Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Laws of Harmony

According to a not-so-pleasant but all-so-true research of late, many of us will face a non-existent retirement when it’s time for the corporate world to kick us in the derrière just when time is near for us to qualify for that pension, and get a “package,” as they so strategically called, that will last you a year or half.

We can forget the Social Security or Medicare. The experts keep telling us they both are going to evaporate by the time we need them. It’s best not to get our hopes up.

We have a few options to consider, excluding the following: 1. Buy a mega lottery winning ticket. Caution--this doesn’t work that well from my personal experiences. 2. Execute a bank robbery. This will provide free room and board in local penitentiary (if we make sure the camera catch our faces clearly) but not much else, and if we don’t plan it well it could backfire in the “getting ourselves killed by the security guard” scenario.

We can move to where the jobs are, work as if the universe is ending tomorrow, save every penny and live in the Scrooge style that Dickens described so well in his book. Most of us don’t find that remotely appealing though. Another problem is we don’t speak the language where the jobs are--being proud Americans and all.

What else can I do, you ask. Let’s see…

Move into a trailer and live off the proceed of your house--if you are blessed with owning a house instead of an upside down mortgage in the first place. Keep your fingers crossed that the market will be more lucrative by that time.

I understand your need to be with family when your health and income are both declining. It’s a viable solution that each day looks more like the only solution for many of us. For the benefit of everyone involved, I think a list of things we should practice now is in order.

1. Showing appreciation is unbecoming, so make sure you don’t do it. Or better yet, let them know it’s not appreciated with every chance you have.

Maybe your kin moved out of his/her big bedroom so that you can enjoy it, and prepared new furniture for your comfort. That was what they were supposed to do anyway.

Say nothing or murmur an inaudible “thanks” when getting breakfast-in-bedroom service as if a knife is placed next to your décolletage and you are saying it against your will.

If he/she thoughtlessly ordered cable TV for you, make sure you throw a temper tantrum because the remote is different and you have to learn the channels anew. How inconvenient it is for you.

2. Show him/her how much you like the home cooked meals by insisting on eating out every other day. Lecture them on how restaurant food is healthy because the customer’s health is indeed the utmost concern of every restaurant owner.

Disregard the excess twenty pounds you are carrying because losing weight is so not in vogue among older people.

Take twenty different supplements daily to counter any claims that you are not eating healthy.

3. While dining out, display your best table etiquette. This includes slurping all things remotely liquid, diving into your food as soon as you are served without regards to others, sticking your fork into other’s plate if the other person is unfortunately served before you, spreading your elbows wide so others won’t get to your food (or get to eat their own food), chewing with half of the food hanging on the side of your mouth, etc.

A little primal insecurity will only do others, especially those you are supposed to nurture, immensely good.

4. You never make a mistake, so insist on it until the sun goes down, or until the cows come home--whichever occurs the latest. Blame others for what you did or didn’t do. Remind them you are not a lunatic if you run out of excuses.

5. Good conversation skills are imperative in old age. Nothing says harmony more when you scorn, jeer, challenge or argue every time you want to say something. Complain about something they love each day, such as a pet. It works like a charm to draw people in. Close yourself off to others so they will stay in different quarter of the house.

6. Honesty is the best policy, especially when interacting with others. Deny, make up stories from mid air, change facts to serve your purpose. Scold others for getting the "facts" wrong. Do all of these to keep them on their toes. This will show them you still have a sharp mind.

7. Doorknobs and handles are for imbeciles. Slam, shut, and bang all you want, but never use them to close things properly. Loud noise makes jumpy people, and thus makes their hearts so much healthier.

8. Frugality serves everyone good, so save a square or two of the toilet paper after your “session” to show them your good sense. This serves especially well when combined with #2 above, because eating out is a great way to save money.

On second thought, maybe a trailer is a much better way to go for you and your family’s mental health concern. Keep in mind that these are in no way any implication of how my mother behaves, because she is perfect--see #4.


  1. Sarah, this is very well written, and I am so sorry. I hope this made you feel a tad better.

  2. You need to find a sitter (a tough one), so that you can go out and get mildly drunk, at least once a week. Although the situation does seem to be providing some good writing material.

  3. Bobyn - it sounds bad, but I do feel better now.

    Bruce - good idea! It may be getting better since I'm able to write about it. Maybe the worst is over?

  4. The worst is over? Hmmmm. we'll see. Hopefully for you and your sanity that it is! It has to be so draining in every aspect of your life.

    If it's worth anything: it was a great read and I hope you felt some relief just by writing it down.

  5. Angie - ha, I told myself if I could joke about it then the worst part might be over. I did, however, increase the effort of getting a job. :)

  6. Just don't move to "tornado alley."

  7. Melissa - I don't know which is worse: tornado that blows away houses, or earthquake that shakes the houses, which we have plenty in this neck of the woods.

  8. You forgot a very important advantage to prison--free health care including organ transplants. Arizona no longer offers most organ transplants to medicare and medicaid folks. Two people recently died because of this disgraceful decision by state officials. So if you are looking for great medical benefits, go rob a bank.

    Thanks for your sweet comment on my post, Sarah!!

  9. Judie - free health care? You got my attention. The prison is looking more and more attractive. I have to say though, your state has an ingenious way of getting rid of low income and old people.

  10. Thanks for the "old fart" comment. He never saw it coming, or her leaving for that matter.

    There is a new restaurant in the retirement mecca of Miami. It caters strictly to the seriously retired. It is called Pre-Chew Charlie's. They have no knives and forks--only spoons.

  11. If I didn't know you, or didn't have second-hand experience of these list items, this piece would have been a lot funnier. Even still, I love your writing style and I feel relieved to see you can still have a sense of humor when things aren't so great. Hang in there :(

  12. Thanks for the comment, Em. I think if I can joke about it then it can't be that bad. Can you see the forced smile on my face?

  13. Thanks for the comment, Sara. Yes, she look anorexic for sure. I would love to be very slender, but come on!

  14. Thanks for the comment, Sarah! I'm thinking it looks pretty grim on the surface!

  15. Oh my goodness, did you write this about my father? Excellent reading for all caregivers.

    God bless you, Sarah. I sincerely mean that.

  16. Marla - it's comforting to know my mom isn't the only embarrassing elder.



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