I was waiting in the car while my husband ran into a store and I looked across the street at a business called “The Mattress Firm.” I’m pretty sure it’s a national chain. We were in a very busy and rather chic part of Dallas where parking is at a premium. I saw a sign at the entrance of their parking lot. It was clearly a very professionally made sign. It read No parking except for Mattress Firm customers. All others will be towed at the owners expence! I was shocked! My fellow writers, notice anything downright wrong here? I wish I had thought to take a photo!
The below photo is, of course, Jane Goodall probably in the sixties. She lived alone in a hut in Africa studying chimpanzees. She is the first person on the planet to observe/discover that any animal other than humans use tools; a gigantic discovery and disconcerting to say the least to the very conservative christians. We now know that all the other great apes are also tool discoverers and tool users. That includes Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos, Orangutans, and of course humans. Yes, we are one of the great apes. Probably not the best one because we are the number one problem for the rest of them in terms of endangered numbers. These guys, chimps and gorillas are SO highly endangered that if things go on the way they are they will be GONE in the wild in 20 to 30 years.
Please recycle your electronics. Cell phones, lap tops, etc. have a mineral in them called Coltrane which they mine in Africa where these apes live. Their habitat is being destroyed and their areas to live diminishing because of this mining. Not the only problem but one of the the big ones.
Jane is in her 80’s and still working tirelessly for the great apes. I saw a speaker at the zoo where I volunteer as an amateur expert on the Western Lowland Gorilla and the Chimpanzee and Jane is his boss. He was UNBELIEVABLE. His commitment to this effort was so complete and his guts were even more impressive. He lives in Africa working against extinction. This guy is doing scary stuff. AND he said sometimes he’s very scared. He said it’s worth it. I get that, if my life ever changed radically, I could see myself going and doing something that scared me to death, might be good. When I shook his hand and made eye contact all I said was “Wow,” and he locked eyes with me.
Look at Jane making contact with that baby Chimp! She is the first person EVER to give animals NAMES while studying them. Before her it was xj2 and x78 and completely not allowable to designate them personally. With Jane it was Flo, Fifi, Fin and Freud and many more adorable names. She shook up the scientific community like you can’t believe which I utterly love. Chimps can be very aggressive and everyone knows that the worst comes out in any mother animal when they feel their offspring is threatened. I would estimate the baby in this photo is about 6 months old which means his mother was very nearby watching this and trusted Jane implicitly. Look at this photo and allow yourself to cry!
“Maybe this young lady will know…” he said, as an embarrassed looking shopper sped away.
People in Texas are very polite and it always makes me chuckle when they refer to me as a young lady. I mean, c’mon, I’m 58. However, this man was clearly in his late eighties or early nineties so to him, I suppose I’m a spring chicken.
Something that makes me feel sad is when someone like that shopper is embarrassed by another person who needs help and speeds away.
There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly about aging. Not so thrilled with sagging skin, wrinkles, aches and pains, doctors’ appointments, etc. But there are some up sides and one I’ve been keenly aware of lately is our tendency to take care of one another, people we don’t even know, a lot better than we did when we were younger. Having the time and not being in such a huge rush all the time surely has something to do with it. But also, life experience, illness, surgery, loss and vulnerability create intense compassion.
I have a new friend named Kelly who I met at pickle ball. I don’t know her well but her sense of humor is infectious and for those of you who don’t know me, that is right up my alley. When Kelly and I are together much of the time is spent laughing. One day at Pickle ball when I first met her, Kelly fell down and hit her head on the gym floor. I rushed over to help her up, as did many people. I told her to sit and drink water and listen to her body and if anything felt weird, I would immediately take her to the emergency room. She said she was fine but would do what I said. Twenty minutes later she came to me and said she was feeling a little light headed. I said, “let’s go!!” I wanted my exercise and my fun that day at Pickle ball but this was more important.
Recently, Kelly blew out her Achilles and had to have surgery. She is on one of those scooter things to keep all weight off her leg. The other day I took lunch to her house. We talked and laughed and I helped her fill dog dishes with water, feed the fish, replace toilet paper in bathrooms and play with her adorable dog.
Today I was at Walgreens looking for beauty products for 58 year olds. (HAHA!) Suddenly I heard, “Maybe this young lady will know…..” I turned and saw a very old man with a shopping cart containing his folded up walker and some items he had chosen as he shopped. (The shopping cart provides the same support as a walker as I well remember from after my hip surgery.)
I did not hesitate. I walked right up to him. “What do you hope I know, sir?”
“Do you know where the hair gel is?” he said without hesitation.
“We are in the right aisle,” I replied, “this is the hair section. Are you looking for men’s or women’s hair gel?
“It doesn’t matter!!” he said sort of grouchily, which made me laugh because he reminded me of the character playing Winston Churchill on Netflix “The Crown”.
“Okay, let’s figure this out,” I said, “Is it for you or someone else?”
“Me,” he said, “I’ve got to control this hair when I’m at the office!”
“Okay, fine and by the way your hair looks great,” I said. “Now let’s look at some of these products. Here, let’s sneaky open this one, does this feel right?” I said as I put some of the product on his fingers.
He shook his head and looked somewhat annoyed. (Just like the cantankerous Winston Churchill.)
“My wife knows what it is, she bought it for me!”
“You should have brought the empty container then this would have been easy,” I said.
“I should have brought my wife!”
I laughed out loud.
Suddenly he said, “Here it is! This is it!” It was Suave $1.99 hair gel.
“Great!” I said, “I’m so happy you found it!”
He then proceeded to talk to me for about 15 minutes about his life. He is 90 years old, a molecular biologist who owns several small companies creating products I really didn’t understand. (A dressing for wounds which knows when to come off your body so that ripping the thing off doesn’t damage tissue, etc.) He has turned the company over to his granddaughter but still goes into the office every day. (Which is why his full head of hair needs to look so awesome.) I stood with him patiently and listened to him happily.
Out at my car, I worried a little about him getting his purchases and walker to his car. He was mentally completely there but he was fragile physically. I watched as he came out. It wasn’t good. He had the shopping cart in front of the walker and was trying to finagle both. I guess outside he felt he needed the walker and not just the walker folded into the shopping cart like he was doing inside. I was about to park my car to get out and help when a woman my age saw what was happening and stepped over to help him. He immediately gave her the shopping cart and clutched his walker more tightly while pointing to his car. This woman stayed with him, with her own shopping bags in her hands, while he slowly got his stuff into his car and told her his life story. I stayed in the parking lot to watch. When he finally got into his car and the woman went on her way to her car, I pulled around to her.
“I saw that whole thing,” I said, “and so did God. Good for you!”
She smiled, put her hand to her chest and blushed.