So this perfectly pleasant woman was asking me a battery of questions about my father.
It was part of the hospital admission process. Having covered his medical history, we came to a portion of the computerized form dealing with behavior.
“Has he ever harmed anyone?” she asked.
“Not since dropping bombs on the Germans and Italians,” I said.
She gave me a look. But I wasn’t trying to be a wise guy. I wanted to make a point.
That stooped-over wheelchair rider she had seen when we first arrived wasn’t always weak and halting. Defining him by his current set of geriatric infirmities would miss part of the picture.
The truth is, the hospital staff has been great. So have countless others since my parents moved here from Vermont in September of 2000.
But I worry that some of us tend to forget that the elderly weren’t always slow and hard of hearing. Once they were young and strong, and they looked out for us.
Today is my dad’s 90th birthday. It has been a rough year.
If you are thinking of getting a present, here’s what I suggest.
Next time you see some white-haired codger taking forever in a checkout line or negotiating a crosswalk at a glacial pace, try to have a little patience.
There’s no need to be a dope and pretend that advancing age is some golden-years stroll in the park. It’s not.
But one way to salute the lives of our elders is to remember that they haven’t always been old.
•Update: The Trout family of Medical Lake stuck with its plan to not watch TV during the month of August. They even found a way to see the KXLY feature on their experiment without turning on the tube. (They watched it on the station’s Web site, the children’s only computer use last month.)
The family considers the ban to have been a success.
Robin Trout said the experience has made them want to be more discerning about viewing choices. “The standard has been raised as to what we will plug the TV in to watch,” she wrote in an e-mail Friday.
“We are more aware of better choices available for our family time and the children’s time. We will definitely institute the TV fast for next August and perhaps for a longer time.”
Her advice for families considering similar experiments is to view the self-imposed restriction as an opportunity, not a hardship.
“There is freedom in not being captive to the TV Guide,” said Trout.
•Today’s Slice question: Can you usually tell if someone was a cheerleader once upon a time?
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