Silver Threads  August 1997

Silver Threads is a production of The Senior Group, an
informal group of older netizens.

Silver Threads  has a World Wide Web edition located at

Editor is Jim Olson olsonjam@uwec.edu
Webmaster is Tom Kyle tom_kyle@mbnet.mb.ca



   Editorial Bits and Bytes


   Caught in the Web (WWW that is)

   The Cup of Memory

   Senior Smiles

         Editorial Bits and Bytes

Becasuse of the length of our feature story this issue
there will be no editorial bits and bytes


Families in Transition- a Variety of Views

    -Jim Olson  olsonjam@uwec.edu

Aging happens.  It happens to all at all levels of family life
from the newborn great or great-great or first  grandchild to the
oldest family member, and each year brings changes in family
realtionships. Some are marked by visible transition points along
the way such as   the changing of the guard in the hosting of the
Family Holiday celebration; Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner,
Seder, Potlatch - whatever. At some point a change occurs for one
reason or another.

Others may be more subtle. The following essay from Nerdnosh
Listserv develops the thesis that mothers and daughters gradually
change their relationships to each other in subtle ways over a
period of time effecting a kind of role reversal

To explore this thesis further I sent copies of the unabriged
article (I've cut it considerably  here to save space) to a
number of our readers and asked for responses. The response was
overwhelming and I can only include excerpts from a few here.
Wherever possible I have included the name and e-mail of the

      The Scales

       -   by  Cynthia MacGregor   CynMacG@aol.com
              from the NerdNosh listserv

When we're little, our mommies protect us.  They watch over us,
guide us, make sure we're eating right, taking care of ourselves,
not taking undue risks . . . with their two pairs of eyes
(including the ones in the backs of their heads) and with mouths
that never fail to ask questions, they mother us and guard us and
guide us.

As we get older, most moms begin to gradually relax their
vigilance. They hope they've instilled good practices in us, from
nutrition to morals. Visits or phone calls might still occasion
questions as to whether we're getting enough sleep, eating enough
veggies, checking our tires for proper tread, and paying
attention to whatever the warnings du jour are in the news. But
the main part of Mom's job is over--the construction is complete;
there remains only maintenance.

The years go by.  The guidance grows gentler.  Mom trusts us to
eat right, to get our checkups, to live safely. Slowly the scale,
long tipped weightily in one direction, begins to equalize.  Not
all the guidance, the questions, the newspaper clippings, the
worries are flowing one way.  Now we begin asking Mom questions.
Health questions.  Safety questions.

The scale comes closer to dead-even.  The end up in the air is
sinking ever lower.  The end that used to be on the ground is
rising ever higher into the air. It's a privilege to sit at the
lunch table with your mother as co-equals.  It's a pleasure to
speak on an even keel, to know you're accepted as an intelligent
adult.  And it's scary.

And then, one day, you realize the scale has reached dead-equal.
It balances exactly. That's the point I'm at now.  My mom, at 81,
is as sharp mentally as ever.  And her body is still
functioning pretty darned well too.  But it has its areas of
concern.  Certain words have become more a part of my vocabulary
than I'd like.  Angina. Osteoporosis.  Arthritis.  I'll stop at
three, though the actual list is longer.

This year, my mom and stepdad are forgoing their annual drive to
North Carolina--permanently.  They've decided those days are
behind them.  Forever. The scales are starting to look
threatening.  One day soon--next year? next month? next week?
tomorrow?--the scales will start to tip the other way.

I will begin worrying about my mother more than she worries about
me, to look after her more than she looks after me, to take care
of her more than she takes care of me, to be ever more vigilant,
as she was in my younger days.

I don't want to be stronger, better, brighter, more capable, more
coping than my strong, good, bright, capable, coping mother.  And
I realize it's not only out of a sense of respect.  I realize
it's not just out of not wanting to best her at anything

It's that, quite simply, I want my mommy.


editors note- to see more of the work of this author or others  archived in
nerdnosh attic go to


click on the fireplace log to enter archives and search for the author you


When my daughter was born I remember another woman giving birth
yelling "I want my mama!"  At the time I didn't get it.  Through
the years the urgency and primal need in that voice have haunted
me as I increasingly come to understand that most essential of
needs expressed by the plea-- "I want my mommy."

Luanna Smith, MSW Intern


From: erichter@pa.mother.com (Eunice Richter)

I'm assuming you asked for my input because you know I am 81 and
have a daughter.

In our case we may be at the equal footing stage some of the
time, but most of the time I am still trying in a very low key
way, to influence her to take better care of herself.  And that
is happening.  Only in the asking of how I'm doing has the
"Child" become the "Mother" in our relationship, but that
certainly happens sooner or later in all healthy Mother-Daughter
relationships.  I'm still telling her about the latest in "health
news" because I know she is so involved in so many things that I
am more apt to have heard it first.

Our children have always been very strong-willed (guess they
inherited it) and they have been making all their own decisions
for a very long time.  It is interesting to note, however, that
the older they get the more like us they become.  My daughter is
more apt to ask my opinion now than she was twenty years ago, but
guess that is probably typical.


From: Susan Pirkle @yhc.edu

Yes, folks do deal with the mother/daughter reversal roles.
Several years ago, my mother developed ovarian cancer, after
other medical problems as well.  Our role was definitely
reversed...giving advice, taking her to the doctor, translating
what he said, etc.  etc. etc.  She died from her cancer, hard for
me to take...felt like I should have had a "cure" for her.  Had
to do the same for my father as he lived a year beyond her.  It's
pretty powerful to realize that the roles have
reversed...humbling to say the least.

Peace, Susan


From: Lotte Evans 

Jim, I have printed out the article re this topic and showed it
to my daughters and we had a rather spirited discussion about it.
My daughters are adults, varying in age from 31-39 years with
children of their own and none of them are of the opinion that
the scales will ever tip the way as the person who wrote the
article believes. They think that old age is further growth, a
natural progression which unless the old person is mentally
incapacitated does not lead to a time were it would be necessary
to assume that one must parent ones parent.

They believe that 'evening the scales' by giving and receiving
advise is a natural progression throughout adulthood. And that's
what we all are after childhood, adults til the day we die. I
realise that the person who wrote the article might think well
its easy for me to say so at this stage in my life.  My mother
died at age 86 and physically she was rather feeble but she would
have felt deeply insulted if any of her six children would
treated her as a person who needed parenting.


From: Barbara Boylan 

I have been through this experience both personally and
professionally. My ministry to the elderly probably stems from my
younger years and the older women in my family and how their
lives came to an end. If a daughter has never been close to
anyone who has experienced  this type of trauma, then it is
certainly devastating and horribly frustrating. Some women are
incapable of swapping roles with their own mother.

It would take strong self esteem to even attempt such a reversal
in life. It may come naturally to other women. If a daughter has
become a mom in her own lifetime, it would be easier to fit into
this position. If not, there may not be  any "motherly"
instincts, at least naturally.

However, the transformation is a traumatic one, and closure is
almost impossible with mother still alive. It feels like a death
without society's permission to mourn, therefore, guilt is an
ongoing problem. Your interest in this specific area is
wonderful. Good luck with your outcomes.

Barbara Boylan


From: Rosaleen 

The girl is crazy.

Actually, her problems are several. First it bothers her to think
she's getting too old to be "mothered" anymore. In other words
she hasn't adjusted to the natural flow of years. It's not her
mother's aging that has her worried, it's her own.

Anyone who is as obsessed with diet and disease as she is will
never understand anything about getting old. If sitting down with
her mother to talk must be limited to cholesterol and arthritis,
something serious is missing in their relationship.

I have three daughters, and I was one of three daughters. When we
sit down for lunch we talk about our activities, our friends, the
world, our work, our play - whatever - even politics, religion
and sex, but we sure don't check up on each others eating habits
or medical histories.

What a boring life! All those numbers from the doctor and blood
tests what for? And who cares? In my family we never discuss
medical things unless someone is sick and then we don't ask
questions, we just bring chicken soup.

I have six children and my job will be done when I die. That
doesn't mean I still look after them, it just means that when
they need someone to lean on, literally, figuratively,
spiritually, financially, imaginatively, or they're looking for a
word for womething they are writing .. etc...  I'm here. And they
are there for me.

I've been enjoying my children on a level plane ever since they
could talk - and still do. No, I don't think there's a teeter
totter relationship that gets reversed. There's a mother and a
daughter relationship that never changes and if you just act in a
normal intelligent and friendly way towards your daughter she
should be able to do the same towards you and still be your
daughter all your life, and you will still be her mother -

        Caught in the Web  With Lotte

Mail Lists

I thought instead a surf around the net it might make a nice
change to write about some of the discussion groups on the
internet e-mail lists. At the last count there were some 5000
groups looking for members to air their opinion on a topic dear
to their hearts. So here is a list of groups one can join by
following the instruction below:

To subscribe, send mail to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.NET LOCATION with
the following command in the text (not the subject) of your

SUBSCRIBE listname

Replace 'listname' with the name in the first column of the table

For example send to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU with the command
 subscribe BUTTERFLY-L  in the body of your e-mail to subscribe to the
first list shown here. Do not put anything else (including signature line)
in the message.


                 Photography forum

                 Craft Corner e:mail list

                 Crafts, Recreation, Historical Methods List

                 Gardens & Gardening

                 Foodlore/Recipe Exchange

                 Discussion List for Food and Wine

                 Vegetarian Foodlore/Recipe Exchange

                 CANARY   - For Canary Breeders and Hobbyists

                 Discussion list for Hobby Greenhouses

                 Morris Dancing Discussion List

                  Primarily for anyone who wants to plan to
                  StayOut Of Nursing Homes

The subscribing procedure is slightly different for the next few list.
But if you follow the instruction you wont have any difficulties
FREEDOM on server@cola.castle.net    Freedom Astrology

The FREEDOM list was founded for free discussion of astrology, tarot,
and other systems of philosophy, the ways these can interact with
science, and the way these systems can help us live better, more
self-directed lives. To join, send an email to  server@cola.castle.net
with any subject, and the first line of the message should be:
 join freedom
To join the digest, the first line should instead read:
    join freedom-digest

Truckerswives is a mailing list for truckers wives or anyone's that
has a spouse that travels alot.  This list is open to anyone.  It is
for support, friendship and just plain fun! To subscribe to
Truckerswives send an  email to  majordomo@UserHome.com subscribe
Truckerswives or subscribe Truckerswives-digest for the digest

 Lotte Evans 

           The Cup Of Memory

Wartimes Memories


I remembered the school playground being sprayed with bullets
from a low flying plane. Luckily there were no injuries (except
for a few grazed knees and hands as we all dived for cover). I
remember being out one evening when a raid started. There I was,
siting on some steps near our railway station watching the most
wonderful and beautiful sight I had even seen in my young life -
tracers, flaming onions (what ever they were) and various other
forms of death creating fantastic patterns in the night sky. I
was entranced and suddenly WHOP! My Dad had clouted me across my
head , grabbed me and rushed me home to shelter. If there had
been such a thing as 'being grounded' in those days I think it
would have been for the duration!

I remember seeing a German aircraft glide silently over the
rooftop, blazing from one end to the other. I bear a scar on my
knee caused by falling shrapnel (of which I had a great
collection). Luckily, this piece had spent its energy on a roof
before falling and hitting me.

I remember going up one morning to a friends house only to
discover that it had been flattened. My friends' two young sister
were both dead, he and his mother  were taken away for safety
(His Dad had already been killed on the front). I remember
spending night after night in a cupboard under the stairs
listening to the whistle and whump of bombs, the crack of the
ack-ack guns, shrieks and whistles from other armament. I
remember staying with my aunt one weekend, and suddenly realizing
at about 0300 during a raid that my family were in distress. How
I knew this who knows. But shortly after Mum, Dad, brother and
sisters arrived at my aunts. Our home had been flattened.

That's just a few on my memories of a horrible but exciting time.
 I hold no grudges against the Germans or others. C'est la vie as
the French say, or even 'C'est la guerre'!  I still have a wooden
toy that a German prisoner gave to me one Christmas after we had
had him home for a Christmas dinner. Good it is. It is shaped
like a paddle. As you hold it and gently swing it,  four little
hens  peck alternatively at the gound as a weight swings around
beneath it.

One final thing. It has been officially announced that size for
size, Plymouth was the most heavily bombed city in England.
Coventry suffered mainly through a fire-storm which detroyed a
large area of the city, but had a low tonnage of bombs dropped
there. More citizens died in Plymouth that any other English
city, and the record for the longest  continuous raid is also
held by Plymouth - a dubious honour!

            Senior Smiles

Useful Word's and Phrases For Parent's .......

Yes, I am serious.
What part of NO don't you understand?
Don't hit your brother.
Don't hit your sister.
I'm talking to you.
Because I said so.....that's why.
Did you brush your teeth?
People like us don't do things like that.
Because I said so, that's why.
What are you doing out of bed?
Go back to bed.
Hello.... No, she's not home.
Hello..... No, he's not home.
They are still not home.
They'll call you when they get home.
Don't call here after 10 PM.
Because I said so, that's why.
I'll count to ten and then we're going without you.
Did you go to the bathroom?
If you don't go, you're not going.
I mean it.
Why didn't you go before we left?
Can you hold it?
What's going on back there?
I don't want to hear about it.
Give me a kiss.
You give the best kisses
I need a hug.
You give the best hugs.
Make your bed.
Don't look at your sister.
Would you watch what you're doing.
Move your glass, it's too close to the edge.
Watch it!
More, what?
More, please. That's better.
Just eat one bite of salad.
You don't always get what you want. That's life.
Don't argue with me.
I'm not discussing this anymore.
No, ten minutes are not up.
I'll tell you when you can come out
Stop yelling. If you want to ask me something,
come here.
Ask your father.
We'll see.
Don't sit so close to the television, it's bad
for your eyes.
Because I said so, that's why...
That's the rule in this house. ......that's the
rule. ..... that's the rule......
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ________ Sonnet to Pain Pain is not here: It is a chimera. Not substance; not manifest in the soul, Not either wound-related or disease. There is naught but promise here and hope. Pain will quarter the injured limb afire. Poison the blood, and damage all unwell. But I have turned a loving eye to ache and lured discomfort to my place to sleep. To trick the savage seeker of the soft points to sweet lull like death and breathing for the night silenced with a garrote and bound it tight. Agony submerges to zero in the sheet Dissipating in the kisser of resolve. Yea, I know not my attacker in defeat. Ellen Adams ellena@msn.com