Paula Damon

As my father grew old, his shoulders assumed a posture of exhaustion. His arms and legs moved slowly.

Sometimes he’d smile and say, “I’m 84, but up here,” pointing to his head, “I’m still 35.”

Since Dad’s passing 12 years ago in February 2007, I have taken delight in noticing endearing mannerisms and expressions practiced by senior citizens, a class in which I am now enrolled.

It’s no surprise that younger generations consider some of our habits odd. Like how we– without thinking – lick our fingers before turning pages, counting dollar bills and handing out sheets of paper.

Today, young people (also called Millennials) do just about everything on their phones. Reading, writing, shopping, banking, socializing and dating.

With the increase of online shopping, pocket change is fast becoming devalued.

On several occasions I’ve watched, to my dismay, kids throw fistfuls of coins on the ground just to get rid of them.

We seniors have a way of dealing with such waste.

Ever on the hunt for quarters, dimes, nickels – even pennies, we scan eagle-eyed parking lots, sidewalks and shopping centers for discarded change. (Who else would stoop low to the ground to inspect tiny shiny objects, checking to see if it’s a coin, then rising and shouting victoriously when it is?)

Have you noticed that kids use a Kleenex tissue only once before tossing it?

Most elders have a thrifty habit of stuffing used Kleenex in their pockets or rolling them in their long sleeves for later. Even better, they carry a handkerchief.

From time to time, Millennials have asked me to explain these practices. This can be difficult at best.

Recently, I invited a young couple to a potluck (also known as a carry-in dinner). They responded with looks of confusion.

“Have you ever been to a potluck?” I asked.

After shaking their heads no, I unsuccessfully described all the wonderful attributes of these gatherings, producing even more blank stares.

The couple never showed, so maybe they associated potluck with something else.

If you are 60-something, you probably have expressions like, “Jiminy Cricket!” “I’ll be!” or “Land sake!”

While substitute teaching, I’ve spoken these sayings in classrooms of middle-school students, generating snickers and roars of laughter reverberating clear down the hallway. “Clear down” – there’s another one.

Reverberating is a good word…

Behold, the grackle’s sonorous call reverberating high above rooftops, over oak and elm and ash trees to outlying grassy knolls and rutted valleys.

Belting sharp-pitched circus-like whistles, these birds pierce airwaves, penetrate walls, permeate silence.

Proudly posturing with shiny wings arched, a grinding mechanical utterance, like a fax machine, rises from deep within a puffy pitch-black chest, followed by a series of cheery chirps.

I have wondered what tales grackles spin with their comical chants ignored by regulars while drawing laughter from strangers.

Perhaps a remedy for our commiserating the aches and pains of aging.

Or a blessing, bringing us together in the name of the sun, the moon and the stars.

Oh, grackle, how annoyingly sweet your voice. Paradoxically silly and sardonic.

Oh, grackle, grackle, you are loved by young and old alike.

Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning writer whose columns appear weekly in regional newspapers in the Upper Midwest. Over the years, the author’s works have garnered top honors, including her creative non-fiction chapbook “Look. Don’t Look.” – garnering First Place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2017 writing competition. For more information, email


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