18 Comments

WHAT CAN I SAY?


I have lately become aware that I babble. By that I mean, what relevant conversation can I have with my adult children and grandchildren? Even as I search for ways to make my mundane activities interesting to another, I realize that they don’t really care if I ate quiche for lunch or mopped the kitchen floor. Sometimes my tongue gets ahead of my brain. After asking about their day, and exclaiming as to its fun aspects or not, I’m not finding much of interest to disclose.

Old age, as I have written, is a special time of life in which we melt into our newly formed habits, repeating them day by day with comfort we lacked in our youthful existence. Those who have a particular interest such as sports or the market, may share it with others whose interest interact with their own. My interests however are not those which bear sharing: a new painting, a new book, what the dinner preparation might be, and of course, my singular passions which don’t bear repeating; politics and religion. I can hardly begin a deeply felt conversation with a 40 year old grandson by trashing President Trump or the Catholic church. I have noticed a definite uptick in conversations which end with “Oh gee Mom, I’ll call you back!”

I’m beginning to analyze my discourse to make sure it can’t be construed as complaint. I always hated that when it came from elders in my own family. After my mother’s passing I came across a small scrap of paper on which she had written: When I am gone, I hope they remember that I was fun.” And she was.

I think the memories we leave should be pleasant, or at least relevant. The key as we know, is your interest in the other. I think after I gather all their information I will just hang up before I begin to babble.

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18 comments on “WHAT CAN I SAY?

  1. This is what blogging is for, surely? To be able to talk (write) about anything that comes to mind that is important to you at that moment – and be able to share it with people who want to read it.

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    • I think you may be right Val. This site started out to be pretty random, but after so many years, I find that many people share the same ideas and feeling as I do as an older person. I find myself looking back at things the older people said and I see than they are quite universal. Always nice to hear from you.

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  2. So true, Kayti.

    If anything I hope I will be remembered by my grand-kids of the times I made pancakes. The epitaph might read; ‘here lies Opa, a Good Pancake maker.’

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    • I’m sure there are many things your grandsons will remember, but there’s nothing wrong with pancakes. Of course it depends upon what they put on them; lots of butter and syrup might be a good thing. How blessed they are with your books is a big deal too.

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  3. I certainly don’t think of you as someone who babbles. You have a lot of interesting things to say. It’s counterintuitive, but I find it easier to converse with people I see often.

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    • Or people you talk with on the phone often. It’s really a matter of “keeping up”. I have several friends who dislike talking on the phone, but periodically we check in on each other to hear how their lives are going. It may take five minutes, but it’s always nice to know someone is thinking of you for at least that amount of time. One rule I was taught along with ‘making your bed’ was ‘always return your phone calls; hopefully the same day.

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  4. I have no children or grandchildren and I’m a widow, so when I’m gone it won’t be long before it will seem I never existed….a rather sobering thought. Also I too find it easier to converse with those of like minds on politics or religion in particular. Otherwise it’s like talking to an alien species. LOL.

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    • Hi Mary, I think it’s hard to escape the fact that at some point we have touched someone else’s life, and that they will remember something about us. Take a look at people you have known; why do you remember one more than another? Years ago I had a conversation with a woman in a long hospital waiting line. Though she was a stranger and I never saw her again, I remember everything about our conversation. She touched my life in some small way. I think the small simple things are always the best. I’m glad we met this morning Mary.

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  5. “I realize that they don’t really care if I ate quiche for lunch or mopped the kitchen floor. ”

    That made me laugh… I suspect that they would all enjoy hearing your tales about the quiche or how you chased a wispy feather across the floor with your broom!

    You’re a natural storyteller, and the finale of your post was heartwarming as well… ” When I am gone, I hope they remember that I was fun.””

    What a lovely legacy to leave behind!

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    • I think the history of “Grammie” bustling around someone’s kitchen remains strong in the minds of some grandkids. I recall small voices mimicking me telling them about “a nice little apple cake”, and I treasure a pencil cartoon drawing of me in a cloud of flour baking a cake. Ask another set of grandsons, and they remember that I didn’t have time to clean because I was too busy out in the studio making art. I guess my legacy is that of a sloppy cook who spent a lot of time making art instead of cleaning house. I guess things don’t change much.

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  6. I laughed at several things in this post, including the fact that for the first time in my life I considered the possibility that the old Biblical story might have been about the Tower of Babble.

    Your comment about your legacy being that of a sloppy cook who spent a lot of time making art brought something else to mind: the old saying that, as we age, we become more and more who we’ve always been. I think it’s true. The gap between who I was as a child and who I am now is getting smaller, and that’s a good thing. As a child, I was curious, creative, interested in the world around me. Some of that disappeared through adolescence and young adulthood. Now, it’s coming back.

    I do a little self-censoring myself, although I like to think of it as exercising good judgment. On the other hand, I do enjoy remembering that wonderful phrase often attributed to Dorothy Parker, but actually from Alice Roosevelt Longworth: “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.”

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    • Yes, it is true that as we age we simply become “more so”. I don’t dwell on too much self-analysis, but I certainly see it in all the older people I know. I think I took more risks at a younger age, and was a lot more outspoken. I enjoyed the “shock effect”. By meeting often with women I have known most of my life, I get a sense of who I was in a former life. I acknowledge the change by realizing that age and health issues take their toll. I often think of Gilda Radner’s supposed remark upon hearing bad health news “Well, it’s always something.” I look at it as being somewhat interesting the way life changes. I also realize that everyone has or will have the same problems. They will have to learn the tricks just as we all do. I have a feeling that you will always keep your curiosity.

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  7. This post is as relevant as the conversation you bring to the table. We project what we think others will think interesting. Staying engaged with what is going on be it in art, music, politics, nutrition, exercise…that seems to be more important than whether our kids are stimulated by our topics. In my own case, I find myself much more interesting than I do my kids. I do find grandchildren funny and curious and Shoreacres’s observation that as we age we return more to the person we really are to be the truth.

    Being retired can contribute to the ideas you express. So can complaining.

    The spirit that you let out for all of us to read is evidence that many of us find what you write relevant.

    Maybe I shared this before…I told my son Ben that I was surprised that he and his sister Sara rarely ask my opinion, which I emphasized is so right-on and fascinating most of the time. He said, ” Mom, we don’t ask your opinion on anything because we already know it. You may have forgotten that I (Ben) sat in your English and Journalism classes for two years–with my friends, I might add, listening to your opinions on EVERYTHING.”

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    • I laughed when I read Ben’s argument. Dr. Advice’s opinion is well-known on most subjects, so we are all fortunate to have such amazing sources of knowledge.

      I agree that being retired is a great deterrent to absorbing new and interesting subject matter. You no longer have the contacts you once had. My babble remark had more to do with the times I run out of things to say, but keep talking!

      Though I find the lives of our grandchildren fascinating, I realize the gap that exists between us. At the same time, I am amused that they are somewhat shocked at some of my own youthful behavior. Regarding Shoreacre;s remark that we become more like what we have always been, I am reminded by some that they regarded me as sort of an Auntie Mame persona. I really liked my youthful life. I miss the freedom of it today, but hope it doesn’t fall under the complaint column.

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  8. My other half says “another one of your interesting stories” as his eyes are glazing over …….. If I were closer we could babble to each other. x

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