I have often heard people wonder, as I myself have, what children are thinking when they come out with comments that stop us in our tracks. Some of their comments are quite humorous, or embarrassing and some seem to make no sense whatsoever.
I have decided the same can be true of senior citizens. Today it is my own parents I am thinking of. Sometimes they do leave me rather confused about their thought processes even on their better days.
This weekend I received a call from them but it was, unusually, from their cell phone number. My first thought, likely due to their ages and medical conditions, was that one of them had been rushed to hospital in some sort of serious condition. I saw the number, panicked, grabbed the phone and shouted out "Hello, what is wrong?" My dad sounded somewhat confused by my greeting when he responded, "Well, nothing is wrong with us. I am just calling to tell you our land line hasn't been working for the past couple of hours." Okaaaaay....not sure why I needed to know that since if I had to reach them and couldn't get through on their home phone within a reasonable number of hours, I would call their cell phone. That has been our agreement for several years. I thanked Dad for letting me know because I couldn't figure out anything else to say about it, occasionally out of order telephones being a fairly common occurence. Less than 3 minutes later Mom called back on the land line to tell me it was working again. Okaaaaay....
Even today, 3 days later, I cannot imagine why that particular exchange was necessary but, I am having a good laugh about it. Poor Mom and Dad have crossed over that invisible line that delineates the elderly in years to the elderly in mind. From working with seniors for so many years I know how easily the smallest disruption of routine can become a near tragedy, particularly for people like my father who are close to being completely housebound. When there is little else to do or think about of more interest, a telephone ceasing to work properly for a few hours assumes the disastrous proportions of the sinking of the Titanic.
I know this and yet.......when it is your own parents who are starting down that slippery mental slope it is less easy to discern and to deal with even after the realization dawns.
Over the next few months I am assuming we will "enjoy" many other such verbal exchanges and I will recognize the same changes in thought process as former elderly clients I dealt with over a couple of decades.
As I enter middle age myself I am observing a few changes in my own thought processes that are concerning to me. My husband and I have hit that stage of life where we are ever more aware of our own dwindling abilities to think and to act as rationally, easily, happily as we have previously. Despite no discernable serious change in the past few years, we are simply not as carefree as we once were. (And please TRY to refrain from your own thoughts following a path that leads to, "So, these people are finally growing up and taking life seriously!!" Please at least TRY to not go there.)
Life.....it seems we have peaked and are now on the other side of the hill.