My recent inclusion as a Wilmington News Journal guest columnist came with predictable results.
“Why can’t you be satisfied with puzzles and paint by numbers?” sighed a middle-aged child.
“Muzzle it,” I replied. “Thanks to you and your siblings, I have had over 60 years of ailments. Be careful — I may yet take up karaoke in front of the Clinton County Courthouse.”
“You’re such a drama queen,” I was told. “My name better not appear. I deny association.”
Rest assured, your Christian name, those of your siblings, assorted grandchildren and other grumpy family members will, other than snide asides, remain anonymous.
“Good. You are just a breath away from Assisted Living,” I was told.
I would stick him back where he came from, only he no longer fits.
My dear friend Scilla asked, “What in the world can you write about?”
“Scilla,” I said — protective arm embracing her shoulder —“I am almost 84. I survived two tumultuous 25+ year marriages, including a nervous breakdown resulting in my doing the same.
“I have five children, four of whom were born before I turned 30 — and I lacked the sense to nurture a goldfish. I have six grandchildren, most in various stages of finding their way through adulthood. When they figure it out, I hope they will let me know how. I am a retired registered nurse who spent 15 years as a board-certified oncology nurse.
“I have and still belong to various women’s groups — interactions akin to herding cats. My most recent physical relocation was #13. Despite hating to even think of being on an airplane, I have been trapped multiple times in the middle of the middle aisle. (“Do you want to spend another $2,000 to fly first class?” “You bet your sweet booty, I do.” ) My luggage has been lost, misplaced, and always the last to emerge on the turnstile in multiple national and international airports.
“Leaving the known ambiances of NYC and Cincinnati, I ended up outside Sabina; a population uniformly Republican other than myself, an unremembered man, and Vicki Snow. Talk about biting one’s tongue until it bleeds! While not cradle born, I have embraced the Episcopal Church throughout my adult life. .
“I was cognizant and swift enough to duck breast cancer. Aside from genetic hypertension and osteoarthritis, I am able to walk two miles a day, wield a hoe, and raise vegetables, herbs, perennials, and potted annuals. Nonetheless, I am profoundly deaf, long and short of sight, and my hair is falling out. I still have all my teeth.
“I am arrogant, aggressive, argumentative, with an unfortunate propensity to be hanging onto a branch with one hand, while actively sawing it off behind me with the other. If the group turns right, I automatically go left. I have never, ever been as good as I think I am, but at least so acknowledge.
“Life has been filled with unrealistic expectations, realistic pitfalls, disagreeable people … but thankfully, far more wonderful and amazing friends such as yourself. You think I have nothing about which to write? Herein dwells the possibility of a Great American Novel, which I am too lazy and disorganized to even contemplate.
Editor Tom Barr has been kindly effusive, offering in the spirit of gender equality. His willingness to print is probably more as a desire for filler. We have yet to meet. I can only hope he does not have a cross secreted in a picket, but if he does, it will make for another laugh.
Life is tough — a series of problems waiting to be solved. To survive, I find it necessary to laugh at the inevitable absurdities and, more importantly, laugh at myself.
A slight disclaimer: in the name of artistic license, while some of the people/events mentioned in this and future articles may be a tad embellished, each is basically true.
Because I don’t have that much imagination.
Ann Kuehn resides at Ohio Living Cape May in Wilmington. She says, “I gravitated to Ohio at age 18 and never left” and moved to Sabina in 1987.