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Thursday, 18 October 2007

Senior Standup

By 87-year-old Georgie Bright Kunkel, freelance writer and standup comic

You have been kept informed of every phase of my back pain and hopeful recovery. Now be warned. This old “lady” is planning to go back on the open mike comedy stage one more time. Between the tears of stress and frustration there were moments of humor, so I decided to take advantage of them to write a new comedy routine.

For example, when I was moaning each morning as my home helper arrived to do what I couldn’t manage to get done on my own, I remarked, “I think I will record all my moans and market them to a sex radio station. Might as well make use of them where they will be appreciated.”

As to telephone sex, I could mention that my husband (still languishing in his care center) and I do a little of that ourselves. Every night we say goodnight by phone, making kissing noises in the mouthpiece and expressing our love. That’s the only way we can be together until I can visit him again. I told my husband that he shouldn’t call me to exchange goodnight kisses when the nurse’s aide was expected in the room. His temperature would certainly rise to an unacceptable level.

When I was looking for an appropriate care center room for my husband nearer to our home, I was told by the person doing intake that this particular place didn’t have any male beds available. I came back with, “My husband wouldn’t mind sleeping in a female bed.” I wonder when they order hospital beds if they come labeled “male” and “female.”

One evening when my husband called me, I told him that it was very hot and I was lying naked watching TV. He laughed and replied, “You ought to be here doing that.”

Which reminds me, I once wrote a mini-book about senior sex. In it I said I wondered if they allowed sex in the care center. Did they schedule it on the activity board? Notice: Sex may be engaged in between basket weaving and the ice cream social. After all, sex is a healthy activity and shouldn’t be overlooked by seniors who are vibrant enough for Viagra.

Can you imagine expecting a husband to be cooped up in a care center without making space for the spouse? There are no accommodations for spouses to stay overnight or share space in the same room without being in a fish bowl with people coming in and out.

I recommend that new care centers be established with attention paid to spouses of those needing skilled care. The warmth of a partner and ways to let partners be closer and even spend an occasional night in the same room is lacking. We all know that healing is not only from physical therapy and medication. It is feeding the soul and the spirit and having the attention of loved ones in private.

If I were years younger, I would start a care center with all the conveniences and support services that the one getting care needs from close family members. The one stiff, straight chair at the bedside is not adequate for a visiting spouse. Certainly occasional sleepovers for spouses would be appreciated. But until that time, my husband and I will continue to do our best to stay connected by phone and by visits no matter how un-private the visits may be.

Now I will write down all that I am thankful for - that I am not in a third world country in this predicament and that I will soon be fit and ambulatory again and that
my husband loves me and that even with all the female attention in the care center, he still wishes he were home with me.

And, I will soon be back on the comedy stage celebrating what I call senior humor. Tony Bennett is 80 and he is still hot! There is hope for me yet.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I hope you can soon get to your husband or get your husband home. :)

Wow! Good for you, Georgie. To keep your wonderful sense of humor when in pain and dependent is truly remarkable. You are living proof that laughter is, truly, the best medicine. I am 82 and hope I am able to follow your example. I can appreciate a good joke, but when I am in pain I find it hard to see the humor in much of anything. I have to change that attitude.

Hi Georgie,

Yes, it doesn't seem fair that you and your husband cannot be together but, as Johnny Carson once said:

"If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead."

Cheers to you and your husband. Hope you get together soon....... and good luck with your return to the comedy stage.. I'm sure you will be a big hit.

I'm ready to book your first date!

Cheers, Patrick

Georgie - I found this by following up on your HistoryLink.org piece on NOW. I remember you from those early days and want to thank you for all your efforts on behalf of women's rights. I was in my 20's at that time and, because of you and women like you, my life has been far broader than it would have been otherwise. A heartfelt thanks!

Kathy Kirk

Since I wrote this piece my husband died. I had planned to go on the comedy stage but postponed it until just last week when I went back once again. This time, a local TV show
came to interview me and tape my Open Mic standup performance. What a thrill.

Now maybe I can get some real comedy standup gigs. After all I have appeared on the Oprah Show in the past. Now with this chance to be aired on Evening Magazine sometime in the near future I could start my comedy career, right?

At any rate, my involvement in comedy has softened my grieving that I understand will last quite a while. But I have managed to keep involved and out in the world.

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