Monday, November 11, 2019

Jean on Dictionaries & Silver Sneakers

For several months now, Jean has been obsessed with dictionaries.

It is an obsession I share.  I grieved when my two volumes of the Compact Oxford English Dictionary fell apart.

We still have a lot of books that define words.  An American Sign Language Dictionary, an American Heritage Dictionary, a Roget II Thesaurus, a Webster’s Thesaurus.

And a Funk & Wagnall’s Collegiate Dictionary belonging to my father Jack.  The inscription reads:

Jacky R. Ettinger Xmas ‘44

The binding is worn, the pages are yellow.  But the words remain.

When Jean first asked me the meaning of a word, I went to & printed out the definition.

That worked for years.  Until the requests for a dictionary of her own grew recently became more vocal, more insistent.

My research was no longer acceptable.  Jean wanted a hardcover copy of a dictionary.

I understand that tactile need - to hold a book, to touch a text, absorb it.  To engage in the play, the exchange between reader & text.

The fonts in all our books that define words were too small for Jean to read.  The size of a text’s font is always a challenge for her.

Last week, Jean made it clear:

I need to talk to you.  I need a dictionary when I read a book. 

Naturally, I went to Amazon.  Large print dictionaries for adults are rare.  I scrolled through large print editions, almost all designed for children. 

Finally, I found a hardcover, large print volume for high school students.  The Webster’s New Explorer Large Print Dictionary.

It arrived via the magic of Amazon Prime over the weekend.  I gave it to Jean the next morning after church as a surprise.

When Jean reads, the Dictionary is on her tray along with whatever book she has chosen.  Often when I check on her, it is open.

In addition to a dictionary of her own, Jean has been lobbying for silver sneakers. 

At first, I suggested that sneakers would be uncomfortable in bed.  She has a supply of sequined slippers, in a variety of colors, that slip gently onto her feet.

She countered:

I bet if I had silver sneakers, I could get up & walk.

At first, I thought her request was inspired by my glittery silver Toms.  But silver sneakers entered the conversation no matter what shoes I was wearing.

If I had silver sneakers, I bet I could fly.

Recently, the desire for silver sneakers has escalated.  Tonight, we watched a news story about Queen Elizabeth giving up fur in favor of fake fur.

Jean joked:
My goodness, what is the world coming to?

I commented that we would never seen Liz in furs again.

Then Jean said:
Now I really wish I had my silver sneakers.

I asked her what she would do in her silver sneakers.

I would get up & run.  Or better yet, I would get up & walk.

When I asked if silver sneakers were magic, she assured me that they were.

Next, I asked her how she knew about magic silver sneakers.

Well, they talk about them all the time on TV.

I replied:
No doubt we both need magic sneakers.

It hit me then (I am often slow on the uptake) that the magic silver sneakers Jean heard about all the time on TV referred to “Silver Sneakers,” the gym memberships available with many Medicare plans.

Somehow Jean pulled out that thread – silver sneakers - & wove into a narrative of her own.  A magic, life altering tool that would return the mobility taken from her by her Parkinson’s.

I ordered the silver sneakers a few days ago – they arrived this evening.  They are quite fine & exude glittery magic.

Now I am faced with a dilemma. 

Do I save the magic silver sneakers for Christmas, or do I give them to Jean now so that she can begin to get up & soar?

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