Posted in Ageism, Balance, Elder Issues, Family Issues, Teacher Issues

Relativity

RelativityIMG_3714

by Ginger Keller Gannaway

While I  was observing a student teacher last month, one kid in class stated, “I hate those old teachers,” and another voice added, “They shouldn’t let them keep teaching.” A kind kid noticed my old self in the back of the room and apologetically added, “Just the ones with grey hairs, ya know.”

I’ve been dying my hair for 12 years now.

Teens: so entertaining. So hip and quick and yet so slow. They have sharp radar for any kind of prejudice except ageism.

Of course, we over 60 folks are quick to judge as well:“My new doctor is 12!”  “My grandson can only communicate with his phone!” “See those tattoos all over our waitress?”

Agism is relative.

My favorite part about teaching teenagers is their funny, honest spitfire comments:“Miss, ya got something green in your teeth.” or “Did the Civil War happen before or after you went to college?”

Our youth-obsessed culture may have persuaded me to dye my hair and update my 1970’s wardrobe; however, do I not now judge my 90-year-old dad who lives with us?IMG_3803

His grunts, sighs, belches, moans, and creaks annoy me almost as much as the messes he leaves in his bathroom. How does someone grunge-up the mirror, sink, countertop and floor just by brushing his teeth?  But the worst part is the adult diaper crap. Seeing him shuffle to and from the bathroom in his pull-ups makes me dread my own scary future. It makes me want to hide out on a remote island alone where I rarely leave my bungalow to sit in my cozy backyard and listen to birds, watch squirrels, read a novel and forget I’m wearing Pampers.

Dad guilt consumes me when I complain. He’s trying to not annoy us. He apologizes when we spend 4 hours at the VA clinic. He’s learning to take the short bus to the senior center for bridge lessons, and each night he says, “Good night, sweet princess” before he goes off to bed.

Still the saying “We all turn into our parents” never sounded so ominous. I cringe and cry sometimes. And I warn my husband, “If my dad outlives you, I will kill you!”

I tell my head to stop judging Dad the way teens judge “those teachers with grey hair.”  My heart  thumps “Be patient. Be kind” but my bratty brain answers, “Damnit! His fresh sheets just got another poop smear down the middle.” I need to change my heart’s chant to, “Be real. Be strong’” because one day my 3 sons might say, “Damn! Mom tried covering her bald spot with a Magic Marker again.”IMG_4277

Posted in Balance, Holidays

I Dread Christmas

I Dread Christmasimg_1589

Like the cliched tangle of several strands of colored lights, I am a mess of knotted stress and on-and-off joy. For me, the Christmas smiles and laughs of surprise get swept away by the demands and deadlines of consumerism. First of all, why do we put so much money, effort, and worry into a holiday season? We spend hours spending dollars we cannot easily spare on presents most folks do not truly need or want. We drag out dusty decorations and spend more hours making our homes “merry and bright” for a few weeks of over-hyped, commercialized holiness. Why?
Perhaps when I was a kid or when my 20-something sons were kids, I enjoyed the getting and the giving. Back then we had Santa’s magic and loads of brand new playthings. Now I mainly see just the aftermath of the Christmas explosion: cookie crumbs, dirty napkins, discarded toys, and dead pine needles. And after the overdone turkey, off-key caroling, and cranky kids, all the cleaning and organizing and putting away looms large. Why?
I know. I know. “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But how do days and days of shopping and decorating and shopping and planning and shopping and cleaning and shopping and cooking and shopping and traveling and shopping and visiting and shopping add up to celebrating the birth of a savior who praised love over possessions?
Call me Scrooge or the Grinch or just a grumpy old lady. This is my truth. Christmas comes too soon and demands too much from our bank accounts and our time sheets. I enjoy holiday time with my family . I savor our delicious holiday meal. I enjoy the thrill of opening presents (and watching others do the same). I still get misty-eyed when singing Christmas carols. But I need to turn the whole thing down several notches. Today is December 14 and I have not bought my sons a single present. May I stick with my “single gift for each person” plan. My home has not a single decoration. May we simply trim the tree on December 24 and call it Christmas.
A picture of a Finnish proverb is taped above my desk:
“Happiness is a place between too little and too much.”img_3375
May this thought rule my life and especially my Christmas this year. A shorter and simpler holiday leaves me more time for true joy and peace.