SENIOR DATING…BABY BOOMER STYLE

While on Facebook, I read an article about online dating and how it’s different for the over 55 crowd, because we have some unique priorities.  I haven’t really experienced online dating firsthand, but I have toyed with the idea and skimmed through a few “profiles.”  Something has always held be back.  First of all, I don’t like the idea of having to pay for a man’s attention whether it be email exchange, phone calls or an actual meeting.  Secondly it all feels so contrived.  First dates are awkward enough without the added pressure of never having laid eyes on each other.  Sure, you can exchange pictures in advance, but they might be sending you a picture of themselves that’s ten years old, photoshopped or even of someone else.  Not that a picture tells the whole story about someone’s looks anyway.  I have encountered people that, while not conventionally attractive, can light up a room with their smile or change an impression with their kindness or make me laugh so hard, I totally forget about ears or bellies that stick out too far.  In my youth, looks were right up there when it came to what I looked for in a man.  This train of thought led me to marry two very attractive men with hearts that did not match at all.  I’m not saying every good looking person cheats or gets involved with drugs or ends up in prison (am I giving too much away here?).  My two examples are extreme and there’s just as many homely men who might go down those same paths.  My point is I was hyper focused on looks and style and captivating charm to the exclusion of the qualities that really mattered.  What can I say?  I was a big dummy in that department, and I paid the price for it.  I thought bad boys were all that, and now, in my “old age,” I would run as far as I could from senior versions of these guys if my running days weren’t behind me.  Okay…I would walk as fast as my legs could carry me in the opposite direction.

One dating site that I actually contemplated joining  was for “country folk” who loved nature and the simple life.  I’m a bit of a nature freak, and I thought those types would be a good fit for my personality as opposed to slick, smooth, CEO types who wouldn’t be digging on an old school hippie type anyway.  That is until I started reading a few of the ads from over 55 prospects.  One of them proclaimed that he wanted a woman who would run to him, throw herself into his arms (presumably he would be able to catch her) with her hair streaming behind her in the gentle breezes of the farm.  She would also ride horses, help corral steeds and be just as comfortable on the back of a motorcycle as in a fine restaurant.  As I read on it began to occur to me that maybe I wasn’t as suited for the farm/ranch life as I had originally thought.

Back to this new dating site that I discovered on FB.  It’s called Tapestry, and it gave about 12 main points on why seniors have different values and needs than their 18-35-year-old single counterparts.  Some very valid points were made, and it really sounds like they’ve done their research and gotten feedback from some actual seniors.  For one thing, it was realistic.  I mean honestly how many senior ladies are going to be taking a running leap into a man’s arms unless they are old school members of the flying Walendas?  By the same token, how many gentlemen of a certain age are going to be able to catch these ladies who, very likely, have added a few extra pounds with the years?  Not many, I would venture to say.  More likely they would both land on a pile of horse manure, which would only slightly cushion the blow to their backsides and egos.  See what I mean?  Not very realistic at all.  Already, among the faint of heart, when it comes to exposing my vulnerable side, I am unlikely to respond to one of those ads.

Anyway if there’s more to say about this Tapestry website, I will follow up with another post.  I believe they are on the right track and if respondants will just keep it real instead of claiming to be an oil baron, a beauty queen or sending in a picture of their grandchild, it could turn out to be a good thing.

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DISTRACTIONS

Shortly after 6:AM this morning, my five-year-old granddaughter entered my room.  I am a very early riser, so I was up, but I had planned to spend my first waking hours finishing the book of Isaiah (I’ve been reading through the bible this year), praying and just generally doing spiritual stuff, because it’s a good thing to do and also because I need to see some things change in my life.  I also planned to finish my Dabney Hedegard book (Wow! what a woman) and then delve into my Practical Guide to Walking in Healing Power, because I figure the sooner you get a handle on a book like that, the better.  My sheets were stripped off the bed ready to be thrown into the washing machine, and the books that I keep on the bed were on the floor, because I would be replacing the fitted sheet and blankets after the clothes were washed.  I also wanted to do my 30 minutes on the exercise bike.  I have accomplished everything (with the exception of the healing power book, which I haven’t yet cracked open), but I wanted to do it all in my early morning time frame.  Why that seemed to be so important to me, I can’t say, other than my sometimes unrealistic desire to “be productive” in a house that contains two grandchildren, one of them under a year old.

I was not happy to see my granddaughter bogarding her way into my room.  Just like I’m not delighted when my youngest daughter (nanny of the almost one-year-old) thrusts him into my arms as I check my emails or whatever I may be doing at the dining room table.  “I want to make my breakfast” or “I want to eat my breakfast” or any number of things she feels cannot be accomplished with a velcroed on baby in tow.

“I have raised my kids and didn’t sign up for this,” I want to proclaim even as my arms grudgingly reach out for the baby or I turn on the Disney channel.  Then I have to consider why I bought this house with my daughter.  I am divorced and not a spring chicken.  In fact I’m more of a winter chicken, and I didn’t want to live alone or far away from my four grandchildren (the other two are ten minutes away).  I tend to get into my writing or my reading or my singing or my praying, and when I’m in that zone, kids are a distraction.  For that matter even a friend in need of a listening ear is an unwelcome intrusion, and then I remember I had no friends when I first moved to Los Angeles and I was lonely, and I couldn’t really play with my grandchildren when I was recovering from a car accident.

So I think I will stop looking at these lovely human beings as distractions, intrustions, irritations.  Is it really so important to check my emails when the baby reaches out to me?  Sometimes a child needs my touch as much as my prayer.  God is available 24/7, and I don’t think he will mind waiting till after I kiss and soothe a child.  Coincidentally here is the baby tugging at me to pick him up, so no spell check or trying to turn out a perfect post.  Bye computer, hello baby .

 

GUESS I’M NEEDED HERE

We’ve been living in this house for about a year and a half.  I bought this house with my daughter and her family, which includes two children, ages five and ten months as well as a 27-year-old youngest daughter.  The yougenst daughter (hereinafter referred to as YD) gets very irritiable if she is hindered in preparing and eating her breakfast.  She is the baby’s nanny, and he is very clingy, especially with her, because he’s very attached and tries to pull on her when she’s cooking.  Long story short…I end up holding the baby while she’s preparing her food (breakfast AND lunch) and also while she is enjoying a liesurely meal.  That can easily take up a few hours a day.  

Today the five-year-old is also home from school, because apparently the alarm to wake up her daddy did not go off, and by the time he woke up, she would have been very late for school, and it was pouring, so here she is at home talking a mile a minute, wanting to play, etc as I attempt to create what will surely be a less than perfect post.  Her mommy is off from work today, but has a million errands, so she probably won’t be around much.  To top it off, it’s been pouring (and, yes, I prayed for rain, and I will not apologize for its arrival) and the roof is leaking and will probably need to be replaced, so I was designated to make calls to prospective roofers this morning while simultaneously making my granddaughter a bagle with cream cheese and jelly.  Granted that did not involved complex cooking skills, but it was another thing to do, and I have my own rainy day agenda.  I want to throw some chicken in the oven early.  I want to drink some water with lemon in it.  I am trying to stay out of the way of PMS-ing, down with the flu, hungry YD who is not the easiest person to live with in the best of times.  So why is she here at the age of 27 I can hear you asking, but that’s a topic for another post.  I also want to complete a bible study in my workbook, and a little while on the exercise bike before the rain resumes wouldn’t be such a bad idea either.

Back to the roof.  At first I couldn’t get ahold of anyone and suddenly there is a roofer on my cell phone and one holding on the house phone.  There is also one here in person talking to my son-in-law.  When it rains, it pours as evidenced by the torrential downpour we have been experiencing after a vertiable drought.

 I like the guy who is currently working down the street.  He is young, a new Christian and a new daddy with a three-month-old baby whose still in the hospital after surgery.  When this guy leaves, I will call the other guy, and he can give a quote too.  My heart really goes out to this young family, and it would be great to throw a little business his way.

Son-in-law just told me they are going with the first guy since he showed up first, so that’s the way it is…the early roofer gets the dinero.

Feel guilty for not playing with granddaughter even though she should be in school and not here, so I’m gonna run now and season the chicken before I’m needed for something else, roof related or otherwise.  Oops, too late.  Gotta transfer money from savings to checking.  Done…and now I have a date with chicken parts and a granddaughter.

Definitely needed around here.

 

 

 

 

A SLOW BOAT TO CANADA

I was thinking about my dad yesterday.  My parents, older sister and I were all born in England, but when I was six-years-old, we relocated to Canada, something my father had wanted to do for years.  My mother refused to leave England as long as her mother was alive, but when she died, she finally felt ready to embark on this adventure, a decision that she would come to regret bitterly, but that’s a whole other post.

During World War 11, my father had been a member of the Royal Air Force, and he was stationed in Canada for five years.  It was during that time he met a young woman and began a long-term affair with her.  When the war was over, he returned to England, presumably to tie up loose ends, since he had promised this woman he would return to Canada to be with her.  My father preceded my mother in death, but they have both been gone for many years, so I have no idea what his true intentions were in returning home.  I definitely don’t think he had his heart set on producing the child that would turn out to be me.  Was he going to let my mother know he was leaving her and my 12-year-old sister?  Did he return for some stuff he felt he couldn’t live without, or did he never have the intention of returning to his Canadian love?  My father died when I was 21-years-old, and we never had that conversation.  In fact, I knew nothing about this piece of family history until years later.  

There was a lot I never knew about my parents’ lives.  People seemed to keep things to themselves in that era, at least in my family.  My mother would hint at dark secrets.  “I could tell you some stories,” she would proclaim from time to time, but she never went any further, and my sister and I, preoccupied with our own lives,  never pressed her for more details, so the stories remained untold.

It was only after my mother’s death, while I was going through some of her papers, that I came across a marriage certificate that revealed a secret.  My mother, who had always seemed so prim and proper in my eyes, had been pregnant with my sister when she married.  Back in those days, if she hadn’t married, it would have been quite a scandal.  This explained a lot.  My mother and father had always seemed totally unsuited for each other.  They were not a couple who appeared to be headed towards the bonds of Holy Matrimony, at least not without a big push or the proverbial shotgun to seal the deal.

My mother conceived me after my father returned from the war.  My sister remembers my weeping mother imploring her husband not to leave her.    Did she think that a new baby would be the glue to hold her faltering marriage together?  Did my father abandon plans to return to Canada out of a sense of duty and obligation, perhaps the same qualities that caused him to make an honest woman out of my mother in the first place?

Obviously I didn’t know my father before he returned from the war, but my sister remembers a different father coming home to her.  He was resentful, sullen, bitter and angry.  He no longer treated her with affection, and he all but ignored his new baby daughter who, at the very least, should have had the decency to be a male child.  My father often complained that there would be no one to carry on the family name, although I don’t know if he would have treated a male child any better.  It was obvious that he felt stuck in a place that he did not want to be.  He probably felt that he had made a great sacrifice to do the “right” thing even though it was a sacrifice that brought us all a great deal of misery.

The Canadian woman did not give up on her British solidier without a fight.  She sent letters and pictures to our home, so obviously he had been in contact and given her the address.  When my mother got her hands on the letters, it would cause her a great deal of distress, so my sister would intercept them and tear them to shreds.  Once there was a picture of this woman with a little boy.  Did she send that particular picture because my father had bonded with this child, or do we have a half brother out there somewhere?  These are secrets buried deep in the past that, short of a miracle, will never be revealed.

When I was six and we moved to Canada, did my father hope to rekindle a romance with his war time love or was he just trying to recapture the happiness and contentment he found in a distant place?  I have no idea whether he ever made contact with his Canadian love once we arrived there.  In any event, he stayed with my mother until his death, and in their latter years, they seemed to develop an attachment and unity that had in earlier years eluded them.   I think my father had finally made peace with how his life had unfolded.  My sister was grown when we moved to Canada and married a few years later after we had relocated to Michigan.  We never again lived in a beautiful house with a large garden, which we had left behind in England.  In fact, my father, a brilliant but unskilled man in his forties, had a very difficult time finding a job in Canada, and he grew even more distant and rejecting, mired in his own unhappiness.  One of the rare pleasant memories I remember sharing with him  was the two of us standing side by side on the deck of the ship on the way to Canada. It was in the evening and the big, round silver moon shone over the ocean.  My dad pointed out the flying fish to me.  He seemed peaceful and fascinated by how the fish leaped out of the rolling waves.  Perhaps he envied their unabashed freedom and joy.  Maybe he thought that’s what he would find once again in Canada, but that didn’t happen.

I believe my father’s rejection of me took root and flourished in it’s bitter soil.  I had no understanding of what it took to make a relationship work and no sense of being beloved in the eyes of God, since my earthly father didn’t love me.  I didn’t realize it was no reflection on who I was.  I didn’t even realize I had a broken heart, and I refused to give my father the satisfaction of knowing how much he had hurt me.  Because he didn’t allow me to know him, I had no idea of how deeply wounded he was.  Only after his death, did my mother reveal to me that he was brought up in an orphanage after his father died, and with younger children to raise, his mother felt she had no recourse.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend and on the way back to my house she played a Nat King Cole song my father had loved.  It was called “A Blossom Fell.”  My dad had a good voice, and he used to sing that song.  Unexpectedly my eyes filled with tears.  I have forgiven my father many years ago, but listening to those lyrics was healing for my heart.  I felt the remaining slivers of ice melting away, replaced with a tenderness towards him I did not know I could feel.

   

 

 

 

 

I STOP TRAFFIC

This is a title I would proudy wear.  No, I am not speaking of the kind of traffic that screeches to a halt when a beautiful woman sashays across the street.  Those days have long since passed in my youthful heyday, and I don’t miss that kind of attention at all. (at least most of the time.)  I am referring to something much darker than Los Angeles traffic, a horrifying plague, which has become the second largest source of illegal income, running a close second to the sale of illegal drugs.  The trafficking of human beings is the largest growing international crime.  Both males and females are bought and sold, but 80 percent of the victims are female, and 50 percent are minors.

The word slavery may conjure up images of Africans forcibly wrenched from their homes and forced into brutal servitude or the plight of Jewish slaves worked to death in Egypt.  The fact ist there are currently more slaves on the earth than at any other time in human history, and no country is exempt.  However, the most dismal and brutal conditions exist in countries where a large portion of the population exist in extreme poverty, causing them to be vulnerable to the promise of a better life.  Children are sold to traffickers to be used in forced labor, sacrifice or prostitution.  Little innocent girls, in particular are a hot commodity.  Have you ever heard the statement “You cannot be too thin or too rich?”  For some perpetrators, you cannot be too young.

The horror of this reality boggles the mind, and if we are not mindful of it, cause us to shut down emotionally and allow ourselves to be taken over by numbness.  The scope of it seems too large, too ominous, too much to bear.  Our efforts may seem to be an exercise in futility. This problem seems to be so far away where corrupt governments block any feeble attempts we might attempt.  It seems preferable to just shut our eyes tight and turn our minds elsewhere for our own self preservation.  If you are a parent or someone who cares about children at all, the thought of it can send you into utter madness.

I think of being a little girl who was afraid of the dark. The shadows on my wall could easily morph into the boogeyman if I was not watchful.  It is a painful reality to realize that for some little girls, the boogeyman is all too real even if he masquarades as a clean cut man offering a grin and a chocolate bar, and it is not a nightmare or an isolated event, and as much as I’ve tried to block it out, I am beginning to hear the aungished cries of little girls.  There is no doubt that I am not the only one being shaken awake by the children’s voices.  I have heard of this situation for a long time, but it suddenly appears as if grass roots organizations are springing up all over the place…modern day warriors in the army of God.  We can no longer remain comfortable sitting in church pews, organizing potlucks, and attending endless bible studies that are training us to do what we never seem to get around to doing.

It seems that I can’t go many days without being reminded of human trafficking whether it’s on TV, in a book, or God’s whisper to my soul.  I am totally ill equipped, and I have no idea what to do.  Like Moses, I say to God “Send someone else into this battle, because I am a big scaredy cat, not a bold warrior,” and he doesn’t try to change this opinion.  Just like with Moses, he reminds me it’s not about me.  It’s about Him, just as it always has been.  Some of us are just a little slow about getting it.

So, what am I to do during these retirement years with no excuses about lack of time or kids to raise?  I bake, I write, I try to form healthy relationships, especially with God, and I am working towards the day when I can respond “I stop traffic.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A SECULAR CHRISTMAS

Christmas was yesterday, and it was kind of empty.  It’s true that we didn’t have a traditional Christmas as far as the food goes.  We had  done that on 12/21 to accommodate some family members who wouldn’t be able to join us on Christmas day.  So as not to have to do a repeat of that (mostly the clean-up part) just a few days later, we decided to just pick up some pizza or Mexican food on Christmas Day.  This was definitely a first for me, but I figured some financially enterprising eateries would be open. That actually wasn’t the case, and I simply couldn’t bring myself to partake of a Burger King combo or something of that ilk.  I don’t want that any day of the year, but particularly on Christmas.  Yes, it was going to be non-traditional, but it didn’t have to be stomach turning was my rationale.

After calling about 20 places and even doing an online search, it was clear that the ordering of food from a restaurant wasn’t going to be a possibility, and at that point, I almost didn’t want to order from any restaurant that would be open on such a sacred day,  so instead I suggested we just grill burgers and chicken wings.  For sides we would have vegetarian baked beans, various flavors of potato chips and some oven baked potato wedges.  We would make sure to have a minimum of fuss and clean up by utilizing aluminum trays instead of ceramic platters, and somehow we would make it festive even without a burnished turkey and candied yams.

Christmas morning arrived with my granddaughter announcing that she was ready to open her presents, and, of course, everyone needed to be present for this event.  My kids are biracial, and it was important to my daughter that any dolls purchased, unless they were charactor dolls, were to be African-American.  The Elsa doll from the movie, “Frozen”, was okay, but no white Barbies or anything like that, so I purchased a relatively costly newborn sized Black baby doll, which was quickly rejected by my granddaughter in favor of platinum haired Elsa who she carries around with her everywhere, and the opening of the presents continued at a frenzied pace.  My granddaughter and her brother got a bunch of loot as was expected.

Later in the day my other daughter and her family arrived as well as my sister and her boyfriend, and we exchanged gifts and the grilling commenced.  A few other people stopped by with infants in tow, and I got to cradle a newborn baby boy in my arms for thirty minutes as he grinned contendedly and made cooing sounds in his sleep.  That felt a little closer to Christmas.

All in all the day was pleasant enough, but there was an undeniable emptiness that prevailed.  There was no telling of the Christmas story to the children and only a few random carols filling the empty spaces thanks to a Mariah Carey Christmas.  I did not attend a Christmas service or a musical concert during the holidays.  Nor did I help serve food at a mission or pass out presents to children or any of that, and I think that accounts for the sense that something was missing from my holiday celebration, which turned out to be all about a pretty, decorated tree, throwing together a few meals and buying presents.

I am quick to talk about how Christmas has been hijacked by all things commercial, but this time it was me who did the hijacking, and the empitness of a Christmas without Christ still hangs forlornly in the air, and I know it’s something that watching “A Wonderful Life” or admiring a festive tree won’t fix, and all I can do after the fact is say to the Messiah “Sorry I forgot to send you an invitation to my home this year and it won’t happen again.”

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS DINNER…FUN OR FIASCO

Technically this isn’t really a Christmas event.  I have invited some family members over for a pre-Christmas dinner to be held on 12/21.  The reason for this is some of the guests will be elsewhere on Christmas day, and I have gifts for them, so I thought it would be a good idea to get everyone together for fun, frolic, fellowship and gift exchange.  I also want to impart into this get together, the true reason we are celebrating.  I want us to acknowledge the birth of Messiah, the light of the world.  I want to sing Christmas carols and read the Christmas story to the children who will be present…large and small.  I also want to be filled with good cheer about creating a delectable meal for people I love.  I do like to cook, and I enjoy feeding people, but for some reason, I am filled with trepidation about cooking this meal for upwards of 30 people.  I have done Thanksgiving and Christmas before, and I have felt pretty confident about it.  Actually I didn’t stew about it at all.  I just plunged in and did what needed to be done, but this time I am overthinking it.  Perhaps one of the reasons is that I was in a serious car accident four years ago and am still not comfortable standing for long periods of time.  I’m also not sure I have cooked for so many people before.  There will be a lot of young children present, and kids can be picky.  Heck, I’m picky and am probably inserting my own food issues into the guests’ enjoyment (or lack, thereof) of the vittles.  I want everyone to have a great time and enjoy every morsel of food, but I feel I’m becoming overly invested in making sure this happens.

I just need to take a deep breath and remember why I’m doing this in the first place.  When I bought this house, I offered it up to God.  I told him I wanted to be hospitable and honor him with study of His word, praise and worship and feeding people out of my kitchen, so I’m placing my hand in His and asking him to replace fear of man  with faith in Him, culinary anxiety with the joy of the Lord and self induced pressure with praise of the One who created me and every guest that walks through this door.