My mom and dad aren't really elderly. They're not 70, but almost. Like knocking on the door. But "elderly" is a relative term.
The past few years, visits to my parents' home in Arizona have provided several family take-away stories. There was the time I backed into their house... with Mom's car; the time I experienced heat exhaustion [Dad's diagnosis] or water intoxication [my diagnosis]; the time we debated the value of a Snuggie; and the time Mom and I learned that it's common for public bathrooms to have ice in the urinals. I continue to find women, elderly women even, who's husbands have neglected to share that last fact with them.
Middle Boy and I traveled to Arizona in June so he could attend a music camp -- we stayed with Mom and Dad. Chris and our other two sons remained in Utah.
The music camp culminated with a Friday night concert after a week of lessons and rehearsals. My parents and I happily attended the event to support our young rocker.
I arrived at the concert venue early so that I could snag some good seats. Sideways glances shot my way, warning me that it was not cool to save seats. I sat down in the second row, placed my purse on the chair to my right and a camera on the chair to my left. Seats saved, glances ignored.
The small auditorium filled quickly. With 15 minutes until show time, my parents still hadn't arrived and the only two seats remaining were theirs. People asked, "Are those taken?" I apologized to everyone and said yes. Where were they?
The couple sitting in front of me turned around and gave me a sympathetic look.
"I can tell it's poor form to save seats," I said. "But we traveled from Utah and my parents are so excited to see my son play. My brother and his wife are here, too, but they're on their own." Then I embellished, "And my parents are... elderly."
"Oh we understand," said the woman while her husband nodded in agreement. "Last year we tried to save a seat for my mother-in-law who'd just had hip replacement surgery. She could hardly walk. She got here late -- poor thing struggled in the dark parking lot -- and a rude woman plopped herself down in the seat we were saving. Said we weren't allowed to save seats and she was going to watch her child perform."
"How old is your mother-in-law?" I asked.
Mom and Dad finally bounced into the auditorium. They looked perky, were dressed in their classic yet contemporary styles, and moved very non-geriatric-like through the crowded aisles to where I was sitting. The couple in front of me watched my parents approach. "Your parents?" they asked, eyebrows raised.
Twelve bands. Twelve, young [ages 11-17], loud bands. All very good, I might add, and playing to a mature, seated house. Middle-aged parents, grandparents and a few younger siblings stared at the stage with goofy smiles on their faces and clapped courteously at the end of each performance. Not your typical rock concert crowd.
"Is that a boy or a girl?" Dad asked me. Repetitively and audibly. I played deaf and hoped the parents of the androgynous kids weren't sitting near us. His commentary continued. I can't tell. Seriously. Is that a girl? A boy? Can you tell? They all look the same. Ooh. That's a big kid. Look how tiny that one is. He can't be 11. Was that a good singer? Did you like that singer? I can't tell who's good. What about that one? Boy? Girl?
"They're all doing a great job!" I said loudly and fervently. Damage control.
As we piled out of the auditorium at the end of the night, I managed to make eye contact with the couple who had been sitting in front of us. I raised my eyebrows. Elderly.