Generation Canyon

Beebee has old parents, and it is hard on her psyche.  Our daughter is the only teenager in her acquaintance whose father retired about the time she hit high school — and it wasn’t because Dad had made his millions, either.

When other people our age were peering over the lip of their empty nest, we discovered, to our great joy, that we were about to be Mama and Daddy again.  I was an old mom masquerading as a young grandma.  The obstetrician had a geriatric specialist standing by at the delivery.

Beebee frequently pleads, “Please don’t ever get old, Mom.”

I know what she means.  She has witnessed her grandparents become window peekers, people who entertain themselves by watching their neighbors through the curtains, much like younger folks watch TV.  I can’t even glance out the window momentarily without creating anxiety in her young mind.

She keeps a sharp eye out for telltale old-people symptoms, hoping that with early intervention she can slow down the slide.  “Mom, Dad isn’t going to make any wood lawn ornaments, is he?  He is revving up the scroll saw.”

“Nope, he’s too busy doing the real woodworking — remodeling the kitchen.  And besides, I’m not into lawn ornaments, which is why I sold his pink flamingos to some other elderly couple at the rummage sale last year.” 

“Yesterday, when we were at McDonalds,  he was carrying on about hamburgers being six for a dollar when he was my age.  I nearly gagged on my French fries.”

“It’s a clever old-people ploy, my dear.  Slather enough guilt on the children and it chokes the expensive appetite right out of them!”

“Promise you won’t ever get old?”

“Promise.  When I’m eighty-five, I will think just as young as I do now.”  (This will have to satisfy her.  It’s the best I can do.  She already views my mid-fifties perspective as beyond ancient.) 

“But … you tell stories … over and over … just like Grandpa did.”  (My father had favorite anecdotes, all from his World War II days.  They were funny, but only the first twenty times or so.  I seem to be following in his footsteps.  It must be in the genes.)

“I have never told the same story more than twice,” I indignantly reply.  “By time number two, you are all rolling your eyes and covering your ears.  I WANT to tell my stories more often than that, and you ought to let me!  Kids, these days!  No respect!” 

Beebee goes on, in this heart-to-heart chat about the child-as-caretaker problem she imagines she has.  “The worst of it, Mom, is your friends.” 

Again, I know exactly what she means.  My acquaintances scare me, too.  Women within a ten year radius of me all want to discuss their health issues, and Beebee has sometimes listened in with horrified amazement.  Fifteen-year-olds should not have to know the ins-and-outs of premenopausal to postmenopausal woes, hemorrhoids, gall bladder attacks, and plumbing surgeries gone awry.  For that matter, I don’t want to know, either, but I have to be polite.

I like to tease the child sometimes, just to see what she’ll say.  “Beebee, when you were born, you were the answer to all of Mom and Dad’s dreams.  We were always afraid that your sister would move away, and she did.  But now we have you to take care of us through our twilight years, our very own in-home health care professional.  Think of it — you don’t have to obsess like other kids do about who you will marry or what you should do for a career.  All your material and emotional needs will be met for decades to come by your wonderful parents — and I plan on being around for at least another forty years.” 

Beebee calculates quickly and realizes in forty years she will be a tad older than I am.  She stalks off with a good-natured “Humpff!  Mom, you’re even scarier than I thought.”

More Weird Search Terms

I think I am going to regularly collect weird search terms from my blog stats.  They are just too much fun to pass up.  If you have odd questions, I’ve got the answers right here!  (Wikipedia, eat your heart out!)

1.)  “How do they do a lobotomy?”  — I’m assuming this is from neither a medical student looking for help on his finals, nor Dr. Frankenstein’s faithful assistant.  It could be from a dissection-happy high school biology teacher.  Watch out, kids!  Make sure the lab specimen in front of you is really a frog, and take a head count on your classmates before starting the procedure.

2.)  “What are retirement dinners?” — What do you think this blog is, the web home of Jeopardy?  Retirement dinners are the backyard cookouts that add the final perfecting touch to an afternoon get-together of bubbas who are bonding by outfitting their pickup trucks with monster-size retreads.  If you do it in a group it’s a lot more fun.  Honestly!  I thought everyone knew that!

3.)  “Prayers for doubt and confusion” — All I can say is, I wouldn’t pray for that.  If you want doubt and confusion, be my guest and go ahead and ask for it.

4.)  “Mountain Dew gallbladder” — Which puts many ??? in my think-tank.  Is this a new song title, like Foggy Mountain Breakdown?  I like Flatt and Scruggs, and I like Foggy Mountain Breakdown, but somehow I don’t think Mountain Dew Gallbladder is going to make it.

And if we’re really talking about gallbladders, is a Mountain Dew gallbladder one on hyper-overload?  What does a Mountain Dew gallbladder look like?  Is it greenish-yellow?  For that matter, what color is a regular gallbladder?  I don’t think I really want to know — but somebody does.

5.)  “Chicago Cubs bubbler” — Let’s get this straight: bubblers reside in Wisconsin, while Chicago Cubs only visit Wisconsin occasionally to humble the Brewers.  Do you want a Chicago Cubs bubbler?  You can probably get it at eBay.  But then, there’s always the risk of 169,543 other people wanting one at the same time, and the auction spirit will drive all reason out of your noggin, and the price will go up to $997.01.  You will be riding high on the euphoria of your victory and will be so indiscreet as to tell your missus, who will shriek, “Honey, what have you done??!!  Now we’ll have to eat dandelion greens all summer, because you’ve spent the family fortune on a sports bubbler!”  I’d say the cheapest way out of a tragedy is to just buy a plain old white one at a resale shop and plaster Cubs decals all over it.

The Eve of Retirement 

Today is my husband Paul’s big moment — his last day as a letter carrier.  He has finally fulfilled the requirement of 55 years of age and 30 years of service.  He’s been excited about making this change for months now, and the day has arrived at last.

Yesterday they had a little party for him at the P.O.  They told him he could make a speech to everyone and say whatever he wanted to.  If you knew Paul, you would have already guessed — he told them how he came to know the Lord, and invited them all to give their hearts to Jesus.  They gave him a large crystal eagle sculpture, and he brought home enough leftover cake to add five pounds to his wife’s hips.  (No, I will NOT let that happen!)   They also chipped in for a monetary gift, which was overwhelmingly generous.

Truth be known, letter carriers are like Marines: once a Marine, always a Marine; once a postal worker, always a postal worker.  Paul will still make snide remarks about FedEx every time we pass one of their trucks on the street.  He will continue to roll his eyes in contempt every time his wife runs to the UPS station with a package that must get somewhere within days (not weeks).

Paul has always loved his job.  He has built mutual bonds with many of his customers and fellow workers through the years.  He has helped them with their postal frustrations, listened to their personal troubles here and there, and prayed with them when they or their families were sick, most of the time on off-duty hours.  He’s kept an eye on the elderly by letting their families know when they haven’t emptied the mailbox for a few days.  Small wonder that postal workers are the most trusted government employees in the nation.

Some of his customers know frightening amounts of details about our personal life — not because Paul has told them, but because they have gone to great lengths to find out for themselves.   They know how many kids we have, their names, and how old they are.  They know exactly when Paul comes home for lunch — and call or show up on the doorstep for personal attention during that time.  I’m hoping they don’t know our social security or bank account numbers.  When the girls were small, there were special little gifts just for them from some of the grannies at Christmas time.  If people are going to know so much about us, at least it’s good that they like us!

It’s going to be a big adjustment for Paul’s girlies, having him home with us so much.  He has volunteered to help with the home schooling.  We’ll see.  People who had to take remedial math courses throughout high school should not be teaching their daughters algebra.  But we may let him get his fingers in on the science labs or let him expound on Civil War history once in awhile.  (And shop class — he can teach shop.  Beebee informed me the other day that she has no clue how to use the back side of a hammer to remove a nail from the wall, so she hurt her fingers trying to do it bare-handed.  We will have to explain shop class, or she will think Daddy is going to give her a guided tour of Old Navy and Target.)

Paul does have some plans for his future — and God has bigger plans for him than Paul does!  (So does my mom.  She can’t wait to have her own personal lawn care and maintenance man.)  But we’ll let the ol’ guy have the first few weeks to just enjoy doing whatever he pleases — unless he starts to drive us nuts, in which case we’ll launch him into his future career sooner than he anticipated!

I suppose I will have to tell thirty years’ worth of postal anecdotes in days to come.  Some are pretty entertaining.  I feel a series coming on!

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