Friday, 30 January 2015

Mad Elderly Around Town

Kamloops, BC is becoming a town of elderly folks! And they be craaaaaazy!

There were just TOO DAMN MANY Baby Boomers! That being said, my mom is one, and my dad was born even before that, and I still have them (a little stumbly, slightly less lucid at times, and occasionally grumpy...but mostly on the ball and funny), so I'm grateful as hell for that! Crazy as they are, I'll take 'em for however long I have 'em.

To meet this ever growing boom in old folks, Kamloops has taken it upon itself to build a LOT of 55+ buildings and facilities for the elderly. Often near extremely busy corners and streets. This makes things massively interesting come rush hour. Hell...any time of the day!

Now...before anyone accuses me of being ageist, I need to backtrack and state that I am NOT of the camp that decries the grey-haired set as instantly guilty of not being able to drive, not being courteous, not being "with it"...whatever the hell that means for anyone. I really do believe that as people age they have that wealth of experience, practice, and hard-won lessons that enable them to make decisions with a huge amount of research behind them. I try to practice patience with folks who walk a little slower in front of me, to listen in waiting rooms when anyone wants to talk, and to realize that even if someone is acting like a douche canoe, they may have just had a super bad day, lost someone they loved or be dealing with all kinds of things that I don't know about because I'm not in their head. I try and do this for everyone, elderly folks included!

That being said: there's something about being closer to death that makes older folks scary balls of insanity!

My mom is a pretty good driver, and even as she's become fairly forgetful and a bit fussy, she can still haul ass through snow (with no snow tires, by the way...dear god...) like a champ. Granted, she's decided that looking behind her is not quite as needed as before, thus slightly tapping a parked car . But see...there's those life lessons coming into play as she's now looking behind her half of the time! She rides around town with a rosary almost perpetually clutched in her hand, and every once in a while it catches on the turn signal or other knobs and it's then I realize that her priority is NOT to recover the car, but to not lose her place on the beads! She may be praying her way into heaven, but I'm more dubious about where I might end up, so would like a bit more time to do some good works or something!

Every Catholic church we pass she has to make the sign of the cross as we pass it, and this can also cause beads to catch...and I had to wind the rosary she keeps hanging from the rear-view mirror as tight as I could so it wouldn't whack me in the head when we took a corner.

My brother and I have a tendency to...well...fear for our lives from time to time when we drive with Mumsie, and this can lead to us doing--I'll fully admit-- a bit of "back seat driving." Now, I know this is annoying for any driver, and can sometimes lead to more problems, but it's hard not to be a bit naggy when you realize that your driver has whipped into a handicapped parking spot, and it more concerned with pulling her card from the pouch on her sun visor than putting the car in park, which then causes a soup├žon of concern when she goes to leave the car and takes her foot off the brake and you get that jerk forward as she then recovers by jamming her foot back ON the brake.

She also does that "nervous driver" thing at times where the attitude prevails that there is no such thing as "too slow" within cautious driving. Which of course there is. Like when cars are veering around you to pass because they're angry; or when you slowly meander into another lane (remember, no look backsies!!).

My dad is another case entirely. He really is an excellent driver, but as such completely has a "devil may care" 'tude about things like: turn signals, speed limits, no-parking allowed areas. Did I mention turn signals? I usually hear the "tick-tick-tick" of the turn signal for about three seconds AFTER we have already turned. Hey folks behind us: we like to keep the mystery alive and well! Where will we go next?? You'll never know----until it's happened! *magic hands*

When you mention to my dad, "Hey, my knuckles can't get any whiter here dude," it's usually just followed with laughter and eye rolling on his part. Keep your eyes on the road, dad, not rolling around your old head!

I remember my ex-father-in-law and some of the hurtling trips I took with him between Kamloops and Vancouver. If he saw something interesting, he had a habit of looking at the thing on the side of the road, then back to the road, then the thing, then the road, the thing, the road, the thing, the road...all the while the thing was getting further behind as we were zooming past, meaning every time he looked he would be swivelling his head and neck further and further...until you'd be doing 100kph on the highway and he'd be basically looking at me in the back seat and then back at the road in quick dashes. One time he told me I always had a startled look on my face when we went anywhere. No shit, dude. You can see it as you're completely turned around in the driver's seat looking at me behind you!

It's not just the folks in cars, though. Other...vehicles...can be quite dangerous in the hands of certain folks. My new apartment is behind an old folk's home, and there is a chain link fence separating our property border from a long sidewalk that leads to the home. A few times now I've heard a strange clown-type horn honking and almost been run over by a motor scooter with a red flag, and an old man with a blue toque, barrelling down the sidewalk to swerve--so fast it sometimes turns the scooter up on two wheels like the General Lee*--and then careens down toward the local mall. He is driving fast. REALLY fast. Like, if he hit me, I would definitely be transported post haste to the neighbours balcony across the street!

[*PS: the General Lee...from the Dukes of Hazard. Get with the TV trivia, people!]

There's a scooter gang that sometimes circles the local park: four old men who have a lot of "regalia" or "flair" on their scooters and burn around there like unruly teens! If you're walking the park you can sometimes here cackling then the sound of four whirring zooms as they whiz past! Terrifying.

And then you have just the regular crazy in the daily world. Again, not the complete domain of the elderly by a long shot, but in a town filled with predominantly elderly folks, you get your fair share. Today I took my mom to the sleep apnea clinic to adjust her machine: an elderly couple came in just to get a new piece for the husband's gear. They went to the counter in front of us, as we were waiting for the technician to get the readings from the machine's sd card, and suddenly the woman turned and said, "Oh god!! OH GOD! We went in front of you! How rude! OH GOD!" And did that Macaulay Culkin face from Home Alone.

Mumsie and I looked at each other searchingly: "Um, no, you're good. We're just waiting for the readings."

Mad Elderly Lady--now looming over my mom as she flips through some magazines near the chair: "OH GOD! I HATE it when people do it to me, but I HATE it even more when I do it to someone else!" Then she starts pulling weird faces: it was like watching a French Mime (is there really any other kind?) doing face-caricatures: I'm so sad-face; Oops-face; Grrr, I'm angry-face; Hee hee--SORRY-face. Truly bizarre.

She ate about 6 candies from this jar in the 10 minutes they were there, and I started to wonder if she was a heroin addict. As they left she turned to us again, pulling that strange mime face and dramatically smacked her hand to her head and shout-talked, "OH GOD! Crazy lady! Comin' through, right??!! I'm SO SORRY! Again...SO RUDE! I just HATE it when that happens!"

My mom trying to rally assured her it was ok, but as soon as she left we almost died laughing. On the way to the car later, Mumsie says, "That was one strange lady, hey?" I agreed, then watched her whip out her rosary and get in the car.

We then headed to the eye clinic for my mom's next appointment, and as she was getting her eyeballs checked I realized we were in the ophthalmologist's office, FILLED with elderly folks. One old codger came swanning in, and as he was filling in his form regaled several elderly ladies about his prowess in the bedroom. Seriously. One lady was obviously disgusted, a few were amused, and one was, dare I say, interested? After his drops were in to dilate his pupils, he came swanning out again and told loud stories about his ice trucking career. When one slightly annoyed man (I think it was the brother of the elderly lady who seemed a tad caught by this fellow's swagger) said, "Aren't you retired yet?" To which the blustery fellow blustered out in an even louder voice, "I've got too many women to take to dinner, and too much laundry to do! Get it, fella! Sheets! Too many sheets to wash!"

Yup.

Think I'm going to watch the Superbowl with Daddikins, and he just had his eyes drained (I kid you not) as they were "weepy," so it will be like watching the Superbowl with a gnome who had been punched in the face a few times. His wife, when she gets home from making 8000 perogies at the Ukrainian Catholic church, will come home and her and my dad will make weird "joke" sarcastic comments at each other until my father fakes a stroke, face going slack, gaze towards the ceiling, some drool slightly forming at one corner of his mouth. This is his latest thing, which he also does in public sometimes. He's like a Ukrainian Redd Foxx.

My mom will go to the Roman Catholic church, then head to coffee with her cronies at McDonald's, then probably find 800 reasons to zoom around in her car for things, rosary clutched in her hand, or occasionally her new-ish cell phone which she sometimes answers while driving "in case of emergency."

Welcome to Kamloops. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for grey-hair and don't think they're going straight just because you don't see a turn signal!

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