My parents moved into my childhood home five days before I was born. Like the new, adorable baby they brought home from the hospital, the house was new as well (though not as adorable as the baby). Every year, on my birthday, my mother tells the tale of how my older and only sister was throwing up, my grandfather was being taught how to use the washing machine, and she needed to get to the hospital to have me. But even having all of this information ingrained in my brain, it only hit me a few years ago that I was as old as my parent’s house.
Why is this significant? Well, it really isn’t, but I will give you some reasons. Don’t you feel that when you see people that you have grown up with, that are the same age as you, sometimes you feel they look exactly the same? Like time hasn’t passed? Of course you notice the teeny tiny wrinkles, or that they are currently blonde when they grew up brunette, but for the most part, they look the same (or maybe it is just how I feel and you are reading this thinking “Yup, I knew she was crazy...). But when you look at an entire house, you can see that the house is getting older. So my parents’ house has become my mirror of honesty (so have my sons, but we won’t go there right now).
Let us begin with “curb appeal”…the paint started peeling so they needed to repaint it; yup, after 44 years, my hair needed a paint job, too. The driveway had some cracks in it, so they needed to repave it. I, too, am cracking, but will not resort to Botox or therapy for the other kind of “cracking.” And wouldn’t it be nice if every spring I could decorate myself with pretty geraniums and other flowers to freshen up my look? Though Estee Lauder spackle may work for others, I don’t use that stuff (even though I should. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, kids!)
When you get to the interior, it looks good, but behind the facade of perfection (she said laughingly) lurk oh-so-many issues. The house, over the years, has begun making different noises; creaks, haunting groans… sometimes I think I hear a couple of “oy veys” when the house wakes itself up on a winter morning. Oh wait, that’s me…getting out of bed, hauling myself off a chair, walking up steps, getting into the car…you get the point. The pipes have been redone…don’t all of our pipes need to be cleaned out every so often? I actually think the house is in better shape than I am because it cannot stress eat and develop high blood pressure upon walking into a doctor’s office.
When do we really get we are getting older? At Disney World. I hadn’t been to the place “where dreams come true” in about 12 years. My parents took us there for Passover when my dad was still employed or as we like to refer to it as “the good old days.” My boys were all still little, I was still sleep deprived, yet full of energy and nothing hurt. We schlepped them on all age-appropriate rides and walked them around until it was communal nap time. Didn’t really pay attention to anyone else there because we were too busy trying not to lose anyone (or was that trying not to get caught trying to lose someone…hmm…). Fast forward to now. Husband #1 took son #2 to Israel to visit son #1, #whycanticallthembytheirnames, and I got to take son #3 to Orlando for four days.
It started with the bus ride from the hotel to the park. I needed to use the handrail to get up the steps because the steps were steep. When have I ever had to do that? And I didn’t want to touch the handrail because I was afraid of getting the pneumonia-like cough that the person ahead of me seemed to have and then I would have to Purell for the 80th time, but if I didn’t use the handrail, I wasn’t going anywhere. Old age-1, Banji-0. Then you have to walk from the bus stop to the monorail and son #3 kept saying “Why are you walking so slowly?” Yes, it was all downhill from there. I had trouble getting in and out of It’s a Small World, and the guy made fun of me when I couldn’t fit in the Winnie the Pooh Honey Pot (seems like Pooh isn’t the only character in Disney World who is eating too much). The teacup ride brought on an episode of vertigo and we won’t even get into what happened in the race cars. When did this all happen? My dreams were not coming true and I wasn’t even the oldest or fattest person there! And all the pushing and shoving that never bothered me before was driving me crazy. Hey, people! You aren’t going to work, you are going to see country bear jamboree, relax!!!
Yes, I had a wonderful bonding experience with my youngest child, but also, more than once I said “Man, I remember making fun of my mom and now you are making fun of me for the exact same thing. When did that happen?!” At least the ice cream was kosher….
Banji Ganchrow is a self-proclaimed writer who now needs to take off her glasses in order to read small print.
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow