I smile whenever I think of my friend’s mother, Gloria. She was one of those high-energy, perky personalities that always made her fun and interesting to be around. She loved life and lived it to its fullest throughout her 97 years. Fortunately, the details of her colorful life can be shared with her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren because she was a prolific writer.
By way of example, Gloria wrote, “In the last two and a half years I have been here [at age 94, living with her son and his family because of medical challenges and no longer able to live alone] I have written eleven short novels and fourteen shorter manuscripts … My few writings that have seen print can be counted on the fingers of one hand, but I am a writer, so I write.”
And write she did, throughout her life. Her daughter is in the process of editing and compiling her decades of writing into a memoir. Describing this ongoing process, her daughter writes, “I miss my mother and think about her every day. But I have been working for the past two years on editing all the stuff that she wrote so I can hopefully publish and give copies to family. Just when I think I have gotten the last of her writings, I come across something else. For example, I recently discovered yet another novel and some short writings. Working on this has been therapeutic and I am so grateful to have these stories she wrote.”
Through her own words, Gloria’s family will be able to know firsthand of her many adventures when she was a dancer in show business, a circus entertainer, a dancing teacher, and a novelist.
Gloria spent her final years living with her son, his wife, and one of her grandsons. From that experience she offers this advice.
Gloria’s Ten Commandments for Elders Living with Their Grown Children
- Thou shalt not complain about lack of sleep or bowel functions; no one is interested.
- Thou shalt not complain about temperature of house; buy warm clothing, an extra blanket.
- Thou shalt not complain about food; enjoy the good meals, relegate others to back burner.
- Thou shalt not complain if left alone; learn to enjoy your own company and fill your days.
- Thou shalt not complain if meals are irregular; keep a stash of snacks handy.
- Thou shalt keep all medications away from young fingers and/or pets; keep tragedy at bay.
- Thou shalt keep opinions of child/pet raising to thyself, even if they are superior to today’s.
- Thou shalt be prepared to watch a different kind of television if you don’t own your own set.
- Thou shalt stay out of the kitchen, unless your presence is requested or expressly permitted.
- Thou shalt not criticize the way the new captain guides the ship; you already had your day.
And finally, in a chapter Gloria titled “Waiting for the Final Curtain,” she writes: “Sometimes I have wondered if I had my life to live over, what changes would I make, and after much consideration, I have decided not a damn thing … The very first thing I learned in show business was to make sure I got off the stage before the applause stopped, so here I go-o-o-o …”
Take a bow, Gloria. The applause will never stop.
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