“Well,” followed by an exclamation mark could be a sign of exasperation, perhaps even a question or the suggestion of punishment to follow, or who knows what all. But “well,” followed by a few dots can be a sign or sigh of relief, the last gasp of an oppressed creature, or perhaps a sign of surrender. For me, at the moment I guess it is a sigh of relief. I have just survived ten consecutive days of house guests, including my mother-in-law! I love them all dearly but survival is not guaranteed. But of course my mother-in-law had to come to meet and adore her first great-grandson, recently produced by her first grandson, and, of course, to instruct me on various aspects of life. She is actually pretty easy to get along with and I truly enjoy her, but as mother-in-laws are wont to do she cannot help but make suggestions as to how I should behave, who I should invite to dinner, what color I should paint a room, and etc. I can politely ignore her suggestions as I am older than she is, but it is a challenge.
And of course I love and adore my only son, my daughter-in-law, and my only grandson. But after ten days of cartoons in the morning (he’s only seven months old but he watches them), and a variety of programs on TV that I heretofore did not even know existed (and now wonder why they do), I am somewhat worn down and desperately in need of peace and quiet.
I’m afraid that during the week I endured still another unpleasant earmark on my journey to the west. I have already mentioned how I have progressed from “Mr.” to “Grandpa”, to “Pops,” to “Old Mr. ______,” and then, after my wife died six months ago, to “Poor Old Mr._____.” I have also mentioned developing the “Octogenarian shuffle.” I assumed things could not get much worse until the ultimate end. I was wrong. I have a pool table in a building about sixty feet from my house. Every Wednesday evening some friends come to play pool. I guess my shuffling around the pool table was so pathetic I actually had someone ask me if I needed help to get home! I am happy to say that as yet I do not need such help, but it was a bit of an eye-opener to learn that I have become so obviously handicapped as to be offered help just getting around. Now I worry about what might come next. Bette Davis reportedly said “Growing old isn’t for sissies.” She was right, it isn’t.
I am happy to report that during the past ten days I have lost virtually all contact with politics. I have only the vaguest idea as to what has been going on for the past few days. I do know, however, that it is just as absurd and ridiculous as usual, what with Republicans trying to create scandals like castles in the air, some of them, like Inhofe and Gohmert, making fools of themselves as usual, and nothing of any use being accomplished because of their treacherous hatred of President Obama. Not watching the news is actually quite refreshing. I think I shall continue not watching it, or at least not as much as I once did.
In my dotage I have been reviewing my life a bit. I have come to the conclusion that my life has basically been a series of humiliations, one after another. This is, I believe, the result of having been born to older and somewhat unusual parents who, although they loved me, were not as “hip” as the younger parents of my friends, attending a most inadequate High School from which a majority of students dropped out to go to work in the mines, and education, as such, was not a value in our community, and thus there was no peer pressure to do well in school (and, indeed, some pressure not to do well), and having no religious training whatsoever, little or no guidance from anyone, and so on. Don’t misunderstand, I am not complaining, I know you must play the cards you are dealt, I am merely trying to understand why I was so gauche, made so many stupid mistakes, and had so many embarrassing moments. I am certainly not one who would say, “If I had it to do over again I would do the same things,” because I wouldn’t. I do wish I had been dealt better cards, but I wasn’t, and I begrudge no one for the bad hand. One regret is that I could not have been a father before having to be a son, I could have been such a better son.
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.