Beachcomber

The Ragtag prompt for today is BIRTHDAY.
Here’s my response, dedicated to everyone whose having a birthday today.

BEACHCOMBER

by Robert W Service

When I have come with happy heart to sixty years and ten,
I’ll buy a boat and sail away upon a summer sea;
And in a little lonely isle that’s far and far from men,
In peace and praise I’ll spend the days that God allows to me.
For I am weary of a strife so pitiless and vain;
And in a far and fairy isle, bewilderingly bright,
I’ll learn to know the leap and glow of rapture once again,
And welcome every living dawn with wonder and delight.

And there I’ll build a swan-white house above the singing foam,
With brooding eaves, where joyously rich roses climb and cling;
With crotons in a double row, like wine and honeycomb,
And flame trees dripping golden rain, and palms pavilioning.
And there I’ll let the wind and wave do what they will with me;
And I will dwell unto the end with loveliness and joy;
And drink from out the crystal spring, and eat from off the tree,
As simple as a savage is, as careless as a boy.

For I have come to think that Life’s a lamentable tale,
And all we break our hearts to win is little worth our while;
For fame and fortune in the end are comfortless and stale,
And it is best to dream and rest upon a radiant isle.
So I’ll blot out the bitter years of sufferance and scorn,
And I’ll forget the fear and fret, the poverty and pain;
And in a shy and secret isle I’ll be a man newborn,
And fashion life to heart’s desire, and seek my soul again.

For when I come with happy heart to sixty years and ten,
I fondly hope the best of life will yet remain to me;
And so I’ll burn my foolish books and break my futile pen,
And seek a tranced and tranquil isle, that dreams eternally.
I’ll turn my back on all the world, I’ll bid my friends adieu;
Unto the blink I’ll leave behind what gold I have to give;
And in a jewelled solitude I’ll mould my life anew,
And nestling close to Nature’s heart, I’ll learn at last . . . to live.

Traces of Paranoia

We moved back to Saskatchewan from Quebec in 1998 and I soon made the acquaintance of an older lady in Saskatoon. In time she became very dear to me, though she lives in another province now. Over the time we’ve been friends I’ve had lots of fun visits with her. We went out for coffee often and I helped her figure out various things.

You see, she’s what sociologists call “functionally illiterate.” Bank statements, bills, contracts, sales slips: she’s brought them to me and had me figure them out — until she moved away five years ago. She finds it about impossible to figure out her (direct-deposit) pension by looking at her bank statement. She can buy things, but has a hard time looking at the sales bill and figuring what she should have gotten for change. Also, she was often suspicious people were cheating her.

This spring she called me up one day, all alarmed because of the discrepancy in a purchase she’d made. The item cost $6.25 and only got back a dime and a nickel (15¢). It really bothered her to think that sales clerk had cheated her. I did a quick bit of math and reminded her of the 60¢ tax on her purchase, which would account for the difference. Ahh! She was happy again and we had a nice visit.

Concepts like health, nutrition, drugs and their use, all needed to be explained in the simplest terms. Different times I went to the doctor with her and translated. She didn’t ask him, because she didn’t want to appear dumb.

One day she told me her doctor had said she was borderline diabetic. “But how can a person be ‘borderline’ diabetic?” she asked me, somewhat annoyed with her doctor for that dumb diagnosis. “I figure it’s like being pregnant: either you are or you aren’t.”

I went for a simple illustration. “Your body’s pancreas, that makes insulin, is somewhat like a well. A well holds so-and-so much water, but when the well’s almost empty, there’s just a bit of water and the bottom is muddy. That’s borderline. When there’s no trace of water or even mud, we say the well’s gone dry.

“Our pancreas gland makes insulin as long as it can, but when it can’t keep up anymore, we’re on the borderline of having diabetes. When the gland stops producing insulin, we can’t digest sugar anymore. We’re diabetic and need to take pills or injections to make up for what our body can’t do.”

That made sense to her.

Before she moved, being almost eighty and forgetful, she was misplacing things, then was convinced they were moved or stolen. “Someone with a key, ” she claimed, “is coming into my apartment and taking things or moving stuff around.”

With her eyesight not being very good, she couldn’t see the normal wear-and-tear until something was quite worn. Then she’d say, “Look what someone did to my blanket. They frayed it somehow. It wasn’t like this before.” Sometimes the intruder would scatter a few things on the floor, just to annoy her.

She was convinced that “someone” was watching — that is, sitting beside a closed-circuit camera somewhere all day — to see whenever she went out. Then they’d come in and do mischief. She started hiding her precious things (she had nothing of any real value to a thief) like her many rings and watches into suitcases so they wouldn’t be stolen. Which made things even worse because she couldn’t remember which suitcase they were in.

I tried to be a helpful friend and hurried to the city several times to help her find important “lost or stolen” bank card, wallet, credit card, etc. Thankfully they’ve always turned up — in her apartment. I’ve helped her replace credit cards when she’s lost them. I’ve tried to be patient and be there (if I could) when she needed help or transportation, even though it meant an hour-long trip to town.

She bought a motion sensor camera to catch the culprit but, though it’s been set to take a picture every minute, saw no trace of the culprit on her film chip. I tried to convince her that people have more to do with their lives than sit and watch her apartment on closed circuit camera all day, but one thing I’ve learned over the years: you can’t reason with paranoia. Fear doesn’t respond to common sense.

She extracted a trace of criticism from what I said, got angry with me for not being supportive, and wouldn’t speak to me for a couple of months.

I was happy for her when, with the help of her children, she moved to a seniors assisted-living apartment in another city and her intruder woes faded away. I do miss her — just not THAT part of her nature.

Fandango’s prompt today: TRACE

Truth Dawns Slowly

When we were thirteen, the whole world revolved around us.
When we were twenty, we worried very much
about what others thought of us.
At age forty, we no longer cared quite so much
what others thought of us.
By the time we reached sixty, we didn’t
give a rip what folks thought of us.
When we hit seventy, we finally realized
they haven’t been thinking about us at all.

Boyhood Memory

by Edgar Guest

It used to be fun in the good old days
to rise at the dawn of day
and dig for worms for a fishing trip.
It used to be fun, I say,
for I swear that a robin who hovered near
knew just what we were about,
since he flew to the ground when the earth was turned
and begged us to toss one out.
Yes, it used to be fun to go fishing then,
but Time has rewritten my terms
of what pleasure is — and I never get up
to dig for a can of worms.

We’d sit on the dock and we’d swing our legs
all day in the blazing sun,
and a few small fish on a piece of string
was our ultimate dream of fun.
Then digging for worms was an easy task,
but I tried it a year ago
and the earth seemed hard as a city street
where the streams of traffic flow.
And I’d lost the knack of clutching a thing
that wriggles and twists and squirms,
so I said to myself: “You will never again
go digging at dawn for worms.”

I stuck to the task ‘til my hands grew sore,
I labored and toiled and wrought,
but the worms were scarce and no robins came,
and it wasn’t the fun I thought.
But a small boy said as we walked away:
“I’m wondering, Uncle Ed,
when there’s so much pleasure in getting up,
how can old folks stay in bed?”
I could only answer him this: “My lad,
all experience confirms
the dreadful fact that there comes a time
when it’s labor to dig for worms.”

From Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

Some of us who have grown old and stiff are finding that it’s labor to dig for any reason nowadays, though ‘nature’s call’ may still rouse us before dawn. 😉
Happy gardening, everyone.

An Un-Fun Haiku

pill by pill
I put my pain away
prickly spines

Where I’m at today. Not feeling the greatest Sunday afternoon and woke up yesterday morning with something “out” in my lower back. I could hardly walk. Thankfully I’m a little more mobile this morning, but not out of the woods yet.

If you’re young and your spine is supple, do take time every day to keep it that way. This is no fun! 😦

Clunky Old Shoes

The day is cloudy and chilly and I’m not feeling any great inspiration, so will post this poem again. It appeared on my blog back in Jan 2013 and, like the shoe fashion it describes, it can reappear. 🙂

OLD GRANDMA SHOES
Author Unknown

When I was very little
All the Grandmas that I knew
Were wearing the same kind
Of ugly grandma shoes.
You know the kind I mean. . .
Clunky-heeled, black, lace-up kind,

They just looked so very awful
That it weighed upon my mind,
For I knew, when I grew old,
I’d have to wear those shoes.
I’d think of that, from time to time
It seemed like such bad news.

I never was a rebel,
I wore saddle shoes to school,
And next came ballerinas
Then the sandals, pretty cool.
And then came spikes with pointed toes
Then platforms, very tall,

As each new fashion came along
I wore them, one and all.
But always, in the distance,
Looming in my future, there,
Was that awful pair of ugly shoes,
The kind that Grandmas wear.

I eventually got married
And then I became a Mom.
Our kids grew up and left,
And when their children came along,
I knew I was a Grandma
And the time was drawing near

When those clunky, black, old lace up shoes
Was what I’d have to wear.
How would I do my gardening
Or take my morning hike?
I couldn’t even think about
how I would ride my bike!

But fashions kept evolving
And one day I realized
That the shape of things to come
Was changing, right before my eyes.
And now, when I go shopping
What I see fills me with glee.

For, in my socks and Reeboks
I’m as comfy as can be.
And I look at all these little girls
And there, upon their feet
Are clunky, black, old Grandma shoes,
And I really think that’s neat.