For better or for worse, aged bodies and their five senses groan under the load of sensitive blood cells heading to distinction. Like the antiques rotting in great-granny’s attic, my hearing, vision, touch, taste, and smell have gone kaput. Let’s combine those with memory loss and this old lady and her man, both retired and married over 50 years, must make daily decisions on how to connect with each other and the land of scorpions and termites in Arizona.
With my acute hearing loss, I have two marvelous high-tech hearing aides, but they don’t help much. I blame John’s hearing loss on 1960s good ol’ rock and roll with stereophonic, earth shattering sounds of lead guitars he loved to sing with. One recent morning John said, “Preston has school soccer practice.” Honest, that’s what I heard.
“Oh is soccer starting?” I asked. Preston is our teenage grandson.
“What? Soccer? I didn’t say anything about soccer.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Babe, I asked if you need your stool softener with breakfast.”
“Why would he need stool softener for soccer? You just bought him those great soccer shoes?”
“Well maybe it would help with my constipation.”
“I’m talking about breakfast and constipation prevention.”
“Well, why didn’t you say so. Yes, I want my stool softener.”
Hearing loss becomes a plague that kills nice communication between aging couples and their offspring, like termites chewing up your attic beams and the tender floor boards of your home. But the beauty of cell phones is you can turn the volume up and never miss a word. Cell phones and texting keep us in touch with family as never before. Just ask our grown kids. For some reason they don’t want us having important conversations when on lunch dates.
My phone rang while my daughter and I were enjoying a lovely meal.
“Mom, don’t answer, let them leave a message.”
“Helloo, this is Betty,” I shouted above the din.
“Mom, shush, you’re talking too loud.”
“But it’s my doctor’s office.” Darling daughter heads to the restaurant bathroom.
“So glad you called. What a relief, no change? My bone loss is the same as five years ago?!”
Why was she embarrassed? Good news should be shared. Also the exterminator eliminated our termite problem and sent me a congratulatory text, which makes me glad he didn’t call. Grown children are just too sensitive.
One very important sense of the human body is touch and for me, it’s a very jumpy subject. The reason is: if you can’t hear chances are you will leap outta your skin when someone touches you since you didn’t hear them coming. This is a skill my husband has mastered. Last night I got up from bed to go to the bathroom being careful to avoid scorpions which crawl in the night…and our black cat. In spite of a five night lights, I didn’t see or hear John. He touched my shoulder. Eeek! The nerve endings on my wrinkled skin erupted in a panic and my fright mechanism, though old, lashed out to eliminate the threat. Jumpy indeed. It took an hour before we relaxed enough to go back to sleep. I must remember to buy a motion sensor for the bedroom or wear my hearing aids and glasses to bed. And skip the morning stool softener.
Now we must chat about the sense of sight. We enjoy 20/20 vision thanks to eye glasses we bought on special, “Get two for the price of one.” But if you are mega near sideded like me the cost goes up by $510. Then we both must purchase computer glasses which my dear one forgot to take off as we blithely traveled to the grocery store…at night.
“Where are the white lines they’re supposed to paint in this parking lot?” Computer glasses complained.
“What are we doing here? This is Lowe’s?”
“Yes, it’s Lowe’s.”
“Yes, but the grocery store is over there. You must have thought I said Lowe’s when I said loaves.”
“Really? You’re the one with hearing aids. Why can’t you stop mumbling?”
“I give up. Since we’re here, you might as well pick up the light bulbs and paint we need. I’ll walk over and get the bread, milk and bran flakes.”
“Okay, I’ll pick up the paint while you get the bread.”
An hour later I text John, “Are you done? I can’t find the car…or you.” Even the termites see better in their dungeons than we do.
The senses of taste and smell are very closely linked as you age. I have tender ancient taste buds and a sensitive stomach so bland food is good for me. John prefers jalapenos over everything, but I think the hot peppers have cauterized his nasal passages.
“Please take out the trash, it stinks to high heaven.”
“I don’t smell anything.”
“Exactly, you can’t smell anything.”
“I was a salesman and last week I sold my old Ham Radio transceiver online.”
“Not sell, smell. Never mind, I’ll empty the trash myself.”
“What are you doing? That is too heavy for you.” He grabs the bag out of my hands and says, “Hey you’re right, this does stink!”
For better and mostly worse, our aged senses are spinning out of control. But like John tells me when I’m nestled in his arms, “We’re in this together, Babe.” Someday I’ll touch his face and shout in his good ear, “I’m Betty, not Babe.”
Yes, my Love, grow old along with me, the worst is yet to be.