There’s No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home

 

 

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:

“I have a possible dilemma regarding the apartment complex I live in. There has been a change of management company for my complex. They are handling affordable renting now and as such have a maximum income that you can have […] My income alone would not be a problem but they also want to see any assets. This would put me over the maximum […] I do not know what to expect in terms of whether I would be able to stay here even though I have been here for 26 years. On the other hand if you try to rent in the normal rent market, I do not have enough income to qualify and they will not consider savings […] So this leaves me wondering what in the world am I supposed to do. Can you help me figure out what to do.”

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.

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!!!

 

 

 

Mr. Gray is Tech Savvy

Mr. Gray is Tech Savvy

 

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...  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.....  Hubby and I part the sea of consumers Moses meets Ninja Warrior style. We workout sooooo…..

  We meet blue man group.

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...  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 realized quickly that this 80 yr old gentleman knew way more than me about operating his laptop. Mr. Gray clearly had his tech shhhh*** together. ”

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)

 

 

Who Let the Dogs Out

Who Let the Dogs Out

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:

  Too much?

Too much?

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.

 

Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror

….on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?

Snow White aka porcelain skin with ruby red lips NOT Snow White the pruney broad with white wirey hair. 

Or so I thought….

Yes folks, this is a very accurate depiction of me (with more tears) on the momentous day of September 25, 2007. A day which will go down in infamy. The day when I discovered my first gray hair. Age 26. RIP brunette bombshell.

(p.s. That made-up date was totally pinpointed for dramatic effect)

Oh, that fateful day. That day when I thought: “This is it, Shelly. The beginning of the end. My youthful flame, beauty, vibrance – it’s all shattered. I must accept the inevitable downfall.” 

I also thought: “Thanks ALOT for the premature graying genes, dad.” See below:

“White hair don’t care.” Speak for yourself daddio. Seriously though, the man was fully gray by age 30. Lucky for him he actually rocked it, and still does. 

You might be thinking, “why would gray hairs bring her to tears if she loves seniors and all that is old?” Well, in that moment, I was a total hypocrite. Today, I see seniors with their gray hair and think “amazing; wisdom; experience”, but when it came to myself, I couldn’t handle the first sign that I was truly aging. I thought this meant my beauty was starting to fade *WAH*. Fast forward 10 years, I only have a few more rebellious gray hairs (thank you organic lifestyle) and I have realized so much about myself and Mr. Gray. Although things change in color and texture, aging can have it’s own type of beauty. And yes I do mean “on the outside.”

For a moment, I’m going to focus on my ladies here since men have this magical way of looking better and better as they age *EYE ROLL*. I see you Sean Connery. 

While searching for “seniorspiration” (yep, made that word up) at a local shopping market, I looked up and saw this adonis before me. 

Move over Golden Girls, this lady is the real deal. I mean, I literally had a mouth drop situation (my apologies for not getting a better pic, but clearly, she was onto my stalking). Her perfectly twisted hair (p.s. you should see the back with her fancy hair clips!), her posh yet weather appropriate outfit, her just right make-up. I was in awe. Besides that, she had such a grace about her which completed the package. Royalty. Senior Royalty she was. 

THEN, yesterday, I arrive at a resort with my hubby and I nearly drop my tea & coffee cake when I spot this Mr. Gray all gussied up in black & gold (as a Steelers fan this was serious bonus points):

  P Diddy can't pull off that much bling. 

P Diddy can’t pull off that much bling. 

Pretty sure I put the I LOVE SENIORS vibes out so HARD that it was like the power of attraction and she finally came up next to me (or it could have been that I was next to the food- but that’s neither here nor there). I thought: “This is your chance.” Like a lion spotting a gazelle that separated from the pack, I pounced: “HI! I LOVE YOUR OUTFIT!” Augh, Mr. Gray (also known as Jane) was a gem and her eyes lit up and there was no shame in her game. She was happy to take a photo with me and full of zest.  Her granddaughter was also with her and told me that Jane is the talk of the town and always dresses like this. As in, every single day. Small world, turns out she lives, literally, 1 block from me. I felt robbed of all the outfits I could have seen. 

Beyond showing that Mr. Gray can be a breathtaking species worthy of a Gawk’nStalk (wow I’m making up lots of fun terms today!), I want to note that it clearly took these ladies effort to look so put together– and maybe this effort was well spent!

I mean, Mr. Gray didn’t roll out of bed in these cases and head out for the day. No no. There was time and energy invested: outfit selection, hair twisting, accessorizing, make-up application. Heck, I mean Mr. Gray #1 should get bonus points ALONE for putting on stockings. You know what I mean ladies: stockings add at least 5 precious minutes into a dressing routine — the stretching them out, rolling them down, clipping your hang nail so it doesn’t snag them, pulling them up like at a slug’s pace, and then you inevitably have to pee. It’s an ordeal for anyone of any age. Mr. Gray #2- I mean dammmmnnn. She accessorized like Lady Gaga at the Grammy’s…or should I say “Grammies.” ;o) 

Now the question, is, WHY would a senior spend so much time foofing? Isn’t it this Mr. Gray’s “golden years,” where he/she’s finally earned the right to roll out in those ripped up jeans, eat sweets for breakfast, and tell it like it is?! So why dress up? 

Well, one might be inclined to think, wow *she’s so vaaaain, bet she thinks this blog is about herrrr*.  Is it vain to put effort into looking your best? I think not! This reminds me of that TLC TVshow a from a few years ago: “What Not to Wear.”

  What were you THINKING wearing and old tshirt, sequence sweatpants and crocs with rainbow-dyed hair?!? 

What were you THINKING wearing and old tshirt, sequence sweatpants and crocs with rainbow-dyed hair?!? 

Oh, the magical designer duo, Stacy & Clinton! They were always doing unbelievable makeovers. And they did seem at times a bit “judgey”, BUT if you noticed the huge smiles and the end of the makeovers, you knew they were onto something! They would always say that when you look your best, you feel your best — that it can affect the way you relate to the world and yourself. Essentially, that presenting yourself well on the outside can make you feel good on the inside. And you would definitely feel this truth from the formerly fashion faux-pas folks on the show (p.s. I dub myself the queen of alliteration.)

Why can’t this look good/feel good formula apply to seniors? Well, it can and it does. Perhaps it makes Mr. Gray feel a little better about his arthritis if he puts his favorite cap on to get coffee or her gold bow belt going to dinner?

My personal proof of this formula: Even when she was ill in the hospital, my nanny (aka wife of the original Mr. Gray/my Grandpa/blog inspiration in my “About Me”) loved to have her hair brushed and nails done. A few days before she died in 1997, I painted her nails pink with purple and yellow flowers. I was 15 and that’s all I knew I could do to help her. She died with that nail polish I painted on her fingers. I couldn’t make her well and I know a nice manicure is such a small thing, but I like to believe it helped. Actually, I know it did because it made her feel a bit more put together. She was beautiful and those things made her feel beautiful.

So, back to Stacy & Clinton who would always say, no matter where you go, if you are in public, be put together. Well, my nanny ROCKED that hospital bed, Queen Gray ROCKED that grocery store aisle, and Jane ROCKED that lobby. 

Someone should tell that fairytale mirror that youthful beauty is so last year. 

 

 

Go Go Gadget Gray!

Go Go Gadget Gray!

As far as vaca goes, my husband Abe and I are total opposites. He loves to sit in his beach chair for hours and do nothing; all he needs are his headphones and a good book. Actually, he just needs his headphones. Actually, just air. 

IIIIIIIII, on the other hand, am refreshingly more complex *hair flip* and require far more to keep me entertained. Therefore, this is how our communication goes at the beach — I mouth something to him pretending he can hear what I’m saying through his headphones, until he begrudgingly yanks out just one earpiece, and I hit him with:

To which he always responds: “I’m relaxing.” (No duh, buddy, you’re pruning). 

So I step it up. *Eye batting* *Puppy-dog face* Please Please Pleeeeease do something with me baby honey sugarplum boobobooboobear! 

“Not right now. I’m relaxing.” 

Auggggh you are WORTHLESS TO ME HUSBAND! I married you to have a playmate! I am done with you! (Ok, not really, but that’s how I feel for 5 seconds).

I then pathetically resign myself to wandering the shore looking for a crab to talk to. But I mean, who wants to sit in a chair and just roast like a chicken?? I can scan a magazine for 30 minutes MAX but then I wanna liiiiive as in swim, play bocce ball, boogie board, build a sand castle, look for shells, build Noah’s Ark in the sand, whatever— ANYTHING but doing nothing. 

Look, I can’t help it really. I’m an active vacationer. I’m an active person. I love yoga, pilates, hiking, biking, volleyball, and most recently off-roading (bonus: Abe hates getting wet and it just so happens I love driving through puddles. Paybacks baby ;o))

Now, I don’t want all those zippy activities to give you the wrong idea here— good ‘ole board games are life. My happy place. My zen. But alas, I run into the same sticky issue with my beach bum hubby – he happens to also hate board games and so I never. have. anyone. to. play. with!!!!!

Despite my frustration, I’m not trying to change my husband to enjoy these things. That would be preposterous!

I simply want to age him. NBD right? ;oD

….because ya know darn well Mr. Gray would take me up on that game of scrabble! HE wouldn’t leave me hanging because he loves his board games and crossword puzzles and other highly underrated sophisticated activities. Exhibit A:

 That hands-behind-the-back-pose is everything. 

That hands-behind-the-back-pose is everything. 

I caught these folks in puzzle action at a resort this past weekend. (Luckily, I’ve honed my senior stalking skills to where I seem to be casually taking shots of the room. As if I’d be looking at anything else hahahahaha. *Cuz you know it’s all about that Gray, bout that Gray*) But seriously, I did leave my fancy birthday dinner to capture these snazzy seniors. Priorities.

So, we all know Mr. Gray fancies puzzles and board games and all that jazz….and that’s good stuff because those things are awesome and keep him tres sharp. BUT, why is it almost unnatural for us to picture him doing other activities– you know, as in the ACTIVE ACTIVITES?! 

Well, the stereotype that exists is that Mr. Gray lacks the physical ability and/or is just not interested in being active. Unfortunately, this fixed way of thinking not only stifles our view of seniors, but I argue it also limits the access they have to doing these sorts of activities (i.e. “let’s not offer that it’s too hard for them” or “they will have a heart attack”, etc. etc.). This limits seniors and frankly, it’s demeaning. Nobody likes to be put in a box, so let’s not do that with Mr. Gray either, mmk? 

There are SO many examples out there of seniors not only doing what younger adults can do, but doing MORE than what the average adult can do. 

Here’s just one example. Prepare to be amazed:

As she talks about in this 2010 video, Barb Macklow finished her 1st 100 mile race at age 74. And then, in 2017, she completed her 2nd 100 mile race at age 82.

  Barb with her 100 mile buckle. 

Barb with her 100 mile buckle. 

Let’s take that in for moment. 

ONE HUNDRED FRIGGIN MILES.  I just, I just can’t even fathom this– from anyone at any age. My hubby just ran his 1st marathon (26.2 miles) in October at age 38 and I was in awe of him and the rest of the runners crossing the finish line. Super impressive stuff. Theeeen, you have this ultramarathoner who is 82 years old and ran 4x that length!!!! She ran for 2 days people. 2 DAYYYYS. I can’t even run for 20 minutes. The physical stamina. The mental fortitude. Get this woman a bigger buckle! 

Now, back to my earlier point that we stereotype elderly folks as inactive……. 

If you noticed in the video, Barb mentioned “the general population thinks you’re not quite right.” She’s spot on but what is that crap?? Why do we assume that Mr. Gray can’t DO challenging activities and is nuts if he/she does? While it’s true that some senior folks can’t, some CAN. And isn’t that the same with all people, of all ages? Some can do certain things, some can’t. So let’s rewire our thinking here, shall we? 

Mr. Gray can run. He can jump. He can skip. He can do it all. He’s Mr. Gray. 

The Force is with Mr. Gray

The Force is with Mr. Gray

My father gave my brother several creative nicknames as a kid. If you were a parent of a super common name like Michael in the ’80s/’90s, you likely felt this pain: They would yell out his name in the playground: “MIIICHAAEEEL!!!!!!” 

26 heads would turn….none of them his.  

So my dad came up with a few nicknames that to this day will whip my brother’s head around faster than you can say ContinuingCareRetirementCommunity. They are “Jake!” and “Obi-Wan!” Seems random right? Well, sorta. Jake was indeed random, but it did the job. The more appropriate nickname, however, was “Obi-Wan”— you know, as in this dude:  

  Obi-Wan Kenobi:

Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. The truth is often what we make of it; you heard what you wanted to hear, believed what you wanted to believe.” 

Was my dad a huge Star Wars fan? Not particularly. Did my brother think he was a wise sage who by nature of simply being himself KNEW EV-ER-Y-THANG? OHHHH yeeeeeah. Was he typically wrong? Bingo! So while my younger brother Michael lacked the wisdom he thought he was blessed with at the ripe age of 10, Mr. Gray on the other hand, has got it in spades. At least, that’s my not-so-humble opinion ;o)

Lemme explain…

Seniors know things. They just KNOW. Kind of like mothers know if their kids are sick or women get an eerie feeling if their men are cheating. It makes sense though if you think about it. They have the most life experience, so they must have a deeper and wiser perspective on most topics, from romance, to health, to family life.

The issue is, many of us (myself included as I will show you), don’t often realize it or take advantage of this wisdom and acquired knowledge. Instead, we hear what they saybut we don’t listen. Lemme present a husband/wife analogy with which we are all TOO familiar. 

Ladies want their husbands to listen to them like this:

“Go ahead. I am hanging on your every word honey.” 

And luckily, our husbands give us that undivided attention. 

Sike. You know it’s really more like this: 

“Can YOU BE-LIEVE Suzie didn’t even ASK me if she could borrow my pen and just….” I wonder if I should trade Ben Roethlisberger this week for mmmmmm burger. Actually…Doublebaconcheesburger. Beer WITH my doublebaconcheesburger. 

Like hubbies illustrate to their wifey’s on the regular, when Mr. Gray speaks, we “youngsters” are physically present (gold star for us!), but that’s about it. We see him. We hear him. Buuuuut let’s be honest, we don’t really care what’s being said and the message doesn’t really stick. However, we DO care about feigning interest to be polite, because anything else would be, well, rude. Unfortunately, this nodyourheadupanddown interaction is pretty useless and a disservice to both parties; We are passing by these stories, ideas, and opinions like stale toast, when they really are gems– Jennifer Aniston damn that engagement ring is huge she must need finger insurance GEMS!!!

Don’t believe me? Just watch…

“Judge, I’d like to take the stand and make my opening argument against MYSELF for the mistreatment of Mr. Gray.”

Circa 1997, my grandpa was in his mid 80’s and always had unique ideas. As a teenager, I definitely was guilty of the senior “yeahyeah okok suresure that’s nice” with him. I loved him dearly and knew he was smart, but I still had that subconscious he’s just being an old fogey reaction when he told me his wacky ideas. I’ll never forget being in the bathroom we shared (he lived with us) when he went on a mini-lecture about the harms of chemicals in regular deodorant. And then he whips out his “natural” crystal deodorant that looked like a piece of kryptonite and/or stalactite yanked from Luray Caverns. 

Let us pause…………………………………       ………………………………………………     …………………………………………………………………….. …………………………      ……………………………………….     …………………………………………………    ……………………………………..  ………………………………….

Yes, that’s right folks. THAT is basically what he was recommending I switch to from my smooth, white, lovely, normal, Dove deodorant. MR. GRAY YOU CRAYCRAY. My 16 year old self laughed and said something along the lines of “got it Grandpa, I’m sure it’s AWESOME and I’m so worried (not) about chemicals going into my armpit. Thanks but no thanks. You do you booboo.” 

Well, KARMAKARMACHAMELEON. Look who (me) develops chemical friggin’ sensitivity 12 years later? Yep, now I’m a synthetic fragrance free fanatic. I even give people the squinty eye and shake my head when they wear strong cologne or lotions saying to myself “Uh, can’t you see you’re killing yourself slowly and me as well? OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE!!!!”

Luckily, there is growing selection of these products today and I’m always on the lookout. Well lookey what I pass by in the grocery store last week:

  The crystal and all his crystal friends. 

The crystal and all his crystal friends. 

Yup, there she is in all her glory. Not only would I use this deodorant today. I would ROCK THIS ROCK. Today, many people are aware that chemicals, including those in our deodorant, impact our endocrine system, contributing to cancer, and all these other horrible things. But back 20 years ago, we didn’t know. No one was talking about that stuff. There was no Dr. Oz. No organic aisle at Giant. Fools we were….but Mr. Gray is no fool. He knew. MY Mr. Gray knew. 

He used his good ole noodle and thought to himself: “Hmmmm….chemicals….on the body…on the body means in the body…A+B=C…this is not a good combination.” 

DUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

But that’s the beauty of seniors! As we are all caught up in the sheepish do what everyone else is doing rat race, they are capable of and see the value in taking a step back to evaluate; they are able to think about things through a unique lens and arrive at common sense conclusions. What my grandpa realized about his deodorant wasn’t rocket science — but it was WISE. 

Shoulda listened. 

Well, judge, guess I am guilty as charged. But I promise I will never again doubt Mr. Gray’s wisdom. Why? Because he’s got a crystal ball and it showed him to use crystal deodorant.