So Now I’m A Friggin Grandma?

Grandma

Image by GreenLight Designs (jwgreen) via Flickr

I just read an article about “Rent -A-Grandma” which provides women, OVER 50, did you hear me correctly….50 to join the work force. “Grandmas” can pet sit, baby sit, do errands, they are reliable,  have experience (sic OLD) and don’t have to worry about age discrimination anymore. They can do elder care if needed although that’s really Grandma-Helping-Grandma so I’m not sure if that particular service has been thought out completely. I thought this was a joke too but people, listen to me, it really does exist.

Part of me wants to join and be able to make money, the other part of me is disgusted and refuses to believe that over 50 could even be considered a Grandma.  I know I got married relatively late at 31 and had children three years later but still, my son is just graduating from High School and my daughter will be a Senior next year. Grandma, me? Really?

There is something offensive about this although I am not exactly sure what it is except for the fact that some company is saying that the age 50 and over signifies old grandmas. What do they call their workers over 55? Octogenerians? Listen, you can reference check me all you want. I have been a professional, I have worked in corporations and in colleges, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother and a reliable and good friend. But a Grandma? Not yet, but maybe I will give it a try before I am withered up, unable to move, locked in a wheel-chair and wetting my pants. Couldn’t they have called it something else? Is this supposed to be a successful marketing technique?

When I first glanced at the ad I thought it was for people who wanted an elderly woman to bake them cookies, to come over and chat, give them much-needed warmth and support. They could also help with the children while dispensing wisdom to us parents. I think to be qualified as a Grandma you need certain skills, baking and cooking for one. Each Grandma, if it was up to me, would smell like the essence of real vanilla, tote Hershey Kiss Surprise cookies ( thank you, Omi) and be able to dispense knowledge and real life stories of success.

Hey, I don’t want any old Grandma. I don’t want to BE any old Grandma either. Women of our distinguished age with maturity, charm and self-respect need well-mannered clients. We will be all the things you want us to be. We will pretend that we do not know how to text and tweet ( I really do not have an idea of how that works anyway) but if you don’t want us to have a cell phone, forget about it, it’s gone.  For money and job stability, our aprons will be wrapped around our necks. We may even consider doing windows but it will cost you. Rent-A-Grandma, there’s a franchise coming to you, because “there’s nothing like experience.”

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Sadly, The Biggest Fibromyalgia Fog Ever (And Food)

Stairs.

Image by ЯAFIK ♋ BERLIN via Flickr

A few weeks ago on a Saturday morning, my husband woke us up from a deep sleep at 7:45 am, which on the weekends is basically the middle of the night. We went to meet his parents for brunch “in the middle” of our two houses in two different States. What I thought would be a one hour drive ended up being two hours for us. Two long hours, coiled like a bright pink hair scrunchy  in the front seat of a very small car. I didn’t move around in my seat, didn’t ask to stop the car so I could stretch, I just sat there like a block of white marble. Why? What was I thinking? Apparently, I was NOT thinking.

During the trip there I totally forgot that I had Fibromyalgia. How could I forget that I had a chronic illness? I really don’t know but that is exactly what happened. It didn’t occur to me until I felt locked in place and could not get out of the car. I couldn’t turn, I couldn’t extend my legs out, I couldn’t move and finally, the long, first step from the car to the pavement was pure agony.  It was the greatest Fibromyalgia Fog of all:  Blissfully forgeting I had Fibromyalgia…until we got there.  Had I remembered the illness I would have stopped every half hour to get out of the car, stand up and stretch. I should have been prepared, physically and mentally but I wasn’t. I just wanted to arrive at our destination. When we got there every inch of my body hurt like thousands of razor blades performing a pain symphony.

We walked up a long winding, flight of stairs, my new arch-enemy, to get to the restaurant we were going to for the brunch buffet. I looked up the winding staircase and had no idea how I would be able to get up. Being stubborn and independent I clutched the banister with the strength I had left, my stiff legs and knees protesting at every step; I walked like a small child, one step with both feet at a time. I realized anew that Fibromyalgia is a horrible, debilitating disease and forgetting about it entirely was a terrible burden for my body and my feelings; I felt stupid and embarrassed. “Loser” I muttered to myself.

Finally upstairs we were treated to a lovely meal. The brunch was a buffet, a man played the piano, my teenagers were well-behaved, there were mimosas available and it looked festive. We feasted on made-to-order omeletes, mine with mushrooms and cheese. On display were cinnamon buns with drizzled, sweet vanilla icing. They served eggs benedict. an array of cheeses and fresh vegetables and Belgium waffles with a vat of whipped cream and another close by filled with bright red, plump strawberries. They had croissants and rolls and blueberry muffin tops coated with brown sugar. They had serving stations of steak with horseradish mayonnaise and grilled sirloin, all too carnivorous for me so early in the day. There were smoked salmon platters and my personal favorite, a lovely poached pear, the color of burgandy, with brie and walnuts.

Once we were finished I dreaded walking down my nemisis, the evil staircase. I had to take a deep breath with every painful inch that I could move. Each step sent electric shocks down my legs, my hands were red and swollen, as if arthritis had landed in my body unannounced. I stayed behind the family this time and managed with one hand to clutch the banister down and with the assistance of my husband holding on to my other arm. I felt like a 95 year old grandma and while I appreciated my husband’s help, I loathe that I need it. I don’t like feeling dependent, at all. The food cheered me up, it was lovely and presented gorgeously. I tried to remember that and not getting there or going home. Next time, please, someone remind me so I can avoid a Fibro Fog as stupid as this one.

The Word Love

Now that I am old  and very alone I bought one  place setting of  five different sets of china. I  use them as my everyday dishes because there is nothing to wait for at my age of ninety-three. We never had good china when I was younger and so I bought it for myself. To live another day and wake up in the morning is an occassion. I have no rules now, I  sleep all day if I want to, in my  comfortable old bed that has shaped around my body like clay. I have an old, worn blanket that used to be pink but now it is a little pink and a little gray from age.

I stopped looking at clocks because time does not matter now. If I am hungry, I eat. Sometimes I don’t remember if I ate lunch or breakfast. The phone rings and I try to pick it up but the buttons and numbers confuse me. I don’t always like to answer the phone but I do most times. If I don’t answer  it will ring again and again with loud noises that do not stop.

If it is sunny I will sit on my front porch that is painted white. The porch swing barely moves anymore but I like that. Sometimes I sit outside and watch the people on the street. I drink my apple juice there and when the sun hits the glass I can see rainbows sometimes, I always liked rainbows.

The days don’t feel very long at all now. There are days that melt into each other like chocolate pudding. My daughter always liked chocolate the best as did my late husband but I like vanilla. Vanilla is smooth and light and sweet; my son likes vanilla better too. When I was young I used to call myself “The Vanilla Girl.”

I would not say I am a happy person but I am not sad; I am still.  I am like a painting that hangs on the wall.  Life without my husband is not a life that I can get used to. I speak to him all the time and I answer for him too. Many things I say, I say out loud.  Nobody is here to tell me not to.

Today I got dressed and I wore a blouse the color of a rose; it has a few stains on it but I don’t mind. My knarled, old feet are always barefoot and I remember walking on the beach with my family many years ago and how my toes loved the sand. I wear only clothes that are big on me because I never liked things that were tight. Sometimes I wear a nightgown all day long that my great grand-daughter sent me. It is my favorite thing to wear because it has yellow and blue flowers all over it and because it is from her. Who could have imagined me alive long enough that I would be a great grandmother. It isn’t the same since Grandpa passed on.

Nobody seems to understand. When my children visit  they say I should be “happy” and I  try. They don’t know how it feels when they leave. I love the visits from my family once in awhile but I feel the pain of missing Grandpa worse. There is a sharper pain and it takes a long time for it to go away; it is different from the pains and aches that I have all the time.  I get sad and then later on I feel better because I am alone and I don’t have to smile if I don’t want to.

Later I will watch television from my bed. I never turn the television off. I like to have some noise in the background to keep me company. At first the kids didn’t  want me to live here alone but this is my home and so I will die here too;  surrounded by all my photographs.

I will eat something when I want  like cheese and the inside of the bread that I used to call “cotton” when I was a young girl. I will spread that with butter that is not cold or warm but  comes in a tub; I don’t need to have four sticks of hard butter. I haven’t baked banana bread for many years now.

I am not a mean woman but I am not a kind one either. I am really nothing but I was somebody once. I was a wife to my beloved husband and a mother to our two children; we first had a boy and then we had a girl. Everyone used to say “it was the best of both worlds” and yes, that is really what it was. When I go to sleep I will try to remember a memory but they come and go and then I forget what I was thinking about. That is alright, because that is what happens.

When I wake up in the morning, I will say hello to my dogs and they will kiss my face, and I will drink Ovaltine in a my very favorite mug that has hearts and the word LOVE written on it. I will go on with the day again, and I will sit outside with my dogs and just be.