A few weeks ago, we were out with friends for dinner. One of the couples is in their late thirties, while the rest of us….well let’s just say we’re retired or verging on retirement. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the conversation and food immensely.
At one point the young man commented that one of his friends, also in his late thirties, had been having a difficult time of late when he called his parents. It seemed that his parents wanted to talk only about their ailments and this was somewhat discouraging to his friend. At one point, the friend had commented that his father injured his shoulder while gardening and talked about it for several weeks.
This anecdote was intended to bring smiles, I think. Sadly, as he looked around the table, he saw only blank, or at best quizzical, stares. We didn’t understand why this was puzzling these young people. Finally, we gently pointed out to him that now that we aren’t working, ailments are pretty much all we have left!
Plus, and I’m serious about this, every year after 50, something new begins to sag, leak, or break. Some of the things that aren’t working properly for me in my golden years are things I didn’t even know I had to begin with!
We tried to point out that ailments were just the start of a whole new level of conversational gambits. There’s a commercial on television right now that is funny, but mostly because it hits close to the bone. The older woman is calling her son on the phone. Her son is clearly a spy or some such, and is fending off men with guns and a helicopter. The mother, unfazed by background noise, says, “well, the squirrels are back in the attic.”
This is phase two of our golden years. The unusual critters in nature that make their way into our yards and/or homes become sources of conversation and speculation. Bats in the attic, squirrels on the roof, mice, chipmunks and birds — these are the fascinations we love to talk about. Throw in a household calamity like a broken water heater or a furnace repair and it might be our hot topic for months.
I warned our young friends to be on the lookout for these as well as for phase three of popular elder topics. When my mom reached a certain age, she began to talk about TV celebrities as though they were personal friends. I would be regaled with stories of Vanna White and Pat Sajak, as though mom had just had dinner with them the night before. She knew things about their personal lives, or acted as though she did, that I to this day do not know how she discovered.
That said, did you know that Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne have separated? They have three children, you know, and one of them has multiple sclerosis. Their son was on Dancing with the Stars and is just so nice…. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.