Dinner and Discussions of Spleens

My parents are each 73 years old, but there can be varying degrees of 73ness. You know what I mean. Whatever age you are, there are people who share your chronological age, but some make it appear older or younger than the number may suggest based on their appearance and/or behaviors.

My parents are beginning to show more and more signs that their 73 is really catching up to them. For instance, during meals, my mom enjoys sharing stories of old friends and relatives. Now this isn’t really a problem, except that when you hit a certain age, the only updates you get from your similarly aged friends and relatives are medical in nature. Therefore, while eating my meal, my mom wants to tell me about her cousin in Bakersfield who had her spleen removed. Then I hear about her friend’s failed back surgery. Then my cousin’s post-operation infection. It’s taking everything within me to keep my food, well…within me.

My poor mom is afflicted with two men. This is most evident when she is sharing memories of days gone by. As a woman, my mom’s stories involve a lot of details which my dad and I perceive as red traffic lights on the road toward the point. As men, we just want to sail down the road and arrive at our destination as quickly as possible. As a woman, my mom takes a casual cruise, taking in every detail along the way. Dad and I see these details as stop lights because we have to sit there and wait for them before we can continue toward the destination; the point. Sometimes, we even have to take the occasional turn on to a side street of thought and roam through that neighborhood of (to us) meaningless information before we can return to the course. This maneuver is always keyed on the word, “anyway.”

For example, “remember? I had prime rib, mashed potatoes and broccoli. You don’t remember? Anyway, that was the night we flew in and stayed in San Jose for a week.”

On one hand, the fact that she remembers exactly what she had for dinner at The Hungry Hunter the night I picked them up at the airport ten years ago is an encouraging sign. Her mind is very sharp. On the other hand…what does that have to do with anything?

Later, my dad took some time to parade his collection of items he ordered from catalogs. Then, he brought out the catalogs for me to browse through. Sometimes he gets things that are actually kind of cool. Other times, he ends up getting something that is supposed to be slightly better than a thing he already has. That means he has no need for the old one, so guess who he wants to give it to. I love my dad very much, so I have to walk a very thin political tightrope when balancing whether to accept or turn it down. Sometimes I just need to take the battery operated floor sweeper, though my Swiffer does the job quite nicely. It makes him feel good.

My parents are the sweetest people ever. My dad gets people to fall in love with him wherever he goes. He’s just being himself, and people love to come up and give him hugs. He’s a good and gentle man. This Christmas, he got me four different sweaters and shirts. Three of the four, I’ll definitely wear. The fact that he hit on 75% this year is a nice improvement on previous years. Sometimes he’s still guilty of buying me something he would wear. But that’s part of the charm, and one thing I know I’ll fondly remember for the rest of my life.

So while my parents are showing their age in some funny ways, and some troubling ways, I hope to be able to hear about spleens and battery operated floor sweepers for a long time to come.

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