Tuesday 12 May 2009

The Good Old Days are Coming for Everyone

Whenever I've visited my father in hospital over the last few days someone always asks, "Is that your father?"

Personally, I like to take the question on notice, until I know why they are asking.

Just in case he has done something ......err...questionable.

I know that if he is feeling anywhere near well he is likely to play practical jokes on the medical staff. He describes it as ‘getting his own back’.

He also likes a chat. Whenever. With Whomever.

Today, I was listening to some interesting conversations between my father and three other seniors all in their late 70s/early 80s. You can tell that they love good listeners simply because they all love to talk. I guess they’ve had a lot of time to figure out exactly what they want to say so it’s only fair they get to say it as often as they like.

The propensity of the elderly for telling stories about "the good old days" is frustrating for some but I think its a natural and normal part of growing and being older. It’s just the universal process of a life in review. Besides, it's these authentic stories that can help us gain perspective and a sense of continuity through this shared collective memory. It's indeed a shame that more older people aren’t blogging and firing their stories into the universe for eternity.

Things must have changed a great deal over the last 60 years for these guys. Listening to them today made me wonder what our future nursing homes will be like for today's teenagers.

I expect things will be far more revolutionary and innovative with many more gadgets at their disposal.

The seniors of the future probably won’t be talking to each other much because they will be obsessively tweeting and texting; naturally about the good old days. Hearing aids will be replaced by ear phones and they will still be listening, at full volume, to the music of their teens. Many will be disturbed that their many hundreds of Facebook friends are disappearing one by one.

There won’t be any dentures to soak but lots of nose, belly and nipple rings to disinfect instead. It will be hard to estimate exact ages because new and improved body parts, like breasts, noses, hips and hair, will have been added over various decades. There mightn't be too many smiles to share either because after 30 years of botox injections they may have forgotten how. And while every tattooed image will tell a story, gravity will mean that it may not be quite the same story it once was.

And you probably won't find old guys called Des, Fred, Douglas and Lester but more likely Ethan, Skylar, Cooper and Riley.

It might be a future that we cannot possibly imagine but I bet that the seniors of the future will still be talking about 'the good old days'. And their kids and grandkids will be the ones raising a few eyebrows and shaking their heads.

It made me think though. We need to make sure we are all making some 'good old days' for ourselves and those we love every day, no matter what stage of the journey we are on. Because telling our own stories is the most authentic gift we can give each other.

Note: This is a shout out for Henry (SoulMerlin in blogspeak). Thanks for your advice on the ‘butt exercise' you left me on one of my posts. I tried to leave my back heel on the ground a little longer when walking around the hospital today (its big...really big..the hospital I mean, not my butt). However, I got stopped by a nurse asking me if my legs were ok as I was dragging my feet and it looked odd. When I tried to explain that Soul Merlin left a comment on my blog telling me how to have a great butt by flexing my glutes, she looked at me quizzically in that she is f'ing bonkers kind of way. Thanks Henry but if you wouldn’t mind attaching a video example of your feet next time, I would appreciate it. I am kind of a visual learner which every purchase of IKEA has repeatedly confirmed. Written instructions do not work for me. Perhaps I will look into tattoos instead.

And THANK YOU Rocksnowhite!!!!

Image: At 71, Mrs. Isobel Varley was the first senior citizen in the world to ink her whole body (yes, whole body). She got her first tattoo at 49. Its never too late to start, see?



  1. ".....The propensity of the elderly for telling stories about "the good old days" is frustrating for some but I think its a natural and normal part of growing and being old..."

    Conversely, my propensity for telling and blogging about my good old days, probably redefines me as an elderly. But one is honored to be among the likes of Des.

    And Lilly, I think the blogs of the future will be one huge interactive chat session. It will have realtime video, and the world will be able to see you blogging in your pajamas maybe. Soulmerlin can even give a demo about his special exercises online....I cant get over the lot of us walking around on our heels the world over....

  2. *waving hands in the air* ....

    I got my first tattoo at 45 ...I LOVE it ...graffiti for the soul ...a tiny purple butterfly ...I'm not going back but I don't regret it either ...

    I hope to be blogging away at 80 about the olden days!

    And prayers for your Dad too.


  3. ".....The propensity of the elderly for telling stories about "the good old days" is frustrating for some ..."i do enjoy listening to stories about the good old days, my mom has lots of it, and i've heard it all a thousand times, and every time she tells it to someone else, i can't help but smile, still enjoy listening though, hehehe.

    i think Des would be delighted to have me as a guest cause i can listen really well.

  4. Love the way you say that telling stories is a pensioner's way of seeing life in review.

  5. "It’s just the universal process of a life in review." Well said, Lilly. And please give my best Philadelphia wishes to your dad.;-)

  6. It's hard to imagine how life might be like in 60 years looking at the pace its going now. I just know that life travels fast and we all will get old. I love the thought of a life in review. And yes we better make sure we have some great old days to talk about over and over one day. We will all be lucky to get to old age. You just never know. And that English lady is very interesting with those tattoos, you should see her piercings. Yikes, lets just say she rattles when she walks.

  7. I dont think I want to know about the good ole days from a future generation, to be honest I'm not that fond of how things are going!

    BUT..I never tire of hearing stories from some wiser and longer lived fellows of today.

    For some reason it just feels like there was a better world at one time.

  8. The tattooed woman is fabulous, I have a tattoo I got in Hollywood in 1980, I love showing it to the trendy kids since it's older than they are. Freaks them out.

  9. LOL Lilly at the visual of you gimping the hospital. I miss my grandparents for this reason. The stories of their lives they lead. How much they had witness from tv to man on the moon. There aren't that many "AWE" moments in life! They witness decades of them! I had wonderful story filled weekends with my grandparents Just Priceless time. Wonderful post. I do pray Des is getting better.

  10. I find myself talking more and more about the "good old days" lately. Guess that is a sign of my age. It is really quite fun to remember all the things we did back in the 50s and 60s. I have a friend that got a Mickey and Minnie Mouse tattoo years ago. I thought she was crazy at the time and said she was really going to look good in the nursing home with those two on her feet! Guess she will be right in style. Great post. Hope Des is much better.

  11. I never thought of it that way, the whole Grandpa Ethan, Cooper or Riley, soaking their belly rings, is a hysterical visual!

    But I did hear that Shirley Jones may be "posing" sans clothes, for a magazine, at age 75, so you may be on to something :)

    I think some of us are part of blogworld for that very reason. To document some of those stories now, so the don't leave when we do.

  12. I grew up with my grandparents and we had many stories to tell and tell and tell. My Mom know is the one that has a lot of stories . I love listening and laughing along with them ad yes I do get tired sometimes but I just say to myself "there but for the grace of God go I" another saying learned on my grandmothers knee!
    Hope Des is better and out of the hospital soon!

  13. The picture of the lady with the tattoos was a little freaky for me, but definitely told a story!

    I like this idea ~ make sure we are creating "good ole days."

    But I'm wondering, will you share some of the stories that you heard your Dad and the three people discussing? I love to hear those stories.

    When my grandmother stayed with us, I wrote down her childhood memories. It was a lot of fun to listen to her. She enjoyed talking about the past and now I have something to treasure as she has since passed....

  14. Hm. I talk about the "good old days" all the time. Must be my age :)

    Hope Des is doing well.

  15. I love hearing the older generation talk. My Grandma use to tell so many great family stories. I especially love the ones about my mom and her sisters and brothers as they were growing up. Hilarious stuff!

  16. This is exactly what my mother warned me about when I got my first tattoo and my belly ring. She said that when I'm in the nursing home, my shoulder tattoo will be down to my belly.

    I love listening to older men. To have lived through so much is amazing and worth the time to sit and learn.

  17. Great post! Absolutely right, of course, and I love your description of future "old timers".

    Re the butt (well, you brought the subject up!) - when walking, we hardly use our gluteus maximus muscles; when RUNNING, however, they are at full stretch, so to speak.

    That's just another piece of probably useless information I thought you might want to know. No? Oh, well...

  18. Sweet post Lilly. Keep telling your stories hey?

  19. My best friend is 30 years my senior. I love the man and have deep admiration for him. He of course has his many stories, some of which I've heard over and over again, with slightly different versions. He knows that I have a blog and continuously tells me, "That's what I should do". I wish he would. He used to work for NASA and has many stories of working on the first ship that made it to the moon.
    This was a great post Lilly. It makes me miss my parents.

  20. Just read your comment above Something Happened Somewhere Turning, you should tell your friends story about NASA. It would be amazing.

    This is a great post Lilly as often we need to be reminded that we need to tell our stories so they are not lost. This is why blogging is so FANTASTIC and why I should do it too. One day maybe.

  21. It is true, the nursing homes of the future will have a different look and feel to them. I have often thought of the tattoos, it's going to be interesting.

  22. Tattoos - seriously you would get one? I guess I just don't get it. I noticed a few readers above telling of their tattoos.

    I can't see committing to a design/color that I would still like years from now. To me, people getting tattoos are not thinking long term.

    Ok I got that out - thanks.

    Story telling is great. I don't know why we don't take time to record more of the stories. Maybe we feel that they are not good enough?

  23. As a child, I used to love to listen to my grandparents talking about the good old days. Now it seems my mom is the one doing all the talking to my kids and I am even talking about my good old days to my kids... enjoyed your post, some of the visuals I had in mind of today's youth in nursing homes brought a smile to my face as they soaked their pierced body parts, watched their FaceBook friends disappear and still listened to music from their youth at full volume while texting away. My son doesn't even know what an 8 track tape is-my daughter is shocked that music could be played on cassette tapes-and life without a cell phone or an Ipod? forget it!

  24. I live in a town that is almost all elderly with a few younger (in their 40's folks squeezed in) so you can imagine, a trip to the grocery store ends an hour later, after hearing about bunion surgery, how one lost and found their hearing aid, etc.

    Hope your dad is loving that he has plenty of listening ears to tell his stories too.

    The elderly have so much to say if only folks would stop and listen.

  25. I love hearing about 'the good old days', so much interesting things we can learn from older people. Provided they don't repeat themselves too much (I do that already!)

  26. My children tell me they thought I talked about the "good ole day's" when I was in my forties, go figure. I like your post, hope your dad is better. I want to tell you I think you have a very pretty daughter.

  27. Your take on the future is hilarious! I don't think I'll be a raconteur in my old age (if it really shows up), since I tend to forget everything. I love and cherish the stories my good old friend of 85, a witty and quick mind, tells me frequently.

    I so hope Des is well! My best wishes to him.

  28. You took the words right out of my brain. I have thought about this before - what the kids of today will turn into when they're the elderly of tomorrow. Loved this post!

  29. I really enjoyed this blog post. Really made me think about alot of things..makes me miss my grandmotherm, too. Funny you are even talking about age...as I discovered today that I have been telling people that I am turning a year older this year than what I am ACTUALLY TURNING! =O hahahaha


    PS Love your new header. =)

  30. When I quickly glanced at the image I thought Betty White... hot dayyyum!!

    My husband is in his fifties and he tells these stories already.

    "TV used to be in black and white...we didn't need Wii we climbed trees and actually played all of those sports for real, outside...

    I, too, wonder what stories will be told in the future!

    Peace - Rene

  31. Oh my, the woman pictured is one giant tattoo!! I thought it was a crazy body stocking or something. I bet her "gold old days" stories will make your hair stand on end :-) Hope Des is doing well.

  32. Did I tell you that I just love your header!? Just adorable!!
    Hey! I'm shooting off my mouth now, so I can guess how I'll be in 20 years time!

  33. The idea of seniors blogging is a great one - I've always thought when I was 80 it would really be a lifeline - a way to feel connected still, to have opinions and thoughts that matter - and friends of many ages who cared about me.

  34. We're writing our stories as we go along - when we're old and grey we'll be able to tell our friends: "go back and read that blog post I wrote in 2009, you know, the one about the........" :)

  35. Love this post! I cracked up at the names and the image of the seniors tweeting and texting in their rockers. Too cute!

    I hope Des is doing well.

    About the walking while tightening your glutes and keeping your heels on the ground longer. WTF? I too have heard this nonsense and want to see it done as well. If I can grow an ass just from walking, bring it on!

  36. I suspect you're preaching to the choir about storytelling -- it's the non-bloggers who are missing that particular boat. (And a fine mixed metaphor that was!)

  37. You're so right about the good old days and ensuring we have something "good" to talk about :) I love the idea of Des talking up a storm in hospital, but was sorry to hear he's even there...give him my love and tell him I said "Gedouddathere!!" :)

  38. @ Ugich - I often wonder about whether different cultures look upon age differently. You know if you lived here you would be middleaged and thats it. YOU are the one who HAS to tell the stories because you are brilliant at it. Your giveaway is on its way to you from the UK by the way!

    @ Sarahlulu - wow, grafitti for the soul. You have fantastic expressions - I am going to borrow that one!!

    @ Rachel - since you dont live in a country too far away you never know maybe you will get to visit one day. I knew you were a good listener, just knew!

    @ Lady Fi, well when you know your future is way shorter than your past its only natural you would review your life and play it all back again.

    @ Debra - thank you, and I surw will. This man is an extrovert and will love people's comments.

    @ Sarah, oh you are right, about the rattling she has piercings everywhee jsut as she has tattoos everywhere. Eccentricity at its best and the Engish sure know how to do it better than anyone else, just look at you, lol!! Sarah I was joking, lol! Truly, we all know you are a 120lb 5 8" supermodel..

  39. My 29 year old son came to Boston for a visit and lamented "the good old days" because a favorite restaurant is gone and one of our favorite haunts, Filene's Basement in downtown, is gone. The building it once house is a hole in the ground while the developers wait for the credit to start flowing so they can build the new building that will house it if it's still around.
    Also, I imagine retirement looking more like "The Golden Girls" but probably co-ed with all our various devices and technology keeping us going. I plan to blog 'til I drop.

  40. Oh Lillyness! This is so funny and especially since we just moved my mother into a retirement home! My mother can tell a story and I could repeat it word for word because I've heard it so many times!
    Now the picture of that woman is indeed a hoot!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  41. Lilly,
    This is in reply to the comment you left on my post.
    I highly strongly totally recommend your reading a website

    http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk and also getting her e-book.

    I still get counseling sessions with NML on the phone. You can e-mail her to ask, if you want. Or even write to her about your specific situation (the more detail the better)

    More than anything else in 30 years of dating and getting my heart broken and not understanding why this was happenning to me - she has cleared things up completely.

    Never again will I make the mistakes I did - or experience the devastation or misery or confusion with a guy.

    I even have self-esteem I never had.

    Lilly, truly if I could give you ONE gift, a gift that amttered, a gift that would make a difference, a gift that would end up bringing you joy and strength and having a better feeling about yourself via men than you've ever had before, this would be it.

    It SO far goes past 'he's just not that into you' or any other book I ever read, or workshop/seminar on relationships/self-help I've ever attended....


    After a while, you won't care whether or not he's a narcissist - you'll know you'd never be interested in or fall victim to another one :)

  42. Hehe at first glance I thought the tatoos were here clothes...

    When you think about how inactive people are nowadays you wonder what sort of stories they are gonna be able to tell when they get older.

    "I once played video games for 65 hours straight" lol


    "I once stayed in my bedroom and never went outside for 5 whole years.."

  43. We'll be saying something like this: "I remember those days when we use to blog with each other, instead of using the transporter and beaming back and forth to each other."

  44. i'll tell you what's scary..the music of today is going to be oldies and goodies some day...arghghghghghghghghghgh

  45. That lady is 71? It must be a photo of her in her younger days. That's pretty astonishing.

    I'm finding myself talking to people about body ailments and health related stuff all the time. It's something I used to laugh about when we'd sit with a bunch of seniors.

    You're right about making memories now, though. I'm trying. I'll bet Des has a whole ton of them.

  46. I love stories about the "old days". And I got quite a laugh out of imagining your new exercises. You're a hoot, Lilly ;-)

  47. What do you mean the elderly tell stories? I tell stories of days gone by now.

    Great post Lilly, makes me think about stories I've heard the elderly tell.

    I think I'd scare myself every time I looked in the mirror if my body was covered in aging tatts, I'm afraid.

    Hope Des is feeling better. Has he seen the picture of Isobel's body?

  48. Oh good grief...did you write this about moi?

  49. I wonder if we'll still be blogging then or if we'll come to that realization that life goes by in a flash and be out living it with all our new body parts :-) I hope I'm a hip grandma.

  50. Hi Lilly,
    Sorry to hear that Des is in hospital. Hope he is making good progress.
    We seem to remember the Good Old Days perhaps because we were fit and well then and all are parts were working.Anyway it's all we can remember as sometimes yesterday is more difficult to recall !
    Hope the time never comes when we are immortal You can have too much of a good thing !

  51. I talk about the good ol days now...

  52. Life has changed an awful lot - but I wonder if we'll still be like that (twittering etc) in 40 years time or have realised we were missing out on a good old face to face chat?

  53. So true, Lilly, "a shame that more older people aren’t blogging and firing their stories into the universe for eternity." I love talking with old people...they are no nonsense, fabulous people. You have given me a giggle thinking of the old folk's home of the future...very funny and true too!
    Have a Happy Day!

  54. Sorry I cant keep up in the last couple of days but I will call by your blogs and leave my comments there.

    Just a couple of things.

    @ Kay, yes that is Isobels body however I wouldnt advise you to read her story unless you have a iron stomach. She has more piercings than tats. Too much for me but all power to her for deciding what she wants in life.

    @ Everyone - I loved some of your thoughts on the future seniors looking back on the good old days.

    I do have something to share with you that my daughter told me that kind of made me think - if you get a piece of string cut it in half then in half again - the piece left is the life you have left. Think about it. No wonder that woman got tatts!! lol

    And Des is doing ok. They will keep him in hopsital until he is mobile. They dont quite know what is the problem yet. However, I just want you to know that all your well wishes put a big smile on his face. The guys up there with him couldnt really get their heads around the fact that someone from India, Philadelphia, England were sending him best wishes. Try explaining a blog to someone who doesnt use the internet. He is the man though. Thanks again.

  55. Always a pleasure to visit, Lilly.

    And a picture of you trying to walk like that will probably help me laugh myself to sleep!!! lol

  56. @ Rhonda - well I hope it keeps you awake, you funny girl!!!

  57. Hi Lilly,
    Nice post and it was interesting reading your readers comments. I've always agreed with the phrase "a year older makes you a year wiser". As a result, I feel that most old people have lots of wisdom to pass on to anyone who will listen. The young ones might get bored with their stories but there's a lot we can learn if only we give them our time and listen (even if we've heard it before).

    Take care,

  58. I loved ~ simply loved ~ this post. How refreshing and just what I needed this evening. I have been dealing with (horrific) computer problems most of this week.

  59. @ Helen - aw glad it relieved the stress even for a moment!!

  60. @ Lilly - oh I dont know if we become a year wiser - if we learn the lessons we do though.

  61. Ahh but I do so love listening the the stories of those christened with the designation "Elders". Something about the good old days, is very comforting to me, and I enjoy listening to the memories of those that lived them. I can only imagine what my "good old days stories" will be like.

    I love your vision of life for our seniors of the future. I wonder if you realized your describing what our own elderly years will be like, LOL.


Thanks for your comments.