Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, June 18, 2017


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Cathy, one of my pickleball buddies, calls me “St. John of the Angles,” because I work the angles, sliding the ball just over the net, to the outside line. I understand the angles.

I’m like those school teachers kids claim have eyes in the backs of their heads. Teachers have that sixth sense for when a kid is trying to get away with something because they were kids once and tried those same dodges on their teachers. They’ve seen it all.

I’ve seen it all, too, when it comes to being an old person, but from the other side. I was the young one who took care of the old people, my parents and old neighbors and old folks at church. They tried every angle in the book.

Mother would not accept the information we gave her about Social Security because, she said, we could not understand it because we had never been on SS. What an angle.

We took her to look over the Rebekah Lodge nursing home. Mother was a committed Rebekah and had looked forward to living there for forty years. When she saw it, she changed her mind. She said it was because they put your name in all your clothes for laundry sorting, and she just never liked having her name in her clothes.

We heard every angle and every scam and every excuse any old person ever thought up to get out of an old person dilemma.

Of course, Helen and I scammed them back.

Mother should have stopped driving the day before she started. She didn’t learn until she was in her forties, and that was too late. She never actually drove a car. She did like her oldest brother, my Uncle Ted. It was said that Ted didn’t actually drive a car, he just sort of herded it along. When, in her eighties, the risk to her and everyone else became intolerable, we convinced her that she needed to give her car to Katie, our younger daughter, because she was in graduate school and had to have a car and we could not afford to buy her one. It was mostly true, but it was primarily a ruse to get Mother’s car away from her. I mean, how could she turn down a beloved granddaughter?

So I know all the excuses old people use, and I know all the angles and scams younger people use to get old people to behave, and when my kids try them on me, I’ll be ready, just like my friend, Jack Newsome

Jack was appointed to a new congregation. A middle-aged woman approached him and said, “Now, Rev. Newsome, when you call on my mother, Marian, in the nursing home, don’t be fooled. She’ll try to make you think she’s perfectly okay, but she isn’t.”

The day came that Jack made his nursing home calls. Marian turned out to be lovely. She was well-dressed and well-coiffed and well-spoken. They had a great conversation.

Jack sat there thinking, “Why, Marian’s daughter is one of those middle-aged people who puts down old people just because they’re old. What an awful excuse for a daughter.”

As he got up to leave, Marian said, “Rev. Newsome, would do me a favor?”

“Why, of course,” Jack said. “What is it?”

“I want you to bring me a pistol. I’m going to shoot that son-of-a-bitch next door.”

Jack learned the lessons. Now he is old. He can’t hear or walk, but no one knows it because he fakes both very well. When he falls down, he claims a badger tripped him. When someone says something, he says he can’t hear because an earwig got into his ear and lost its wig there.

He keeps wanting to borrow my pistol. I know I shouldn’t loan it to him, but I do, even though I don’t have one.


I tweet as yooper1721.

I have often extolled my old friend, Walt Wagener, as one who is expert at “blooming where he’s planted.” Once when I did so, Helen said, “I want to bloom BEFORE I’m planted.” So I started writing a book of meditations for old people, sort of like my book for cancer patients. I called it BLOOM BEFORE YOU’RE PLANTED. I was never able to get an agent or publisher to be interested in the idea, though, so I’m now using some of the “chapters” for that book in this blog.

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