By Betty Slade
This article was provoked, yes, provoked, by a conversation with my son. I asked, “When do parents get too old or too quiet for their voices to be heard?”
It has been said that some people lose their voice in the decisions made by well-meaning children. Maybe the elderly are too cantankerous and uncooperative to be reasonable.
My children often quote a favorite line from “the Golden Girls” warning that if I become too difficult, “It’s Shady Pines, ma!”
I am sure that I have given them reason to want to ship me off. Probably more than once. I don’t consider myself elderly yet. So, in the meantime, I plan on speaking my mind, whether I am heard or not.
The other day, I saw a spot on the carpet when I walked into the living room. My son said, “You’re speaking without saying a word.”
Yes, I am. In fact, without saying even a single word, I spoke very loudly. I’m not sure which of the many dogs who frequent my living room did it, but one of them had eaten something leaving a greasy spot on my carpet.
My son said, “I’ll clean it up.”
I didn’t say a word, I didn’t have to. We both knew what I was thinking. Some conversations are better left unsaid.
I came to a stopping point with something I was writing recently. I asked my son if he would critique my work and tell me what he thought the problem was.
He quickly said, “Maybe it’s you.”
“Me? I just asked you to critique my writing. It doesn’t seem as funny as I imagined.”
“Mother, what you think is funny is really not that funny.”
“It is in my head. Besides, your dad thinks I’m funny. Well, at least he does when I tell him I am.”
I like my writing style. I call it storytelling with artistic license. My children call it gossiping. I call myself an author. My children call me granny redneck. Is this what happens when you get older? You just can’t win.
Because of the relationship that my Sweet Al and I have with our children, relying on them to do things like being our personal assistant comes at a cost. We ask for help. They tell us what they think we want or need.
I guess things could be worse. We could be left to make our own decisions. Poor Sweet Al. I can’t even imagine how much trouble I would get him into if left to my own devices.
All things considered, maybe the lesson is one about balance, not about whose voice is heard.
Besides, when it comes to my Sweet Al and his dog, he clearly hears me, spoken or not. And I am certain our children know how and what we are going to say before we utter even a single word.
Our children respect us. And that alone gives value to our voices. We may not always make sense, but we are surrounded by those who give a nod in our direction and affirm us.
No matter if we come across senile or feeble, or make jokes that aren’t as funny as we think they are, we still have our voice. More importantly, our children are here to care for us, protect us. Yes, sometimes they scrutinize our decisions. But perhaps they are just saving us from ourselves.
Final brushstroke: Love me, love my voice. You can even cringe when I say something out of place, but just don’t judge. I laugh at me; you should, too. And as long as the newspaper runs my articles, I still get to speak what I think, spoken or not.
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