Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do you have any "real" sugar around here?

This past weekend we had a house guest.  A house guest with our same last name, but not a relative. 
An eighty five year old man. How can I be friends with someone 50 years my senior? Well, funny you should ask. My husband has recently become slightly obsessed with our Scottish Clan heritage.  Interestingly, as his father aged he too became a genealogy buff, which is another item I can add to the ever growing list of my husband turning into his dad...but I digress, that is an entirely different post all together.
Recently, the commissioner of our clan decided to hang up his sporran and hand down the commissioner-ship to another eager young man...that would be Don.
He nominated himself and was unanimously elected.
This means he goes around to area highland games and puts up a tent with anything and everything you would ever want to know about our Clan and how you fit into the grand scheme of things. His dad has traced both of our families back to Scotland in the 1600's. Yes, I'm Scottish American too. In fact our mothers are both Irish and our Father's Scottish (12th generation) and I have a feeling that is why Don wanted me to bare his children...but once again I digress...
So because this highland games were local he invited this man to stay at our home to avoid the four hour drive from his home town.  I don't need to remind anyone that we have 4 kids. Our house is at maximum occupancy and this means that our older son gets booted out of his room and it turns into a guest room with a bathroom...perfect for seniors.  But the only thing I know about this man, whom I have met twice is that he is old, and we share the same last name. That's it. And he will be in our house, upstairs with our kids alone, maybe I'm a bit cautious, but I have seen my share of To Catch a Predator and I'm not going to take a chance. So the 3 older kids are shipped to Grandma and Grandpa's house for a sleep over. This would usually mean a kid free night with wine, movies, sleep, even if the baby stayed home. But one senior citizen in my calculations is equal to or greater than 3 boys when it comes to attention given. And so I would learn.
I prepared for his visit by going shopping for soft food. The last time he was here, Don took him to lunch and he only ate soup, so I assumed it was a denture issue.  I bought bananas, soup, lemon meringue pie. Pasta?
I came home and he had arrived.  It was 4:30...dinner time!  He suggested we go out which I was more than happy to oblige. We went to the Olive Garden. I think the last time I dined at the Olive Garden was about 5 years ago and it was our only option on a long road trip. Not much has changed. Breadsticks...Salad....label-less table wine.
On a side note: our watress asked if Oscar needed a kids menu, or if he would like to color...( he is 4 months old) so naturally the answer was
I learned a couple things about our senior friend at dinner,  one is when the hostess says "watch your step" chances are she is speaking to him and don't bring up politics to a 3 time war veteran unless you REALLY want to know AND if there isn't anyone of Mexican heritage in ear shot.
I discovered that he is pretty hip for an 85 yr. old. He has a computer, and even orders his underwear online from Hanes.com. He prefers the elastic waist band on Hanes because it doesn't dig into his scar... the scar he has from his hip replacement, which he just happened to have a photo of in his wallet. You know, just typical dinner conversation.
I also was humbled to discover that our house is not as senior-equipt as I thought.  Some of our rugs slip, we have child locks on well...everything.  We don't have real sugar.  We don't have whole milk, and we don't have butter. What we do have is night lights, which I learned are a must for frequent late night bathroom visits.
Because my typical night time routine consists of bathing 4 boys, bed time stories and kisses, my time was a bit freed up. I only had to bathe one, who can't talk, so that took about 10 min. Then I would usually have a glass of wine or two, sit on the couch and vegetate in front of the reality show du jour. But tonight was different.  We sat at the kitchen island and we visited. We talked for 3 hours.
I discovered how he felt when he was actually in the the Normandy invasion, what it smelled like, what it looked like.  My only reference to that is in Saving Private Ryan, which when asked, said it only captured a fraction of the horror.
I also learned that he married his wife when he was 21 and that he misses her every day, she died 10 years ago. He shared that because he was in the Navy, his wife wanted only 2 children, they had 2 sons, and practiced "safe sex" but he couldn't resist her touch when he came home from Vietnam and they conceived his daughter. A little TMI but I just listened.
He shared what it was like to work hard and only buy what they could afford.  He built their house in 1966. He also shared that he has lost 4 of his 5 siblings. That 2 of his nephews fell through the ice one winter and drowned.  He shared his strong faith.
 He also shared that he likes to bowl and has quite a busy schedule.  I learned that "go suck an egg" in old speak is pretty much the equivalent to "go fuck yourself "
I realized in my cyber static world I haven't taken the time to tap into the most rich resource our human kind has, walking history.  My grandparents all passed away between 1997-2000. All four of them.  I regret not listening to them when I had a chance.
Overall it was a big kick in the kilt.  All my moaning and groaning was albeit, justified at the time, but this visit was a bit of an eye opener, maybe real sugar isn't evil, maybe...
I have already started planning our next visit with our adoptive grandparent with the same last name but no relation.


  1. That was wonderful!!

  2. I , Carrie Hoffman, am Anonymous... :)

  3. Ok, I cried. I am such a sap.

  4. That was both thought-provoking and sweet, Noelle. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful, my friend. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Awesome blog! I think at one point or another, every one of us needs/gets a big kick in the reality kilt, especially after losing a parent/grandparent. Why don't they preach more about that earlier in life?