Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Gifts of Her Critical Mom

Lani Matsu

“Stand up straight, you’re bowlegged! Enunciate! You’re not feeling well? Get in the shower then get your chores done! After your homework, you’ll practice your handwriting! No, you’re not wearing makeup, and get your hair out of your face!”

So as the little girl grew up she stood up straight, chose her words carefully and spoke clearly, she hardly ever caught a cold though perhaps caught an occasional warm. She found joy in beautiful penmanship, and delighted in feeling pretty each morning with her makeup on and her hair in place.

As a young mom herself, she held her babies close and kissed their bumps and broken hearts away. She told them each how much she wanted them, how proud she was of them, and how beautiful they were. The years, however, went by all too quickly though happily her babies had beautiful babies of their own. They brought them to her, and she held those wee ones close, too.

So in the autumn of her life she could still picture herself standing as a little girl before her mom. This time, with tears running down her cheeks, she saw her mom through eyes of love and compassion. Perhaps her mom simply did the best she could. And in that same moment she was so grateful, so very grateful that maybe it was way back then the little girl had given herself permission to soar. Soar, with a knowing that her path had been written in the stars.

Aging Gracefully

Ruby Regina Witcraft

A sense of humor helps. If you don’t believe that, just try on a bathing suit. Yes, you have to look in the mirror even if you hate to. If you don’t laugh, at this point, while trying to push everything into place, you may scream. I laughed because I did not want to cry about what happened to that cute little seventeen-year-old girl? The two miracle suits do their best but the other six have given up.

While in therapy this week, Magic Fingers, the therapist, and I had a great conversation. I told him he was like a bartender to whom you told all of your troubles and life experiences. We traded stories for an hour or so. He said they were trained with a lot of psychiatry involved, in this job, as a means of relaxing the client. I have been to Magic Fingers eight times and we have gotten to know each other pretty well. I thought about hitting on him but decided better as I’m sure he already has a grandmother. A mad moment of friskiness which passed very quickly.

I told Fingers, I know him that well, that it didn’t pay to complain about your aches and pains to your friends as they would always “one up you” by having a malady ten times worse than you have. I call this winning.

I now have eight bathing suits as I swim every morning, and have gotten over being shy, as the old girls I swim with look every bit as wrinkled and saggy as I do. However, when a teenage visitor walks in with a steering wheel cover for a bra and a thong for a bottom I make sure the water is up to my neck. I think to myself, “Just wait Honey, your time is coming sooner than you can imagine.” I’d have a good tan if all of my brown spots got together.

In spite of all of the aches and pains that go along with aging there are just as many pluses to balance the scales. For instance, sometimes when I get up in the morning I am amazed that I have nothing that hurts. I wonder for the few minutes that the feeling lasts who that stranger is in my body. Other times when I eat cabbage and maybe beans in the same day I don’t even bother taking Beano. Nature takes its course and I couldn’t care less.

All in all, life is good but aging may not always be graceful.

Everyone calls me sweetie! That’s a good thing.

I Need a New Saddle

Gary Mentz

Why do people call a bicycle seat a saddle? I’ve often wondered about this. Karl von Drais invented the first bicycle in 1818. People referred to Karl’s invention as the Velocipede, or the Hobby-horse. Karl designed a comfortable foundation for the rider: a miniaturized leather horse saddle. As a result, the name “saddle” for bicycles has stuck.

At age fifty-four, I decided I would take up the sport of cycling. I joined an organized group of riders that rode every Monday night. Riding with this group, I gained a great deal of cycling knowledge. I, however, faced one nagging problem, “saddle-pain.” My butt hurt like a bunion. All my expert friends assured me, “You just have to toughen up.” Or they would say, “You just need the right shape of saddle to match your shape.”

I was not satisfied with my need to “toughen up.” I was sure I could beat this problem by purchasing a new saddle. After four new saddles, I understood a new saddle was not the answer. I reasoned, if it was not the saddle, it must be my riding shorts—the chamois was too thin. I purchased new riding shorts with a thicker chamois. Still no change, or relief.

Stunned that I could not buy my way out of this pain, I turned to everyone’s faithful friend, Google. I began reading articles on the Internet that spoke of riding in pain. In doing this research, I discovered I could pay to have a bicycle fitter adjust my bicycle to exactly fit me. Immediately, I set out to get an appointment.

I arrived at my appointment, anxious for answers. You will never guess the first question the fitter asked me: “Do you know the width of your sitting bones?” With a pause of amusement, I answered, “Ah, no.” I was quite sure I had never heard the words “sitting bones” in a sentence prior to now.

I was curious but very concerned about how one would make this measurement. You see, my fitter was a young lady. I was thankful to understand it was not an invasive procedure.

To measure one’s sitting bones, you sit down on a pad of memory foam and lean forward as if you were pedaling your bicycle. Next, you stand up, so the fitter can measure the distance between the two quarter-sized dimples you created in the foam. In this process, the function of a bicycle saddle became clear to me. A saddle supports only your sitting bones, not your whole rear-enterprise.

I fully anticipated that the fitter would inform me that my saddle was the wrong size. You can imagine my disappointment at hearing my saddle was the correct width. With this first check completed, the appointment rolled forward. With great care, every key dimension of my bicycle was checked and adjusted if needed. My bicycle now fits me with millimeter accuracy.

My next ride started out hopeful. I had pedaled nearly ten miles before my bunion butt screamed out its displeasure. My perfectly adjusted bicycle was still a torture machine.

At this point, I had tried everything, but I had solved nothing. My new sport was rolling along at the speed of a sputter. Not one to give up, I continued to ride a couple times a week.

The unsolvable problem simply went away as my legs became stronger. I no longer sat on the bike saddle as if it were an easy chair; more of my weight was on the peddles. Life, always the master teacher, had spoken clearly to me, “It’s not the equipment, it’s you.”