Friday, 24 April 2015

All We Can Take With Us are Memories

By Clifford Rothband

I just read the letter from a man whose wife and life has been struck by Alzheimer's disease. I am now 70-1/2 years old. Not as old as my Mom of almost 90, or my mother-in-law of almost 95.

So here I sit at a keyboard pondering if and what solutions that I have for to the aging process. Why it strikes home at this particular moment is my wife is now making a decision.

Lucy, near 95, has developed pancreatic cancer. She refuses any further treatment. It's her choice as her choice of food or eating is her choice. Our problem is offering what support we can.

She wants to go home alone and die already. She has all her mental facilities although she is unable to walk and both deaf and stubborn.

My brother bought my mom's caretaker responsibility by making himself sole inheritor and therefore sole administrator of her estate. Undue influence is what the attorney calls it; greed is what my children called it. Karma is how I see it unfolding.

Getting back to the situation at hand. My wife has the difficult task of convincing her mother that a nursing home is the only option. I remember about 10 years ago taking my Mom's car keys. She hid one set and often called proclaiming her neighbor needed to use her car or some other lame excuse a child might use.

I took her shopping and to her doctor appointments. She fiddled and wasted time, admonishing me that she could both shop and drive. When I asked her what the yellow traffic light meant, you could be sure that her driving was not an option.

My father-in-law never woke up; he took the easy way out. My dad decided hospice was a waste; he needed a smoke, his own bed and his animals. So he went home at least three times. He was past 82 so what did it matter?

Now Lucy says she made it this far so she will eat whatever she wants - a spicey Italian sausage and a Meata Balls, spegetts and Romano cheese, ricotta, Parmesano and maybe a glass of vino. What is this, last meal request?

We don't choose our last moment. Nor do our children. Just be a little co-operative.

I remember when my grandfather passed on - dreaded cancer. A big man well over 6 feet, a piano mover and wrestler. His last request, to remember him at his best: we could speak on the phone but not to visit him.

No one else understood that request: that all we can take with us are memories, so they better be good.


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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Things Must Be Left To Ripen

By Arlene Corwin of Arlene Corwin Poetry

My husband picks the fruit before it’s ripe.
He eats bananas when they’re short of yellow -
Crazy fellow!
Why would someone eat a berry
Hard and sour,
And banana tasting very
Much
Like cauliflower?
Is it that I’m yin, he yang?
Or is there something wrong
With those who rush to judgment,
Push their tastes before the others,
Thinking only of the song they clang?
Things have to ripen to be ready.
But these days I’m open,
Dampening the dowdy
Points of view
I’m prone to.


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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Aging In America

By Fritzy Dean

Aging in America is different than aging, for example, in Japan or Europe. In some cultures, old people are revered. In our society, there are two strongly held and conflicting myths about aging and old people.

In the first myth, old people are warehoused in nursing homes, wearing diapers and strapped in a wheelchair, or perhaps aimlessly wandering the halls of the memory care unit just taking up space and oxygen until the end, a burden to their families and to society.

Ask any young person what old age looks like and that’s the picture they will conjure up. And, of course, they KNOW it will never happen to them!

In the second and equally compelling myth, the old folks in America are like Betty White, kissing hot young guys in front of the camera or like Mr. Bush, George the First, leaping out of an airplane to celebrate turning 90!

This group of seniors are running marathons, climbing mountains, swimming the English channel, traveling the world - fit, healthy, living their golden years with vitality and vigor.

To help the seniors who wish to avoid the first myth and embody the second, there has sprung up a multi-billion (billion with a B) dollar industry. For all those interested in staying young, various segments of this industry will sell you vitamins that will keep you young, formulate creams to make your face smooth and wrinkle-free, teach you the correct exercise to make sure your body stays lithe and flexible, provide you with the foods that will help you stave off old age.

Kale, anyone? How about some blueberries?

I haven't even mentioned the obscene amounts of money spent on cosmetic surgical procedures. Every possible body part has been nipped, tucked, sucked and plucked in an effort to stay young! All this and more is done under the banner of “anti-aging.”

Well, guess what? None of it works! None, zip, nada! Not the vitamins, not the wrinkle cream, not the Pilates, not the super foods. None of these will keep you from aging.

I am pro-aging, myself, definitely in favor of aging. If you are still breathing, you are aging. The opposite of aging is death.

It seems ironic; we are told if we just eat the right foods, do the right moves, think the right thoughts we can live happily forever yet even if we make it to our 90s or older, we should never look more than thirty!

If we do manage to make it to advanced old age, we mustn't let on. There is never a day without an article or podcast or seminar on aging gracefully. This is code-speak for Stay Young! Pretend! Never tell your age!

Some of the advice for aging gracefully is pretty amusing. One woman wanted her obituary to read that she broke her neck at a pole dancing class at the age of 104.

I have been trying to come up with my own definition of aging gracefully. I expect it will evolve as I get closer and closer to the end. For now, my definition is an older person who has “suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” be that loss of loved ones, loss of physical ability, loss of health (the most outrageous of all) and YET still manages to find moments of joy. One, who having lost so much is still grateful for what remains.

Neither of the prevailing concepts is true. That’s why they are myths. Old people are just as varied as people of any age. Some got lucky in the DNA lottery and are blessed with longevity and good health all their lives. Some did not.

If you didn’t pick the right parents, be kind to yourself. Tenderness toward oneself is a good thing, at any age. Those folks who are waging war against growing old - the anti-aging group - they are fighting a battle they cannot win.

We WILL grow old - if we are lucky. It is a privilege not afforded everyone. Try for grace but love whatever age you happen to be. Today, THIS day, you are as young as you will ever be and as old as you have ever been. Embrace it.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Off and Running

By Henry Lowenstern

We were still wondering what she would do
when Hillary dropped the other shoe
and announced
or rather pounced
into the presidential whoop-ti-do.


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Monday, 20 April 2015

Advice for Husbands

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

There is nothing quite so blissful for a guy as sharing his life with a contented wife. From my vast years of experience, I can give you younger guys some sound advice:

  1. Always put the seat down after using the toilet. When she argues that you are inconsiderate for not doing so, you could counter that she is just as inconsiderate for not putting it up after she’s finished. Your argument would be every bit as logical but don’t go there! No male has ever won that debate.

  2. Never, and I mean never tell her that she is turning into her mother. Your mother-in-law might be a saint (if so, you have the only one on the planet) but your wife will never take such a statement as a compliment.

  3. If your wife asks if a new outfit makes her backside look big, always answer “no.” Answer in the negative even if those new jeans make her look like Shamu. God will forgive you for this white lie; no doubt He would do the same thing if there was a Mrs. God.

  4. Never give your honey the nickname, “Moose.”

  5. When you come to bed on a cold winter’s night, never stick your icy feet on her legs.

  6. Never try to compliment her by stating that among her many attributes, she even has better in-laws than you do.

  7. Sincerity is the key to a happy marriage. Once you learn how to fake that you’ve got it made.

  8. Try to stay awake at least ten minutes after a romantic interlude. Don’t use those ten minutes to talk sports.

  9. When you do something wrong, use those two magic words: “I’m sorry.”

  10. When you’re right but she thinks you’re wrong, use those two magic words: “I’m sorry.”

  11. When she forces you to go shopping with her, pretend to be enjoying the activity.

  12. Don’t ask her to fetch your beer.

  13. Always make her wishes as important as your own.

  14. No matter what she prepares for a meal, eat it and thank her for fixing it.

  15. Even if your mother-in-law is a witch, treat her with the utmost respect (it’s okay, however, to imagine sending her on a one-way trip to Jupiter).

  16. Always treat her as an equal in the marriage.

  17. Even if it’s true, never tease her that she and her friends sound like a bunch of hens while playing cards. In a related matter, never kid about looking for eggs after the card party is over.

  18. Be careful that you don’t tell her the same jokes more than three times.

  19. Don’t kiss her until you’ve had that morning shave. For some strange reason women do not like the feeling of sandpaper across their faces.

  20. If she loves a pet, you love it too.

  21. Constantly remind yourself how lucky you are to be living with such a wonderful person.

  22. Every now and then surprise her by serving breakfast in bed. Do more than hand her a bowl and a box of cereal.

  23. Make her feel that in choosing you she has hit the jackpot.

  24. And most importantly, at least once a day tell her how much she means to you. Tell her that you love her, and mean it.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Friday, 17 April 2015

Oh, the Irony of It All

By Nancy Leitz

As some of you may know, my beloved husband, Roy, passed away in May 2013. We had been together for 67 years (63 as husband and wife). It was quite an adjustment for me and there was a lot of loneliness and tears.

To be truthful, the tears part was really easy because, as Roy used to say, I would choke up at supermarket openings and I cried at card tricks. Tears would run down my cheeks at our Fourth of July parade when the fire engines came along (sun glasses were the answer to that dilemma.)

Anyway, you get the picture. I’m a cry baby.

If one of my children or grandchildren gets a promotion at work or a ribbon for being the best four-year-old tap dancer, my eyes fill with tears. I can’t look at a beautiful bride (I don’t have to know her) without choking up and any picture of a little kid with no hair and sad eyes on a plea for a donation has me reaching for a tissue and running for my checkbook.

I seldom play the radio in my car (except the all news station to listen for traffic delays) because they may play some tune that reminds me of the “old days” when we were young and loved to dance to the big bands of the late 1940s.

God forbid they should play Moonlight Serenade or I’m In The Mood For Love.. I would probably end up in a ditch crying my eyes out.

Scott Joplin’s Ragtime or Ravel’s Bolero are my choice of car music. Both are tear proof.

I’m sure you get the picture. My eyes are filled with tears at least five times a day for one reason or another. Some good, some bad.

About six months ago, I started having a slight burning sensation in my eyes and I sometimes felt like there was something in like sand under my eyelids. It was very uncomfortable so I called my ophthalmologist and made an appointment to see her.

The day of the appointment came and as I sat in her office all prepared to see her, the ever popular “Doctor Waiting Room Music” came on, Frank Sinatra began to sing Night and Day and I started to choke up but controlled it and went back to pretending I was reading my magazine.

The song ended and I was very proud of myself. I had gotten through that beautiful song with only a slight tearing up. I thought that was the end of my ordeal but no, there was more! Frank came on again and this time he sang Put Your Dreams Away For Another Day. That was too much and I did tear up just as I was called in to the examining room.

I hastily dried my eyes and the doctor came in and gave me a thorough examination. She asked a lot of questions about night time driving and headlight haloes and seemed to be particularly interested in the burning sensation I mentioned.

Then she took out her prescription pad and began writing. She said that I should use these eye drops because I had a very bad case of - Are you ready?

DRY EYE.

Well, Doc, you could have fooled me! Oh, the irony of it all.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Nutritional Revision

By Henry Lowenstern

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
has revised its nitty gritty,
saying we no longer need exclude
cholesterol that comes in food.
So eggs and shrimp are sitting pretty.


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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A Wise Smartphone Indeed

By Dan Gogerty who blogs at Cast

Yes, of course there is a smartphone app called Calm. As the description says, “For a quick refresher mid-day, the app has nature scenes and calming background noises that aid relaxation during the instructed meditation, which focuses on breathing and body awareness.”

I’m surprised I didn’t hear of it earlier. Smartphone users are probably accessing plenty of meditation, nature and chill out apps. I’d look them up but then my search engine would contact a digital snoop group and I’d be inundated with calls, email messages and text blurbs about products and programs.

“One time offer for $3.99. Download our Still Chill app that mixes the mindfulness of complete silence with the healing components of an entirely off-white screen.”

Oh well, I’ve probably paid more than four bucks for pretty much nothing before.

I guess such an app is necessary for those caught in a concrete and steel world, but you'd think most folks could find an analog version of these apps — parks, tree-lined streets, paths and backyard gardens for starters.

A farm offers obvious possibilities. As a matter of fact, I wonder if a smartphone would actually live up to its name and do the right thing if I tried to access a “chill” app when I visit my folks’ farm.

rxflyfishing.com

I can hear a Siri-like voice floating from the phone as I walk out the farmhouse door:

“Stop. Look up from the screen. See the bridge down the lane, the creek and the pasture. Now power down and leave this phone behind. Listen to the gravel crunch beneath your feet as you approach the stream.

“Hear the sparrows chirp in the mulberry bush and the water bubble over rocks in the shallows. Tiny frogs launch from the bank, a school of minnows reflects the noonday sun and a warm breeze rustles the prairie grass.

“In the deeper, still sections of the creek, watch for muskrat dens and step over the trails they make up the bank toward the cornfield. Butterflies float from milkweeds to black-eyed Susans, and goldfinches flick through the thistles as they look for seeds.

“Stop to breathe in the aroma from the freshly cut alfalfa in the nearby field. Walk along the creek and don’t think of me or anything digital until you get back - if then.”

Maybe it would be good for us all to leave the smartphone behind on a regular basis - a natural chill, and even the added features wouldn’t cost $3.99.

idownloadblog.com


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

On Late Romance

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

Now that you’re old, should you bemoan
The single life, if you’re alone?
The question’s quite an easy one;
Is love a “must,” or are you done?

When people reach a certain age,
Most have been married by that stage.
They’ve dreamed the dream, and tried romance;
Is new love worth another chance?

Do you prefer to come and go
When you feel ready? Yes or no?
Your answer will be a surprise,
If you find joy in compromise.

“Togetherness” can cause a scare;
Of fairy tales, you should beware.
Though wedded life might seem sublime,
For single life, it may be time!


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Monday, 13 April 2015

She Flies Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease

By Dani Ferguson Phillips of The Cataract Club

Like many people my age I have made arrangements for my final departure. I have pre-paid my cremation and put down all my final wishes on paper. The one thing remaining to be done is purchasing the urn.

What the funeral home has to offer is just too ridiculously expensive for my taste. So I did a little internet searching and found wholesale urns that even have a “dent and ding” option.

The urn came to $75 which I thought was a great deal but my daughters thought it was appalling. I told them to just turn the dent to the wall and no one would notice.

So I continued my search and found some really interesting options.

One option I found is a biodegradable cremation urn. The ARKA Acorn Urn is intended to contain ashes after cremation. It is made in the U.K. from recycled paper and other natural fibers. It's hand worked and sanded smooth and then overlaid in a moss-green mulberry bark paper dyed with natural color. Once buried, the natural fibers will decompose rapidly.

Produced to U.K. regulation size - 10" high x 8" wide (220 cubic inches), it's considered a large urn, adequate for most cremated remains.

image

You plant the urn about one to two feet deep in the earth, at least three feet away from the roots of any small bushes or young trees. The alkaline "ash" of the burned bones, mostly calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate, then returns slowly to the soil and will be used over time by the plants and surrounding soil web.

The only objection my daughters had was that it would look like a memorial service for Alvin and the Chipmunks.

In Italy, two Italian designers are bringing a new meaning to "family tree." Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel proposed a plan to make cemeteries more eco-friendly by replacing headstones with trees.

It's called “Capsula Mundi” and it aims to replace coffins with egg-shaped burial pods.

image

The deceased would serve as fertilizer while encased in a biodegradable coffin underground. Seeds are then planted on top of the pod which will take the nutrients from the decomposing body to grow.

image

Now, I like the idea of becoming biodegradable but being buried in a pod in Oklahoma under a tree poses some serious consideration. My state is known for its tornadoes and strong winds. Winds that can uproot trees like they were popsicle sticks.

You see where I'm going with this? One day I'm happy fertilizer for a magnificent elm and the next I'm flying through the air dangling from the roots of a tree.

Or worse - what if I get Dutch Elm disease and my tree gets chopped down and I become toilet paper?


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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