“Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink”
I’m a firm believer in water. Always have been. Before it was chic. Tap water, room temp, no ice is my preference, but old people don’t drink water. They drink coffee and iced tea, single-malt Scotch and Kentucky bourbon. Or Gmamma’s favorite pale dry sherry. Unless you count the cubes in the cocktails, there’s not much water involved. One of DooDaddy’s earliest TIAs was brought on by six cups of black coffee and an afternoon of online solitaire. It started with a low-grade headache and an out-of-sorts feeling and deteriorated quickly into temporary aphasia. Once they pumped him full of fluids, DooDaddy came back to life. Like a shriveled sponge immersed in warm, soapy water, he got his color back.
Gmamma, too, was decidedly not a water drinker. It was just not a beverage to her. Water was something to rinse with and spit out after you brushed your teeth.
The ubiquitous water bottles carried by Barre babes, soccer moms and lumbersexuals alike are simply not geezer accessories. And they’re hard to carry with both hands on your walker, unless there’s a carabiner involved. BUT, dehydration is a huge trigger for all sorts of bad things, especially neurological events. It can also cause imbalances in medicines in the bloodstream. Low sodium is the culprit. I’m just scratching the surface here, but it’s the first thing to address with most health issues for geezers – check the fluid intake.
Don’t even get me started on UTIs, because they are the devil.
So a best practice for the Care and Feeding of Old People is: Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
To that end, I did get Gmamma and DooDaddy matching S’well bottles for Christmas. Blue was my mother’s favorite color, but I had a red one, which she spied in Joan Jetta’s cupholder on an outing to some doctor’s appointment or other. In typical understated Gmamma fashion, she glanced at it nonchalantly and remarked casually, “That’s nice.”
Seizing on the opportunity to give her something she actually wanted (Geezer readers will recall from a previous Geezer Story that Gmamma was like Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial – she hated everything), I asked her if she wanted a S’well Bottle too. She said she guessed that would be ok. A blue one I suggested? Nope. She wanted a red one, just like mine.
Speaking of water, it was sometimes evoked as a kind of punishment during our childhood.
“I was bugging Mom who was reading and having her sherry in her customary silver goblet,” my brother Randy recalls from his junior high school days. “I told her I was bored.”
Peering at Randy over the top of her reading glasses, our mother replied evenly, “Well, you can go outside; you can read a book; you can take a nap; or you can drink a glass of water.”
My brother notes that he has inherited our mother’s trademark stiff upper lip and lack of sympathy for complaints of any kind. Early in his marriage to his wife Sara, she awoke ill in the night, seeking comfort and compassion from her new husband. Randy mumbled, half asleep, “Take a Tums and walk it off.”
At least he didn’t tell her to drink a glass of water.
Gmamma became a grudging water drinker in the twilight of her life. Her silver sherry goblet was replaced by a red stainless steel S’well bottle, which she insisted I only fill halfway. DooDaddy is still devoted to an earlier Camelbak model in translucent blue plastic.
So if you find yourself feeling addlepated or “woolly headed” (as DooDaddy would describe pre-stroke disorientation) – or if you’re just bored – remember the sage advice of Gmamma and drink a glass of water.