Tag Archives: seniors

Query: looking for contributors to Anthology on Aging

21 May

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Anthology on Aging

Poems, stories, essays, art and photography (and more)

on the Golden Years

 

I’m aware of more and more excellent work being done on the broad subject of aging. As I’m sliding down that slippery silver slope myself, I find much of my writing geared in that direction.

Are you writing about that time of life? Drawing? Photographing? Recording?

If so, and if you would consider contributing to a project that would be self-published, let me know by emailing me at skipmars at gmail dot com.

Agreeable details can be ironed out by agreeable people, I think.

How about you?

Wanna try?

 

Skip

Checklist

14 May

 

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Checklist

by L. Stewart Marsden

You like long walks on the beach?

No. My sciatic nerve starts acting up, and then I gotta take ibuprofen.

Chick flicks?

C’mon. Even you don’t like chick flicks I bet.

True. I’m a sucker for James Bond.

I figured you’d go for the slasher movies.

Why the hell would you think that?

You know . . . married three times and all.

What, you think I killed them and dismembered them for their life insurance?

Stranger things have happened.

You don’t have to worry.

Food?

Yeah. I like food.

What types of food?

All types.

Your favorite?

Spam.

Naaaaaa!

Ever tried it?

C’mon! Who eats Spam?

Somebody’s got to. It’s in every grocery store I ever went to. Even the dollar stores. You slice it and fry it with onions, peppers — then mix it with celery soup with half the milk. Really good.

Spam? Sorry.

And fried chicken hearts and gizzards with spicy mustard. And liver.

I hate liver. Makes me gag. There’s not enough ketchup in the world can mask that taste.

Then I guess foie gras is out, too.

I never had it. I thought that was banned.

Are you one of those hippy activists?

Anything wrong with being an activist?

At your age it just sounds funny! Especially with your sciatic nerve thing!

For that matter, I don’t eat veal, either.

Oh, god! And you were looking like such a catch! (Pause) So, do you smoke?

I gave up cigarettes years ago.

I don’t mean cigarettes.

Oh. You mean . . .

Yeah. Do you smoke?

No. Tried it once.

And you didn’t inhale, right?

No. Yes — I did inhale. It didn’t do anything except make me paranoid the cops were going to suddenly burst in and I would end up in jail.

And jail would be a bad thing? For an activist? Again, seems to be a bit of inconsistency going on with you.

Okay. I’m not an activist, per se. I’m more of a mental activist. I think activist thoughts.

Ever march or sit in?

No. But I thought about it. And I supported those that did.

Waved to them as the police hauled them off to jail, did you?

There’s more to activism than being hauled off to jail.

I suppose.

I ate blood pudding once, if that makes it better?

Blood pudding? Gawd — yech!

It wasn’t half bad. With eggs and juice and coffee.

Gag me with a spoon!

I was in Scotland.

And so, when in Scotland . . . So you ate the haggis, then?

I couldn’t bring myself to do that. But you like Spam.

It’s different. I’ll fix it for you one night.

Tell me which night so I can be out of town. What about music?

What about it?

Whaddaya like?

All kinds. Rock, you know. Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel.

The hard stuff.

What’s wrong with the Beatles?

Elevator music, now. I’m talking Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Kiss . . .

Not my thing.

So you’re the Perry Como, Steve and Eydie kind of guy.

I like them, yes. And Sinatra and the classics and opera and big bands and beach music and Motown . . .

You still have your eight-tracks, don’t you?

I might.

You do! And a player, too!

Yes. And I have all my albums, if you need to know. They’re collector’s items now.

You’re a collector’s item! God! I have a LOT of work to do on you!

Work? On me?

If we’re going to hang, we gotta bring you up to speed.

Hang?

You know — be together.

So, for me to be with you, I’ve got to change to your . . . specifications?

Does sound a bit harsh.

Well, yeah! A lot of work has gone into who I am. I don’t think you can snap your finger, or do whatever you have in mind and it’s going to change. And maybe I don’t want to change.

Sure you do. Believe me.

Wow — that’s really — I don’t even know what to say about that!

No need to thank me now.

No, um — so maybe we need to rethink this?

No, wait! Maybe I stepped over the line a bit.

Maybe? You sure do put a lot of stock in who you think you are. May-be it would be a good idea for you to back off and take a look at yourself.

(Pause)

Look, at our age — at my age, anyway — I tend not to want to piddle around. I cut straight to the bottom line. I’m sorry. You’re right, I do think a bit higher of myself. But, you see, I’m the only one who thinks of me anymore. Period.

What about your kids?

What kids? I didn’t have kids. I had marriages, sure — but no kids. They just weren’t on my radar at the time. You know, kids get in the way.

Yeah. They do. But I wouldn’t trade ’em for anything. And, it was my kids talked me into coming to The Glen.

Well, that was good.

I didn’t think so at the time.

And now you’re convinced it wasn’t good.

No. Not at all. Look, I never knew a woman like you before.

Yep, broke the mold with me, they did.

Don’t cry. I think that we can do this.

Really?

Yeah. Whatever this is. But I don’t want to change you. I’d just like to get to know you.

You sound like the song.

What?

You know, (sings) I’d like to get to know you!

Yeah, right. Right! That’s exactly it. Let this — whatever it is between us — develop as it will.

Wherever it goes.

Exactly. You remain who you are, and I’ll remain who I am. If we change — we change. If you end up liking Spam because of it — so be it.

So be it. Spam. Ugh!

(Together, quietly, tentatively, not precisely together or in tune with each other):

I’d like to get to know you . . .

(They laugh)

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 14 May, 2014

 

 

Old ways, new ways

9 May

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Old ways, new ways

By L. Stewart Marsden

Dear Kiddo,

I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch, but since the big move to Honey Glades, I’m still unpacking and arranging my new life.

And, I hate my cell phone. The old landline was just fine. I don’t trust these new electronic gizmos. Same with the computer. The government is listening in, in case you haven’t heard.

So, don’t text me and don’t send me email. I don’t need you-know-who looking into my personal stuff.

Snail mail might be slow, but it gets to you all the same. By the way, if it looks like my letter has been opened up and resealed, would you for god’s sake let me know? Thanks.

And by the way, my old television reception is fine. A maintenance guy with the Glades came by and brought some box, which he hooked into the back of the set. I get ABC, NBC, CBS and the public stations, of which I think there are more than I could use. Cable is such a waste! Why in god’s name do you need 400 stations?

Hey, there’s also a sex channel I get! And for free! Not that I have any interest any more. You probably don’t want to hear about that, right? Too much information. TMI. See? I’m not so terribly behind.

Anyway, in my book, a handwritten letter is the best. When I was working, I always sent a handwritten note to whatever customer I had just met with. That very same day. I carried a box with Thank You! cards and pre-stamped envelopes. Jotted something simple and slipped it into the first mailbox I could find. Sometimes, right in the letter slot of the business I was visiting.

They all would mention that.

I got your card, they would say, and smile.

Remember that, Kiddo. The new ways aren’t always the best ways.

I haven’t got out to play golf yet. I don’t really know anybody, and these old geezers seem to have regular golf buddies. I think you put your name onto a waiting list at the pro shop and whenever someone kicks the bucket, they call the top person to fill the spot.

Unless you happen to sign up for a tournament and score well. Like that’s going to happen for me.

It’s like when I lived in Manhattan. God, you had to look up the obits in The Village Voice if you needed a place to live. Rent controlled is rent controlled. You do what you have to.

It’ll probably be a little time before I actually get to play. In the meantime, the driving range is fine.

By the way, I appreciate the Big Bertha driver you bought me, but the goddam club head is so big I can’t lift it! I’m going to use my old reliable driver. Accuracy is more important than length. That’s what she said!

The balls are appreciated, though. A man my age appreciates good balls! : )

So the reason I’m writing today is that when I went out on my porch this morning, I discovered a wonderful thing.

Remember the little Christmas tree your kids decorated for me last year? The one they said was a memorial to Mother?

As you know, it died. And, as you know, I insisted we take it in the move.

Oh, no — you said. It’s dead weight and what am I going to do with it?

Remember what I said?

Something will come up, and I’ll be able to use it. That’s what I said.

Remember that?

So I put it out on the porch next to the railing. It happens that I put it in the vicinity of the bird feeder you bought me. The one you filled with sunflower seeds.

That sticky, brittle dead tree looked so awful I finally pulled it out of the container and threw it away, thinking I might put some herb seeds in leftover mulch in the pot at some point.

Guess what?

This morning, as I was sweeping all of the sunflower debris that the birds leave (along with the bird poop, I might add), I looked down in the pot and what do you think I saw?

Sprouts coming out of the dirt!

Sunflower sprouts!

So, that same pot — your mother’s pot, as far as I’m concerned — the one where the tree died — has given life to something new.

Talk about your karma!

I don’t know why I’m so excited about it, I just am! I actually took a picture of it with my camera, and as soon as Walmart develops the roll, will send you a copy. I’m not even going to wait to finish the roll. There might also be a picture or two of your mother. I’ll send those, too.

And, while I’m at Walmart, I’m going to that little pet store nearby and get me a pet. I’ve been thinking about what you said — older people living longer because they have a pet.

But I don’t want a dog or a cat. Too much looking after for me!

I think I’ll invest in a nice fish.

Have a wonderful day, Kiddo. And please don’t forget me.

Love,
Dad

PS: There’s a woman at the dining room who has been making eyes at me. Imagine that! Also, did you know there’s not a cart trail to Denny’s? What’s with that?

 

I think this is at the beginning of summer last year, just before she took a turn for the worst. God, I miss her.

I think this is at the beginning of summer last year, just before she took a turn for the worst. God, I miss her.

I know it would be mean to say "I told you so." But, I told you so! Love, Dad

I know it would be mean to say “I told you so.”
But, I told you so!
Love, Dad

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 9 May, 2014

 

Working backwards

8 May

 

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Working backwards

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

So? You’re here. Why?

Okay, this is not going to be easy. But it has to be said.

I hadda feeling when you called I had done something wrong.

You didn’t do anything wrong.

Why the sour face?

Okay, I’ll just jump in. We’ve been talking and —

Hold on. Who’s we?

Me and the others. The children. We’ve been talking and —

Let me guess — about me.

Will you let me finish?

Sorry. Go ahead. I won’t interrupt. Please — go on already!

We’ve been talking about what’s going on with you and —

Wait! What the hell is going on with me? Something I don’t know about? Who didn’t tell me? Did I forget to tell me?

The fact is that you’re getting older and —

And what? You’re not getting older? God forbid we don’t get older ’cause, you know what that means! Okay! I’m sorry! I won’t interrupt again. Continue.

Yes, we all get older. But you’re getting older older.

So you’re getting the good kind of older, but I’m getting the bad kind of older?

Yes, in a way. Like Grandma.

Well, her kind of older killed her. But she was 97-years-old. So you think I’m getting the kind of older that killed your grandmother? I’m not even close!

Please listen! This is hard! We all have noticed that you’re beginning to forget things.

So who doesn’t forget things? You telling me you don’t forget things? Tearing around with those kids doesn’t affect your memory from time-to-time?

Of course it does. Yes. I forget things. But we’re talking about last October kind of forgetting.

(Pause)

That was one goddam time — and I was under a lot of stress with your mother and everything. Hasn’t happened since. Not even close!

But it could. It could happen again.

God, all things are possible. The earth could open up and swallow this whole neighborhood, for that matter!

Please. We would like to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You’re almost eighty.

Yay for me! Put the candles on the cake and blow everything to goddam hell! So why the hell are you here? Go ahead and read me my sentence — you guys seem to have already tried me and found me guilty.

We think — we believe — it would be better for you to sell the house and move into a nice retirement community.

Oh, shit! Send me off to the old folk’s home! Close the door and let Nurse Ratched take care of me! May as well put a gun to my head and pull the damn trigger!

(Pause)

There are some very nice and progressive retirement communities. We’ve looked at a couple and —

Damn! This isn’t just talk — this is full steam ahead and man the torpedoes with you guys!

You don’t have to get so upset.

You’re right! Hell, my children set about to plan the rest of my life — without even asking me to join in the discussion, I might add — and want me to change dramatically the way I live — and I shouldn’t get upset. Yeah, I don’t know why I’m upset. Why should I be upset?

Okay — I’m sorry. We should have included you.

You’re damn right!

That being said, we didn’t. You said we want to change your life dramatically. Hasn’t it already?

How?

Mom, for one.

We were married forty-five years. Every morning we said good morning. Every night we said good night. She gave birth to you kids and we raised you. I thought we were raising fine, upstanding people. But now, I don’t know. So when she died, of course I was going to have to adjust. That’s how it is. Someone is there forty-five years, and suddenly not? That’s an adjustment. A helluva adjustment. And dramatic.

So, what do you do all day now?

What do I do? I get the hell up, fix breakfast, read the news, work in the garden. What kind of question is that?

Do you play golf any more?

Hey, half my foursome is in the ground. And Harry has Alzheimer’s. I can’t even call him on the phone because mostly he doesn’t remember me. Keeps thinking I’m a phone marketer and hangs up.

Do you get out any?

I walk the neighborhood every once-in-a-while. Getting out is over-rated anyway. What is this with the Gestapo interrogation already?

In a retirement community — not a retirement home — you have neighbors all around you who are your age. The one we looked at has a 27 – hole golf course which you can play anytime you want! There are hot tubs, and activity buildings. You can learn to dance or paint or even play the piano!

I went to summer camp when I was a kid. I couldn’t stand being with kids my age then — why would I want to live with a bunch of white-haired farts now?

C’mon! It’s not a camp. And, everything you need — shopping, grocery stores, restaurants — they’re all a short golf cart ride away! You won’t need your car, even!

Wait! Now you want to take away my car?

If you move into a retirement community, you can keep your car. At least for a while.

There it is! It’s like that Monty Python sketch where one knight is hacking away at another. First the arm, then the other arm, then the legs — like I said — just take a gun and —

WE DO NOT WANT TO TAKE EVERYTHING AWAY FROM YOU!!! (Pause). We love you, and we worry about you!

You don’t have enough to worry about now you gotta add me to the list? I’m an item on your worry list, for Chrissakes! Get me taken care of and cross me off the list. Let me tell you something: LOVE is NOT what you and your brother and sister — and their wife and husband — are doing here!

I’m sorry. This is necessary.

Love is NEVER having to say you’re sorry! I read that! I saw the damn movie even!

Okay, then, I’m not sorry. Selling the house and moving into a retirement community is the best thing your children — and I might add, grandchildren — think could happen at this stage to you in your life. You may not like it now. You may think we’re ganging up on you and forcing your hand. But, believe me — you will thank me down the road. You will.

So, where’s the gang?

What?

The rest of them?

They sent me. I’m the spokesperson.

You drew the short straw.

I drew the short straw.

(Pause)

Okay. You caught me off guard. Way off guard. It’s not like I’m in love with this house with your mother gone. It’s bigger than I can manage. God, I don’t know how she did it. All I had to do was go to work every day and come home and watch football and play golf. And, you are right.

About what?

October. I was scared shitless. I never want that to happen again.

I don’t either.

I know.

I know.

This isn’t going to happen overnight, you know. And I can’t do it all myself.

You won’t have to. And, I’m glad you said that.

So . . .

So, what?

So, you got any brochures on that retirement community?

I love you.

Yeah. I know. Me too.

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 8 May, 2014