My dad is 82; he is old. Once you turn 80, I believe, you become officially old, no way around it. Aging and dying are difficult processes. I don’t want my dad to get sick; I don’t want my dad to die. I, myself, see how youth is trailing behind me, soon to be let go.
In this society that idolizes vigor and energy, aging is difficult. There is so much to learn from wisdom and age, but we decide to look the other way and pretend it doesn’t exist. Well, in my search for understanding, I decided to ask my dad hard questions about aging, questions that we don’t like to ask. I wanted to know how he feels about being old, and I want to prepare myself for what is coming.
My dad is a nice man that has changed drastically in old age. Sometimes he can be detached from others; he lives in his own world of poetry, classical music, and art; but he is also very loving. His grandkids and his job have become the essence of his existence. I have always felt loved by him, and I always knew he was special. He is an intellectual, smart, very creative man, with a wonderful sense of humor. He introduced me to the world through art, compassion and laughter.
Before we move on to the questions I asked, I would like to alert you that my dad could be a pessimistic poet. I tried my best translating his words (he is a Spanish speaker), but it was difficult to capture the nuances of his terms and humor. In the future, I would like to interview more people over 80 for this blog, as an attempt to capture wisdom and knowledge. In hindsight, I should have started with a person that sees life and age through a positive lens, but, on the other hand, why avoid difficulty? There is beauty and growth in everything.
Here are the questions that I asked my dad, and here are the answers he gave me. I hope you like this one.
1) What have you liked the most about living so far?
It moves me to remember the games and studies at my school in La Serena (Seminario Conciliar), Chile; my first platonic love for whom I shed tears; building our house in Angamos, Punta Arenas, the Versailles of my existence. I would also like to resurrect our ski trips to the Cerro Mirador, where the snow still cries for us, and the sweet and swift years of marriage to your mother (my parents got divorced 10 years ago, after 27 years of marriage).
2) What makes you happy right now?
Memories, which are now ruins that I’m only able to see through the light of a torch.
3) How do you feel mentally? And, in comparison to when you were young?
Diminished. I live my life trying to avoid looking foolish, but I can’t.
4) How do you feel physically? And, in comparison to when you were young?
Also, diminished. The passing of time has slowly transformed my body into a heavy armor that tries to keep me motionless.
5) How do you see your future? What do you expect from it?
To keep becoming ruins, supporting myself on pillars made out of memories.
6) What are the most impressive changes that you have witnessed during your life?
The technological changes that have isolated me and made me more dependant, limiting my autonomy.
7) At what age did you start feeling old?
In spite of my answers, nobody has yet created a calendar that can make me feel old.
8) How is it to be old?
Is like being transformed into a night traveler, where the hills and land are hidden, and you can only discover the sky.
9) What is the hardest aspect of aging? What is the best aspect of aging?
As I told you before, I have not penetrated that stage yet. Ask me by knocking on my casket, or bury me with a cell phone so I can let you know.
10) How do you feel about death? How do you feel now that you are closer to it?
I will defend myself from her by clinging to my memories… I die every instant. My life is a consecutive number of deaths.
11) What advice would you give your grandkids?
I can’t think of anything I could be an example of. (This answer made me sad because it is not true, but I now this is what he believes)
Thanks, dad. Te amo.
PS: Writing this post made me cry. If you have a parent that is old, I would encourage you to do the same exercise with him/her. It helps to understand and connect. If you do, please, share. I was also wondering, what other questions do you think I should have asked? What would you like to learn from our elders?
The picture below doesn’t have the best quality, but it is so sweet, isn’t? You can see how comfortable the grandkids are around my dad.
Te amo, papi.
We put out our Outdoor Halloween decorations last weekend. I wanted to create a ghost family in the front yard, and this is how it came out. Cute, don’t you think?
Here is what we used,
- 7 – sticks of different lengths. Approximately 1.5” x 1” wide. They need to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the fabric and not fall with the wind. No need to get fancy with the sticks, almost anything will do.
- 7 – Styrofoam spheres. 6 small 6” spheres for the smaller ghosts, and a big 10” sphere for the big ghost. I bought them at Michael’s.
- Light sheer white fabric. I went to the fabric district in L.A. and got those rolls that you can buy as is. They are $1.99 a yard! So cheap. I used approximately 25 yards.
- 7 – 2” Nails to attach the fabric to the Styrofoam
- 2 – sheet of black felt ($0.39 at Michael’s)
- Glue gun to attach the mouths and eyes to the Styrofoam.
Here is what we did:
- We grabbed sticks of different sizes from our backyard and pounded them in the grass.
- I made a small hole in the Styrofoam ball and pressed the stick into the sphere with enough strength to insert it 4-5 inches in. No need to glue.
- We covered the Styrofoam balls with the fabric and cut it at the floor level with some scissors to make sure it had the right length; almost touching the floor. I used two strips of fabric on top of the spheres to cover the ghosts and give them more volume. I crossed them on top of each other like an X.
4. I nailed the fabric to the sphere.
5. Cut out eyes and mouths for the ghosts from black felt.
6. Glued the eyes and mouths with the glue gun on low temperature. You don’t want the glue to be so hot as to melt the Styrofoam.
The project took no more than 1 hour, so you still have time to do this for Halloween!
Finally, I want to thank my friends that came out to help me and ended up doing all the work for me. A perfect DIY project, indeed!
It was Max’s birthday last week. He turned 2! I love this age, but, before I start bragging about how cute and adorable Max is, I would like to talk about his birthday party.
This year, I did not feel like inviting a lot of people. I do host a lot of dinner parties throughout the year but, this time, my Chilean family happened to be here, including my 2 nephews, so I decided to invite only three other children and their families, nobody else. Also, I was feeling lazy. I wanted to enjoy the party and not having to work all the time; because Max is not what you call an independent thinker yet, I am still allowed to make this kind of decision.
Even though the guest list was small, I wanted to do a couple of cute things for Max’s birthday. I decided to put more effort into the cake and some of the decorations. Before writing any longer, I will come clean as very non-talented DIY person. I wish I were good. I wish I had talent in this department, but I don’t. My DIY projects always involve George (husband) doing the work, and me sipping a Margarita next to him with approving and loving eyes.
So, from the POV of an inept crafter and a Martha Stewart wanna be, I would like to share with you Max’s cake and the confetti balloons DIY project.
- Max’s cake
Here was my inspiration for Max’s cake, from Bleubird Blog.
I liked this cake a lot, but, for Max’s, I wanted more color, so I used some wooden animals that Víctor has from a memory game set he got last year for Christmas. I have always loved the colors of these animals, and I also love turquoise, so I decided to make them turquoise birthday hats. Now, if you think making these little hats was easy peachy, think again. As I told you, I am horrible at doing DIY tasks, so I started folding the hats from the bottom up which produced no-results. I had to discard 5 hats before George came to my rescue, once again, and showed me that I should be folding the hats from the top down. Simple and obvious in hindsight… sometimes I think my brains are out of my skull.
I used a glue gun to glue the hat to the animals, which I then left on for 2 hours at maximum heat and end up burning the glue inside the gun. FAIL!
For the hats’ shapes, I found a template here. You need to cut this shape to be able to get the cone right.
Overall, I am happy with the results of the cake. I think it looks cute. What do you think?
- Confetti Balloons
Balloons with confetti inside are expensive (here are the ones I wanted to get), that is why I decided to do them myself. If you want to do this project, just know that you will need another person (in this case, my sister) helping you to fill up the balloons. Placing the confetti inside the balloons is NOT a small task; it takes forever. You need two hands opening the balloon, while another hand places the confetti inside, while another one cleans all the confetti that falls on the floor and in various cracks around your house. You will have confetti lingering in your life for weeks after the birthday party, and you should be OK with that.
I bought long wooden sticks and turquoise ribbon at Michael’s. The ribbon helped harmonizing the arrangement.
Once my dad started blowing up the balloons (yes, I like to put an 84 years old to good use), I realized that the confetti was not spreading around the balloon when inflated; on the contrary, the confetti stayed at the bottom of the balloon and did not look good. That is when my sister had the brilliant idea of filling up the balloons with helium. This saved my dad’s life, and made the confetti spread out around the balloon, which looked beautiful.
My overall assessment of this DIY task is not good. True, the result was cute, but, who has 3 hours to spare doing this (I told you I had no talent!)? The amount of work you need to do to get this done is not worth the money you are saving. Next time, I will buy all these balloons already done.
If you could give an advice to younger women, what would it be?
A good friend of mine sent me a link to the video below last week. I like the idea of learning from the old. Learning from age and wisdom. It is not easy to listen to those who are different. It is hard to empathize with their lives and struggles, but, in this video, I saw myself in 30 years, so my heart understood the message.
It is impossible to capture time, life goes on and we get old. One of my goals is to look at my life when I am older with no regrets. The women in this video gave me advice on how to do that: enjoy the now, start being, stop doing. Life is full of precious moments that go away, that are ephemeral: my children waking me up in the middle of the night, the sun setting behind the ocean, a nice dinner, a hug from my mother… I am powerless against time, but I have the power to savor every last second of what life is giving me right now. It is not easy, but I will try.
My friend also asked me what advice would I give to women that are younger than me. It is a beautiful question, isn’t? I would say: live your life with no fear, and worry less about what people might think about you.
I would love to hear your advice.
Source Featured Image.