What a thrill I had at the supermarket this morning!!  As I was coming through the checkout line with a single bottle of CHEER, the cutest little teenage checker gave me a huge smile and said, “Are you a singer?”  “Why, yes, I am,” I said, perfectly delighted that she may have recognized me.  “Okay, then, you get 5% off today!”  Suddenly, I wished I had bought more.  “How nice,” I said, do you give all singers a discount?”  “Oh, no,” she replied.  “Just Seniors cuz it’s Wednesday.”


I thanked her politely and semi-staggered to my car trying to mentally calculate that my vain stupidity had just saved me about forty cents.  I blamed my poor hearing on the fact that I had just finished swimming and probably still had water in my ears.


While I am fully aware that I have seen more than five decades pass, for some odd reason I am still stuck in my 20’s in my head.  When my grandmother was in her sixties I asked her, ‘What does it feel like to be so old.”  ‘Well, Dear, it’s only when other people talk to me like I’m old that I realize that I am.”  I get it now.


But here is the real beauty of aging if you’re lucky enough to keep at it.  A few hours later I was filling my car with gas when a pickup truck with two, cute teenage boys pulled up on the other side of the pump.  Suddenly, one yelled out, “Hi, Mermaid!”  I turned around to find one of the YMCA lifeguards grinning at me.  As we talked, he seemed so proud to know me that by the time I pulled away I wasn’t feeling so old anymore.


However, next Wednesday I plan to take my bruised ego and gray hair straight back to that supermarket.  I am loading my cart to the brim and just guess whose aisle I’m going to?   (Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a memoir detailing the 13 years she cared for her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s.


     My 13 year-old still likes me to tell her stories at night.  Trust me, after the first few years of doing this I ran out of ideas–and yet–somehow they still come.  Often they involve animals or mermaids (since I AM one), but ALWAYS they have a message.  This is NOT intentional on my part.  It just happens. 

     Recently my kids informed me that I ALWAYS have a message when I relate a conversation or tell a story.  Apparently, they would be happier WITHOUT one.  Unfortunately, it seems that asking me to share anything without a message is like telling me to shave my head, then go buy a hairbrush.  It just doesn’t make sense.  It seems my brain was pre-wired to search for meaning in all things no matter how mundane.  

     Maybe, even, it was Grandmother’s admonition that, “Everything happens for a reason.*  For example, when the volume quit some months back on our new TV set, I did put new batteries in the remote & fiddled with the knobs a few times.  It also occurred to me to call Best Buy & get someone out to fix it as it is still likely covered by the warranty.  However, I really didn’t feel like listening to “the options,” pressing the appropriate numbers, being caller #26 and sitting on hold.  So, I never dialed the number.  For the first couple of days I watched the weather channel  a few times with no sound.  That seemed kind of silly so I simply stopped turning the TV on at all.  If I wanted to know the weather, I just opened the door and went outside. 

     Despite my lack of connection with the world, however, I am aware that a volcano has erupted and spread ash over much of Europe, curtailing air traffic.  I am also aware that Tiger Woods is playing golf again.  Come to think of it, there is a rather funny connection between those two events, but I shall not relate that here.  It might give this message meaning and I can’t have that tonight. 

     I have a bedtime story to tell.  It will begin with, “Once upon a time, there was the most beautiful, little girl, perfect in every way except one:  she had no hair.  Her parents had hair.  Her friends had hair.  Why, even her little dog had hair.  She did, however, have one, treasured possession; the most exquisite, ebony hairbrush with the figure of a long-haired mermaid carved in the handle. . .(* Excerpt from, “Kissing Tomatoes,”