wings and things

The ‘old girl’

Ming does most of the phone jobs now – mostly because he loves the phone and I hate the phone. Even before our landline became obselete, and my mobile wouldn’t work inside the house, and numerous other phone problems, I didn’t like picking up this thing and not knowing who I would be talking to. I guess you could say I have a bit of a phone phobia.

But Ming loves it and is exactly like Anthony used to be on the phone – loud, charming, ocker, matey and cheeky. I overheard Ming on his mobile today, asking the bank to alter a couple of things so we could pay bills more easily online. Then I heard him say to whoever he was talking to: “Ha, yeah well I’m just trying to sort a few things out for the old girl.”

Come to think of it, I’ve heard him describe me this way a few times now, but only on the phone for some reason. Hell, I am only 55!


Ageism 2

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I feel compelled to write a follow-up to yesterday’s post due to the interesting comments that were made. There was even a little debate on my blog which has never happened before!

The ageism that Ming has admitted to is not directed at just Anthony; it is more generalized. He is easily annoyed with all things old – not just people. For example we live in a very old house where things are beginning to break down and wear out – old carpets, broken furniture, warped flyscreens, holes through which mice enter, old plumbing, electrical wiring etc. Similarly, we have problems outside with old lawnmowers, trees, sheds, hoses, water tanks etc.

This is all perfectly normal for an old farm and none of it is insurmountable, but getting things fixed is expensive and time-consuming and, for young Ming, a source of constant frustration.

Add to this old Anthony’s deterioration in health and we have a young Ming with an aversion to both the concept and reality of the word öld”.

If I were to define compassion, I would say it is equal parts sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is feeling sad FOR somebody else, whereas empathy is feeling sad LIKE somebody else. In general, the latter does not come easily to young people when dealing with old people.

I think that if Ming weren’t compassionate, he would not be worried about his lack of empathy for Anthony. He wants to be empathetic but he can’t feel it and I can’t make him feel it, so we accept it. His love for Anthony runs deep, but his liking of Anthony is problematic because Ants is now so old, frail and incapacitated that Ming avoids seeing him. Strangely, I am the one most hurt by this as Ants is more philosophical and remembers feeling the same aversion to his own father after his father had a stroke.

Yesterday’s post was not intended as a moan or a cry for help; I was just telling it like it is, warts and all!

When people ask Ming, “So, what are you doing these days?” Ming always replies proudly, Ï’m following in Dad’s footsteps.” I used to think Ming was referring to the fact that he is milking cows but now I think his statement means much more.

Oh yeah, and a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. We are lucky.



Before I entered university life, I worked for around ten years in nursing homes. I felt an enormous affection for elderly people and began to understand the communication value of stories told by people who were in various stages of dementia.

I wrote a PhD, then a book, then articles – all published – and Anthony was so proud of me. We used to talk about the elderly people I’d met, their stories, my theories, and the various drawbacks of life in a nursing home. This was around the same time we got married – 20 years ago.

Little did I know then what would happen to us now, that Anthony would be in a nursing home, that Anthony would get Parkinon’s disease dementia (PDD), that Ming, our son, would become ageist.

Like many young people, Ming has an aversion to old age, but he never used to! He used to be compassionate and kind; now he is either horrified or indifferent.

We had a discussion about this last night and Ming actually admitted to ageism.
“It’s Dad’s fault,” he said.

I went outside and wept.