5th grade. Age 10. A young girl pencils her full name: “Shelly Zemrose” into her bedroom closet. Next up – the window sill – several times just to be safe. She’s about to leave her childhood home, FOR-EV-ER. She wants it to stay a part of her and she most certainly wants everyone to know…it was hers first.
Yeah you may think I’m embarrassed to admit I wrote my name about 20 times in the old bedroom of my first house in Alexandria, Virginia. But no, no I’m not. In fact….
I. WOULD. DO IT. AGAIN. Just doubledogdare me.
Why? Because I am super nostalgic, an old soul, and just a little bit weird. Well, a lot a bit. (stalking Mr. Gray isn’t necessarily “the norm”…………..yet. *evil smirk*)
But in my own defense here, homes mean a lot to people if you’ve lived there for a good while. I mean, memories were made there. It’s the place that keeps you grounded when things are shaky. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. Where do you want to go after a rough day? Home. It’s also a place for laughter. It has that perfect spot for the Christmas tree where kids have opened gifts year after year. It’s where family has gathered around the dining room table every Thanksgiving- bickered and made up again. The good, the bad, and the ugly — it’s just human nature to love “home.”
Mr. Gray is no exception. At age 10 I was devastated to leave my home and go to a new place. Now put yourselves in Mr. Gray’s orthopedic shoes (hey don’t knock ’em till you try em) and you’ve lived somewhere for 10, 20, maybe 40-50 years and then —- you’re forced to MOVE. And often to a place where you don’t want to go aka a nursing hell (excuse me I meant nursing “home”) and downgraded to a shoebox-sized room with a roomate. SUNDAYFUNDAY!!!!! I mean, just look at the bright side Mr. Gray:
Seriously, this sucks for seniors, and it happens all the time for a variety of reasons: necessity i.e. the family can’t care for Mr. Gray anymore OR Mr. Gray can’t afford his home anymore OR Mr. Gray is simply in the way of progress. Here’s a little “uncool” story of the latter to show you how this type of situation goes down on the regular:
So my hubby, Abe, is a retirement planner and together we co-own the business. We specialize in seniors, so I mean, that works for me ;o) Well, recently, one of our lovely clients, age 75, emailed us and was reaching out to Abe for advice. She was concerned and I would venture to say, frightened, of getting kicked out of her apartment. Here’s a snippet:
Uhhh, talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place – except the rock is your HOME and the hard place is OUT ON THE STREET. Dude. It’s like, does anyone give a *BLEEP* about what happens to this elderly woman? Let me provide the short answer, NOPE. It’s all about the moneymoneymoneymoney. Who cares if this woman has lived in her home forever and would have nowhere to go?!
And no, this isn’t all folks — as another despicable example, I recently read in the paper (yes I’m in my mid 30’s and enjoy a tangible newspaper LOL) about a Washington D.C. apartment complex where many seniors had been living for years and was being turned into college housing. Off with the old on with the new! And BONNNUUUS, handicapped accessible doors are perfect for moving in those beer pong tables!!
NO. NO. and NO.
Cuzzzzz…ya DO building owner people.
Shoot, if people nowadays are forced to change cell phone providers, it’s WWIII, but I guess displacing Mr. Gray is totes acceptable as long as more money is to be made and forward progress. Well what about the fact that HE set the stage for us, created the infrastructure, fought in the wars to protect our buildings. Without Mr. Gray, we very literally, wouldn’t exist, but ya know, he’s past his prime now — old, slow, and wrinkly–so BUHbye.
Mr. Gray deserves his home, or at the very least, the CHOICE to stay in his home. When he can no longer stay in his home due to needing more care, and it’s time for an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, that’s one thing (and for another blog post!), but there are so many cases where Mr. Gray is able and willing to stay.
Most of us couldn’t even handle being booted off of Facebook, so I think it’s only reasonable to stop booting Mr. Gray out of his house. LET MY PEOPLE STAY!!!
I had a major first world problem a few months ago. I mean I couldn’t eat, sleep, breathe, or do life…
Yup, laptop was out of commission. You know when pop-up windows come at your screen Whac-a-mole style? It was a typical viral infection of the worst kind- the one that infects your technology. And even though I do own a desktop, I did what any normal 35 yr old independent woman would do: I ignored the issue for several months and used my husband’s laptop instead.
I mean, who the heck wants to pack up their laptop, drive the whole 30 minutes to the Apple Store, and sit there for what seems like hours to do something so UNfun?!?! But after a few months, I finally put my big girl pants on (aka my non-yoga pants) and decided to head to the store. Actually, I probably did have yoga pants on because I mean you have to be comfortable when you wait longer than 5 minutes for something that doesn’t result in food. So I packed up the ole sick laptop and in another self-demonstration of “females rule the world I don’t need a man I can do it myself”, I dragged my husband Abe with me for moral support.
When we rolled up in the Apple Store on a Saturday (not a Tuesday for you rap lovers), it was shall we say “overcrowded.” This was the sequence of events:
They must be giving something away. Here goes nothin…
Hubby and I part the sea of consumers Moses meets Ninja Warrior style. We workout sooooo…..
We meet blue man group. “Hey, hey guys, we’re smarter than you. How can we help you lowly computer-inept souls?”
So the blue shirt dude takes my name down and tells me it will be 1.5 hours. Come on blue man, I’ve got things to do like watch Narcos on Netflix!! *eye roll*
My husband and I grab empty stools, but for some reason sat at 2 different tables. Sometimes you need your space ya know? Unless of course you’re 75 plus, then it’s you + me = koalas on a tree!
After 10 minutes of mindlessly scrolling on our phones, this day does a zippydedooda 180! Mr. Gray comes into the store like an angel in grandpa jeans. First thought: A senior in an Apple Store?? My curiosity was peaked. It was like an animal out his habitat narrated by the Crocodile Hunter (bet ya just said that again to yourself in his Aussie voice). Second thought: WHY THE HEEECK did he just sit down next to my husband instead of me??!!?!?
“Dear Mr. Gray, he can’t love you like I love you.”
But theeeeen, I thought this is kind of a dream of mine- a marrying of two loves- how poetic. My oooey gooey emotions took over as I gazed upon them:
Have you ever seen something so beautiful in your life? I was basically the Bachelorette handing out the final rose…
When logic took over I quickly switched tables, honed in on Mr. Gray and his Macbook, and tried to get to the bottom of all this with an awkward conversation:
Me: “Hey I’m Shelly. Come here often?”
Gray: “Yeah, I do. Here’s my name, number, address, and let’s hang out every Sunday for bingo and oatmeal. There will be many more of me there!”
Me: “OMG love to!”
Okokokkkkkkkkk this is how the convo actually went:
Me: “Hi I’m Shelly. Are you here to get your computer fixed?”
Gray: “No, I’m just taking a class.”
Me: “Oh, wow I didn’t know they offered classes.”
Gray: “Yeah, I’ve taken them before. They are really good. This ones about……”
I could go on sharing my stalkerish banter, but lemme just summarize: Mr. Gray is a retired pilot (he even gave me his card for proof and it had a plane on it, so I mean, that’s official in my mind). Besides his impressive flying knowledge, he rocked on his laptop. I was watching him open windows and do all this fancy jazz with the icons- up, down, all around.
I didn’t know if I was feeling embarrassed about my lack of skills or that I underestimated what Mr. Gray could do. Now I was pressed AND impressed. Things were going swimmingly.
Then blue man busted back in my space and totally killed the vibe. I mean don’t you have to save the world or something??!? He asked my husband and I to move since that table was for the technology class. What is this “Mean Girls?” You can’t sit with us! UHHH, NOOOOO SIR NO. Don’t you understand I’m in my happy place right now? That my husband’s seat choice was fate designed by Zeus and Aphrodite and what other Greek-ish names I can’t remember from 9th grade mythology class? So I of course smiled and said “sure” hoping he would be sidetracked by some shiny iphone. He was. So back to my blind day-date with Mr. G….
We chatted more about his piloting career, etc. I even let Abe get a few words in (that’s a rarity for me but I was surprised he was engaging in the discussion). Clearly, I’m making great progress towards building my husband’s senior obsession…….kinda like I did with my cat, Prince. Abe always hated cats and for a few years would toss him off the couch…but nooooowww…it’s all excuse me cutesy paw games and fur kisses. Think I’m winning the war on both fronts. p.s. I hope he doesn’t read this. Sorry babe cat’s out of the bag about your new love for cats (pun intended ;o))
At long last, boy blue comes out from his supertech lair and gives me my just-like-new laptop. Although I knew this meant it was the end of today’s encounter with Mr. Gray, his class was gettin’ started and who am I to get in the way of this computer wiz? So, as I clung to his pilot card, Abe and I bid Mr. Gray adieu with the realization:
Age is just a number when it comes to computers, and if you ever need yours fixed, take a number and prepare to age. ;o)
Taylor Swift and I have 1, very important, thing in common:
Yes folks. It’s not our mutual love for pop music that makes TSwift and I soul sisters. It’s CATS!!!!!
Before you Team Dog-gers get all fussy, I love dogs too, but it’s just that I’ve had cats my whole life: Georgie/Gracie/Casie/Cleo and then there’s my post-college adoption slash best decision ever whom I’ve had for 14 years: PRINCE. Meet my main fur-man:
He’s my BAAAAABBBBY. And even though he’s finicky and stubborn like his mama, he eventually listened to me lol. If you’re wondering about his awesome name, I’m sorry to disappoint — he was not named after the late great artist, he was named after royalty (in general) because I was single and ya know, needed a Prince Charming.
My love for Prince and cats in general is so deep, that I think it eventually spread like a beautiful disease straight to my cat-hating husband. For example, when we were dating, he used to shove him off the couch when he wanted to sit down; today, he talks to him and pets him so much with such gentle-loving care that I’m like DUDE. FORGET ABOUT THE CAT. Remember me, Shelly, the cool chic you married?
Despite his growing affection for Princey, there are still things that would put his panties in a twist, such as this completely 120% necessary house decor item:
So, why do I love cats so much?! Probably for the same reasons you all do (or at least, dogs if that’s more your pet style). It’s because they have always shown me love in return with their snuggles and purrs and rubs up against my leg. Prince is an “always there for me” companion. For the last 14 years, every day, happy, sad, crying, angry, no matter my mood he has always been there, showing me love. Not all cats may be as cuddly and physically clingy as he is – it’s like Stage 5 Clinger situation- can a sista take a bath alone–but, they all show their affection in their own way. And dogs, well, we all know dogs are the happiest animals on the planet and when you walk in the house it’s like: “HIHIHIHIIIIIIISOHAPPYTOSEEYOUOMGOMGOMGOMGGGGGFEEDMELOVEMEPETMEPLAYWITHME*
I believe our affection for our pets is even greater due to their loyalty. Seriously, it’s like “The Godfather” level loyalty: “Never go against the family.” So yeah, we all know dogs will lay down their life for their owners, but have ya’ll see this cat video? Cats get a bad rap as being too self-involved and like: “Here Cupcake, come sit on my lap!” “No, not right meow, I’m licking my paws.” So, I just had to share this on behalf of Team Cat:
I mean, slap a cape on this cat and a give him a lifetime supply of catnip, cardboard boxes, and ribbons!! Literally, this video was like me going after a 300lb Mr. T with my little lady fists. Gutsy Garfield.
We love our cats and dogs because they increase our quality of life by bringing joy and companionship. They are icing on the cake of life. But to Mr. Gray….pets are often much more…rather than a bonus, they are the connection to life.
It is true that in recent years, pets are becoming an “add-on” at senior living facilities such as nursing homes because of the joy they bring to seniors. The companionship, even temporary, of an animal makes seniors smile and prompts all sorts of amazing health results like decreasing heart rate, etc. This is a positive change in the senior care world. In other cases where Mr. Gray lives alone, however, he literally depends on his pet companion as a piece of survival. Seniors who can function and live on their own sometimes often have no family or friends left for companionship. In these cases, a pet can be a lifeline saving Mr. Gray from isolation and despair; a co-dependency is often created that really can be beautiful. Like spunky Garfield basically saved that little boy’s life, pets save Mr. Gray’s life in less obvious acts of heroism every single day. How? By doing things like this on a daily basis:
HOLD. THE PHOOOOOOONE. My husband won’t even walk that slowly next to me when my feet hurt from wearing heels. He’s like: “I can’t walk that sloooooow.” Well honey, as this weiner dog just showed you, YES. YOU. CAN.
This dog – what can I say- his 2 inch baby steps shows he is truly a senior man’s best friend. He is a true partner to Mr. Gray, meeting him right where he is at in life, no faster, no slower- every single step of the way. You better believe Mr. Gray feels that partnership and knows he is not alone, and in a way, he is being understood.
This is so special because Mr. Gray is often misunderstood: society overlooking strengths of old age, but zooming in on the weaknesses. Well, pets don’t judge –they just love. Let’s let our dogs out and be more “animalistic” towards our seniors! That would be PURRRFECT.