Friday, February 5, 2016

50 Shades of Grey

When the book 50 Shades of Gray was all the rage, hubby kindly purchased me a copy so that I could see what all the fuss was about.  I even wrote a blog post about it. 50 Shades of Gray Book Review. In a nutshell, I thought it was ridiculous and it really didn't appeal to me but I understand that sex sells and that E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y knew about the book after the marketing machine had swung into action and everybody wanted to read it to see why it was so popular.

I've often mentioned that I am a frustrated author and I would love to write a novel but don't know where to start, so I think of topics and ideas all the time. When my mom was alive, I regularly used to pop in to visit her at the Retirement Village. It was perfectly located on the way to school and we literally drove right past it, shouting out "hi Mema" every day. When I fetched the kids they would beg to stop in to see Mema and we would often just arrive for a quick pop-in. Other days I would drop in to take her somewhere or we'd just chat over tea and frooty tooties (her homemade speciality). On the many times that I drove through that village, the title of the book 50 Shades of Gray always came to mind because I think it would be the perfect title of a story set in a retirement village. 50 Shades of Grey - get it? Their hair is grey! Ok now that you're with me......


After my mom died, I have felt a bit lost not going there, because it was an almost every day occurance. To make myself feel closer to her, I sometimes go back to the village to have some "oldie time" with my mom's friends. I know it sounds crazy but it really does make me feel closer to her somehow, even though these were "new" friends, as she had only lived there for 14 months before she passed.
Every time I go there, it hits home. There are so many lonely people, living seperately, together in a building in lovely surroundings. When I see the ladies my mom knew, their whole faces light up as they take my arm and invite me into their pristine apartments for a cup of tea. Each one takes so much pride in their little piece of privacy and I love looking at their photos and ornaments on display. Even the ladies with families, seldom see their children, the lucky ones get a visitor about once every two weeks (and that is considered a lot.) But when they wake up every morning, get dressed and sit in their little apartment, 14 days must feel like a lifetime. They sit and wait for an organised activity so that they have an excuse to get out and mingle. My life is so busy and yet their lives are so empty. It fascinates me how life works. When you are younger, you are manic, working, raising kids, cooking, cleaning, doing all the chores that are required. Extra murals, fetching and carrying kids and then....... nothing. I would rush in and rush out and my mom would always be grateful for a visit but I knew that she was lonely. She was considered lucky because some of these residents have no visitors, ever.

The elderly are often forgotten and as I grow older, I realise that I too will be their age one day (hopefully) and I'm still going to be me (with my sense of humour), just in an old body. If one of my elderly friends fall over, I'm still going to laugh when I'm 75, I know I am, that's just me! Often when we see the elderly, we only recognise a wrinkled person who has nothing in common with us, but if we stop to to ask and to listen, we realise there is a whole life that was led by that person. They were also young once. I like to imagine them when they were younger, what they did, how they acted. Where they kind or mean?  Were they outgoing or reserved? What mistakes did they make? What are they most proud of? Who were they "in their day?" I love hearing their stories and they love dusting them off and remembering them, their faces priceless as they relay the well-worn stories that they have re-told over the years, but they're new to me. I always listen to old people's stories, they are so interesting as I get a glimpse into who they were. Some people worked, some didn't, some married, some didn't, some devoted their lives to raising their children and some have lost their children and husbands. Some are friendly and some are downright grumpy. In each case, there is an entire lifetime of memories bottled up in their grey, perfectly- groomed heads and they truly are the product of their experiences. I think I like the fact that they all think I'm young haha! I feel so young when I'm there and they always say that my visits and my kids kept my mom going, she loved us. So maybe it's also a little boost for me to hear that. I think my 50 Shades of Grey a the Retirement Village could also be a best seller!

One of the great facilities at this retirement village, is that they have a library with a take-read-and-return policy. Simple and effective. There is no record of who takes out what book, it works on an honesty system, where you read the book and then bring it back for others to enjoy. Due to the size of the village, some people kindly (or lazily) leave books on the entrance table for others in their block to enjoy without having to walk to the library in the main building and the books are returned to the library by staff if they have been out for too long. The system works really well and in the past I would also leave old magazines on the entrance table and my mom would leave her newspaper for those who didn't get a daily delivery, like she did. Everyone benefits.

My mom used the library extensively as she was an avid reader and it helped pass the time. When she went into hospital I brought her book to her, but she was too weak to read it. (Thank goodness she didn't because I read it and it was really bad and it would have irritated my mom.) The book taunted me, because it sat on my desk for weeks and then months and I kept meaning to return it, but I kept forgetting. My mom would not be happy with me and the guilt was getting the better of me. I was going through my cupboard and found my almost pristine copy of 50 Shades of Gray hidden in the back. Tomato has started reading quite well so the book was not on my bookshelf with all the other books, as I didn't want her to have access to it. Hopefully she will read it when she is older and able to understand that domination and abuse do not equate to love and the book will seem ridiculous to her, as it was to me, but right now she's far too young and impressionable, so I needed to get rid of it. An idea was brewing.......

Yesterday I decided to pop in to see my mom's friend and I remembered to take along the book that my mom had borrowed. As I walked from my car I saw another lady who greeted me and invited me into her home. We chatted and when I left her, I put the borrowed book on the entrance table of the building, where I had often put my magazines in the past. But this time, I placed my copy of 50 Shades of Gray on top of it and went to find the lady who I had planned to visit. I walked up the flight of stairs, knocked twice on her door, she wasn't home. I walked back down the stairs to my car. I couldn't have been gone more than a minute. I chuckled to myself as I noticed, walking past the entrance table, that the novel my mom had borrowed was still there, but the 50 Shades book had already been borrowed! Throughout our youth body image is extremely important and few people honestly look beyond the shell (body) and see the soul inside. It takes getting old to realise that your body is just a vessel to move your soul around. I was reminded again, just because their bodies have changed, doesn't mean their minds have!