A credit card is missing, and the moment I announce it, everybody at home goes into a frenzy.
Lanie promptly launches her systematic search, first inside the pockets of my favorite handbags, last in my top dresser drawer, a nightmare of disorganization where she will get stuck for a while.
My husband, the worst-scenarist, has visions of a gang cleaning us up at Christmas. He commands me to report the loss to the bank—right now! Not too fast, I think to myself, a false alarm can be embarrassing, as any woman who has given birth to four children never forgets.
So, I sit down calmly to jog my own memory. I remember a bank statement coming with a zero expense on the card. I also noticed that I did not have the card in my wallet just when I thought I’d use it to pay gas.
Seniors should know only too well how difficult it is to remember something at the particular moment they need to remember it. In my case, clues do come, but often they don’t constitute enough aid for full recollection. It happens to me all the time. I remember, for instance, the first letter of the name of the person in front of me, who seems to know me so well but whom I don’t have the heart to tell that I have no idea who she is, except that her face looks familiar and her name starts with the letter T.
Now, I get a clue that the card’s disappearance may have to do with our last trip, but I stray: A Broadway show we saw intrudes, complete with music, and the scene proceeds to take us to a hotdog stand on a wintry night in New York for a post-show, pre-bedtime snack.
Suddenly, I’m back on track. For the trip, I left all my credit cards at home, except one, and it’s not the missing one. I clue Lanie in, but she is quick to remember putting all the cards back in my wallet when we returned. Just when I think I’m making breakthroughs, Vergel interrupts, “Did you report it already?”
Lanie, always my heroine and fixer, does not fail me. She comes out of our bedroom waving an envelope and giggling triumphantly. It contains the new card, still waiting to be activated. She’s excitedly blabbing about the time I asked her to cut my old, expired card and throw it away. Oh yes, I, too, remember now! But how could she forget that brutal and fatal act when she’s not even 40! I quickly forgive both Lanie and Vergel for their quick, habitual vote of no confidence.
My life is full of little dramas like this, since I’m perpetually looking for something. In all this, Vergel is a perfect mate for me, although he can be a pain: He just never forgets—anything! And there are some things in my life I precisely would be only too happy to forget.
For things I need to remember, Lanie mercifully puts them away for me. That’s why it shocked and terrified me when I heard from a friend about her help of many years returning to her former employer in Hong Kong and another whose own had found a great job in Dubai.
It’s okay for younger folks, I suppose. My son and his wife, who both work, have been looking for a couple of help for some months now. My daughter herself found two after a long search, and, but for a driver, her household staff is complete.
Every time our Lanie goes on her day off, not to mention her two-week yearly vacation, Vergel and I go through withdrawal symptoms. We eat out a lot, and watch our standards of good housekeeping get slacker and slacker. We live from day to day laughing, albeit nervously, at how dependent we have become on Lanie and our driver, King—and, of course, on each other.
Our children, I’m afraid, have their own lives, with their own young children, and can hardly cope themselves, given how fast-paced life increasingly becomes. They do spend quality time with us and stay constantly in touch, but, for our immediate, everyday needs, there’s only Lanie and King and us.
It’s actually the ideal arrangement between most old people and their children, although it’s still possible, being natural, in our culture for children to take care of their old folks when they can.
With those arrangements, I guess, we can somehow take life in stride.