Those Platinum Yearsby Marnie Macauley April 26, 2017
One word: “Medicare.” Ok, a few more: “I’m starting to look like my mother.” It happens in an eye blink – one day you’re 25 ½ and the next, you’re buying yak placenta on Ebay and listening to one-hour infomercials about how to laser off the top layer of your upper lip. Aging ain’t always fun, but there are some ways we can all do it better. Let’s take a look.
MAMA CAN YOU HEAR ME?
Dear Marnie: My mother is a widow, 84, lives alone 500 miles from me, has enough money to live on, and is alert and able to manage her finances. But she often tells me “Old age is hell.” I usually say, “It beats the alternative.” I make suggestions on how she can improve her life – like having one specific place for her house keys, or using a cane. But for her, it’s always “me against the world,” and she hates all my ideas. Any ideas on how to help her have a more positive outlook?
– Muted by Mama
MARNIE SAYS: You’re marvelous. (Hey, somebody’s gotta say it.) You’ve refused to fall prey to the foulest form of living – misery. Great for you for having the courage to want more, expect more and challenge these old songs and dances. The only thing left is…quit thinking you can make mama give up her “sour” cream.
Assuming she’s been checked out by a pro for mental issues and she’s fine, I’d bet my yak youthenizer that mama’s been sending you similar messages since you were gumming Zwieback. Think on it.
Mama’s made it to 84 and she’s still kvetching! The lady may be harboring enough secret steel to repair the Parker Truss bridge. Until you, and she, become un-done.
She’s not going to break into a chorus of “What a Wonderful World” at this stage. So you’re the one who needs to change – your reactions and your expectations. For example: “It’s better than the alternative,” you say. OK, true. But mamala, in protecting you, you’re not hearing her. Replace it with: “Sounds AWFUL, ma. Just TERRIBLE for you!” Chances are, she’ll go from kvetching to Mother Courage. (Or something in-between.) Add, “Now, tell me exactly how I can help you?” Boom.
*That said…keep an eye out. If her physical or mental condition deteriorates, you must step in with the right doctors and plan.
You see, you’ve made marvelous progress challenging negative beliefs and refusing to sucker-punch your own life with them. Once you truly get who Ma is – and her real condition, now, and as it changes, without chewing your insides when she starts up, you can trust yourself to be the compassionate, savvy soul you are. You’ll not only accept what you can’t do – but offer what you can, without fearing you’ll be swallowed up into the abyss. This sort of wise loving is the legacy of you that you want to remember.
DON’T “DISCOUNT” FRIENDSHIP
Dear Marnie: Recently, my wife and I invited a lovely couple to a nice buffet dinner as a thank you for a number of favors they had done for us. We’re all on a budget but we can afford a few dinners out a month. Our age range is late fifties to middle sixties. The restaurant offered a discount for seniors over 65. When the check came I asked for the discount, but our friend (the woman) refused to verify her age (65), which cost us extra on the $70 bill. I was annoyed. When I told my wife, she just shrugged. What I would like to know is, who’s right?
– Money Matters
MARNIE SAYS: My friend, while I understand your vexation, the question isn’t “who’s right?” The question is what is being “right” going to do for you? Let’s look.
Yes, it would have been thoughtful (OK, cheaper) had Medicare Lady been a mega-mensch, copped to her age and saved you a few bucks. She didn’t. Ask yourself why. A.) She wanted to stick you with a bigger bill. B.) She has issues with her age. Serious enough to cost you more.
See? You were looking at her choice through your intention, not hers. Yours was to save a few bucks. Hers was to save (a wrinkle-free?) face.
Put it into perspective – the difference for you is probably under $10. Yes, that’s real money. But is the relationship worth that much? Also yes.
My hunch is you know this lady well enough to have realized asking her to pull a Medicare card might make her seriously greps. So let’s get to your true intention. The object of your lovely gesture was to treat these people!
Now quit stewing about what’s “right” and get those priorities right – making these good people feel good.