Kids may say the darndest things, but elders say the wisest.
This piece is based on a Quora question and an AskReddit thread. Links on the last page.
1. Good vibrations.
My 94-year-old neighbor knocked on my door this morning. She said she couldn’t find her cell phone and asked if I would please call her number so she could hear it ring and find it. I asked her if she had it stuffed in her bra as she usually does, and she said no, she must have laid it down somewhere.
I dialed and let it ring until voicemail connected. I did that three times. It must have rung 20 times or more. Just as I disconnected from the third call, she showed up at the door and told me that she found it. The phone had slid down from her bra, inside her shirt and was caught by the top of her pants so it was laying over her belly.
I asked if she could hear it ringing all the time I was calling. She said, “Yes! I kept looking around for it!” I guess she finally felt it buzzing.
2. Farmer’s daughter.
I was talking to an 80-year-old woman. Suddenly she leaned in and said: “Boy, if I’d met you in my day, I woulda taken you to the barn and shown you a thing or two.”
3. ‘…for a very long time.’
It was a very memorable exchange. I was in my early thirties, standing in line behind an elderly person. He was taking a long time to complete the transaction of getting his ticket. My annoyance must have been obvious. When he finished, he turned and looked at me directly in the eyes and said, “If you live your whole life in an impatient rush, you will be old for a very long time.”
Now I’m 70 years old and I know what he meant.
4. Spoils of war.
When I was a teenager, I volunteered at a home for the elderly. I was very friendly with one lady in particular. “I want to give you my most prized possession,” she told me one day.
She invited me back to her room. She eagerly shifted items through her drawer and pulled out an ancient box of silk stockings with seams up the middle. She told me her “sweetheart” bought them for her in France, but that she could never wear them.
“During World War II, you know We couldnt wear anything like this because they needed the silk nylon to make parachutes out of. It would be unpatriotic to wear them.” So she never did. “Very sexy! You should wear them for your sweetheart!”
It was such a warmhearted and funny moment all at the same time.
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5. There’s elderly and then there’s old.
When I worked in a retirement home as a teenager, there were several interesting people living there.
One woman was 102 years old, and totally sane. I was chatting with her one day while I was cleaning her room, and I commented about how nice it was that her son came to her every day. She sighed and said “I wish he wouldn’t. I’m just sitting her supposed to be dead. And he needs to spend the rest of his time with his wife. He’s so OLD.”
This 102 year old woman was worried about her OLD son was spending his final days. Her son was in his late 70s.
We had another resident, a fairly youngish man who lived there due to a heart condition. He was gay, and we all knew that, but he never said so. I would often to talk to him about his past; he had had lots of interesting adventures. He modelled underwear for a catalog, he worked as a bartender in New York, he worked instructing people how to scuba dive.
He was always very open about his life in every way, except he never made any mention of a romantic interest. He would just mention a lot of men he was “good friends” with. One day we were chatting about an old friend of his that was coming to visit, and he said, “Sowould it shock you to know I was romantically involved with Tony?”
I told him I had already guessed that, and I wasn’t shocked in the slightest. He said, “I guess your generation doesn’t beat people for saying things like that.” I was continuing my work cleaning his room and he said, “It seems weird to say it out loud. I’ve never said it out loud before.” I was floored that this man had lived 70 or so years and never felt comfortable saying out loud that he was gay. It made me kind of sad.
Alix Weich Dahlen
6. I like the way you move.
I was in a store in my former home town when a very elderly woman asked me to reach to the top of a shelf to pull down a can of chicken noodle soup. I did it with a smile and she looked up at me and said: “You move just like Tommy Johnson.” Who is Tommy Johnson?
Tommy Johnson used to be me. Nobody had called me by that name in about 55 years.
When I told her who I was, she revealed that she had lived across the street from my family during the 1950s and remembered me playing with her son. When I was about 11, I had moved from that neighborhood. Needless to say, I was astounded by her memory of the physical traits of a person she had known only briefly about half a century earlier.
Thomas L. Johnson
7. Tally me banana.
I work at a supermarket part-time; in the produce department.
I was filling the bananas one day and it was very clearly pension day. The day the oldies all get paid by the government and come in to do their bi-weekly shopping.
I was helping a 70-something year old lady trying to find the nicest bananas. After having done so she leaned in and quietly remarked:
“I’d let you stack my fruit any day.”
She walked off with a wink, leaving my very red-faced and trying to hold back the giggles.
8. I’m just impressed she knows what that is.
“Close the door, you’re letting the WiFi out!” – my grandma.
9. Nun of my business.
I had a dear friend who was in her mid-eighties, a Franciscan nun.
She was still working full time managing the hospital mailroom and print shop. She looked forward to my visits because I was helping her learn how to do fun and useful things with her office computer, an object which to that point had only been a source of frustration for her.
She was full of wonder when she discovered the internet. She kept a thick binder full of my step by step instructions for adding clip-art crosses to documents and making spreadsheets add columns like magic. She printed full-page holy cards that used up obscene amounts of ink and came out so wet that she had to dry them on furnace registers before handing them out. It was always entertaining to see what she would come up with next. She was full of surprises.
One day I was sitting at her computer, showing her how to do something in word, and she abruptly turned to me and said, “Did you know I knew Charles Manson?” (continued…)
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She chuckled at my shock. “Oh, yes, I was the bookkeeper at a Catholic reform school he went to. I took the boys to the movies. He was there. So I guess you could say Iha-ha!took Charles Manson to the movies.”
I mean, how do you respond to that?
She laughed at the expression on my face and went back to her work. Years later, I got a book on Charles Manson and learned that he had, indeed, briefly been a student at the same school where Sister worked. She probably did take him to the movies.
She died a few years back. I miss her.
10. The unknown known.
My mom was taking care of my grandmother whose health was declining. My grandma was very religious, and the family was very adamant about keeping the fact that two of her grandchildren were gay hidden from her.
Grandma: “How is [gay cousin]? Does he have a girlfriend yet?”
Mom: “No mom, no girlfriend.”
Grandma: “I bet he has a boyfriend. But, shhh, I’m not supposed to know that!”
11. I don’t even want to spend six decades with myself.
My nan and grandad were married for six decades, so one day I asked her what was the secret to a happy, peaceful marriage of 60 years. Her response: “I couldn’t tell you, weve been furious and at war for 59 of them.” She was a salty old bird.
12. Do you have a receipt?
My 100 year old grandmother was revived despite a do not resuscitate order. Her eyes flew open in shock, she looked the EMT squarely in the eye, and said: “I want my money back!”
13. Grandpa’s advice.
Our 81-year-old mother died recently. My three sisters and I were there for her final days. We then spent another three weeks clearing out her apartment of a lifes worth of possessions.
Mum kept every letter she was ever sent, and we found a really sassy one from our grandfather.
Her father, our grandfather, had been the Royal Air Force Captain. We all remember him as a serious man, very strict, and very devout. We were more than a little intimidated by him.
At the time, my parents were having marital problems, and my mother evidently told her parents in a letter that she believed she and our Dad were likely to split up
The return letter from her mother included a rare note from her father full of concern, very touching words. He closed with rather blunt advice, urging her to take certain precautions. As far as he was concerned, he wrote, there was nothing wrong with the man spilling into the sheets to avoid another pregnancy!
Once the shock of his words wore off, we burst out laughing and held up our wine glasses in a toast to Grandpas guts and courage to speak his mind to his daughter. To us, he had instantly transformed from the strict Grandpa into a blunt old fellow.
14. And the Charleston too!
My Granddad told me, with 100% seriousness, that if I wanted to meet girls I had to learn to do the Jitterbug. He then proceeded to demonstrate.
15. Up all night to get lucky.
15 minutes ago I was on the phone with a 74 year old customer. I said, “Alright, I sent you the email and you can make the payment at your convenience.”
He responds, quick as a whip, “Well, I’m headed out to a date right now. So, if you’re lucky, I’ll make the payment tonight. But if I’m lucky, I won’t be home until the morning.”
16. Buried treasure.
My grandparents had always lived on a farm. They were getting older, and we all saw how hard it was for them to take care of so much. Every time we brought it up, suggesting a move, they dug their heels in that much harder. I understand why.
Eventually, they reached the same conclusion the rest of us had. I knew this move was going to be difficult. My grandmother was “challenging”, even on a good day. I didnt expect this to go smoothly, but hey, it wont last forever.
Weve hired some guys to help, things are either being loaded or pitched, and things are moving along quite nicely. Suddenly, I hear my grandmother and shes not yelling, shes screaming. (continued…)
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Shes outside, screaming at the guys who just moved and dismantled an old freezer. Just before that, they had moved the old mattresses in my grandparents room to the trash as well. She heads to the garage and grabs a couple of tools. She starts with the freezer and begins unscrewing parts in weird places. She puts her hand in this space and out comes a big wad of cash. From there she moves to the mattresses and starts opening them up. Out comes more cash. Lots and lots of cash.
She had hidden $5,000 in that freezer and another $7,500 in the mattresses. In all, there was close to 30K in cash hidden in the house. And my grandfather never had a clue. Neither did anyone else.
When I finally got her to settle down I asked my grandmother why she hid all that cash. What if they had a fire? And what the interest she could have been collecting?
Her expression was very serious when she looked at me and said, I had to make sure we were protected. Your grandfather made money, but I had to make sure we had it for when we would need it. I tell her they have plenty of money. Whatever they need it for, its there.
And then it clicked. My great grandparents lost everything during the Great Depression, a big farm. My grandmother had been skimming money off and stashing it away ever since to make sure that never happened again.
17. Grand-dad jokes.
I’m a big fan of my grandfather’s humor, and now that he’s approaching the end of his life I wish I had appreciated him more as a child. I’ll give a few of my favorite things he’s said.
1) When my grandma was telling a story about them in high school she said “this was about the time that we were dating” and my grandpa looked at her confused and said “who were we dating?” My grandma didn’t find it funny, but my brother, grandpa and myself found it hilarious.
2) When my aunt was growing up she said “look how long my legs are getting!” And he said “Yeah, they go all the way to the floor!”
3) When I was in the car with my grandpa and grandma, the USB stick wasn’t playing music. While my grandma was fidgeting with it he said, “be careful!” And she said “I know I know, my dad was an engineer and told me to never force anything electronically” and my grandpa said “well look where that got him! (My great grandpa is dead)
4) My aunt brought her boyfriend over when she was in high school. She gave my grandpa a huge list of what not to ask him, “don’t ask him about his family, his grades, his job, his hobbies…” So when he gets there my grandpa shakes his hand and goes “So…. Have you ever been to prison?”