Good Laughs with Geriatric Sensations

I’m no expert on things fashion or beauty, but I’ve decided that 90 is officially the new 30. Or 25. Or whatever.

The point is, seniors don’t often get the starring role in most stories, but recently I’ve come across some examples that made me think it’s time we stopped overlooking the elderly as a source of entertainment.

Take my 94-year old grandfather, for example. His memory may be lacking, but he still manages to be the center of attention wherever he goes, bursting out into little ditties of his own invention, and referring to everyone he meets as “old chap” or “lovey”. (He’s very British). However, we sometimes have to be careful- his advanced age and state of mind means his social graces can be somewhat lacking, as he’s never afraid to point out (often loudly) when someone has a “tremendously large bottom”. (His words, not mine).

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Before his decline in health, my grandfather’s fierce independence put me in mind of the title character of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. It’s both a heartwarming and hilarious tale about a man determined to make peace with an old friend as she lies dying in a hospice miles away, and the lengths he goes to achieve his goal. Literally. It was one of my favorite books I read last year, alongside The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg. It’s another story about a spunky senior who breaks out of the retirement home where she lives, along with a gang of unlikely friends.

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If you like break-out stories, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is another tall tale out of Sweden that delivers one hilarious hijinck after another. (It was an international bestseller, and got made into a movie in Sweden. The author, Jonas Jonasson, has a larger catalogue of work that’s recently been translated into English that’s worth checking out if you enjoy his dry, Scandinavian sense of humor.)

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (which is one of my most frequently borrowed books) features six separate story lines, one of which involves a struggling, eccentric publisher trying to escape the retirement home where he feels he has been wrongly imprisoned by his rich, conniving brother. I’m biased because Cloud Atlas is one of my favorite books, but those who find it too heavy or convoluted may find comic relief in this particular character. (Jim Broadbent played him in the movie and he’s pretty funny.)

One of the things I admire the most about my grandfather is the love and affection he had for my grandmother; the quiet strength he showed getting dressed in his suit and hat and driving down to the nursing home first thing every morning just so he could be the one to feed her breakfast. He did this for seven years straight until her death in 2011. It’s one of the truest, most honest love stories I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing.

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In honor of their love I feel obliged to include a romantic story on this list, and in this case I think Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is the most fitting. It’s beautiful and well-written, so well-written you often to have go back and re-read a sentence before Simonson’s humor makes itself apparent. When it does it catches you off-guard- I was surprised at how often this book made me chuckle out loud, and how it made me cry just as often.

Major Pettigrew is a lonely widower in a small English village who finds himself forming an usual friendship with the owner of the local corner store. It’s so touching to see their relationship gently blossom underneath the shadow of race and class tensions within the community, and within their own families. I was remiss in leaving this off of my list of favorite books of 2016- that’s how much I loved it.

Climbing out windows, impromptu cross-country hikes, art gallery heists- the things these retirees get up to makes my list of accomplishments look a little boring. Ok, so maybe I’m not aspiring to anything as daring (or in some cases, illegal) but these fun, quirky characters that remind me of my grandfather also give this young whippersnapper some hope for the future. They’re literary proof that frail bodies don’t necessarily equal frail hearts.

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I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) Don’t forget to friend me on Goodreads either! Btw: These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company.

Keeping Busy with G

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Sometimes my Mama does this thing where she sits at her box she calls computer and looks for hours until she makes faces and her eyes go funny. She calls it “blog” but I think she says “dog” so I gets confused and I sneaks on box when no one is looking and now I gets really confused because I thought mama called it “Keeping Busy with G” but it’s “B” and that’s HER name not MINE.

Who am I? I am Gemma the dog and mama tells me I am something like collie and German Shepard and maybe whippet because I runs so fast. I have blue eye since I was baby which doctor says is freckle not cataract which maybe also means husky background, but mostly I just think I am dog, maybe mixed with cat. Cats are like small dog which means friendly and smell nice like fish but sometimes not friendly so mama says careful, which is fine, because I am shy.

Mommy is the best and I never leaves her side because the world might explode but I can’t BELIEVES she leaves me out of blog-that-is-not-dog that lives on box but maybe it’s because blog has viewpoints on which we DISAGREE.

Firstly, I loves MESS. What’s the point of kibble if you can’t stores it under the bed for midnight snacks? Dirty laundry is for snuggles, not for hamper. And why do I gets blamed all the time for the fur on the floor? Where else do I leaves it?

I losing count. Where was I?

Also, the thing about mess is it be TASTY. Sometimes mama cooks the good stuff and throws it on the floor accidentally-on-purpose but lately all the stuff mama cooks is for blog-not-dog but if it blog-for-dog why doesn’t mama cook the stuff Gemma can eats? Mama says baking bad for dogs. So why does Mama talk about bad stuff on blog?

I takes over blog now so real blog-for-dog. I changes the password and now Mama makes stuff Gemma wants for ransom. (I sees man do it on box-that-is-called-TV.) Monday it be Baking with G. We bakes the following tasty treats: ham cake, bacon tarts, tuna cupcakes and cheese pie. Mama bakes. I eats. But please to tell me what is Monday. I don’t know time, or days of week.

Mama is coming. Uh-oh. Big trouble now. I sees you Monday!

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Gemma is a part-time scaredy cat and full-time dog that is known for her appearances on Instagram. When she’s not snapping selfies on social media, you can find her mooching cheese and chasing squirrels on the streets of Toronto, Ontario, where she has lived for the first and only decade of her life. This is her first blog post.