age

When I was a kid, we always enjoyed having my cousin, Denny and his wife, Sandy come over for visits. They were just fun people to be around, and while they were older than we were, they didn’t act as if my sisters and I were bothersome little kids who should just go play and leave the adults alone. That was something I always appreciated, and it made for a good relationship with them. As the years have gone by, and they moved to Oregon, we haven’t been in touch as much as as we used to be, but once again, Facebook has come to the rescue, and we are back in touch again. Being back in touch, has also brought back some memories for me, and I think my readers will find this one interesting. I wrote yesterday about the flinching game, so today, I will tell you about the hand slapping game.

One day, Denny and Sandy were at our house visiting, and Denny and I were playing the hand slapping game. You know the one, I held my hand over his hand, and he tried to quickly come over the top of my hand and slap it before I could move it out of the way. Needless to say, Denny was much better at that game than I was at that age, and my hands were often the ones slapped. It was all done in good clean fun, and never intended to hurt anyone, but sometimes things can happen, as we all know.

On this particular occasion, we were sitting there playing the game, and as usual, Denny was winning. It was his turn to try to slap my hands, and he was doing a real good job of it. I think he must have decided to try to give me a break, because when he swung his hand over to slap the top of mine, he lifted his hand really high so I would have a fighting chance. He knew that I would move my hand, so he started coming down really fast, and when I moved my hand, he couldn’t get his hand stopped in time. The problem was that my hand had been over his leg, and when he couldn’t stop in time, he slapped his own leg. He let out a little bit of a yelp, because I’m sure it hurt, but I really think it was more an expression of shock. While he knew I would move my hand, he just didn’t think of where his hand was going to land. In the end, we both laughed about it, because you have to admit, it was pretty funny.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a teacher. That said, I’m quite certain that I would not have been very interested in being the only teacher in a one room schoolhouse, where I was responsible for all the grades. I suppose teaching was quite a bit easier, because so much has changed is the education system…not to mention the knowledge base we have now as compared to in the 1800’s.

Of course, teaching and the students have changed so much over the last 100 years, that I don’t think I would want to be a teacher these days. With all the changes in the school systems, especially the removal of God from our schools, discipline and respect in the schools is a thing of the past. Students do whatever they want, and teachers have little or no control. It is a sad state of affairs. Also, with the removal of God from the school, alternative lifestyles are being taught. I don’t say people don’t have the right to live their lives as they choose, but I don’t like the idea of that being taught in the schools, and I would have a hard time teaching it myself.

What I find interesting about the old one room schoolhouse, and they way they taught back then, is that the different grades had to do their own work while a group in one grade was being taught their lessons. We often say that kids shouldn’t listen to the radio, while doing homework, but I think they have been able to close distractions out for many years, and the radio doesn’t seem like it would be any different to me. I also wonder about how much the younger grades are absorbing while they are hearing the upper grades lessons. It would seem to me that they could learn quite a bit that way, and it might make it easier, as they move into the next grade, to understand the work.

And of course, the students played together. These days, teenagers seldom spend much time with grade school children who are not related to them, but back then, it was very common. Most of our grandparents or great grandparents attended a one room schoolhouse at one time or another. We are the ones who find that so different. One thing to note in Wyoming, however, is that we still actually have a couple of one room schoolhouses in the state. I think I would find it interesting to visit one…wouldn’t you?

Bob’s great grandmother was a truly amazing woman. She lived to be 97 years young…and she lived at home. She just never seemed to age. She loved them, and she was patient with them. She didn’t mind their play, and in fact, she loved it, noise, mess, and all. She loved their laughter, and she laughed with them. Many older people get grouchy and don’t like noise, but she loved it when kids were involved.

I first met Great Grandma Knox when she traveled from her home in Yakima, Washington to Casper, Wyoming with he husband Edgar, her son Frank and his wife Helen. She was such a sweet woman. I enjoyed talking with her immensely, so I can totally understand why the kids all loved being with her. She was blessed enough to spend time with 4 generations of her offspring, from her children to her great great grandchildren…or was it her offspring that was blessed. I tend to think the latter, because Grandma Knox just simply had a way with kids.

When Bob and I went up to visit her in September of 1976, just a month after Grandpa passed away, she still had a gentleness of spirit, and the ability to enjoy her great great grandchildren, my daughters, Corrie and Amy. A number of years later, she would again travel to Casper to see the remainder of the grandchildren born during her lifetime. The kids had such a great time. Again,I marvelled at how she took such great pleasure in the laughter and play of her great great grandchildren, just as she had her children and grandchildren. The kids giggled and played, running around the house, like they always did when they were together, and instead of seeming annoyed, Grandma Knox seemed delighted. I suppose that is the reason the kids were still smiling in the pictures we took. It was because she had a way with kids and they truly loved her.

Sometimes…when we least expect it, or maybe when we just weren’t looking, it occurs to us that those we love are getting older. Little problems begin to present themselves, that throw us for a loop. We begin to wonder how we could have missed the fact that someone is really in their early 80’s. I mean, we know their chronological age very well, but somehow their physical age sneaks up on us, and takes us very much by surprise.

That is exactly what happened to me last Monday, with my father-in-law, and we spent the rest of the week with him in the hospital, while we waited to see if the racing heart rate that his foot doctor caught was going to be problematic, or just a result of the Pneumonia that he was also diagnosed with. Like my own dad, my father-in-law had always seemed much younger that his years, so suddenly being faced with something that could be a life or death situation, just about knocked me over, as did the possibility of losing the first line caregiver for my mother-in-law.

The diagnosis came, and we will be dealing with A-Fib for the rest of his life, but since my mom has that, I know it is manageable. The Pneumonia is pretty much gone, and he came home from the hospital today. He would like to think that he can just go back to life as usual, but for me, much has changed. Yes, he was on oxygen before, and weak in that way, but the rest of him was always strong and able to handle the majority of the care of my mother-in-law, but now…I have to consider that the stress of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient might be too much for him. Still, he has not come to a place where he is ready for her care to take a different turn, and we will honor his wishes concerning that decision. And, we aren’t ready for that change either.

So, we will modify the plan for now, until we know where we stand in this situation, and home health care will help with the day to day care for both of them. And we will see where the future will take us. In the case of my mom, the meds control her A-Fib quite well and she can do pretty much what she wants to. I pray that my father-in-law will be with be the same, and that the sudden changes that have come about will be able to return to at least some semblance of normalcy.

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