HELP LINE: Help strikes again during the holidays

IT’S DEC. 15, 2019, and Christmas is less than two weeks away, if anyone was confused about that.

In past years, as we’ve hovered on the brink of Dec. 25, I’ve generously provided (a) lists of things to get for elders (b) lists of things for elders to get for non-elders, and (c) inspirational and insightful advice, like a past year’s Christmas Day column on “faking it.”

Because we insist on calling this column “Help Line,” I often feel obliged to “help,” which often translates into ways to keep ourselves relatively healthy, relatively functional and/or relatively safe.

In fact, I coin cute little Mark-isms, such as, “We’re not looking to live forever — we’re just looking to live until it’s time to do something else.”

But sometimes, like today (apparently), I need to acknowledge that there is another way to look at things.

Like this:

’Tis the day before Christmas, and I recall when

There was more to my Christmas than “Help strikes again!”

See, my children have come for a visit to keep

Their old dad from the second floor window to leap!

How I love them! My children! All now grown and gone,

But back for the holidaze, back here, back “home.”

Seems they’ve all had a “meeting,” without me, I note,

To decide what I need to get by, all alone.

How I love them! My children! They fear that I’ll fall,

So they’ve hidden my throw rugs, put three lights in the hall,

And eight on the stairway! — Good Heavens, it’s bright!

Guess I’ll sit on the stairs to read papers at night.

There are grab-bars in places that I’ve never grabbed,

And they’re casting strange looks at my mangy old Lab.

They’ve decided that he is a danger to me,

I’ll go arse-over-teacup, if he I don’t see!

They remind me of when lovely Mom took a spill

Off the porch: “She was lucky that she wasn’t killed!”

Well, they’re right, I suppose, but then, they never knew

It had much more to do with the gin in her brew,

But no matter — They love me! That’s so plain to see!

… but the dog will go nowhere, at least without me.

They’ve hired a lady to “help me,” it seems

That she’ll be here on Monday, the whole house to clean

And the cooking and laundry and vacuuming, too!

And “personal care,” they say, she might do …

I’ve smiled and nodded and thanked them, Sweet Kids!

I’ll can her on Tuesday and glad to be rid

Of a stranger intruding on my little life.

Help strikes again! How I miss my sweet wife!

How she loved me and held me — Oh, we were a pair!

’Twas she put the “personal” in personal care.

How I love them! My children! A gadget they’ve found

That hangs from my neck, so that if I go down

I can call and tell someone, “I’ve fallen! Please come!”

I’ll give it a try, at least ’til Jan. 1

When down the disposal I fear it will fall …

Alas, I’m a clumsy old man … To the mall!

They now drag me to buy me new clothes I don’t need

With zippers and Velcro, no buttons for me!

These old hands just don’t do like they used to, I know,

But I still dress myself, if a wee bit too slow …

But why hurry? Good Lord, I’ve got no place to be

And that old Lab’s still sleepin’, that old Lab and me,

Do just fine — Day to day — So, my chances I’ll take

But not while they’re so busy keeping me safe.

My grandkids are honeys! They love me for me,

Not for who I once was, or for who I might be

In the future. I’ve had a good life, don’t you know?

That I’ve made it this far — A bit farther I’ll go.

How I love them! My children! I’ll look forward to when

They come back at next Christmas — When help strikes again.

________

Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing [email protected].

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