Monthly Archives: April 2016

Eighty Ways from Sunday

By Andrea Freedman

A few weeks back, I shared my dread with you about my upcoming 50th birthday. One thing I didn’t tell you, however, partly because I knew he too was not looking forward to it, is that my dad will also be reaching a milestone just two days before me when he turns 80 years old.

I have made a conscious effort over the last couple of months not to mention it, but now that the day is almost here, I hope he won’t mind me celebrating his originality by sharing some of his famous sayings:

“He’s lucky his father was born before him.”

Think of that entitled little jerk you work with, or the pompous braggart who is only too happy to rub his wealth in others’ faces. These people may act like they are “all that”, but the reality is that much of this type of person’s success has little to do with him personally, but rather because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has reaped the benefits of his father’s hard work.

“There’s no such thing as being too careful”.

Although at times I have accused my dad of being overly cautious and over-protective, I cannot count how many times I have stopped what I was doing and heeded his warnings, especially since having had a terrible accident a few years back. Time is never wasted by taking a moment to ensure one’s safety.

“It’s not always the decision you make, but the fact that you made a decision.”

On many occasions over the years when I have hounded my poor father relentlessly for advice when I have struggled with making a decision, big or small, his words helped me come to my senses and get off the proverbial fence. Sure enough, after I had finally made my choice, the relief I felt was just as immense as my insightful father had told me it would be.

“I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.”

As someone who has always suffered from insomnia and fitful, troubled attempts at sleep, these simple words actually help me calm down and fall back asleep when I wake up with disturbing thoughts in the middle of the night.

“Take your rubber stamp and mark him ‘paid’.”

This is definitely one of my favorites and has even been used by one or two of my close friends. Sadly, there will be times in life when we need to deal with disappointment from others, and friendships or other relationships coming to an end as a result. It is not always easy to accept, but once we do, boy does it feel good to do exactly as my dad suggests – imagine that you are marking a person “paid in full” and put them and the grief they caused you out of your minds for good!

“Excuse me for speaking while you were interrupting.”

Never one to be cut off in the middle of a story or when telling a joke, no matter how long it takes, when someone else tries to intercept before he is completely finished talking, this is an expression he says that almost always results in laughter, and at the very least, stops potential interrupters in their tracks.

“Don’t ever lose your sense of humor!”

This is by far one of the best pieces of advice my dad has ever given me. No matter what happens, even in times of sorrow, his sense of humor and positive attitude always makes me feel better. When I was very young, I did not think anyone nearly as funny as my dad even existed. He was born with the gift of laughter, the ability to make jokes and make his friends and family happy. We understand each other’s senses of humor so well that sometimes I feel he is the only person who will really appreciate it when I make a joke. Even as I write this and think about him, I do so with a smile on my face.

Besides all of his sayings, I have also incorporated some of his daily rituals into my own regular routine, such as his habit of making nightly notes and lists of what he needs to do the next day. As much as my mom teases us about it, it has proven to be my savior on many occasions.

I could go on and on about my dad, what a great guy he is and how all the many different ways his words help me when it comes to dealing with everyday life, but if I do, before I know it his next birthday will be here. I wish there were 80 different things I could do to wish him happy birthday but I thought the least I could do was tell him I’ve been paying attention!

For everyone out there lucky enough to have a dad, even if you sometimes laugh at what he says, don’t forget to stop and think about the importance of his message. On April 25, my dad’s 80th birthday, “do yourself a favor” and take a moment to reflect on some of this wise man’s words. It could be the most valuable time you spend all day.♥

 

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2016

A Grave Mistake

By Andrea Freedman

Recently, on the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing, I decided to accompany my parents for a visit to the cemetery where my grandmother is buried. As I had not been for a while, I had forgotten how many other people my family and I knew who were also buried in the same cemetery.

We took the opportunity not only to visit my grandmother’s grave, but also to stop by the graves of all the other relatives and family friends that were there as well.

Perhaps I was a bit nervous, or maybe it was to cover up my sadness because it was my first official visit to my grandmother there, but I found that once we got started (and as it seemed we had the entire cemetery to ourselves that day) I could not help making a few jokes in the hopes of making my parents laugh and adding some levity to the situation.

Everything went along fine until we stopped at the monuments of one particular couple that had been part of my life when I was growing up. I began reminiscing about the husband of the pair, a man who I had always loved and admired. Unfortunately, I could not say the same for his wife, a woman who had said some downright nasty things that had deeply hurt me as a young girl, some of which was actually damaging to my self-esteem at the time. I mentioned this to my parents and added that I did not recall this lady smiling much, and had for many years thought of her as a sour puss.

In the past, I remembered having to put on a fake smile and pretend to agree through clenched teeth when other relatives would sing this woman’s praises.

Besides the mean things I had heard the woman say about me and what she said to my face, I remembered as if it were yesterday when she spoke unkind words about my sweet grandfather only hours after he had passed away, all within earshot of me and my younger sister, both still impressionable kids who were devastated over the loss of our grandfather. I realized later that I had done the very thing for which I disliked her in the first place and that I should not have stooped to her level.

A couple of weeks after the cemetery visit, out of the blue the woman appeared in my dream one night, and this time – shockingly enough – with a smile on her face! As someone who is very spiritual, for a moment I considered the meaning of this dream, and wondered if it was possible that her soul was trying to make amends for how badly she had made me feel when she was alive. I even entertained the possibility that she didn’t know any better or was unaware of the full impact of her hurtful words.

I pondered whether it was my feelings of guilt for speaking ill of the dead that had made her appear in my dream. As cruel as I thought this woman had been, I later reflected that I should nonetheless probably not have bad-mouthed someone at her own grave.

When someone dies it does not automatically make them a saint, but I guess there were people close to the person in question that she was indeed wonderful to; I just did not happen to be one of them.

The next time I visit a cemetery, I will be sure to keep my comments to myself. I will also make a conscious effort not to say things that might hurt others’ feelings while I am alive, because once tactless, insensitive words are spoken, sometimes they really are carved in stone!♠

 

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2016

Feeling Less Than Fabulous About Turning Fifty

By Andrea Freedman

Every spring I feel happy and rejuvenated, looking forward to all the nice weather that lies ahead. This season, however, is like no other before it. You see folks, in less than one month yours truly will be turning 50 years old!

Funny enough, turning 40 didn’t bother me so much, in fact I even felt like it was cool in a way. But as I approach the half century mark, I do so with trepidation. To sum it up, I’m freaking out!

I’ve heard the expression “50 and Fabulous.” So far, I’m not so sure I think it sounds that fabulous, especially when I also hear phrases like “over the hill”.

I began to feel anxious about the Big 5-0 a couple of months ago. I had tried to avoid thinking about it for as long as I could; however, as the date looms closer, I cannot seem to shake it from my thoughts.

I imagine most people experience that one birthday that, until it actually happens, bothers them, no matter how much they protest that it is just like any other birthday. Now I understand what people mean when they say someone is “pushing” 50, as turning 50 is something I wish I could push far into the distant future.

Fifty years of my life have gone by and I can hardly believe I got here so quickly. Let’s face it. I can no longer say I have my whole life ahead of me; in fact, if I’m very lucky, I will have another half to look forward to at best. I sometimes panic that time is running out and that more time will slip away from me before I have a chance to accomplish my goals in life.

This may sound vain, but I confess that when I hear other women a few years older than me talk about a sudden thickening of the waistline I am terrified that this will happen to me. Although my grandmother used to say “I’ve earned every wrinkle” I am not so sure I will be able to deal with the physical signs of aging quite as gracefully as she did.

Since I turned 30, I have heard claims of shock and amazement when people found out what my age was. All through my forties my husband would proudly quiz people we met “Guess how old she is”. I always squirmed with embarrassment, but now, as I suddenly see signs of aging when I look in the mirror, I wonder if after I turn 50, it will be written all over my face.

As my husband is more than ten years my senior, I can always count on him to tell me how young I look. However, I fear that things may change once I reach this new phase in my life, even in his eyes.

I guess I should prepare myself for all those dumb Over the Hill birthday cards. I will now be among the group who get teased about their age, who others get a kick out of making fun of on their birthdays and who younger people think of as pretty old.

Despite my concerns about my upcoming birthday, I would be foolish not to stop and appreciate all the great things that I have to celebrate, like my husband, the fact that I have parents and a family who cares about me, friends, an exciting writing career that gets me out of bed with eager anticipation each day, and the fact that I made it to 50.

My parents have set a great example for me by taking care of their health and physical fitness. They maintain an active social life and I rarely hear them complain about not feeling well. I see people much older than me at the gym and I find them inspiring. I don’t really feel any older, and I don’t intend to give in to aging or start acting like it either by changing the way I dress or switching to a more sensible, mature hairstyle.

I can’t stop time, and I’m sure this next month will go by at an alarmingly fast pace. Like it or not, there is nothing I can do to avoid this next birthday, so, instead of pushing 50 away, I might as well accept it and embrace it. Who knows, once I get the hang of it, I just might even enjoy this milestone, and whatever perks I am hoping may come with it.

Still, up until April 27 at 10:29 am (the exact moment my mom tells me I was born), please, don’t anybody call me over the hill; after all, I’m still in my forties!♦

 

How about you? Which “Big” birthday bothered you, and what did you do to soften the blow?

 

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2016