A Special Thank You to Old Friends

A Special Thank You to Old Friends

It’s been quite a shockeroo getting older. Although I’m grateful to still be at the party, my feet really hurt from dancing. I’ve gained a bit of experience good and bad and that has led to many truths I now embrace.

One of the realizations I’ve come to is that despite time and distance, we need to care about and keep in touch with old friends.

The laugh laugh golden years are as scary a place to enter as the New York subway,. We seek comfort in this new uncharted world and one sure place to which we can turn for help is old friends.

Memories become so fickle when your brain becomes the arbiter of what we are able to remember. 

“Excuse me, brain what did I do last week?”

“Sorry, can’t compute right now. However do you remember when you were in high school and you went to that concert with your friends and drove to Canada and…?”

“No, Brain. I’m trying to recall what I did last Thursday not a hundred years ago.”

“Bossy bossy, don’t push your luck here. Take what you can get. Your request will take a few minutes to pull up, meanwhile here’s a fun gem from your sorority initiation.”

“Great, thanks, brain. Just what I need to cheer me up, a visual of me at twenty.”

As these older memories become more prevalent, old friends rise to the forefront of our minds. It somehow feels good to recall happy, carefree times and the friends with whom we shared them.

As we’re making an appointment for our knee surgery, it’s comforting to call an old friend that has survived that battle. And while you’re chatting good memories surface to dispel the unpleasantness of reality. 

I never thought I would have anything in common with Lindsey Wagner except being female, but now it seems we are both bionic.

The last few years have been brutal for most of us occupying planet earth. Locked down, shut in and unable to travel or see grandchildren has taken a toll on the happiness factor to which we all aspire.

Even the most optimistic of us can’t ignore or rebuff the realities of growing older. Taking ten minutes to straighten up from a chair when once we jumped up and ran. Marching into surgery centers to get replacement parts that are done with such automated precision General Motors is envious. Finding fat where muscle once occupied space in our bodies becomes apparent when a good wind perfectly directed at our underarms can turn us into the Flying Nun. The fun amusement park of growing older has more rides than Hunter Biden has drugs.

A friend admitted recently that she is now perfectly content to be home more. Where once she would seek to be active and out in the world she is content to be safe in her cocoon and needn’t travail the outside world as often. I could relate. 

Yet when we are home, despite all efforts to keep our minds busy with activities like, streaming, reading, cooking, chatting on the phone with friends, and how we failed to save the world for democracy, we have more time to think about “the good old days,” and those with whom we traveled that road. 

Shared memories can lighten the load of a difficult day. Remembering happy times brightens what might be a sad time when you learn a friend is ill or you lose someone. For just a moment while we are talking we become young once more and still filled with those awe-and-wonder feelings of youth.

Of course we all determine to keep busy and active. To make the most of every minute and live in a state of gratitude, thankful for our blessings, but when life throws us a curveball old friends are there to catch it before it hits you in the head.

I’m not in any way suggesting we live in the past, but let’s be real; the past contains a lot of years and a lot of memories. Moments that make us feel warm and cozy and contain laughter and the joys of youth. What a great feeling if even for a few minutes that young and carefree shared happiness returns and brightens our lives.

So many of us now leave the holiday cooking to our daughters or daughters in law to achieve. Standing in the kitchen has become a chore not so easily accomplished and we’re happy to pass the torch to our children.

Still those pre-holiday times remain a time of joyous memories. My friend Marsha and I would talk on the phone while preparing mashed potato dumplings. Chatting and laughing made the time pass quicker, and the task of cooking for thirty people less tedious. Now at holiday time speaking to Marcia brings back the happy feeling of the family all together again, parents, in laws and even husbands that are no longer here. For even a brief conversation everyone is once again alive and sharing a holiday meal.

Old friends can give this gift to us, the remembrance of a time when those who’ve left are once again at the forefront of our happiest memories. Places we haunted as kids, schools we attended and old neighborhood foods and faces return. 

The challenges of getting older seem easier when shared. As any difficult task many hands make quick work and it’s comforting to know those whom you trust have the audacity to face Father Time head on. 

Putting up a sukkah with friends was quite an occasion each year and now the feel of autumn while talking to Yolanda brings those memories close. An over abundance of food, the smell of the branches, watching in my mind’s eye as my children, now young again, place the leaves on the walls as the crisp autumn air encircles them in a blanket of laughter and love.

I was lucky to have so many friends I cared and still care about. Although my childhood friend Nancy is in Florida a Facetime call brings her into the same room to laugh and gossip about our crowd. Okay, and good practice at ignoring the now-evident wrinkles.

I suppose I’m the overly sentimental type but I know when I speak to old friends time slips away like a curtain and pictures of wonderful times reappear.

I imagine we all wonder what it would be like to pick one moment to relive once again, yet all of these times are available by simply sharing them through a phone call or Facetime. Perhaps this is the universe’s gift to us and as far as I can see it seems to be working just fine. 

Grandmas Need Hugs to Survive

 

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This new normal is an exercise in self control personified.

Grandparents have now been relegated to seeing their grandchildren via Face time or Zoom, neither of which is conducive to this Grammy’s needs.

Sure I can see my grandsons as they carry the phone around with them through their activities and I can pseudo join them in their daily routine for a short time. I applaud the technology that allows us access in these dangerous times.

However, let me say loud and clear, iphones are no substitute for smelling your grandson’s hair and hugging him until he says Grammy you’re squeezing me so hard I can’t breathe.

This quarantine, although necessary has been difficult for grandparents.

We are told by our children, “make sure you walk and stay active.” I say you can’t watch Netflix and lump all your other activities together. All multi tasking aside it’s truly difficult to relax while you’re trying to use your foot pedal bike, shove Cherry Garcia into your mouth, do a jigsaw puzzle and watch Grace and Frankie at the same time.

When this is over I will not be able to sit still and simply relax without feeling I must be doing a million different things to avoid my hardening arteries from turning to stone.

There are so many things one must not do. No news on television lest we want to hang ourselves. No cooking unless one wants to become so fat that when we are allowed out the door we will not be able to fit through the door. Nothing will feel as good as breathing the stale air in a mall, eating the greasy over-spiced food in a food court or shopping a sale.

Yet with all the things we miss in our daily routine, Grandmas need kisses and hugs and the scent of their grandchildren to stay alive.

I almost feel sorry for my grandsons because I have months to make up for. There will be retroactive hugs and kisses to secure and that will take extra time.

So what will be the response of our grandchildren?

Will they allow all that extra affection? Will they allow those long stares and proud smiles? Will they be annoyed and say, Grammy, stop staring at me?

Will there be a backlash? Will our grandchildren rebel and say no more? Will we have to live with cuddling cutbacks if we come on too strong? And how can we not come on too strong when we are let out of quarantine jail and allowed to get within hugging distance again?

We’ve had months of withdrawal. We are chomping at the bit to see those little faces we love up close and personal. Who can blame us for a little overdoing? Am I perhaps a bit melodramatic? Well staring at the damn walls and reruns of the West Wing have created more than just a little desperation here!

Hopefully our grandchildren will understand how excited we are to make up for lost time.

Okay, so I know self-control will have to be the rule of the day when I am allowed near my grandsons once more.

I shall practice restraint and time my hugs to be just short of annoying.

My staring at their adorable faces will have to be monitored and shortened although I’m afraid I won’t be able to take my eyes off them.

These are hard Grammy times and I’m feeling the burn here.

It’s more than an exercise in self-control, it’s an exercise in the pain of withdrawal from a perfectly acceptable drug—my grandchildren. I’m addicted and I’m not ashamed to speak it out loud.

I also know I’m not the only grandparent out there who is hurting. There is something about being in the company of your grandchildren that lowers blood pressure, allows one’s tired old heart to beat with a renewed sense of joy and youth, and the sheer act of smiling so hard at the sight of them takes years off one’s face.

What is one to do when separated from the most powerful youth drug on the planet? I can’t imagine I’ll have enough time to catch up on my dosage once this is over.

Grandchildren are the fountains of youth. Their smiles contain all the secrets of the universe and they are the sun to my planet.

So I must say to all grandparents, hang in there and double up on your dosage when we are allowed to return to the universe that keeps us young and excited about life. Until then please stay safe and healthy and hopeful about the future. That sense of hope and optimism is something we all can pass down to our offspring.