I seem to have developed a severe case of listomania. One of those lists is of things I've lost. At first, it was simple things: keys, the book I was reading just moments before the phone rang, my glasses...
But lately, now that I've turned 70, I've realized it goes deeper than that. I don't know how to gracefully live the last third of my life. I was recently listening to a podcast in the NPR Book Review podcast, about Gloria Steinem's latest novel, a memoir. During her conversation with Susan Stamberg*, I heard her saying things that described MY current reality.
I tell you freely, it was QUITE A SHOCK. I've lived my whole life thinking she and I could not be more different. She labeled it - lack of suitable personal guides to deal with aging, who have tread a similar path successfully, who could serve as role models.
Things I've lost. We've all lost things, things that matter. I'm thinking things is probably the wrong word, as my list definitely includes living things, especially people.
• My father
• Shorter lived pets - dogs, cats, horses
•••some through carelessness
•••some through misunderstandings
•••some through various life changes:
• My mother's mind
• The ability to digest former favorite foods
• Vocabulary words, especially common ones
(*aside: So I checked the spelling of her name> e, not u, and found a delightful photo of her. And the fact that she was born Sept. 7, 1938, thus 7 years older than I am, (or near enough - Oct. 9th here. If her PR shot is current... Well, I think I’m back to the issue of being the same age as Goldie Hawn, which I discovered by accident after watching Overboard! [1987 - IDBM] when we both were 42, assuming the film was shot the same year it was distributed). I looked at her in that film, then down at myself... [Thankful I am that I didn’t have to make my my living on my looks. Clean (hair/body/clothes) is about as good as it gets. Glad I am she’s keeping her hand in.])
I find my lists jump from philosophical to inane with no rhyme or reason. Over the course of the next 50,000 words, I have no expectation that my style will shift. Once into an incident, I expect paragraphing as usual (especially as irritating as I'm finding this format to deal with,) but I really have no guarantee that it will. I've been noticing a tendency toward finding art in lists. Never expected that!
Some lists will be broken. In the last calendar year, I've been racing from one disaster to the next, trying to shore up the broken, unworkable, worn out, the results of former poor choices, but looking back honestly, I can logically see how I truly believe at the time that I was making the best choices available. Time will tell. Currently, I'm still struggling to break the reign of chaos.
Some lists will surely be comedic: Things offered, but refused
• TV Ratings Box (circa 1976-7 about the time the new shows were scheduled to begin)
• CNN Viewer Survey (11/1/15 @ 5:00ish - about five minutes ago. It was a much shorter conversation this time. "No TV" click. So, explanation still on my lips, I replaced my receiver, too.)
I was cleaning out old piles of stuff I couldn't bring myself to throw away. I again chose to keep a Nielsen TV Rating notice. They followed up with a call. Would I allow them to place a rating box on my TV line that would automatically monitor what channel my household was currently viewing for the next week?
I declined. She tried to cajole. "You don't understand the problem. The TV antenna blew off the roof. Nobody will go up and fix it until after I REPLACE MY ROOF." By then, I'd learned I could live quite happily without TV; in fact, I can't imagine how I ever found the time to watch!
Ah, what a great modern age we live in! I heard an incident line from an old sit com in a show billed as the best (or was it only?) show on TV about a working radio station, which the hosts of Sound Opinion said got it right. So, I ordered the only season of WKRP in Cincinnati, "I honestly believed turkeys could fly!" from a mail-a-disk-xxx-times-a-week-for-a-fee firm, watched them back to back, laughed a bit, but really, the show was a turkey except for the turkey quip.
I just realized that including the intro I wrote to explain what I was going to write, I’ve quoted from two podcasts so far, both unplanned. I feel another list topic coming on: Random things heard on free podcasts. Can I do that legally if I can't remember WHICH PODCAST I was listening to at that particular moment? So far, both were recent, but that could change at any moment without notice. :-(
Tippy When I was nine, I wanted an animal so badly, begged so hard that mom gave me permission, since I could get a “free” puppy from the vet’s. I think she only said yes because she really didn’t believe I’d ever be able to come up with the price of the shots. While dad was conveniently out of town, mother took me over to pick out my pup, $17.00, clutched tightly in my fist, which took forever to raise for a kid too young to really work for money. How did we keep it quiet? I have lost the memory of that. Once I had it, mom carted me over to the vet’s where a mixed breed litter lay beside a Cocker Spaniel bitch. The vet opined that the father was probably a toy collie. Several yellow, some black, I picked one with lace - white on the tip of his chin, feet and tail. I picked a yellow first, but mom nixed a female.
Unprompted, nine year old and younger children don’t create imaginative names. Our new pup became Tippy. That was the last time I ever deliberately chose a dull, unimaginative, insignificant name for an animal.
When dad got back from his business trip, he bellowed, “Either the dog goes, or I go!”
We all thought he was kidding, but mom said years later that he was dead serious.
Dad sounds as if he’s an animal hater, based on that incident, but he was actually a farm boy who grew up with dogs, cats, cows (which he and his three brothers had to milk twice a day...) He felt that keeping a dog in a house was inhumane. They were designed to run free.
Conversely, when we went from Iowa to NY state to deliver a horse, I took my bird dog a black female of obvious Black Lab lineage, but too small to be a purebred, along. [Black She ran free. He had a conniption fit. Actually, he had several of them. “Why don’t you give that dog a name, not a pronoun!” “Put that thing on a leash before it gets itself killed!”] I was irresponsible for not corralling my dog. It could get hit. At the time, I lived along a highway. The dog GREW UP there. Had she been inclined to play in traffic, she never would have lived to maturity.
Black She was great with people. Typical of bird dogs, she never met a human she didn’t like. Once I was meeting the Pinto Horse Association’s national president in my official capacity as secretary of the Iowa club. This great gal was the heir to a newspaper fortune, married rich and rich in her own right, but she had the “common touch.” So we met at her motel. I turned Black She loose, rolled down the window of my VW, and went in.
Returning hours later in the company of the president, I spied the dry water bowl under my bumper. “Just a minute. I need to refill my dog’s water bowl.”
“What dog? I don’t see your dog,” she said, looking around, mildly alarmed.
I gave my whistle as I turned on the outdoor water spigot, filled the bowl, again placing it under the bumper. Like a black arrow, my dog descended upon us. She skidded in, then plopped her rear and eyed Brownie’s teacup. They seemed as compatible as we were, so she set hers down carefully in the marked for such things. Both dogs happily sniffed and squatted, tails wagging. Brownie was enthralled with being able to leave the dog loose.
“The window is open if anyone threatens her. She’ll get in the back seat, lift her hackles and snarl as though she’s vicious. Otherwise, she’ll clear the area of game birds. When that task is done, she’s been known to point out rabbits and squirrels,” I quipped.
“People sometimes try to buy her; hunts well naturally,” I added when she cocked an inquiring eyebrow. “‘If she’ll go with you off a leash, you can have her,’ I‘ll generally say, knowing full well labs are loyal. They’ll hunt with anyone, but they are not confused about who owners them.”
One guy, coaxing her with his partially eaten hamburger, got her to walk to his truck, parked on the other side of mine at a Pinto show in Missouri.
“Okay,” I said, turning to walk away. She nudged my hand within five steps; I rubbed her ears.”
[Years later, we lost Brownie, too. She was out moving the water on their dry farm, which was irrigated when she was shot by an intruder.]
The trouble with dogs is they just don’t live long enough. Tippy made it until I went away for my last two years of college. (Big dogs don’t live as long as the smaller types.) A grizzled muzzled Black She was still around to shepherd my first Irish Setter around the neighborhood and teach her some “horse sense”... [This end kicks; give it a wide birth. Don’t run up barking your fool head off. Be respectful. Don’t dive for mice in the same manger where the horse’s head is buried in its dinner. If the ears go back, dodge. The front end strikes even harder than the back end kicks. If their ears are flopped lazily off to the side and the tails are swishing, you can slip into the water tank for a nice cool soak.]
When a neighbor into hunting asked me if my young pup could hold a candle to the black one, I shrugged. Later on, he proudly displayed his pheasant’s tail next to his gun leaning against my weathered step. My Irish setter crept into the photo [well, her nose did.] “Hers is even better, but when my buddy dropped his in your north pond, the black brought it back while the red one barked excitedly from the bank, dashing back and forth. She finally did a horrid belly flop into it,” he laughed as he pointed to his still damp pant leg.
Last updated 11/17/15 Added • Vocabulary words, especially common ones; 11/11/15 Added [Years later, we lost Brownie, too. She was out moving the water on their dry farm, which was irrigated when she was shot by an intruder.];
Word Count: 1901