Thursday, 14 May 2015

Not Today

By Dani Ferguson Phillips of The Cataract Club

It has been almost three years since I last wrote about “The Big C.” My husband of only one year was still merrily navigating life in what I had concluded was a blissful state of denial. After all, I had been advised by everyone in the medical field to prepare myself for what they had predicted would be a brief and devastating illness.

Ron had already endured two invasive surgeries; the first to remove a kidney and a football sized tumor which left him with a prognosis of three to six years. I had been told there was no treatment for this type of cancer other than surgery and that there would be no chemo or radiation to fight it.

So, in 2012 I was prepared to deal with what I believed to be the inevitable. The cancer had spread to Ron’s lung and possibly his remaining kidney. Every time we met with the oncologist following a three month cat-scan, we would receive yet another devastating blow.

No matter how hard I tried to prepare myself for the results, I was always knocked to my knees by the news. But Ron just plowed ahead with only one thought and that was to get the cancer cut out as soon as possible so he could resume his life.

And that’s exactly what he did. When I was unable to hide my fear my husband would tell me, “Hey, we are all dying but I’m not dying today.”

On May 30, 2013, he had his third major surgery after monitoring the growth of the spot in his lung for a year. This time they removed part of his left lung.

Just like all the other surgeries, Ron sailed through it like a warrior. He didn’t bat an eye and only minutes after returning from post-op he walked to the hospital shelter as tornado sirens screamed outside.

I remember sitting in the shelter designated for visitors and thinking how surreal the moment was. But we dodged the tornado and Ron recovered quickly and we resumed life once more.

Three months after surgery Ron had his routine CAT scan. The day he was to get the results, I was unable to go the appointment because of a work conflict. I remember holding my breath as I awaited his call.

The phone rang and before I could ask Ron said, “No sign of cancer.”

All I could do was exhale slowly and soak it in. For the first time in three years the words cancer free had been spoken. I knew it didn’t mean the cancer would never return but it was the first time I had a glimmer of hope and believe me hope is powerful.

Three months later, he repeated the same routine. CAT scan followed by office visit to receive the results. Only this time I was convinced our luck depended on me staying away from the office visit.

So, I waited in the waiting room hoping to retain the positive karma we had received three months earlier and again there was no sign of cancer.

We’ve repeated this routine for the past year and each time the news has been the same. His oncologist told him that there is no change in the next year, his CAT scans will be reduced to once a year instead of every three months.

This was BIG news!

It has been six years since his initial diagnosis and we are still here. I have learned so much since that time.

I have learned that no matter what the diagnosis, there is always hope. Even when all the odds are against you and hope is all you have left.

I have spent the last six years trying to prepare myself for the unthinkable while my husband has just simply lived each day as it came. But, I’m still superstitious and refuse to go in the exam room for the scan results.

At Ron’s last visit, even his doctor agreed that whatever we are doing is working and said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

So, in July you will find me sitting in the waiting room but this time I know that miracles ARE possible and as Ron says, “Nobody’s dying today!”


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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Pills

By Henry Lowenstern

Two at breakfast, four at lunch
and at dinner, a whole bunch
of prescription medications
filled to my doctors' specifications,
including one that I can crunch.


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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Every Last Word is Contagious

By Fritzy Dean

Every last word is contagious.What does it mean
To have the last word? That you can talk louder
Or longer? That we will never speak of it again?
I don't think so.
Every last word is contagious. don't believe
The old story about sticks and stones. Words
Can hurt. It takes You're wonderful
One thousand times to erase one You're stupid
Every little word is contagious. One word made me
Lift weights, dance Zumba and enter a race, just
Because he called me an athlete.
At five years old I heard my mother say She would be
Cute if only her hair would curl. After 75 years I still
Remember the sting. My own mother thought I
Was ugly. Every single little word is contagious.
Harsh words infect the soul with toxic poison.
Loving words infuse the heart with joy.
Words can be a kiss, a caress:
I appreciate you. You are amazing.
Words can be a dagger to the heart:
Leave and don't come back. You are a
Loser and always will be.
Be aware of the words you choose.
You will never know their impact.
Every last word is contagious.


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Monday, 11 May 2015

Happy Mother’s Day

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

Mom, after battling cancer for several months, you left us on New Year’s Day, 1997, just three-and-a-half months after Dad had died.

Sometimes it feels like you’ve been gone just a few months; at other times it seems like an eternity. Anyway, as I think about this special day several memories flood my soul:

I can still smell your wonderful homemade bread. From my point of view, while still warm it was the best bread in the universe. It had to be eaten in the first couple days, however, because after that it would dry out and fall into tiny little crumbs. Of course, I did my best to see that it was devoured long before it began to crumble.

Like your father, usually you were quiet and even shy but deep inside lurked a volcano. The relatively few times that you were angry were scary moments indeed.

I’ll never forget when those pesky ants crawled into your cake mix while you talked to a friend on the telephone. This was one of those rare times when you turned into the Incredible Hulk.

It was kind of funny when you tried to sift those varmints out of the mix; little bodies were flying everywhere. As I remember, out of pure stubbornness you baked that cake but being equally stubborn, I refused to eat it.

Whenever you were ticked off at one of my siblings or at me you pelted our backsides with a wooden paddle. Remember the time, despite tugging and chewing on the string, you couldn’t extract the ball from the new paddle? I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing while you pounded my posterior with that ball still intact.

Remember how both you and your sister loved to buy and read those silly magazines that one sees at the grocery store checkout counter? On more than one occasion you argued that those stories were true.

I remember one in particular in which a tall green alien supposedly regularly advised several presidents. Maybe that explains why we’ve had some sub par leaders of late.

You were a walking, talking encyclopedia. Mom, you were the only person I knew who could remember so many details about so many things.

I still miss those jelly-filled cookies that you made.

Like you, I have a love of history, but I can’t remember nearly as many details as you did.

Being the oldest child, you served a large family as an “assistant mom.” Your siblings owe you big time for your sacrifices.

I forgive you for letting my sisters talk you into taking me along to those boring weekly sewing machine classes so that they could have the house to themselves. Of course, it will take a few more decades to forgive them for such a fiendish act!

Unfortunately, I never expressed how much I love you. Hopefully, late is better than never.

Mom, you never expressed in words your love for us but you always did your very best for us and for that we are thankful.

Mom, please forgive me for constantly teasing you about Harvey and other guys that you knew during your youthful years. My excuse was that I was a stupid kid who didn’t know any better and I’m sticking to it.

So happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Your kids love you, appreciate you and most of all, miss you. Rest in peace.


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Friday, 08 May 2015

Zeus Arises

By Clifford Rothband

Most of us at this advanced age remember Groucho Marx - his TV game show is still broadcast at 4AM. It is called You Bet Your Life.

One of his most famous quotes: “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today and I am going to be happy in it."

Now I am being tested. We all have those times in our lives when we have to trust someone. "The subtleties of trust are a subject of ongoing research. In sociology and psychology, the degree to which one party trusts another is a measure of belief in the honesty, fairness, or benevolence of another party.

“The term 'confidence' is more appropriate for a belief in the competence of the other party. Based on the most recent research...a failure in trust may be forgiven more easily if it is interpreted as a failure of competence rather than a lack of benevolence or honesty.

“In economics trust is often conceptualized as reliability in transactions. In all cases trust is a heuristic decision rule, allowing the human to deal with complexities that would require unrealistic effort in rational reasoning.”

Now I have noted the written facts, but the problem persists. I believe that I might be the straightest person that I know. Yet one never realizes what one will do in a given situation.

I am at my laptop, as I am every day, having witnessed so many absurd realities I find it hard to keep the faith.

My dad had purchased a prepaid burial, yet when he passed away, the company picked up the remains, then called us to give a quote for his internment explaining that the original company went out of business.

We did not want to be held under the gun in a moment of grief so we opted for a simple cremation, done in Orlando. Afterwards, I joked that at funerals the custom is usually to have a parade visit the important places in the deceased life. So my Dad went to Disney for his last visit.

In contrast, my father-in-law, after passing, just went to a pre-paid ceremony and burial, albeit a plot far away.

Everybody has a gimmick. I am perplexed at fiduciary responsibility since most of my nest egg was wiped out by changes in the economics. I trusted a home that I built, again economics and deterioration made us move. So I figure that everything has a time and reason.

Now for some humor; enough about death and after.

I at one time bought a new boat. It came with a specific warrantee and guarantee period. At about three months, it started to overheat. I called the dealer who said not to worry, just bring it in.

A week later the boat company calls to pick up the boat, $500 is the tab. I am just crazy. Out of habit I take one of my companion/disability dogs, Zeus, a black and rust Dobe. He'd never pass up the opportunity to go along for a joy ride.

He is sitting in the cab of my pickup, windows open. So here I am toe-to-toe with a lying mechanic. Zeus jumps out of my truck and sits down beside me.

The antagonist says, "What you gonna do, sic your mutt on me?”

I swear out of nowhere, Zeus arises, turns around and poops on the guy's foot. I still had to pay to get my boat back but what satisfaction.


[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, 07 May 2015

The Return

By Vicki E. Jones

They left in the fall when the season changed
And flew south - two thousand miles or more
To where nectar and insects still could be found
And warmer days were for sure

Such little birds on a long, long flight
When our fall had just begun
And I knew I’d miss them ‘til well into spring
When their time away was done

Through all the cold, dreary winter months
And early spring - the waiting was hard
And I wondered when their colors
Would once again brighten our yard

Bright emerald backs - males with ruby throats
And wings a blur that move so fast
Their return is a promise that winter
Has finally breathed its last

And now I know they are on the wing
Some may already be here
And it’s time to give them something to eat
In the hope of drawing them near

Some will be just passing through
And some will want to stay
Why, I just put out the sugar water feeder
Just this morning – this very day!

And as the flowers begin to bloom
And the days being to get warm
They will return to help us celebrate
The joy of the earth reborn

Their long journey now is over
I don’t have to wait and yearn
Because I know the time has come
For our hummingbirds to return.


[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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Wednesday, 06 May 2015

New Friends

By Claire Jean

New friends to make
Between you and me
Is not so easy
As some make to be
What was once
Simple as pie
Now has become
Hello and goodbye
Is it because I’m
Seventy-three
Or truth be told
Just
For me


[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, 05 May 2015

Sometimes When You Lose The Meaning It is a Movement Upwards

By Arlene Corwin of Arlene Corwin Poetry

Sometimes, when you lose the meaning it must
Be the meaning that gives joy.
Why would action lose its luster,
Life a ragamuffin poor and wandering,
Zest and all the rest?
The forms, the names are puerile games
Of no significance whatever.
Sometimes when you lose the meaning,
- all depending on your rung -
It is a movement upward,
And you ought to bite the tongue that moans.
Suicide might close the question,
But there is a question in your bones,
So you watch for undertones.
Wait for signs and carry on,
Wading through the things you do,
Watching for the small affections,
Fancies, leanings and their meanings;
Feelings focused and employed,
Ranging from the un-enjoyed to foolery.
You look for something changeless
That would give the day a substance;
Some elixir in the changes
That would give the day a science you could grab,
Rules to take away the drabness from the day, week, year –
The whole caboodle start to end,
Giving colors that transcend the mask of maya’s gear:
Rubious and aurus, luminous and conscious.
Sometimes when you lose the point,
The balance and the rhythm go.
The things you ought to do you don’t.
You give a yes, you mean a no.
You lose your nerve, you’re low on verve.
It is a new goal being served:
It is a movement upwards.


[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, 04 May 2015

An Answer to Ageing

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

Do you object to getting old?
Does retirement just leave you cold?
Are you concerned about your age?
Do you think youth is all the rage?

I saw an ad the other day
To make your worries go away.
Throw pills and hair dyes in the trash;
Why not relax, and save your cash?

Avoid the plastic surgery,
And other types of splurgery;
Try death instead! They guarantee;
Apply it once, and you’re age-free!


[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, 01 May 2015

He Called Me an Athlete

By Fritzy Dean

I remember clearly. It was on Friday morning and I was walking down the hall with my exercise instructor. When we got to the door of the women's locker room, he said, "Okay, Athlete, have a great weekend. I'll see you Monday."

I looked around to see the “Athlete” he was addressing. There were only the two of us. Slowly, it dawned. He meant me.

He called ME an athlete. Me, who had a life-long aversion to exercise; who not much before this date couldn't walk around the block without huffing; who was surely the most uncoordinated person in any of his classes.

And, yet, he did call me an athlete.

I began in that moment to think differently about myself. So, a few weeks later, when a friend was recruiting walkers for a MS fundraiser, I said, “Yes”. I was taking myself seriously, now. He called me an athlete.

The week before the race, I logged many extra miles on the treadmill getting ready. Training.

The day before the race, my friend assured me there would be no shame if I didn't finish or needed to take a short cut. I appreciated her concern but I was confident. I had trained. I was ready. He called me an athlete.

The night before the race, I planned to get to bed by 10PM so I would be well rested. I even declined an invitation that I truly wanted to accept; after all, we athletes must make certain sacrifices.

I went to bed but not to sleep. I was keyed up. I was, all of a sudden, not so confidant. I tried to lie still and just rest. I tried meditation. I prayed. - for sleep, for success, for my confidence to return.

I awoke in a panic at 6:20, after a couple of hours at best. Check-in is at 7AM.

At check-in, I bumped into one of my group. We found the others and stood waiting, chatting through the announcements. Then we heard music and then there was dancing.

A talented group of folks were doing an infectious line dance. A delightful young women urged me to "Come on, Mama, you got it!"

I laughed and stumbled through a few steps. Then it was TIME.

We poured through the starting line - people with dogs, people with strollers, people in groups, alone, on roller blades, on skateboards - all united in this experience. And, I realized, united in MANY ways: in the cause, in our humanity, in our fears and doubts, in our joy and laughter.

Right there on Allen Parkway, in the already hot sun, on an ordinary Sunday morning, I felt so Blessed and Joyful.

I thanked my body for bringing me there and continuing to serve me. I thanked the sun for shining, the people around me for their presence and energy, the universe for allowing me this blissful moment - a peak moment, never-to-be-forgotten.

The colors were intensely vivid. It seemed I could see the very veins in the leaves, every hair of the little dog running by me. I felt connected to that dog; I felt AT ONE with everything and everybody. I realized we are all one family; connected in ways we will never fully understand.

As we turned around for the backside of the race, I found I was still in a state I can only call euphoria. Near the end, I caught up with our group and heard someone telling a policeman that the cars in the parking lot nearest the race site had all been vandalized.

We briefly discussed if we should drop out and check our cars. I KNEW I was going to cross that finish line - no matter what. And I did. I did.

I looked around. I saw NO ONE even close to my age. I was older than everyone in my group by several decades. I felt so happy! I finished! I held no one back.

HE CALLED ME AN ATHLETE.


[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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