The Bridge Club


The noise level rises as they make their way to the front door greeting one another with hugs and air kisses.  These eight little ladies have been meeting once a month, some twice a month, for nearly 50 years.  They know each other well.  Occasionally, when someone moves or passes away, a new member joins the group.  Their children grew up together, married and had children of their own.  They have lived in the same community for at least 50 years.  There are no secrets.  They know when their children’s marriages are in trouble, and when they end.  Their own marriages remained solid, though there are only three husbands left between them.  They went through tennis, golf,  dance club, antique club, PTA, Campfire Girls and Girl Scouts,  high school football games, volunteer work and aerobic classes.  They were the first generation to recognize the benefit of regular exercise.  They learned to cook with Julia Child and to exercise with Jack LaLanne.

Dinner parties were just that—parties.  Everything was planned down to the clothes they would wear,  perhaps to match the decor of the dinner table and the flower arrangement.  These are women raised in the Great Depression, where there were very few parties, and not many new party dresses, so this period of their lives became quite special.     Before marriage, and for a short time afterward, they held various jobs.  There are two nurses and  three teachers, and one artist.   They all became the last generation of stay-at-home mothers.  Were their children’s lives any better for that?  Good question.  

Some now need help climbing up the steps when they arrive.  One has a walker, one or two sometimes need a cane.  Every able-bodied friend hurries to lend a hand getting them to their chair and a waiting glass  of “pink” wine.  The conversation is lively and constant.  The subject matter is personal,  ranging from family, husbands past and present, to politics, sex and religion or lack thereof, and always, aches and pains.  They learn who has died or moved into rest homes or senior living.  They discuss whether they will ever need to move from their comfortable homes.   Lately they have been exploring the distinct probability of their own deaths, and the desirability of burial or cremation.  Their ages range from eighty to eighty-nine, and their minds are sharp as twenty year olds.   They cannot understand why their children and grandchildren never learned this frustrating and fascinating game!

  After a social hour the hostess serves lunch, and then down to the serious business of the bridge game.  The arguments begin over whose turn it is to deal or at whose house they will meet next time.  The person who brought her glasses is the one who keeps score, because the score card is written in ridiculously small print.  Some are available to substitute in other formal bridge groups when needed, others are not.  The games last until late in the afternoon, when the hugs and kisses are repeated and they go their separate ways until the next game.

We don’t need to worry about this older generation, they were born with, and still have common sense, and have retained a good sense of values.

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Compensation


Sometimes things need to be re-blogged just as a reminder.

COMPENSATION

If it were not for the shadows

We should never have the sun.

If we never had the night-fall

Then day had not begun.

If we never knew a heart-ache,

Then our soul would never sing.

If we never had a winter

We should never see the spring.

If we never knew the tempest

We should never love the calm.

If we never knew the wounding

We should never feel the balm.

If we never knew some sorrow

Then our hearts could not be gay.

There may never be tomorrow

But we always have today.

“Into The Storm” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Chance Encounter


Dr. Advice and I arrived three hours early for our annual flu shot.  We were obviously not the only ones who did not read the signs posted on the entrance to the lab giving the times the shots would be given,as there were already twenty or thirty people ahead of us.  The annual flu shot has become something of a ritual.  Some  people would not have it if their life depended upon  it.  Others like us, line up like sheep, just waiting to be stabbed in the arm, and wear a sticky note on their jackets proudly announcing “I Had My Flu Shot”.  That is good medical P.R. 

A small bouncy woman who looked to be in her late forties,was in  line behind us.  It was very cold, but she had no jacket and had an out-sized fanny pack strapped securely around her middle.  She made a joke about us each taking one of the wheelchairs standing in the corner of the hospital corridor and having races up and down the hallway to take up the waiting time.  Her speech was slurred and she seemed to have trouble controllling her hands,  After apologizing for her speech, she told me her story.

She had had not one, but two brain aneurisms some years before, with resultant surgery.  One is usually enough to do you in.  Her short term memory is gone, and in her fanny pack she carried not only everything she needed for her day, but a most important pad and pencil to write down things she needed to remember.  Her sense of humor was amazing, and her self-deprecating jokes infectious.

She related a story which happened about 10 years ago in front of her local grocery store where she had gone to pick up a few things.  She had written them down, but wanted to try to remember what they were instead of  relying on her note.  An angry looking woman was pacing back and forth in front of the store.  She spoke to her and made a joke about trying to remember just what it was she had come for.  The woman seemed not to hear, so she went into the store and completed her shopping. W hen she finished and came out of the store, the woman stared straight ahead with no recognition.   The little woman thought no more about it.

A couple of years ago, when shopping at the same store, my new-found friend was approached by a woman who said “You probably don’t remember me.”  She did not remember and told her so.  It seems that on their first meeting, the woman had been listening to every word she had said.  She told her, “On that day, I was contemplating taking my life.  After hearing your story, I decided that if you could undergo all that you have, I did not have that right.  Instead, I worked to solve my problems, and I have you to thank for my life.

We are all put here for a purpose.  Most often, we don’t know what that purpose is.  I know that with her sense of humor, and her inspiring story of survival, this woman has saved at least one life.

The Virtues of Peanut Butter


A creamy smooth spoonful pressed cool against my tongue, a slightly sweet, slightly salty bite of bliss that sticks to the roof of my parched mouth, leaving me to scour frantically for a swallow of milk.  Of all of man’s culinary triumphs, I dare say that peanut butter is among the greatest of inventions and, like it’s trusted companion the banana, is quite possibly the most perfect food.  I myself am nowhere perfect, (I’m actually not so far off), but I feel that many of my most positive attributes can also be found in peanut butter. 

How can a petite eighteen year old woman resemble a greasy, nutty condiment?  In a bare pantry or a fully stocked one, I find contentment.  I accept and try my best to ameliorate trying times  or situations.  Like peanut butter, I am incredibly versatile and harmonize well with most people and environments.  What food, other than peanut butter, can taste equally delicious with every food group?  It lends a flavorful nutrient boost to crackers, celery, ice cream and raisins.  As for the sometimes dreadful, sometimes wonderful tackiness that peanut butter can create, I also tend to stick two things together.  Through my wild and carefree gallivanting, I introduce my friends and myself to people and places that we might never have seen. 

My grandmother, the wisest woman I know, once told me to be bold and courageous because I was going to screw up anyway, and I might as well do it with some enthusiasm.  The experiences and memories adhere  to me.  The peanut butter in my stomach serves as the stitching on the patchwork quilt of my life.

Attrributed to Kate Nickerson, 1982 as part of her application to the University of Washington.   She graduated five years later.

Ernie Banks


Ernie Banks was a shortstop/first baseman for nineteen years for the Chicago Cubs.  He became known for his catchphrase which he repeated even in the pouring rain, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame.  Let’s play two!”  His attitude was so sunny and infectious he was nicknamed “Mr. Sunshine”.  His own motto was “The whole theory of my life is sunshine, and today the sun is shining”. 

Attitude is a deciding factor in who we are.  Sometimes it’s difficult to dig through the daily debris to find an attitude adjustment, but it’s a necessary addition to our morning routine.

Let’s play two!

The Art of Storytelling


I am not religious, nor am I a believer.  However, I believe that children should at least be exposed to some sort of religious education, if only to sort out what they really do believe.  I was immersed in religion as a young person, but left of my own accord before I graduated.  I also believe that religion is vitally important to those who follow it, and I deeply respect their beliefs.

Many years ago, I took a small grandson to church because I love music, and in this particular church the congregation was encouraged to sing along with a folk group playing their guitars.  As I glanced down, I saw that he was standing silent though listening.  I whispered, “Sing”, and he replied in a louder whisper, “I don’t sing”.  I frowned and said “Of course you sing.  Everybody sings”.  He quite adamantly shook his head, and said “I don’t sing”.   After the service, when we were outside, I said “If you don’t sing”, why do you go to church”?  He said “because I like the stories.”

Stories, either written or oral, are the base of our civilization.  Stories are limitless, and connect people from all walks of life.  Cultures who had no written language had storytellers.  At a lecture by F. Scott Momaday, a Kiowa Indian, he stated that at some time in everyone’s life, he must know from where he came.  The Native American has no such problem, because he has been taught the legends of his people over and over his entire life.  He can recite his family tree for generations back, and can also remember and tell  stories about ancestors long dead.  Stories are painted and carved on rocks throughout the world.  Reminders to us that we are not unique, and that those who have gone before us left their legacies for us to interpret.

This wise little grandson taught a fine lesson that morning, and I’m glad I was there to hear it.

The Art of Wisdom


Should it be “The Art of Wisdom” or  perhaps “The Art of Knowing What to Overlook”?  My friend Cheri asked me this question over tea last week.

I heard an elderly woman speak to a college course my daughter was taking.   She asked the same question of the audience of 20- somethings.  Her answer may surprise you.  “I am just like you, only more so.”  Think about it.  If you are a cheerful optimistic person in your youth, you will become more so as you age.    If you were an annoying, whining hypochondriac, you will become more so.  Trust me in that.  Look at everyone  you have known for more than a few hours and you will see that it is true. 

When I told Dr. Advice what she had advised,  He said “You better begin now.”   

My vote goes to knowing what to overlook.