yule blog

Time is running out. I wish I could. But it’s that time of year and I must acknowledge the fact that, in the words of Sondheim’s song, “I‘m still here.”

That’s why we still write Christmas cards, not for the yearly cordial greeting but for the astonishing fact of our continued survival - or not.

This has been a difficult year for me, personally, but also a triumphant one in the persons of two new human beings: two-count’em-two great grandchildren! They are the closest thing to immortality that anyone can have and I am delighted. I look forward to knowing them better, God grant me my marbles.

I’ve said before, that as I approach my nineties (in two years), I really have no role models in the family . One grandfather and one aunt, same side, lived to be nonagenarians but I was not geographically or emotionally close enough to either of then to have learned anything. I’ll have to wing it.

So, for that matter, will the medical profession, your doctors and mine. There aren’t enough case histories for them to be able to make educated guesses. Some people are trying to learn more and they are consulting the experts - you (if you’re still there) and me, that is, us old-timers who are still around and who can report to them while they are still articulate. You’ve heard of CLSA? The Canadian Longitudinal Studies on Aging began its first data collection early in 2002 and has just (May, 2018) released its first report on health and aging in Canada. I’m one of the 50,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 85 who has enjoyed talking twice now - five years apart - to an interviewer and answering all kinds of interesting questions. They made me think of the movie Phenomenon and the test questions posed to the hero, played by John Travolta, who has suddenly become very brainy. He was asked to name as many animals as he could in a set period of time. He did so speedily in alphabetical order. That was a CLSA question and I used the hero’s method, probably not as fast or naming as many animals as he did. I think I was slower and named fewer creatures in my second go-round. Interesting to note.

So far, it’s not bad news. We’re told that 95% of CLSA participants rate their own mental health as excellent, very good or good. There’s more but what is most helpful to us (me) is that the purpose of the study is to provide clues on how Canadian seniors can age healthily. I’m all for that. We go on we go on.

Throw another Yule blog on the fire.

'tis the season

I’m not feeling terribly jolly, still not ready to throw a blog on the fire. I know about that, too.

The old Holmes Stress Score, if I remember (I’ll check it soon) comes to mind. I discovered it when I was doing research about grief - mine and others’ - after Bill died. There were points (not rewards) assigned to different life events in terms of their stress level. Death of a spouse, as I remember, ranked higher than divorce, but not quite as much as loss of a child. The saying was that losing a mate was like losing a limb but losing a child was like losing a lung. That’s like comparing apples and oranges. No one has a monopoly on grief and i’s not a competition.

The assigned numbers were comprehensive, right down to a stress score of 3 for a parking ticket. Christmas, as I recall, carried with it a burden of 12 stress points.

So there you have it. Christmas is supposed to be a happy time. We are so spoiled here in this make-believe First World that we feel resentful and put-upon if things aren’t hunky-dory, especially when we are expected to be happy happy happy as everyone around us seems to be.

Now I’ll look it up….

It was called a Stress Scale and it measured stress. You can look it up, but here is a partial table of stress values:

  1. Death of spouse (100)

  2. Divorce (73)

  3. Marital separation (65)

  4. Jail term (63)

  5. Death of close family member (63)

  6. Personal injury or illness (53)

  7. Marriage (50)

  8. Fired at work (47)

  9. Marital reconciliation (45)

  10. Retirement (45)

    • and so on, down to

    42. Christmas (12)

BTW: I got the number wrong on a parking ticket: Number 43, “minor violations of the law”, rates 11 points on the scale.

If I had more time I’d tell you about an interview I snagged because I cited the Holmes Rahe Scale to my target and persuaded her that she needed me to guide her.

I feel better.