Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Elderly Entertainment

     A few years ago, I accompanied my mother on a visit to her doctor. Her foot was swollen at the time and causing her great discomfort. From the doctor’s office, we proceeded to the hospital where we checked her in as a patient.

     After she was assigned to a room and transferred there, my mother and I began the arduous wait for the doctor. After what seemed like perpetuity, he eventually made his appearance and began finishing the paperwork on my mother’s chart. The doctor asked her if she had her medications with her and my mother replied that she did. Then, to my utter amazement, she began to empty the backpack she had been assiduously clutching throughout the entire morning. She pulled one bottle out and set it on the hospital tray, then a second, a third, and to my bewilderment, a fourth, and a fifth, and about this time, I found myself completely and absolutely dumbstruck. I remember making the comment that now I knew what she did for entertainment every day; and, with that very statement, I felt my own aging process ruthlessly altered.

     As the doctor gained his composure (he was almost snorting from laughing,) he continued with his line of questioning. He asked her about stress, about her daily routine, her sleeping habits, and other similar questions. I remember contradicting her about not getting enough rest because she always has a house full of people. I remarked to the doctor that there was a streetlight at the end of the driveway and my siblings seem to think that she leaves the light on for them, sort of like the Motel 6 commercial; the light is always on and the door is always open.

     Sometimes, our sense of humor emerges at the strangest of times and there seems to be no connection between the brain and the mouth. One can only assume that is what happened to me that day; my strange sense of humor kicked in and acted as a diversion, keeping the atmosphere lighthearted. The doctor was thoroughly enamored by my banter (I was really on a roll that day, totally Lucille Ball) and tried to repeat my routine the following day as he made rounds with his interns.

     After my mother decided to take a nose-dive down the steps using her head as landing gear not so many months later, she was admitted to the emergency room at the local hospital. As we were waiting for the doctor to stitch the resulting wound on her forehead, I overheard bits and pieces of my parent’s conversation. My father was sitting next to her bed and I realized that they were comparing battle scars; as my father had major surgery (I consider any surgery at their age to be major) on his arm and was sporting his own set of stitches.

     There I was, once again looking through the portico of life, wondering if there was a pattern to this madness we call aging. Was comparing our wounds and battle scars to be our entertainment as we enter the twilight years? Is setting out our numerous bottles of medications going to become our daily ritual? I guess only time will tell as we all come of age and our own patterns are set in motion. One thing I can say with almost absolute certainty is the future should be interesting.
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  1. What a lovely essay! So funny and poignant. And just for the record, no, we do not have to age with pill bottles. Hair care products, yes. Weights and exercise equipment, yes. Splendid diet and plenty of water, yes. Great sex and huge belly laughs, yes. Passport and kayak, yes. Friends to share all the fun, yes. Pill bottles, no. There shall be OTHER (shocking) things in YOUR backpack when you go to the doctor when you're older. I am older and wiser than you. I know these things. (Don't ask to look in my backpack!)

  2. I am packing my backpack now and it has some very interesting items in it! I will allow myself a bottle of Ibuphrophin and a large bottle of B-12. Got the passport and clean underwear! Ready to hit the road!


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