Monday, November 10, 2008

Those Were The Days, My Friend.....

The Ancient Ones have had interesting lives. One of the things I'm always saying I must do is write down all their fascinating stories......Some day.

Old age and failing health have taken their toll. Their world has narrowed so much, that sometimes, all they want to talk about is the latest ache or pain, the newest medication, or the most recent visit to the doctor. I'm interested, in general, of course, but the mind reels in rebellion when every minute detail is reported, and the possible ramifications dissected and discussed, as if it were truly scintillating stuff.

Which it is not.

To my profound embarrassment, I have, on occasion, lost the battle to maintain consciousness in the face of the onslaught. The male of the species has a wider range of topics. But it is no less exciting to be his captive audience when he decides to wax pontifical on politics, world affairs or religion.

Because his views are the only rational ones. If he were in charge of the world it would run smoothly, like a well oiled machine. There would be order, and discipline, not to mention hangings and court martials. Everything would be either right or wrong, black or white. Politicians would be honest; young people would be respectful, or else! Doctors would be more courteous and not keep people waiting; teachers would have control of their classrooms; drug dealers would be shot; crime would be non-existent; what criminals there were would be doing hard physical labor and would be on diets of bread and water.....

And we'd all live in a yellow submarine.

But, today I was in luck. He was in the mood to reminisce about his youth. Which I really do find fascinating. Much more so than his latest squabble with the insurance company. Because he has lived through history, and experienced, first hand, things I can only read about. Things I'd prefer to only read about.

It doesn't matter how smart you are, he opined, everybody needs a little luck. He mentioned several close calls he's had in his life. And then he reached back even further, to when he was seventeen. He was a schoolboy still, but was a member of a resistance group, fighting against the country that had taken over control of his country. He was caught [because, he says, he was young and stupid and nationalistic...] along with a few of his friends. They were lined up against a wall to be shot.

But then a car drove up. In it was a major in his country's army, wearing a white band around his hat, as a symbol of surrender. With the major was a general of the country now in power. The car stopped and the major jumped out. He had recognized our boyo and told the general that he was the son of a friend of his and did not deserve to be shot.......

And so he lived.......to regale me with his tales of how much better the world was, back when he was young, in the old country. When men were men, and women were their servants, and children were seen and not heard, and there was discipline, respect and order in the world.....

Oh-oh! I think I'm about to lose consciousness again.

6 comments:

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Your father-in-law sounds a lot like I remember my father, except that anybody who'd had a chance to shoot him probably would have, regardless of whose boyo he was.

If he faults you for dropping off, tell him that you need your beauty sleep in order to serve him better.

fifi said...

We have a similar family tale, along the lines of the fighter pilot hero being allowed to choose one villager from the horde about to be shot.
he chose his little brother, my father in law.


ah, my parents are getting rather detailed in their medical stories too. I have no patience: it makes me very distressed.

Tanya Brown said...

Goodness, what a harrowing tale!

Growing old isn't for sissies, as the saying goes. I'm watching people I love go through a similar process. What happened to those fascinating, lively people I used to know? Why did they have to be eclipsed by rigid clones who delight in writing nasty letters to parcel delivery companies, or spouting about the "simpler" (*cough* blatantly racist *cough*) time when they had black maids?

And yet ... sometimes, when the phase of the moon is just right, one can get them talking and their minds travel to times when they were healthy and vital and felt useful. Then the stories come out.

Not everyone is like this, thankfully. My mother-in-law is just as sharp and fascinating as ever, with a vibrant curiosity about the world and other people. May we be as fortunate!

PBS said...

That IS a good story, and good that he lived to tell you about it! I liked the "we'd all live in a yellow submarine" ha ha!

Thimbleanna said...

"and women were their servants" -- hahaha, that sure made me laugh. Ahhh, the good ol' days.

I've watched many people fall into the same pattern as your in-laws and I've pondered often how to keep the same thing from happening to us as we grow older. It seems inevitable and I'd like to figure out the solution so our children aren't bored to death. We'll be talking about today as the good old days.

Isabelle said...

Yes, I keep thinking that I should write down my mum's stories - too late for my dad. It might stop her telling me the same ones over and over again...

Oh, those quilts!