inability to recognize the special, small gestures that can be so heart-warming. In other words, big, expensive gestures occur to him, but limited by budget and circumstances, he flounders.

So, if Valentine’s Day is spent like so many other “dates,” I’ll be prepared. A dinner out if I make a reservation, followed by a tour around The Home Depot, and an early return home. Then, perhaps, a glass of wine each, a fast “I love you,” and we’ll each depart for our separate televisions. He’ll watch “This Old House” or The Antique Roadshow,” and I’ll watch a taped soap opera, probably General Hospital, so I can watch Jax as he plans a superbly romantic evening for his current lady-love.

If I grow envious, I’ll remind myself of what my husband said to me recently. He was removing wallpaper from a room, and he commented on the strong, unhealthy fumes from the stripper he was using. Then he added, “It’s okay. As long as I see your pretty face just before I die I’ll be happy”

Okay, so it sounds corny, but it goes a long way towards making up for Home Depot on Valentine’s Day

 

(published in the Globe and Mail, Feb. 14/05 under title: Valentine’s Day façade, Valentine’s Day feeling)

Read Full Post »

PB170397 bigger another

I visit this space two or three times a day, drawn by an overwhelming urge to write. With one arm in a cast, it’s just not going to be that easy. Five minutes of trying and my one good hand is stiff and sore and wanting to slap me. While I “not-so-patiently” wait to heal, I thought it might be a good time for this old piece, written about my father five years ago. Since so much of my life right now revolves around his health and rehab, it seemed an appropriate time to share a little more about him.

 

WITH  MY DAD, IT’S ONE STORY AFTER ANOTHER

 

Recently it was my father’s seventy-seventh birthday, and as always, his family gathered together to toast his longevity. The truth is, though, that we celebrate much more than that, because his wit and zest for life are contagious, and without him our lives just wouldn’t be the same.

 

Dad defies the calendar – he seems to grow younger by the year. In fact, last summer, he traded his older, staid Cadillac for a Grand Am. He joked that he also intended to grow his hair long, get an earring, wear his pants lower and use his new, sportier car to attract women!
 
He lives in the moment. There is a wonderful quote that he may never have heard, but he lives it nonetheless:
 
Life is not a ride to an end, with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. Skid broadside to the grave, used up, worn-out and loudly proclaiming “Wow – What a ride!”
 
Yes, he views life as an adventure, and as a result, he’s had more than his share of “misadventures,” from which his funniest stories are born. It started in his youth. As the second oldest in a family of nine, opportunities for practical jokes were abundant. His stories of their mischievous pranks and foolhardy play are endless.

 

As a child, one of my earliest memories is seeing him swing between crutches, only to lose his balance and re-break a foot. Even then, he loved to make us laugh. I can close my eyes and still see him performing his bicycle trick: the handlebars of a bike turned around and Dad sitting on them, faced backwards and blindly trying to navigate figure eights between the trees of our backyard, while we squealed in a mixture of delight and alarm.

 

He’s a widower, so nowadays he’s by himself when most calamities occur. I suspect he uses the time between our visits to rehearse his “delivery” of his latest comical escapade. Between the speed of his “Maritimer” speech and his laughter as he relives the experience, it takes all of our concentration to figure out what he’s telling us.
 
His tales are legendary, and many have occurred while on his many road trips. One incident happened years ago while camping. A freak windstorm suddenly began to uproot one side of his tent. The gales caught his air mattress and began to carry it across the fields. Dad was already well into middle age, but he chased it, hopping fence after fence. The mattress remained just out of reach, until finally, in desperation, he threw himself on top of it. There he stayed through the entire storm, spread-eagled to keep the mattress down, until it was safe to stand up again. He carried it back to the campsite, only to see his tent was gone. He eyes scanned the surrounding ground and saw no trace of it but then he looked up, and there was the tent, snarled high in the branches of a nearby tree.
 
On a more recent journey, he stopped to eat his boxed lunch at a picnic area adjacent to a truck stop. When he was done, he tidied up, tossed his garbage into the bin and resumed his journey. One hundred miles later, he realized his mouth felt mysteriously empty. For some reason, he’d taken out his dentures, then inadvertently tossed them away with the garbage! He turned around and high-tailed it back to the picnic area, only to discover the garbage truck had just done its pick up.
 
This week, he almost met his maker while coming out of a Canadian Tire store. He was carrying a heavy bag of ice salt, and chose the ramp rather than the stairs to get to his car. Turned out to be solid ice. He managed to stay on his feet, but went straight down in one slide. Said he figured the weight of the salt had given him extra momentum. Problem was, he couldn’t stop. Not to worry, though, because he got some assistance. Body-slammed straight into a shed at the bottom of the ramp. Never did drop the salt, though, he bragged.
 
Staying sedentary for too long makes him antsy, so he’s always willing to take on a new handy man challenge. Educators would tactfully call him a creative problem solver. He adds a whole new dimension to the word “resourceful.” Just last month, he installed my sister’s dishwasher, made even more challenging by having to improvise with an old hose. He later explained, in minute detail and with some pleasure, how the exploding hot water actually blew the cupboard doors open. And this summer, he managed to single-handedly put up his backyard patio canopy, a job for three people. Of course, not before having the whole thing collapse on top of him, then having to crawl out sheepishly, eyes peeking furtively from under to be sure no one had seen him.
 
He’s just not your average senior.
 
Not that he thinks of himself as one, either. Just this past summer, he was out bicycling, and came up behind an elderly lady out for a stroll. Said she was a “senior” and may get startled easily, so he didn’t signal with his bell. Instead, he maneuvered to go around her. Big mistake. The wheel of his bike got caught between the sidewalk and the grass, catapulting him over his handlebars and onto the ground in front of her. To hear him say it, it was uproariously funny, even though he’d banged and scraped his forehead and his knee badly. His biggest concern was that he’d nearly given “the little old lady” a heart attack.

 But thankfully, he has learned to take care of himself in other ways. Says he takes that “ecca stuff” to ward off colds and swears by Vitamin C and garlic. And he’s learned to be careful in the sun. Uses sunblock before he goes outside to garden now. He just has to be a little more conscientious about reading labels

The last bottle of sunscreen he generously smeared all over his face got awfully tight after about twenty minutes outside. Said he tried to wipe it off with a tissue from his pocket but it got stuck in shreds all over his face.

Turned out he’d used Elmer’s Glue.

If you wonder, as we often do, how he’s doing after living through all of these misadventures, this is what he told callers whenever the phone rang on his birthday.

He picked up the receiver, and instead of saying hello, simply said “Seventy-seven and still mobile.”

You’ve got to love him.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Epilogue: At the age of eighty, he traded the Grand Am for a newer car, a turbo-charged Grand Prix.

 

Read Full Post »

OUT FOR REPAIR

broken4I have loads to say about my father’s leg amputation last week. My emotions have been all over the place and hours in hospital waiting rooms inspire all sorts of writing ideas. Unfortunately, some of it will have to wait for a bit while I nurse a broken left wrist. Alas, I am but a cliche. I slipped in the tub, and life has just taken a definite change of course.

Typing with one hand isn’t easy, particularly if you’re groggy from pain medication. But trust me, the words are going to find a way out, even if I have to use my voice recognition software.

There are stories to be told – not to mention angst-loaded essays on the Ontario health system.

Watch this space.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »