Monthly Archives: June 2014


“I don’t know how it is that I landed in this particular dump, far from my native habitat that I once held dear. Strange outcome for a formerly well-known, well-regarded, and universally-courted person.

“Age and these damn tremors brought me low, put me at the mercy of my know-it-all daughter-in-law, Beattie. Thank God I can still speak. I was  scheduled to be in the Northwest this very week,  Seattle and Tacoma, studying the folkways of those fascinating (maybe not-so-fascinating, just jumped-up) entrepreneurs of the Internet. Those young guys too smart for any college who drop out and tinker on their own in their daddy’s garage with old radios, the odd nut and bolt and come up with doodads like IPhones and IPads and beyond. Who even knows? They’re out of my league. I just write about them. They give me a lot of information and printouts, and they’re eager to talk about it. None of these guys is stuck up or in it for the money.  They’re usually just thrilled to pieces that they figured something out and love to talk about it.

“So what happened? I’m unpacking my suitcase on my way to see one of these megabuck boys to write an article about one of their new electronic toys that’s gonna be bigger than the  IPhone when bamzam alicajam I’m flat on my back. The open suitcase falls to the floor to join me, and all I know is that something big, very big and bad, has happened to me and I don’t know what it is. When I wake up there is my worried-looking son from New York and Beattie.

“I finally register that that I’m in the hospital, that they’re very worried, and that something truly bad has laid me low. My son breaks it to me gently: I’ve had a stroke and I’m in the ICU.

“Well. The long and short of it is that I’m in Rehab til I can walk again. A lot of tottering around and falling til I get the hang of it, like I was just learning while of course I’ve had close to  eighty years of using my legs on my own. It was humbling, let me tell you, but the beauty part is that dmy son Bobby stuck with me for weeks out there, and in a funny way it was a good time together and we got a lot closer. It’s a crazy thing to say, but when I was struggling just to sit on my bed by myself, it was wonderful to have him with me. He left his job to stay out west with me for almost a month.

“Now—end of story—Bobby and Beattie want me near them, so when I was able to travel the three of us got on a plane and got me here. I never thought I’d  land in an old folks home, but I  kind of like it. There’s one interesting guy here who’s been all over the world and has slide shows of The Netherlands, Abu Dabi, French Canada, you name it .

“Also, you can’t beat the rice pudding, and I’m a fool for rice pudding.”

Age Well, Stay Active

Here, from your fellow assisted-living residents, are some tips on how they keep going as they age. The suggestions are all from workshop members of Brush Point Manor, an independent living community in Detroit. Here, with attribution, are their ideas:

  1. Joyce Alfaro enjoys traveling to many countries now that she has time.
  2. Nathan Anderson stopped using drugs and counsels other addicts.
  3. Bessie Ardis keeps in touch with her family at reunions.
  4. Dorothy Bell cherishes her freedom: she does what she wants to do when she wants to do it.
  5. To be creative, Barbara- Jean Carter plays music and crochets.
  6. Mildred Everett enjoys trips with the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.
  7. Charity Jackson teaches an exercise program to fellow residents while improving her own health.
  8. Thomas Jackson takes pride in photography and singing.
  9. Harriet Jenkins feels glad that her husband still thanks her for being his caregiver a few years ago.
  10. Edward Leonard shares with others life lessons he’s learned.
  11. Leila Marsheall looks forward to new experiences in her work as an evangelist.
  12. Harold Massengille’s post-retirement job as Brush Park Manor service coordinator brings him appreciation and smiles.
  13. Helen Presley finds comfort from reading her Bible. It makes her feel that life is worth living.
  14. Bettye Rosboro’s faith strengthens her through trials in life and makes aging wonderful.
  15. Dorothy Wise, a heart and kidney transplant and cancer survivor, declares she is a miracle!
  16. Barbara Young keeps busy with committee work and dating her male companion!

Dana’s Adventure

Dana, a woman I knew in assisted living, had a fine sense of humor. I used to visit her often when she was moved to another floor for chronic care.

One of the first things that Dana ever told me was that she had been misnamed. Her father had insisted on naming her for Richard Henry Dana, who had written a classic book on how sailors were mistreated in the navy in the mid-nineteenth century. The name of the book was Two Years Before the Mast. Dana said that her father had been “smitten” with the story because as a boy he longed to travel the world. Instead, he became a lawyer, then a judge in a medium-sized city in Missouri—landlocked—and led a blameless life, entirely free of adventure.

Dana was the last of his three children, and since she was the last and there was no hope for more, she was called Dana so her father could always keep his beloved book in mind. It was a mild fetish, Dana admitted, hard to object to. “And a pretty name, too’,even she would admit.

Her father was always pleased when she did something adventurous. “Sometimes it could get silly,”she said.“When I took my dad to my ten-year-old daughter’s school program and she sang Don’t Fence Me In,” he was actually ecstatic. ‘Dana, Dana—Meg may tame wild horses in Wyoming someday!’‘Oh, Dad,’ I told him, ‘I know you’re still disappointed that I turned out to be a milquetoast.’ ‘Not at all, not at all…’ He said this in a hurry. He was always so polite. ‘You’re no milquetoast.’ ‘A school librarian?’” Dana tilted her head inquiringly when she said this, as if her father was actually in the room with us. She took both parts of the dialogue as she continued her story.

”‘Oh no. You bring the kids adventure through books. You take them to China on the page.’

“‘Dad, I’m a conventional woman. I’ve been married to the same man for thirty-five years, I’ve never been on the briny sea. I’m a school librarian and I’m afraid of my shadow. We have three children. We’ve lived in the same house for twenty years. I play bridge, I don’t run around. Dad, face it, I’m not going to go around the world by paddleboat.’

“‘Honey, you know I love you just the way you are.’

“My dad really was a sweetheart, so when he developed heart trouble and was homebound I knew I wanted to do something special for him. So I went skiing for the first time in my life when I was in my forties, and of course I broke my leg. I was clumsy and the break was painful but the experience did serve a purpose. My husband, Ronnie drove me over so Dad could see the cast on my leg. He was lying on a sofa in the living room when I hobbled in proudly.

“‘You did it for me!’ He said.

“‘I thought I did it for myself, Dad. The sun. The snow. The hot chocolate…’

“He looked worried. Leaned over to touch me, and whispered hoarsely , ‘Don’t do it again.’

“‘Maybe yes, maybe—‘

“Ronnie interrupted loudly, ‘No, she’s not going to do it again!’

“‘Thank God’, Dad said, ‘Your leg! That’s enough adventure.’

“‘If that’s your order, Dad, I’m still your daughter and I have toobey.’

“‘Thank God’, he said, and sank back on his pillow.”