A Penny for your thoughts…

The problem with aging is that in your body you know that it’s happening but in your mind you think it’s happening to someone else.
At the tender age of 90, I feel like a spring chicken. That is until I try to move. Everything is so much harder. Takes so much longer. I am cooking lunch for my daughter Penny and have invited my neighbour to join us. I find when I am alone with Penny, she nags me terribly and makes me feel old. The tactic to invite my neighbour means that she is less inclined to hassle, although sometimes she can be terribly rude. She says things like, “you shouldn’t be lifting that, especially at your age.” Or, she treats me like a small child, “have you really taken all of your medication?” I’m amazed that she doesn’t insist I open my mouth to show her I’ve actually swallowed my pills.
Penny is no youngster herself. At the tender age of 62, she has retired and spends her days saving the world. Or, so she thinks. On Mondays she volunteers to save the elderly, I understand this entails her sitting behind a desk and using a switchboard to divert calls. She tells me that she is the pivotal part of this charity. She is the face and voice of the organisation. She carefully checks the credentials of each caller before putting them through. From this I gather that the charity must only exist from 10am until 4pm on Mondays with a 30 minute lunch break.
On Tuesdays, she single-handedly prevents young offenders from re-offending. She leads a group at the local detention centre. She tells me that each youth sits wide eyed clinging to her words of wisdom. She tells me that she then talks to each of them about their crimes and as a group they determine why wrong was done and why it was so very, very bad. From this I assume that these young men and women are so fed up being lectured at, judged and berated in front of their peers, that keeping out of trouble is easier than going through another of my daughter’s condemnatory sermons.
On Wednesdays, it’s the animals. Although she doesn’t actually go near any of them. She is the volunteer co-ordinator at our local animal shelter. Again, a central role in the survival of the organisation. She is very much appreciated as the Chief Executive often phones her. Last week, Penny was on her mobile taking the Chief executive’s call. At times, it is good to pretend you are deaf. Penny has thought that I am hard of hearing for many years. My hearing is perfect. Anyway, Penny couldn’t understand why she should have allowed one of her volunteers to miss a session without giving at least one week’s notice. I then heard the words father and coma, but would she back down? No. Of course not. She knows best.
On Thursdays, she helps young children as she has joined a reading library. Adults are vetted and then go to the child’s home and read with them. Each volunteer commits to a minimum of a year and you stay with that child and help them to progress. Penny is doing it her way and within the first term she has already helped several families. Penny hasn’t yet found the right child. Either the parents are interfering, or the child isn’t trying hard enough. My favourite so far was when she turned up, went into the front room, decided it wasn’t clean enough and walked out.
Fridays, well Fridays are really special. It’s the whole towns turn. She is involved with Urban Regeneration. She is making our small town a safer and better place for all of us. She is in charge of the crucial matters. She has managed to get an extra bin placed on the High Street. She did this by monitoring the amount of litter dropped and taking pictures on her mobile phone. Then I understand that she talked for over an hour at the Committee Meeting and as she was the final speaker, the bin seems to have been the reason everyone made it home by midnight. She has also managed to get a potential children’s playground moved from the East side of Old Lions Park, coincidentally very near her back garden, to the west side, near the car park and a much more dangerous site in my opinion. But, her biggest and most proud achievement is that she has become Deputy Chair and holds the
meetings when the Chairman, a very sweet retired school teacher, is away. She presided over the last meeting and couldn’t understand why there was such a poor attendance. She understood several who had phoned and emailed to pass on their apologies – it was such a shame that that vomiting bug had affected so many, but the four who didn’t bother to notify were called straight after the meeting and hauled over the coals.
On Saturday she acts as a be-friender and gets shopping for people who are house bound. I very much admire her for this. Although, I hear that one or two of her infirm benefactors moan about not receiving many of the groceries they want and are unhappy when Penny swaps their listed goods for ones she feels more suitable. Still, I suppose that they don’t have to struggle with heavy bags and it keeps Penny happy. She visits a very frail friend of mine who has known Penny since she was in nappies. Henriette, my friend, is very tolerant and can always find something kind to say about everyone, but even she struggles at times.
Sunday, Sunday is my time with my daughter. She can only really fit me in on Sundays because of her busy schedule. I am very, very fortunate. I must pop round to my neighbour to make sure he is still coming. Otherwise, I will have to call Penny and explain I am coming down with this retched vomiting bug….


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