A cranky older woman “in her senior years” was arrested for shoplifting at a grocery store. She gave everyone a hard time, from the store manager to the security guard to the arresting officer who took her away. She complained and criticized everything and everyone throughout the process.
When she appeared before the judge, the judge asked her what she had stolen from the store.
The lady defiantly replied, “Just a stupid can of peaches you old fool.”
The judge then asked why she had done it.
She replied, “I was hungry and forgot to bring any cash to the store.”
The judge asked how many peaches were in the can.
She replied in a nasty tone, “Nine! But why do you care about that?”
The judge answered patiently, “Well, ma’am, because I’m going to give you nine days in jail — one day for each peach.”
As the judge was about to drop his gavel, the lady’s long-suffering husband raised his hand slowly and asked if he might speak.
A few days ago Jean and I listened to an episode from the BBC Radio 4 series The Art of Living. Or as the home page of the programme’s website explains, The Art of Living is a …
Documentary series revealing how engagement with art has transformed people’s lives.
Anyway, the episode that we listened to was a delightful 30-minute discussion between Marie-Louise Muir and the Belfast-born poet Frank Ormsby. The reason we selected this episode to listen to in particular is revealed by republishing how the BBC introduced the programme. (For Jean was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in December, 2015.)
Frank Ormsby’s Parkinson’s
The Art of Living
When the poet Frank Ormsby was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, his response was unexpected. He embarked on a newly fertile creative period, documenting his experiences and finding a voice in his poetry that he was beginning to lose in his daily communications.
His first act was to search Google – for jokes. “Which would you rather have, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Obviously Parkinson’s! I’d rather spill half my pint than forget where I left it.”
As he discusses with Marie-Louise Muir, the illness has changed him. It’s mellowed him. After a career as a school teacher, his daily life is now quieter and more solitary. There’s a poetry, almost, in his pauses and silences.
Frank belongs to the generation of Northern Irish writers that has followed in the footsteps of Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley. His medication, he believes, has aided his creativity. But it has also induced hallucinations. He finds himself sitting on his own in his study but surrounded by people, by the ghosts of his mother-in-law and unidentified visitors. And he’s also haunted by a fear that the earth will open up and swallow him.
But if you ask how he’s doing, he writes, “I’ll tell you the one about ‘parking zones disease’.
I’ll assure you that the pills seem to be working”.
Photo credit: Malachi O’Doherty, With readings by Frank himself and Ciaran McMenamin from The Darkness of Snow. Produced by Alan Hall. A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.
That wonderful joke offered by Frank, this one: “Which would you rather have, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Obviously Parkinson’s! I’d rather spill half my pint than forget where I left it.” comes a little after the 5-minute point in the interview. I strongly encourage you to listen to the full interview. Here’s the link to the radio programme.
Jean and I were sitting up in bed a couple of mornings ago reflecting on how recent it has been since we ‘got it’ in terms of what becoming old really means. For me and Jean, for different reasons, it is only in the last twelve months that ageing, the process of becoming older, the decline in one’s faculties, and more and more, has been truly understood. Yes, before then of course one understood that we were getting old. But it was an intellectual understanding not the living it on a daily basis understanding we now experience.
Back to Frank Ormsby. Or rather to a feature in the Belfast Telegraph published in 2015.
Frank Ormsby: Life at Inst was very different from my upbringing
Leading Belfast poet and former Inst. Head of English Frank Ormsby on his tough Fermanagh upbringing, losing his father when he was 12 and how humour has helped him cope with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
March 23, 2015
As Frank Ormsby sits in the study of his beautifully-appointed 1930s home in north Belfast there is no hint of his much more austere upbringing. As befits the workspace of a poet and long-time English teacher at one of Belfast’s leading schools, the bookcases that line the walls are crammed with a wide range of literature.
It could not be a more different environment from the rural home where he grew up just after the Second World War.
When Frank was born in 1947, his father Patrick was already in his 60s. “I remember him as an old, grey-haired man”.
It was Patrick’s second marriage. His first had produced 10-12 children. “I was never totally sure of the exact number”, Frank recalls.
“I never met them as they had dispersed to Scotland and other places by the time my father, by then a widower, had married my mother. As far as I know the last one of them died last year.”
Frank’s home was about a mile and half outside Irvinestown. His mother Anne had worked on a relative’s farm – “she could build hay or cut turf as well as any man” – and his father as a farm labourer who occasionally sought work in the factories in Scotland.
“The conditions in which we lived were lacking in luxury. We had no running water. We had to carry it in buckets from a well half a mile away. There was no electricity and it was a long time before we even had a radio, or wireless as it was called then,” Frank says.
Here’s one of Frank’s poems that was published by The New Yorker in March, 2013.
By Frank Ormsby
They have the look
of being born old.
Thinning elders among the heather,
trembling in every wind.
My father turns eighty
the spring before my thirteenth birthday.
When I feed him porridge he takes his cap off. His hair,
as it has been all my life, is white, pure white.
Maybe that’s how it is. Having the look of being born old!
But there’s one thing that I treasure beyond gold itself. Having the fortune to be living out my final days, however many there are, in the company of my beautiful Jeannie and all the loving dogs around me.
There was a comment left on yesterday’s post that seemed a delightful reason to stay with the topic; more or less! This was the comment left by Tony.
“at the age of 70, I am already noticing the creeping onset of reduced verbal IQ, cognitive decline, and worry about the onset of dementia….”
Paul, I am 75 and lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and a mother to dementia. I consider myself to also be at risk. There seems no defense, yet, against Alzheimer’s, but cardiovascular exercise is absolutely one against dementia. Cardio sends oxygen molecules to the brain which actually create new neurotransmitters. Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).
Nine days ago, dear friend Bob Derham from my UK days, emailed me the following (in turn, it had been sent on to Bob):
I’m only sending this to the brightest of my older friends
This test will keep that dreaded disease that effects your memory at bay!
New Senior’s Exam, you only need 4 correct out of 10 questions to pass.
1) How long did the Hundred Years’ War last?
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get cat gut?
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5) What is a camel’s hair brush made of?
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7) What was King George VI’s first name?
8) What color is a purple finch?
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?
Remember, you need only 4 correct answers to pass.
Shared with me by our neighbours Larry and Janell.
Have a great weekend.
This actually happened to an Englishman in France who was totally drunk.
A French policeman stops the Englishman’s car and asks if he has been drinking.
With great difficulty, the Englishman admits that he has been drinking all day, that his daughter got married that morning, and that he drank champagne and a few bottles of wine at the reception, and many single malt scotches thereafter.
Quite upset, the policeman proceeds to alcohol-test (breath test) the Englishman and verifies that he is indeed totally sloshed.
He asks the Englishman if he knows why, under French Law, he is going to be arrested?
The Englishman answers, with a hint of humour in his voice, “No sir, I do not!”
He then continues, “But while we’re asking questions, do you realize that this is a British car and that my wife is driving . . . . . on the other side?”
So, whatever side of the road you drive on, you all stay safe out there!
News from the Scientific World: New Element Discovered
Victoria University of Wellington researchers have discovered the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (symbol=Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called pillocks. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.
A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete. Governmentium has a normal half-life of 1 to 3 years (in NZ). It does not decay, but instead undergoes a re-organisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.
In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as a critical morass. When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (symbol=Ad), an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium, since it has half as many pillocks but twice as many morons.
She gets into the cab, and notices that the handsome cab driver won’t stop staring at her.
She asks him why he is staring.
He replies: “I have a question to ask you but I don’t want to offend you.”
She answers, “My son, you cannot offend me. When you’re as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I’m sure that there’s nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive.”
“Well, I’ve always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me.”
She responds, “Well, let’s see what we can do about that: First, you have to be single, and second, you must be Catholic.”
The cab driver is very excited and says, “Yes, I’m single and Catholic!”
“OK,” the nun says. “Pull into the next alley.”
The nun fulfils his fantasy, with a kiss that would make a hooker blush.
But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.
“My dear child,” says the nun, “why are you crying?”
“Forgive me but I’ve sinned. I lied and I must confess, I’m married and I’m Jewish.”
The nun says, “That’s OK. My name is Kevin and I’m going to a Halloween party.”
(Apologies if some of you old hands have heard this before!)
A number of things conspired to get in the way of me writing a ‘serious’ post for today. So, as I always do, I flicked through by ‘blog’ mail folder to see what might be of interest to you, dear reader.
I came across this. A month ago, Suzann included me in a list of people that she emailed with the following:
Cat plays dead to avoid going for a walk!
Before you view this video, know that this cat was not hurt in anyway! Lucky the cat is seen being strapped into his harness before going for a walk. Once placed on the floor the pretty kitty goes limp each time they try to get him up to stand up or walk. He collapses down on the carpet and twitches his tail between his legs. The people in the video laugh but you can tell that Lucky is not seeing the humor in the situation!
Can’t close without revealing my love for that very old dead cat joke.
A man who lived at home with his mother and pet cat went on a trip to Europe.
Before he left he told his best friend to tell him of any emergencies. A few days into his trip, his cat slipped while climbing the roof, fell off and died. His friend immediately texts him with the message: “Your cat died!” In a few hours he was back home, having cut short his trip in grief.
When he saw his friend he yelled at him, “Why didn’t you break the news to me slowly? You know how close I was to my cat! You could have sent a message ‘Your cat climbed up on the roof today’, and the next day you could’ve written, ‘Your cat fell off the roof’ and let me down gradually that he died.”
After a quick memorial service, the man left again to continue his trip.
A few days later he gets a text from his friend. It read, “Your mother climbed up on the roof today.”