Old: Redefined?

Person Sitting on Bench

My mother was in her late forties when she called one day: “I have some sad news. Kareem died.” “I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, “How old was he?” “He was young. Only seventy-seven,” she sighed, causing me to wonder if that was, perhaps, when she, and the world, started to Redefine: Old?

Old, in my grandfather’s village, were the women bent over (their bones have termites, people used to say before we had ever heard of osteoporosis and arthritis), shuffling around, situated on the mastabeh (front porch), chucking corn, peeling pomegranates, shelling peas, stringing beans, mending a sock, gabbing with another old friend who had dropped by, while the men, some equally stooped, walking with the help of their canes, or leaning on a child, or grandchild and going to play a round of Tawla (much like backgammon, different board) or Tarnib (a card game resembling Whist), or sipping their coffee on the street corner, or perched at another old friend’s mastabeh. They certainly looked old at sixty, what with weathering the elements in the fields for decades; very old at seventy; withered by eighty. No more – at least, generally, and amongst people of our modern world where Old has been Redefined.

My friend Randa, almost 90, dressed to the nines, made-up with her red lipstick and perfect salon hairdo – a bit forgetful about certain things, at certain times – tells me: I’m having too much fun and am too busy to die. She has definitely Redefined Old with her snazzy style and sassy attitude!

My other friend, Itaf, at 80 and equally fashionable, who was widowed three years ago tells me: Freedom is precious, and I’m savoring every bit of it! She, like myself and many women of that era, went straight from our father’s homes to our husband’s. Freedom was a Stranger to some of our generation. She, too, has Redefined Old with her vitality!

Anne, at 65 moved her Dad, almost 90, to an Assisted Living Facility and tells me that she packed his small bag of clothes, toiletries, a few books and a small collection of family pictures with which to decorate his new accommodations. Isn’t it sad, she says, that this once very active man who served in the military, worked hard and provided for his family, is now reduced to a small bag and a few memories in an unfamiliar room? And is that when one would be pigeonholed as Old, I wonder?

My daughter, on her way to a doctor’s appointment, sees an older man standing in the small hallway where the facilities are, looking distraught while saying: Please help. My wife is in there and she needs help and I can’t go in to the Women’s to assist her. My daughter goes in and hears the frail-voiced woman saying: I’m okay. I’m okay. I found the toilet paper. The poor man, was totally panicked until he realized that she was alright! Moments like these remind me that no matter how peppy I may feel at this age, Old has a way of swooping down on us in one nano-second!

My friend, Alia, is around 79 and a stylish, active woman who always has something to do and places to go. During one of our many regular chats over the phone she laughingly tells me: my parents and family on both sides lived well into their nineties, so my children tell me that I am not allowed to die any time soon. Sadly, Alia had a stroke and passed away about a month later which proves to me that we can all Redefine Old with our attitude, dress and vivacity, but that once we hit a certain threshold, it does not allow us to Redefine it anymore as it holds our Fate in its unpredictable hands.

My Mother, who was almost 90 when she passed away ten years ago, and during her last few months of life asked me to organize her closet, saying: I like things to be neat before I go. I was in denial at that point, and thought that she would recover from her “chest infection” as the doctor told me, so I responded: you’re not going anywhere yet, Mama. On other occasions and coming back from her doctor’s office, or the hospital, she would be tired and weak, but still managed to see a speck of lint on the carpet and bend down to pick it up! It was very important to her that everything looked impeccable at all times. And that’s why I, too, am a neat freak. After all, I had her for a role-model and I feel so lucky and grateful for this and for so many other things I learned from her! What I regret is not telling her my feelings while she was still alive. We, human beings, sometimes foolishly, sometimes arrogantly, believe that there will always be time for this occasion, or that apology, or all the other things we often leave unsaid, undone. The sad reality is that as we rush through our busy fast-paced life we often forget to be fully aware of, and living in the moment. And there is no Rewind Button!

Last week, I was flipping the calendar page on my kitchen board to October and it hit me how quickly this year has passed. And, it goes faster between October and end of December what with all the Holidays, get togethers, decorations, menu planning and . . . and . . . my end-of-year Swiffer ritual days have begun when I go over all my documents and files to check that everything is proper and in order; bring out my winter clothes and pack up the ones for the Goodwill store that I won’t be wearing anymore, while joyfully celebrating that I seem to need less and less as time goes by; check out all my kitchen closets, pantry, freezer etc. and rearrange and sort out; check the expiration dates on my OTC (Over The Counter) medications and . . . and . . . It is a ritual that I truly enjoy, though as I was looking at the expiration date on my passport, and found that it was 2027, I remembered that when I had last renewed it I had thought to myself: that’s probably the last time I’ll be doing this. There are more and more things that I realize must be close to the “last time that I might be doing this.” It’s a reality that generally does not perturb my pragmatism, but occasionally makes me wistful.

At 76, I still feel young enough, continue doing my walking exercises, I don’t quite look my age (it’s because of my genes, not any rejuvenating hoaxes or Botox!) and I still look good in my tights, or my short skirts. Yes, I am one of those many lucky ones of my generation who seems to have Redefined Old. Until When? I don’t know. However, having arrived to this age, I savor and enjoy every day and every moment as I read my books – so many terrific ones! –  work on my crossword puzzles, watch my favorite shows cuddled up with my blanket, enjoy cooking my meals, talking to people when I go out, visiting with my “adopteds” (I have four precious daughters, adopted over forty years ago, though not legally), getting together with my Book Club buddies, enjoying lunch out with a friend, having coffee on my patio while watching the squirrels scampering about, and loving my wonderful children and, mostly, my priceless grandchildren. But then, of course, there are those incidents when I go to the kitchen and then stand there wondering: why did I come here? Or, opening my closet and asking myself: what was it that I wanted? Ah! Those Uninvited Senior (Alzheimer’s?) Moments that saunter in not heeding our “No Trespassing” signs! They are only a part of that whole Aging Package! Nevertheless, my motto nowadays (and I so regret not adopting that much earlier on although poets, philosophers, writers and wise people have been saying it throughout history) is: Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) and Que Sera Sera . . . because, as I tell my friends, there is no such thing as Forever . . . on Anything . . . so none of us is Exempt neither from Old Age no matter how we Deny, Define, or Redefine it, or from Expiring. Such is Life, its Good Times as well as its Sad and Bad, and those Sad and Bad days in our world today are far too many, way too dramatic, beyond heartbreaking, frustrating and infuriating as we are being led by a bunch of arrogant narcissists who have learned nothing from our ignoble murderous history. Therefore, grabbing and treasuring every Good moment becomes even more imperative! Carpe Diem!


Real & Fake

Modestly Gloating: With Impeachment Drama hovering over our country, and the significance of Whistleblowers being manifested, I am gloating over the fact that I spoke about the importance of Whistleblowers in my Reevaluating & Revolutionizing blog, as well as in my July Fourth blog.

Modestly Moving On:

It seems to me that since Donald Trump began talking about Fake News the world seemed to have suddenly realized that there actually is such a phenomenon. Quite bizarre really, because the fact is that Fake News has been around for centuries, only in the not-so-long-ago most of it was called Propaganda. Remember that? It was a very popular term before the USSR became Russia, not that it was used only then. The reality is that Any Government, Political Party, Religion, or Person avidly endeavors to spread their own message of their Truth, while pointing to their opponent’s version as Fake (Propaganda, Lies, etc.). Sadly, many of us gullible humans have bought into these attempts throughout history causing us to create family discord in some instances, and ferocious wars at the other extreme. And nothing has changed!

Throughout the Twentieth Century especially, religious institutions, law offices, insurance companies, government bills, as well as many product instructions were written in script and language that was mostly incomprehensible to us ordinary people. We simply did not understand any of that gibberish, should we have bothered to read such things to begin with. The obfuscating, self-aggrandizing language was deliberate in most cases so as to keep us in the dark; other entities who used that same approach merely followed the trend thinking that it was the right way to do things. This is still the ongoing practice such as when we read the following:

. . . by signing/clicking, you agree to all our terms and conditions.

And how many of us really read those terms and conditions that are written in inexplicable language by sleazy, slick lawyers? Trust me, not many.

So, whether it is Fake News, or Lawyer-ese, most of us are on our own to navigate all that we read/hear, and to determine what is Real and what is Fake; what we should agree to and what we shouldn’t; whether to accept the conditions, or not. All at our own peril, and, indeed, peril it sometimes is. Here are just two egregious examples:

Fake News: Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.

Fake News: We have the best health and educational systems in the world.

Frankly, many of our Politicians are themselves Scammers and purveyors of Fake News – in my opinion and as one example – who, while enriching themselves and their cronies and selling us pies in the skies, are not genuinely looking out for us in any meaningful way. Moreover, there are real Scammers galore on every social platform, and throughout cyberspace waiting to pounce on us in any way that they can. How can we protect ourselves from all of that? And, more importantly our children, grandchildren and the planet from the malfeasance of our very sick political, social and cyber landscape here at home, as well as across the world? Clearly, we must get involved, because we cannot leave it up to “others” to do the job on our behalf, and unless we all do that through our awareness; protests and marches; monetary contributions; writing letters; phoning elected officials; voting (and not only in the General Election, but for the Sheriff, the Superintendent, the Prosecutors and all other candidates); signing up for organizations supporting integrity and transparency in politics, corporations, and on mainstream and social media, then nothing will change and this planet will gradually disintegrate into total chaos brought on not only by the environment, climate change and the absence of justice, but societal apathy as well.

We have to act as did about four million young adults when they marched on September 20th. (and continued marching after that) in the streets of many capitals and cities across the world demanding steps be taken to protect the planet from climate change. We’ll see what happens with that valiant attempt if all of us don’t support and follow up on it, thus leaving it only in the hands of corrupt politicians and corporations.  Many others, and in previous years, have marched demanding to be protected from mass shootings in our schools, academic institutions and public arenas, not that crooked leaders have done anything about that yet! How is that even possible were they not wicked to the core, and have we not continued to reelect them time and time again?

As for the MSM, please remember that they are ALL paid to sensationalize, scandalize, opinion-ize and monetize in a way that creates more revenues for them by whipping up those of us who listen to them into a frenzy. It is really sick! They do not discuss, or bring in unbiased panelists to discuss the sorry state of our education; the miserable state of our health industry in all of its aspects; inhumane prison systems and other numerous and vital issues to the citizens, because neither the Establishment, or the Corporations, nor the Advertisers want them to do that, and also, because with an average of one million viewers (give or take) they are not really addressing John and Jane Doe, but directing themselves to the Establishment and all its adjuncts. Remember that God does not speak through them and they do not speak for you, or for me. They are there to seduce and steer those of us who listen to them to their version of the Truth and their Propaganda. It is better by far for any one of us to listen/read/research all sides of the story before deciding on its validity. Being lazy enough to only accept what we are being told without validation makes us sheep. The Establishment, Corporations, Politicians and the Media want us to be exactly that. Let’s not give them that satisfaction.

As for those other malevolent Scammers who invade our phones, emails, social media platforms et al, here, and to begin with, are two articles (and there are many, many more) that you should read for your own protection, and, if possible, print and re-read periodically:




Here, too, are some Tried & True “Do and Don’t” refresher suggestions for all of us to be aware of (especially Facebook users):

  1. Go to your Settings and see to it that you type in the Least Amount of Information being asked of you. Hide your Birth Date so that no one in the public sphere can see or access it. And, yes, any bad actor can obtain our birth date and a whole lot of other information about us, but there are many tools out there to make this harder for them. Research and avail yourself of these tools. Do it Yesterday!
  2. Be careful who to Friend, and do not accept Friend requests from anyone before checking them out and validating that they are truly authentic Friends of your Friends and not Scammers.
  3. Make sure that all your Posts are for sharing with Friends. Once you share by clicking on the Public button you open yourself up to a can of worms that you do not want, or need.
  4. If you are signed on to receiving any posts from online magazines/organizations/institutions/universities or any entity that posts for the general Public do not Comment. If you do, you are opening yourself up to any Schmuck, or Schmukette, to respond to you by yelling and screaming at you if they do not like/agree with your Comment. Posts from these entities are Public, and while you are not posting for the Public, their platforms are Public and hence your Comments will be. Only use the Like button, or its attachments on such sites, or send them an email. Otherwise . . .
  5. When you post something on your wall do not think for one second that All your Friends will see that post. The algorithms are coded in such a way that only a “handful” of your Friends will see your post. Moreover, while that “handful” might change with every post, it will continue to be only a “handful.” Likewise, you may not see some, or many, posts from your Friends and for the same reasons.
  6. The Social Media Platforms are monitoring our every move and they are censoring “bad” stuff such as hate, incitement, threats etc., which is good. However, they are also blocking some of the posts that they deem you do not need to see, which are sometimes posts that you really want to see. It’s called Algorithms, and it can sometimes be akin to Censorship, and at worst to Brainwashing, which makes me wonder why Every Narcissist CEO of these corporations wants to impersonate God? And how arrogant is that?

As Tony Chalhoub on the Monk television series used to say: “It’s a jungle out there!”