It’s Dangerous in There!!!

When my little niece (Elizabeth, who has now become a lovely lady with children of her own) was learning how to use the potty, it was a nightmare for her. She would get so upset when “the time” would come, and she did NOT want to go to the bathroom. My brother finally asked her why she got so upset when she needed to go potty. She looked up at him, with those big, beautiful, blue eyes, and said, “Dad, it’s DANGEROUS in there!” We all got a good laugh at that, and eventually, she got the hang of it and overcame her fear of the bathroom. So here is this week’s story…

I was on a business trip with a friend and we had quite a layover in one of the major airports. Not wanting to “just sit,” we had walked over the entire length of the airport two or three times (several miles it seemed…); had eaten as much food as we could possibly hold; and had “window-shopped” as much as we could. (Neither one of us are much on shopping to begin with….) It got a little closer to the time for us to board the plane, and I thought that maybe I should visit the restroom one more time before getting on the next flight. I asked my friend if she would mind watching my stuff, and off to the restroom I went.

Now, airport bathrooms have changed over the years, and the “improvements” that have been made are always a “challenge,” depending on which airport you are in. The first improvement involved providing different seat heights for the toilets….some sit tall, some are short, some are in-between. There’s nothing more comforting than to rush into a cubicle, thinking the seat is at a certain height, and realize (when you hit the seat a little harder than anticipated) that you picked a cubicle with a “short” toilet. Then came the plastic rotating seat covers…did you rotate the plastic before you sat down…after you sat down…where was the button to initiate said rotation…and HOW would I know if they were just not recycling the same piece of plastic over and over to save money…I came up with a solution for that problem: mark an “x” on the plastic seat, press the button to rotate the seat cover, and look to see if your “x” came around again. (Now before you think that I have lost my mind and have a germ phobia, let’s look at this rationally…have you SEEN the people who fly on planes nowadays???? I need not say more…) Then came the paper seat covers. Great idea, I thought! So, I got the seat cover in place, turned around, unzipped my pants, and just as I was about to make contact with the seat….SWOOOOSH!! The toilet had automatically flushed itself and I no longer had a paper armor against the germs of society (the flush took my paper seat cover with it…). I stood up and tried to figure out how to “outwit” the toilet…So, this is what I did: I unzipped my pants, assumed the position and got ready to make contact. At the last minute, I slipped the toilet seat cover into place, and hurriedly sat down before the toilet flushed. SUCCESS!!!

Now that I had conquered the challenges within the cubicle, I was ready to face the remaining few…the automatic soap dispenser, the automatic water dispenser, and the automatic hand-drying options…Now, you need to know up front that there is something really goofy with my body (no snide remarks from those who know me really well…). Apparently, I do not have within my chromosomes the exact chemistry that will respond to, or activate, any type of “automatic” dispenser. It is indeed an effort to get anything to work for me, and I usually end up having to make numerous attempts at different sinks. I went to the first soap dispenser….no matter what I did, what motion I performed with my hands….no  soap. So I went to the next sink…same thing…a lot of motion and activity on my part, but still no soap. (Please understand that I have to complete this same exercise in EVERY airport bathroom that I visit…) I moved on to the next sink with even MORE enthusiastic motion and play of my hands…STILL no soap. I moved to the final sink. That was when disaster struck…the soap dispenser not only worked, but it was a super sonic dispenser! The flow of soap squirted out, shot completely OVER the sink, and landed directly on the front of my pants! I looked down and all I saw was a great big wad of white soap beginning to ooze slowly down the front of my pants. Of course, I panicked and thought, “get some paper towels, and DO IT NOW!” (I did mention that the paper towel dispenser was “automatic” also; didn’t I?) I waved my hands across the sensor. It did nothing! I tried two hands, wildly motioning in the senseless attempt to just activate it. STILL…nothing!!! I went to another dispenser…nothing. I was wild by this time because the soap had spread on my pants down to the crotch area. I began dancing and moving my body all different ways in front of the sensor to JUST GET SOME PAPER TOWELS!! By this time, I had drawn a crowd, who could not figure out if I was having a seizure of some sort, or that I was just a really weird air traveler. In a way of explanation to my “audience,” I was uttering under my breath as I was dancing…”soap”…”flew out of dispenser”…”on my pants”…”got to get it off”…”doesn’t work for me.” I finally realized that I was not ever going to get a paper towel, so I ran back into a cubicle to get some toilet paper. Wiping rapidly, I attempted to remove the gummy soap from my pants. The toilet tissue, being dry, began rolling into little balls and STICKING to the soap that was STICKING to my pants. It was time to wet the paper towel and see if that would help.  Guess what? The water dispenser was “automatic” also….On the fourth attempt, at the fourth sink, the water began to flow. Others began to help me. THEY were able to get some paper towels, and we made a valiant effort to remove all of the particles that had become a permanent part of my pants. Everyone, including me, eventually accepted defeat and gave up! As I was leaving, I noticed a woman having a little difficulty of her own in getting the paper towel dispenser to work. I leaned over and confidentially whispered, “you have to dance!”

I finally came out of the bathroom and headed in the direction of my friend. She took one good look at me, and those soap-gummed pants, and asked “What happened to you???” I just looked at her and said, “The bathroom has become a very dangerous place….”

There are people in our lives who have fears, whether actual or perceived. At times, we may dismiss those fears as being “silly” or unfounded simply because they are not our fears. As a result, we are not compassionate, patient, or understanding. I am going to be more understanding and tolerant of those who express concern or fear over events, tasks or actions that they face. I am going to provide the necessary support to assist them in facing their fear, and let them know that they are not alone…that I am there with them. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

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But it’s NOT for me!!!

Sorry I am a little late this evening. It has been a busy week, but a good one. This week’s story includes some “sexually explicit” references, so I am giving everyone fair warning. If you are easily offended by the idea of older people being sexually active, or actually having sexual needs, this story will probably offend you…SO STOP READING NOW!!! However, if you are a healthcare professional in aging services, or if you are a mature adult who understands “where you came from,” you are going to appreciate the story…laugh quite a bit at my expense…and maybe , just maybe…you will get the message I intend.

When I first started working in a nursing home, to say that I was naive would have been a huge understatement. My father was a minister (yes, that does mean that I was a “preacher’s kid…”), so I was raised extremely conservatively in a very small southern town. When I graduated from high school, I attended a small Christian college for the next four years. Once I got the much desired college degree, my first job was that of Social Worker in a nursing home. I was ready to solve all of my residents’ problems, and meet their needs. I was enthusiastic and ready to put my education and knowledge to the test.

I have never understood why people think you stop loving once you get older. If you have loved someone for most of your life, have enjoyed kissing, holding, and loving them, why would you stop as you age? I would think, that for most people, love only grows stronger and becomes more precious.

One of my female residents was still having sexual “urges,” but did not have a “partner” to help fulfill those needs. As a result, she was continually injuring herself using assorted items. As the social worker in our building, figuring out a solution to this problem fell on my shoulders. In my innocence, I came up with an answer immediately – she needed an “item” that would be both safe and hygienic. So…off to the “adult book store” I went…

I walked up to the counter, and in a nice voice, uttered these words…”I would like to buy a vibrator.” And then it hit me….so I said very quickly, “But, it’s NOT for me!!!” The man looked at me as if to say, “Sure, lady, they ALL say that…” (wink, wink…) I hurriedly completed the purchase and left the building as quickly as I could.

Now, if anyone had seen me entering, or leaving, that store, they would have made an assumption about the kind of person I might be…a pervert, a porn lover, a “deviant.” And every assumption would have been wrong! I was, indeed, an “innocent,” simply trying to take care of a resident in my facility. Whenever I tell this story, people look at me and ask, “Surely you were not that innocent?” And the answer is always, “Yes, I was!”

Why is it that people are so ready to find fault with others? Why do we judge so harshly and quickly? Why do we jump to conclusions so easily, and not give people the benefit of the doubt? In fact, why are we “looking” in the first place? People are so busy looking at everyone else’s “yards,” that they fail to take care of their own “backyard.” I have trouble enough keeping my own life straight, walking in the light that I have been given. I have neither the time or expertise to tell people how they should live their lives. I am going to try really hard to take care of my own backyard, and let others take care of theirs. Won’t you join me? Just for this week….

Are You a Member of the Good Words Club???

I have been so blessed in my life! I have an abundance of family and friends who love me completely and fully – warts and all…Throughout the years, my best friend’s family members have become my family also…”friend-in-laws,” if you will…I was around when her little sister was born, and got to be with this little one, watching her as she grew up to be a wonderful young lady…a college student…a wife…and finally, a mother! Of all the words that I could use to describe her, the one most “fitting” would be “mother.” Some people are not meant to become a parent, but oh my, she was simply designed for, and made to fill, this role.

When the long-awaited time came, she gave birth to a little girl, Adison. The new parents had very clear thoughts on “do’s and don’ts” for this precious child…One of the “don’ts” dealt with “appropriate” language that should be used when the toddler was in “hearing” distance. So, that’s the background…we will now go to the story…

First, you need to know that I do not use curse words…EVER! I feel that there are so many better ways to express one’s feelings without the usage of “those” words. You also need to know that my friend’s grandmother was almost a saint, and if you “slipped up” occasionally, and happened to use a “curse word,” she would very sweetly ask, “Don’t you want to be a member of the Good Words Club?” And of course, at that very moment, you do wish that you had been a member of the Good Words Club….

When Adison was three, her parents bought a brand new house. We were so excited for them, and for days had helped them move and get settled in. Since I am a pretty good “handy” person, I was given the job installing all of the window blinds. We had measured each window and Home Depot had cut the blinds to our exact specifications. As I was installing the blinds, “little one” was right with me, wanting to do whatever I was doing. I had to provide her with a little screw driver, show her how to use it, and she would hold the rule as I measured each window to match it with the correct set of blinds.

We got to a window, and no matter what I did, the blinds just would not fit. I kept going back and forth from one room to another, one window to another, trying to figure out if I had used the wrong blind on one of the windows. In doing this, my little helper became distracted and I ended up in a room by myself. By this time, I was tired and aggravated, in that I could NOT figure out why the blind would not fit. FINALLY, I thought to myself, why not remeasure the blinds and determine if they are the right size? As I did this, I was standing high on a step-ladder. In a moment of absolute clarity, I realized that the blinds had been cut wrong!! All this time I had been trying to “fit” the blinds to the window, and had just realized that they would never fit ANY window.  As the full realization hit me, I said, “Dadgumit!!” As soon as I said that word, I heard this tiny, soft voice repeat, “Dadgumit!!” Little one had eased up behind me and was standing on the first rung of the step-ladder…

My heart started beating faster, and I became more anxious, thinking, “OH NO!!! You have just taught her a curse word!!! That is expressly forbidden!!” I jumped off the ladder, grabbed her up in my arms, and ran into the living room to confess my sin to the parents. Fortunately, for me, they did not think that I had “damaged” the child too badly, and there was a lot of discussion as to whether what I said was even a curse word! But here is the bottom line…those little ones watch everything you say, everything you do, and will usually mimic it and make it a part of their own lives. What are you saying in front of impressionable children? Are you teaching them “good words” and “good acts?” Don’t you want to be a member of the Good Words Club? Just for this week…

The Day My Aunt Froze Her Monkey…

OK, so I have your attention with my article title…My little brother is already going to be crying “foul,” because he thinks he came up with it, and keeps telling everyone he is going to write a book, and this will be the title of said book. HOWEVER, he and I definitely share the same humor genes (and ability to get ourselves into all KINDS of awkward situations…), so I am saying we both came up with this title. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it…(If he ever does write said book, I will go ahead and give him permission now to use the title.) So we begin…the story I am about to tell you apparently has several “versions.” I am really not sure which version is totally “chronologically” accurate, but the “facts” remain the same in all versions…

One of the benefits of belonging to a large family is that you end up with an awful lot of cousins. And oh, my, did we ever enjoy growing up together! Every childhood memory of import includes either one, or many, cousins. We shared everything as children…dreams, fantasies, hopes, hurts, losses, laughter, tears, apologies…and always, always, so much love.

My father and uncle worked many years together as speciality carpenters and builders. One day my father came home from work and said that my uncle had been given a little spider monkey by someone for whom they were working. All of us kids were so excited about this new turn of events…a spider monkey!!! We had only ever seen a monkey at the zoo, and now, our cousins actually had one for a pet. Our excitement and enthusiasm to see the little fellow could not be contained! It was all we could do to sleep that night.

The next morning we all got up begging Mama to let us ride over to our Aunt’s house to see the new monkey. OF COURSE, we were allowed to get on our bikes and ride over to see the new “addition” to our family. Oh, he was the cutest little thing you have ever seen! Our cousins named him Oscar. My uncle built the neatest, largest cage for him, and in the coming days we would love on, and play with, Oscar.

One morning, our cousins called, crying and crying, saying that Oscar was dead…that he had frozen in the night. (An unexpected cold snap had come through, and Oscar indeed had frozen during the night.) My Aunt got poor Oscar out of the cage, brought him into the house, and lovingly laid him on the counter in the kitchen. All of us children were properly subdued and tearful. We paid our respects and then went back to our respective homes. It was a very sad occasion for everyone.

In doing daily household chores, my aunt actually forgot about Oscar…that is, until she saw him hopping all over the house. Yes, my friends, Oscar had unfrozen, and had come back to life!!! (This is actually true! I saw him afterwards with my own eyes!) They like to have never caught poor Oscar that day. Once they did, they made certain that he was kept warm during the cold nights, and he lived a very long life thereafter. The cousins were thrilled beyond measure!

So many times in our own lives we give up on situations and people too easily. We discount them so readily…and just maybe they still have a lot to give and do in this life…and be in ours. I am going to concentrate on not giving up on people…I will keep believing that they still have a lot of “life” in them and deserve my support and loyalty. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…