Strange & Short Stories
by Cindy Hansen


AS WE GET OLDER

Barbara is getting older and body parts are starting to fall off.  At first it was a tooth here, a thumbnail there, hair on the pillow, eyelashes on the inside of her glasses. Then her knees went one day. Plop plop, right there on the carpet when she stood up from her chair.

“As we get older…” her doctor started with the phrase that was fast becoming familiar, as he cheerfully reattached them, “we have to expect this kind of thing. Our bodies aren’t young anymore. Parts start to go. You’ll be fine. Drink lots of water and get plenty of exercise.”

Barbara takes it all in stride and good humor. She remembers how her mother used to keep her dad’s dropped foot or dislocated shoulder in a bucket on the porch until Doc Merryweather could make his rounds to the farm to put things right. Her mom lost her left ear in the vegetable garden one year. It fell off while she was tilling the soil and she didn’t notice. It was turned over into the dirt and planted right along with the seeds. They always said the ears of corn were especially good that year!

Barbara carries a canvas tote bag hooked on her walker for the times she loses a body part. It keeps it safe and handy until her next appointment with her doctor. She also has one of those long-reach gripping tools hanging on her walker, to pick up the body part off the ground without bending over.

Her cats are always curious when something falls. They sniff around, checking to see if it’s something to eat. One time her eye popped out onto the carpet. They had such a fun time with that! They batted it around, pouncing and running. Barbara couldn’t move fast enough to get it away from them. As all cat toys do, it ended up rolling under the refrigerator. She had to call the apartment manager to move the fridge and retrieve her eye.  When he handed it to her, it was full of fuzz. She rinsed it off under the faucet and slipped it into a baby food jar of water, sealed tightly. The doctor would get that back in on Monday.

It’s harder when an arm or leg falls off. Mobility is tough enough without having to cope with only one arm or leg. But Barbara packs it into her canvas bag and amuses herself with the sight of her hand reaching out or her toes caught between the handles of her tote.

She laughs as she tells the story of the day she was out walking and her rear end fell off. She didn’t even notice! She felt a little lighter on her feet but attributed that to the sunny pleasant day. From behind her, a little boy called, “Lady! Oh Lady! Did you drop this?” He was holding her backside carefully like a precious package. She asked him to put it in her bag for her, and gave him a granola bar out of her purse for being so helpful.

This is just the way life is and we all make do, she thought to herself.


Copyright Cindy Hansen