Levity in Longevity  

I’m not a philosopher although I do enjoy asking questions.

“Longevity” has nine letters, including the six letters of “levity”.  Is a sense of humour the secret to a long life?

All I know right now is that I’m confronted with such questions daily.

My mother is over 100. My dog Sam is fifteen: which is comparable when you adjust for the normal life expectancy.  I know that neither Sam nor my mother will live forever. I wish I could forget. 

I’m lucky, observing friends mourning the passing of dogs & humans in their families.   

My mom writes playful rhymes that I’ve sometimes quoted in this blog. When she recites them I carefully take them down for posterity as though she were John Keats or George Faludy.

She keeps a straight face while reciting, totally deadpan even though she usually makes me laugh. Sometimes when she sees me laughing, she’ll join in.

Here are a couple of recent ones.

I am not young, I’ve passed my time
But I could write some silly rhyme.
Summer’s gone, it got so old
The green leaves are turning gold.
The gentle breeze is getting bold
October is blowing cold
I have time to watch it unfold.

My eyes are bad
My ears are bad
They’re connected to this old head
And this old head
Doesn’t like to stay too long in bed

When I write her words down she will ask me if it’s worth the trouble, whether it’s not a waste. I’m just grateful to be able to hear her speak. She’s outlived her siblings, and her best friend. The last time I saw her, earlier this week, she was having some arthritis pain that afflicts her in a few places, and disturbs her sleep.

But she manages to stay positive even on her worst days. The least I can do is try to make her smile. She’s a perfect audience, because she’ll smile even when my jokes are bad, in appreciation for the effort.

Sometimes we play a game that I recall from my childhood, that later I would play with my daughter, a game that’s called “Squiggle”.  The basic idea is that one person scribbles something that functions as a challenge to the other person: who must make something out of it. And then you trade, going back and forth either making the squiggle or turning the squiggle into a dubious work of art.

She made the shark, I made the duck and the Medusa figure

Sam behaves like a puppy. Of course she has no idea of her age. She has a big lump growing in her left thigh that keeps getting bigger. 

The lump doesn’t seem to hurt her, thank goodness.

But she will flip over and roll on the grass, knowing that I can’t resist the implicit invitation to rub her tummy.

Perhaps the key is to ignore the calendar and just enjoy the moment.  Sam is happy lying under the piano no matter how loudly I play.

Sam relaxing under the piano, while George tunes it.

It helps, whether listening to the piano being tuned or to my loudest pieces, that Sam has no concept of time.

I wish I could forget about it.

This entry was posted in Animals, domestic & wild, My mother, Personal ruminations & essays and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Levity in Longevity  

  1. Edward Brain says:

    Thank you for a very inspiring article!!!!

  2. Ward Jardine says:

    What a beautiful post! I love her poems. I wonder who is happier, our pets who have no idea of time passing or us, who constantly worry about it. Thank you for this.

  3. Doug MacNaughton says:

    There was a day when my mum, my sister, and my wife sat down and went through the oldest of the photos. They only got through about 40 of them, because every photo provoked a flood of memories and stories, but the names of everyone in the photo got written neatly in pencil on the back.

    Gods, how I wish we’d made that an ongoing project! I’ve at least got 40 photos of mum’s life and family in Glasgow, but there are hundreds of photos where I have no idea whatsoever who these people are!

    It’s even worse on my wife’s side of the family – my mother-in-law would buy frames at garage sales and curio shops, and keep the photos that were in them, claiming that they were old relatives…

    Sending virtual skritches and belly rubs to Sam!

    • barczablog says:

      I think I know how you feel. Although I’m in a family of performers / artists I’m the one who mostly accompanies or listens rather than taking the stage myself. Lately I’m taking down every story or rhyme or incident that I can. It’s a funny dilemma, this business of choosing, between past and present, given that the story i recollect in this moment, itself becomes something past.
      In the meantime we can (must?) enjoy, celebrate, sing/dance and yes: scratch tummies. My fingers shall convey your messages to Sam. thank you so very much for sharing…(!)

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