GIVE US A BREAK
by Donna Johns
Stuck in the house waiting for a repair, I sat down with a cup of coffee to watch Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress. He was, as I expected, clear and to the point and very “lawyer-y.” He kept flipping through that 400 page report to verify his answers. And he looked a tiny bit annoyed. I’m sure he would have preferred to be fishing, or reading, or just about anything that did not involve being thanked for his service and attacked for his findings. They mercifully gave him (and me) a break after 90 minutes.
Returning to the television, the talking heads were analyzing his performance:
“He seems confused.”
“He keeps shuffling papers.”
“Is he ill?”
As I am wont to do when confronted with idiot talking heads, I began to yell at them. “Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out he’s hard of hearing! He’s not sick. He’s just 75. Give him a break!” I watched the second morning session, paying closer attention to the man. Sure enough, when asked a question, Mueller tilted his head to hear better. He probably has one good ear and one that is trashed. We see it at BOLLI all the time.
Shuffling papers? He was very precise when he found the relevant portions of his report. He just took his sweet time finding them. At his age, many of us can’t find our keys, eyeglasses, or the shopping list we wrote last night. I thought it was admirable that he actually found anything in those two massive binders.
That got me thinking of all the criticisms we face as we age. Our children are chronic offenders but it comes from just about everyone. Rather than shrugging off our little idiosyncrasies, there is a tendency to try to fix us, as if we were broken. Nope, not broken…just different. Raise your hand if any of these ring a bell.
- “I got stuck behind a Q-Tip driving 20 miles per hour. Why are they still on the road?” Answer: How much damage can I do going 20 miles per hour? Also…need groceries. Also, what’s your hurry?
- ” Can’t you hear me? Why don’t you pay attention?” Answer: You mumble. And frankly, if you can’t speak up, why do I have to pay attention?
- ”Why are you taking so long to (fill in the blank)?” Answer: After a lifetime of hurrying, I’m enjoying a more leisurely pace. Also, how important is (fill in the blank) anyway?
Aging is a daily challenge, and most of us do it with dignity. Perhaps the young-uns need to appreciate our uniqueness and quit diagnosing our “shortcomings.” Move on…nothing to fix here!
Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.