This is the season we sing joy to the world and peace on earth; we may go so far as to dream of it. We know better, but we dream anyway; we try to imagine a good life for every child born.

This is the season we sing joy to the world and peace on earth; we may go so far as to dream of it. We know better, but we dream anyway; we try to imagine a good life for every child born.

We certainly want that good life for each grandchild, so long as we don’t have to stand in too often for absent parents (our children).

In growing old, we thought we had left Daycare behind, unless it was for us, in the dementia that makes us children again.

Aging doesn’t necessarily bring unadulterated Joy. In fact, my title could be taken as ironic. When I field-tested the title, a friend said the column will be very short.

Irony, childishness, crankiness, excused forgetfulness—once thought to be negative, these are adulterated joys available to the aging.

For instance, it is a blessing that only grandchildren will tell us if we are repeating the same story we told them before. Adults may roll their eyes, but we can’t see well enough to notice.

Now that I keep no set schedule, I usually travel at the speed limit. I know this irritates the young who are in a hurry to get old or die trying, but I don’t care.

Last month, I wrote about Caregiving, certainly on the serious side of aging, whether you’re the giver or receiver. But ironies and small joys abound there too.

As memory loss has accelerated, my wife and I get along better. If we argue or have a conflict, not only do we forget what it was about, but that we had it in the first place.

I think I just repeated something I wrote last month.

When memory and speech itself become casualties of the advancing dementia, we may even communicate better. As adults, we depended on “talking things out,” which can actually heighten antagonism.

We are returned to the early days of our courtship and marriage, when just being together, wordlessly, was quite enough.

Ironies occur because of the physical toll of Alzheimers. Twice, I have been mistaken for a son caring for my mother.

If my wife only eats a portion of her meal and the remainder is too small to save, I am faced with a dilemma. I was raised not to throw away good food.

She is supposed to gain weight and I should really lose weight. Neither is happening.

Repeating again.

You learn to do things you never thought you would do, but you do them because they need to be done! (No irony here.)

As a male accustoming himself to the full range of housekeeping, I’m not doing everything according to Betty Crocker or whomever the Muse of Cleaning is. I clean the dark floors less often.

And what about those little skirts that hide the box springs and extend to the floor? Some Victorian holdover so no one can see the embarrassing bottom box springs, its label, and the legs of the frame? Perhaps to hide the dust bunnies and boxes that are under the bed? I see no need for such modesty. I do not pull them out after I’ve tucked sheets and covers in. They remain bunched up under the top mattress.

Many friends and acquaintances have told me to call if I need help. So far, I haven’t very much. Is it pride or that one genuinely has no need?

When I finally registered my wife with Hospice, I was apprehensive about all the different people who would enter the home. Do I need to keep a cleaner house? Is not an orderly, not-quite-clean house good enough? Well, at least in the rooms they will see.

Of course, these visitors are judging me as well as the condition of my wife. One who visited was instructing me on various things and in her report, she rated my understanding as “Good.”

Only “Good”?! Why not “Excellent”? What did I do or not do to show diminished understanding?

I feel a joyous rant coming on.

Why only “Good”? Was it because my eyes shifted to the young squirrel trying to get inside the cage surrounding the bird feeder? It is a cage designed to keep out squirrels and large birds. He’s gotten in there before. I worry that he’s going to get in there and gorge himself on the seeds so he won’t be able to squeeze out! I didn’t say anything to the nurse because I was paying attention to her at the same time. Did my soft-hearted concern for this squirrel cause me to be penalized with a measly “Good”?

Or was it because I had that “I know, I know” look in my eyes—because some things I did know. I read books, so of course I know. Like a first grader who irritates the teacher by knowing how to read, was I victimized by knowing too much?

I should let this go.

But there is more: It was noted that I did not “engage” enough with my wife! What? The two ladies were sitting on each side of my wife. She was engaging with them, imagining them company, I suppose. With no room at the table, I was sitting behind her and being engaged by each of the ladies, with questions and comments! Even if my understanding was not “Excellent,” I was fully attentive to the two of them—and the squirrel of course. We were all engaged—they with her, they with me. I think I even patted my wife on the head once!

Though woefully misunderstood, I will now let both of these instances go. I will not red mark their comments in the notebook. (Before I wrote these complaints, I made sure none of them takes the Sunday paper.)

Needless to say, I actually enjoy their company, but I am uncomfortably reminded that former students who complained the most were those who claimed I gave them their first “B” in college. (Some became very good teachers, by the way.)

The kitten who came into our backyard and jumped in my wife’s lap years ago, is quite loyal to her. When I come to bed, he climbs on top of me to get his head massaged. Will he honor me by draping himself over my leg and falling asleep? Nope. Once he has received my skillful strokes, he goes over to my wife who is already asleep. I must be content with an affectionate narrowing of his eyes.

The irony of Alzheimer’s itself is that it cannot be definitely diagnosed until one is dead. Only an autopsy of the brain can confirm the diagnosis. So one treats symptoms “as if.”

In a sense, you don’t really have Alzheimer’s until you’re gone. Ponder that.

One of the traps of Aging is that you imagine yourself ready to share Wisdom. In spite of the fact that we live in a Culture of the Young and Impetuous, we think we can become oracles.

Irony: We created this Culture of the Young. (Rock on!)

I tried to be Wise the other day on Facebook, always a mistake. It was in response to a thread on the sexual predators who are being uncloseted in Washington, D.C. We learned that there is a Congressional office charged with paying off victims with taxpayer money. Given non-disclosure agreements, the predators are largely unknown. So I wrote, “We need to skim off the scum before we can drain the swamp.”

For a moment, I imagined myself oracular. But It sounds better than it means.

Then there are the reactions to the Hollywood predators. Several Facebook friends vowed never to watch their films again. What? Cut yourself off from their performances and productions because of what they have done?

If you have that perspective and love good art and literature, you should remain ignorant of the lives of the artists. You’ll be happier.

In playing senior tennis, we always have an odd number showing up, so we have to work out a rotation, to make sure each person plays short sets (four games) with different partners. So B, D and D sit while E, M, T and T play. “T” ending in an “ie” sits out before “T” ending in a “y.” Regardless of how well we play, we gain satisfaction in our mastery of the alphabet.

Among elderly gentlemen of long acquaintance, it is not unknown to discuss the frequency of nocturnal journeys to the john. So much for locker room talk.

Younger Generation: There are joys in being circumspect, in making long stories short and short stories long. As long as you can still make withdrawals on the English language.

Being here. Talking.

Rock on.