Let the seniors cuss, dammit!

“Do not regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.”


“God DAMMIT!” Stella blurted after stopping at her doorway. She’d maneuvered her walker to her entryway and was fumbling for her keys. We said our hellos as we passed by, were almost to mom’s door when it happened. At Stella’s proclamation, we tried not to look at each other. We smiled. Stella could not see our faces.

You know that moment when you’ve heard something, something startling or funny, and you WANT to look but it’s too soon? You are too close physically but social protocol requires a few minutes to pass before you can look without being obvious. You pretend to ignore it, act like nothing happened. You try very hard not to look. Because you know that if you look too soon, they will be glaring daggers, at you. You can feel it. This was that moment.

Stella (not her real name) is mom’s friend. I’d met her, we’ve chatted on several occasions. Stella lives near mom in Independent Living. Both ladies are leaning on 90. At their age, are they not entitled to swear when looking for their keys?


A couple days ago I had lunch with two of the best friends a girl could ask for. A few minutes after we’d eaten, I headed for the restroom. I entered the stall, turned, and with my right arm reached up to close the door. That’s when someone blurted, “God DAMMIT!” I was horrified. Who said that?! I was the only one in the double stalled room, so it could have been me. After business, I left the stall and headed to wash my hands. With my right arm, I reached forward to turn on the faucet. That’s when I heard someone drop an “F” bomb. The truth is, I’m almost, practically certain it was me.

When I was in college–fine! It MAY have occurred on occasion a few times since, maybe–I had a potty mouth. (Didn’t we all? Right, that’s no excuse.) But this? This is not the Karen most people know. We had to stop cussing when we had children. So, what gives?

Life. Usage. Living. And, what could be more normal?


I’ve been dealing with what appears to be a rotator cuff injury; it’s my right arm and I am right-handed. Years of working in a field that requires one to raise their arms repetitively can be the cause. Since I prefer to heal from within-try to find the cause before I start popping pills or allow surgery–I wanted to find exercises, try them, and see what happens (and, of course, seek medical advice if this does not help).

Meantime, I’ve discovered that a plethora of bad language unintentionally escapes when I use that arm. It hurts to shower, to use my hair dryer and brush my teeth. To reach out and upward, every single time. It hurts to sleep on that side. It takes very little to make that arm hurt. It’s not a dull ache. It freakin’ hurts.

I’ve started the exercises. I am using massage. It hurts. “No pain, no gain,” they say. Fine. But, certain words slip out of my mouth, completely unintentional proclamations. Bad words. Did I mention it hurts? That’s when I remembered Stella. And, I realized something.


When we heard Stella’s outburst in the hall, it could be she forgot the correct key. It may have been due to pain. Maybe it hurts to walk; she uses a walker, after all. There may be hip pain. Back pain. Joint pain in several places. She may have arthritic, painful fingers. She may have been unable to see. The lighting in the hall is plenty for me, but I’m not pushing 90. Glare can be a problem with aging eyes. Maybe there were bladder issues, the inability to get to the restroom quickly enough. When you visit Independent Living and see the folks who live there, see how they navigate the halls, how they interact and how they live, understanding dawns about what it takes to get through a day. It ain’t easy for many.

The fact is things don’t work the way they did when we were younger. Some people live with chronic, overwhelming pain, and it can be deadly. And tiring. And frustrating. And sometimes, bad words slip out. And you know? It’s darned damned OK.

I realized that these bodies take a lot. Living requires wear and tear. Life demands a bit of loss. So, where does that leave us?


It’s possible Stella loves to cuss. Maybe she hadn’t cussed in days and was tired of holding it in. She may have no pain whatsoever. The walker is probably a scam. My gut says she’s a rebel. Maybe she was bored to tears, was facing another day in that apartment alone and wanted to see if her language could start a hall fight. Maybe saying “God DAMMIT!” at exactly 1:15 every day is a family tradition.

We never know why people use the language we hear. We cannot know for sure. Whatever the reason, it’s probably a good one. It does not matter because either way, we are in no position to judge. We haven’t walked in their shoes or experienced what they have lived through.


My guess is they have earned the right to say whatever they darn damn well please. I say, if they’ve made it that far, if they are leaning on 90, let ‘er rip. Whatever the reason, I reserve the right to smile. Thank you, Stella.

These made me laugh. Enjoy.






a-site-for-women_sept-2016As I work through my exercises, I’ll try to temper my mouth. Meantime, if you hear unsavory language in a bathroom stall somewhere in Oregon, it’s probably me.

Just smile, and remember to celebrate aging.

We go around once.


  20 comments for “Let the seniors cuss, dammit!

  1. September 27, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I had so much fun reading this along with some serious thinking about the frustrations of aging. Thank you for involving me completely with your skillful writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 27, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you so much, Aunt Beulah!! Your compliments made my day! ❤

      I am so glad you can relate. I have certainly had my eyes opened since my mother moved to Independent Living. There can certainly be frustration and pain, but I also see lots of humor and warmth and people who care for one another.

      What have you determined about the frustrations of aging?

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂


  2. Amy
    September 26, 2016 at 6:37 am

    As one who uses foul language all too often (I blame my husband’s poor example), I had to laugh at this. But mostly I wanted to say that I hope your shoulder feels better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 26, 2016 at 9:16 am

      OK, so clarify, please. You say it’s your husband who uses bad language, or you do based on his example? Now I am laughing….(and yes, I’m working daily on exercises and it’s beginning to improve). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy
        September 26, 2016 at 9:18 am

        He’s a city boy, grew up in a house where NO ONE used a bad word, but he somehow learned all the bad words. I hardly swore at all, but 40 years later…I am as bad as he is!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. September 25, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I’m sorry you’re in pain Karen but I have to confess I’ve been dropping many F bombs in my later years too. This post totally made me smile, in fact I can relate on many levels. I’ve just finished a post about getting older, a privilege hopefully most of us will have. Great post. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 25, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Isn’t that funny? I really mean that. Somehow we get more comfortable in our skin (a very good thing) but it comes with a snarky price. 😉 So glad to hear I am not the only one. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. September 25, 2016 at 6:46 am

    I’m so sorry about your rotator cuff! I think there are definitely occasions that call for curse words, and being in pain is one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 25, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Right?!? Sometimes, curse words are the only thing that fit, and often the only words that make us feel better. What I find funny is that this is my default. These are not planned emissions. I wonder about social conditioning. My mother’s most vulgar word was shite (rhymes with polite) but my father was one hilarious man with at times, quite salty language. When you grow up with this, it’s hard not to follow in line. At any rate, I’m not advocating cursing. Just find it funny how they pop out (and when and why). Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • September 25, 2016 at 7:44 am

      And, yes, working on that arm.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. September 25, 2016 at 6:07 am

    Loved this post. I got my smile on for the day. I’m with you, let Stella pop off once in awhile. They did a study that proves swearing is good for you. Releases tension in the body so you are healthier for it. I try to be careful where and when it slips out but sometimes my mouth has a mind of it’s own. I can’t blame old age. I’ve had a few sh*t’s pop out at the most inopportune times. My dad once asked me if everything I touched turned to sh*t since I said it so often. I had just left my cheating first husband with a small child and a new baby. My answer was “yes, pretty much”. I tried not to swear around my children. Made up words to fill in those blanks. Mom only swore in German thinking we didn’t understand. Dad was military but we never heard him swear. As I approach 70, life has mellowed but there is still the occasion to let one fly. Like the multi-tasker in your cartoon. Maxine and I are best buds. Love Maxine. My idol. Thanks for sharing Stella’s story. I hope I make it to 90. I just bought more fabric to sew. Sh*t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 25, 2016 at 8:06 am

      Hi Marlene. I’m so glad this made you smile. I’ve heard about those studies. Funny thing is, I noticed that with this arm pain, the worse the pain, the worse the word. Pain=words, but bad pain=bad words. I was truly horrified I dropped an “F” bomb in public. Never done that before. Hope to never do that again. The more I visit Independent Living, the more I see how they navigate through their days. It’s rough on many. But, yes, cussing cannot be blamed on age. I simply feel that by the time they get there they’ve earned the right to “pop off” as you say, and we shouldn’t assume we know the reason (or judge that reason). Maxine is a doll. I love her. Tells it like it is.

      One of the very best books I’ve read (required reading in my master’s classes) is called A Place Called Canterbury by Dudley Clendinen. This is about a man who moved into his mother’s Independent Living facility to see what goes on, how they live, and to determine the level of care his mother was receiving. He had his own apartment in the building and lived there for several months. It is at times a laugh-out-loud book, but the reality is: old people are just like you and me, they are just hauling around a few more years. It kind of makes the “getting old” not so scary. 🙂

      Thanks for your wonderful comments. Love that your mother cussed in German. Have a great day! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • September 28, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      I saw this yesterday, Marlene, and thought of you. Still smiling…


      Liked by 1 person

      • September 28, 2016 at 5:43 pm

        Oh, my goodness. Talk about timely. I popped off with a couple of friends in telling a story about swearing and they looked kind of stunned. So I emailed them this link just now. Thank you so much for sending it. I really work hard to watch my language. When tired or stressed, sometimes I slip. I’m not a cursor, so to speak, but when I’m stressed, stupid sh*t falls out of my mouth. This will help as a way to apologized. 🙂


        • September 29, 2016 at 8:39 am

          And what, if anything, was their response? I’m smiling thinking of the possibilities.

          Kudos to us for spreading the word…health advocates that we are. 😉 Having said that, I am not advocating swearing. I just think that sometimes it’s the only thing that fits, that we cannot assume we know why people use the language they do, and laugh that it’s become my default setting. Have a great day! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • September 30, 2016 at 8:21 am

            All I saw was big eyes and no words. No response to my apology yet. 😦 I need new friends. Some with a better sense of humor and a more open mind. Oh well. 🙂 Have a wonderfilled weekend.

            Liked by 1 person

            • October 2, 2016 at 4:29 pm

              You crack me up. Have a great week. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

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