My friend Janet and I with her red convertible. Notice the basket of wine and chocolate.
A friend of mine owns a red convertible. She got it over 18 years ago and it still looks great. She is now in her late 70s but as vibrant as her car. Her license plate is Joy 4 All, and she lives that every day of her life from her vintage clothes and hats, to her thoughtful gifts and notes. This friend recently lost her oldest son to early dementia so it’s hard for her to have that joy all the time. In fact, as she feels her grief and experiences her body aging, like all of us, she has occasional meltdowns. But not for long, for something will come along that not only delights her but delights someone else.
Recently one of her neighbors was celebrating their mother’s 94th birthday party. One of the things on her bucket list was to drive around in a red convertible. The son of the birthday girl was trying to figure out how to make this dream come true. He called several rental car companies to no avail. No one had an available red convertible for rent. He thought of borrowing one from a car dealer, but unless you put a down payment on the auto, you are out of luck. Then an idea came to him. He said to his wife, “ Doesn’t our neighbor own a red convertible?” Light bulb idea!!! He called my friend and said he had an out-of-the-box favor to ask. Could he borrow her red convertible? My friend, joyful as can be, thought this was a great idea and would be happy to let him use the car for the day.
On the day of her birthday, the son surprised his mother by picking her up in the morning for a day of celebration and driving around in a red convertible. She was so delighted and could not believe her dream came true. They had a day out to brunch, then took a ferry ride to Maysville and toured the home of Rosemary Clooney followed by a celebration dinner.
Later that day they returned the car, full of gas, with the utmost gratitude. My friend told me this story with a smile on her face -“Oh! It was so much fun to make someone’s dream come true!”
I have another friend who recently celebrated her 77th birthday in hospice. Two weeks ago she was walking my neighborhood and now has weeks to live due to a malignant and aggressive brain tumor. I went to visit her. It was 11:30 in the morning and there she was sipping a small bottle of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc. I said, “ Are you drinking wine?” I was smiling as I do love wine and thought, why not? Glad they let you have it here. I think I might want to do the same thing. She turned her head to me and said, “Yep! All day long-that and chocolate. What else can I do?” She explained that she chose not to have any treatment, but rather to take the path of palliative care, which assures comfort and allows her to spend what time she has left with her family and friends and enjoy her wine and chocolate. She said if anyone asks what to bring-wine and chocolate!
A group of us put a basket together for her. Each person contributed something based on the theme, wine, chocolate, and comfort care. We brought her a basket full of wine, chocolate, cookies, books, and more. I think she appreciated the thoughts as well as the things. She died about 10 days later at peace and surrounded by her family
One never knows how much time we have left to age and then to die. We don’t all have the same dreams or the same joys. We don’t all have the same experiences, but what we do have is a choice to live as full a life as we can and to be there when someone asks for an out of the box favor and to give with an open heart. It is healing for all.
It has been awhile since I wrote this and I want to add that we all should imagine just for a day that we are in hospice with only 6 months to live. How will you live those days? Angry? Afraid? At peace? Have you had those important conversations with loved ones and friends? Don’t wait to suddenly be told you only have weeks or months to live. We all are on a time line. Life is precious.
Enjoy these two interviews I conducted 6 years ago for my Blog Talk Radio show, The Middle Way Health. Now that I am retired these two interviews were even more meaningful to me today. If you plan to retire within the next 5 years, I highly recommend these books.
Retire With a Mission by Dr. Richard Wendel.
Listen to my Blog Talk Radio interview with Dr. Richard Wendel on Retirement. Dr. Wendel is a retired urologist who has both written the book Retire With a Mission and has given many lectures on retirement.
Your Retirement Quest by Alan Spector and Keith Lawrence
Listen to my Blog Talk Radio interview with Alan Spector and Keith Lawrence. Alan and Keith are retired P & G executives and enjoyed writing the book Your Retirement Quest and have given many seminars on retirement.
I’ve Been Busy with Retirement
“A well planned retirement does not give you more time, but allows you to use the time you’re given to do what you truly want to be doing without a lot of planning.” Me
First, I want to extend my sincere appreciation to all of my readers who look forward to my writing and blogs. Second I want to apologize for the long wait between musings. Third, I want to tell you how busy retirement can be.
I have so many things I could write about and ideas come to me throughout the day –When I am watering my flowers. My potted flowers look quite colorful and beautiful, and my beds still wait for the pansies to completely dry up and be replaced with something more interesting.
When I work out. I am great about getting my 10,000 steps and still love walking with my friends, but found walking does not do much for the flab under my arms that shakes when I talk with my hands. Nor does walking flatten the belly, which seems to extend a bit over my belt line these days. I now go regularly to the Mason Community Center to take advantage of my Silver Sneakers membership of 13.00/month and unlimited fitness classes. At first, I was a little too aggressive and lacked the humility that would wisely guide me to build up to the harder workouts.
I got right into a TRX class, not having any idea what it was. I walked in and asked what class was going on next, and the kind ladies at the front desk said, “TRX.” “Oh, where is the class?” I asked. “Over by the apparatus that looks like swings.” the front desk lady pointed. “That sounds good to me.” I naively stated. TRX is a workout done with straps that you adjust according to the exercise for a whole body workout –upper and then lower body. I was okay with the arm routine, but when I was instructed to place my feet into the straps, I got all twisted, my feet fell out of the straps, and when I finally got my feet positioned correctly, my leg started cramping. I think I was a big distraction for the group, of much younger women, I might add. I finally said, “Well, is anyone else here a Grandma? I am Silver Sneakers.” They laughed and continued with the workout. I did too! However, I did the work without the straps and decided I best try something else next time.
After three weeks of attending five classes a week including several yoga classes, I woke up one morning and while shaving my legs, put my back out of alignment. I had to back off the workouts and upon returning work out at a more “senior” or “silver” pace. Nevertheless, my body does seem to be transforming.
I get ideas when I am painting. Yes-I am now unleashing the creative artist in me. I had never tried my hand at painting or drawing except for a couple of those classes where everyone paints the same picture with step by step instructions from a teacher. My art always came out as a bit more original. I did enjoy allowing myself to play with the colors and use my intuition to guide the brush on the canvas.
Having no idea how to get started, I looked for some used art supplies and was able to purchase all of the supplies from a fine arts graduate who no longer had time to paint. For $100 I bought all of her supplies that included acrylics, water colors, charcoals, pastels, canvases, sketch pads, pencils, art cases, paint boxes and more. All I had to do was get some good brushes and some books on art instruction, and I was ready. I now attend an art class through the Community Center, free with my Silver Sneakers membership.
When I Travel -Travel is great for unleashing ideas for my next blog post, but I seldom bring my computer, preferring my paper journals and pen to digital writing. Since retirement, Steve and I have traveled to Chicago several times; spent two weeks throughout the state of Florida, and just returned from a two-week road trip through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and West Virginia. We love staying with friends but also are regular Air B and B users. It’s been fun to be able to go away without having to get back to a working schedule.
On these trips we have enjoyed family and friends, two weddings and historical visits to Montpelier, James Madison’s home and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.
Ideas often come when I am with my grandchildren. They are inspiring and love to be inspired. Having my grandchildren close and being retired affords us lots of time to be together.
And when I am visiting my Godmother, who is now in a nursing home in Centerville, Ohio, a long way away from her Chicago roots. She and I have had inspiring conversations about aging, dreams, spirituality and more.
So you can see that while I would like to sit at my computer and compose an inspiring blog or even share excerpts from the memoir I wish I had more time to write, I am busy-good busy. I love letting the universe plan my days and allowing for spontaneity.
Steve just turned 70 after I turned 65 and we are both seniors and retired. Those words are sometimes hard to say, but we are embracing our time together and the time for new adventures.
In the meantime, I continue to teach A Course in Miracles, and I have been open to offer my service of wellness and life coaching for those who are ready for a change.
Life is good! Retirement is good! Hope all is well with you!
I guess game meat is free of antibiotics and hormones
You never know who you are going to meet on an airplane. I’m one of those people who usually gets to know the person next to me. When I’m with Steve on one side in a three seated row there is always a stranger who shares our row with us.
I usually begin the conversation with “business or pleasure?” That clarifies the purpose of my seatmate’s trip to wherever we are going.
On our recent flight from CVG to Las Vegas Steve had the aisle seat (his consistent choice) and I had the middle (I actually prefer the window). We sat down wondering who was going to arrive to take the window seat and share the trip with us. About five minutes after we got settled a man came along and signaled that he had the window seat.
Not for me but open minded.
He was a very gentle man. I remember thinking how polite and timid he seemed. He smiled, took his seat and I proceeded to continue to read. But then I got the urge to get to know him.
I began, “Business or pleasure?” He said, “for me pleasure. I’m meeting my wife. She has been in meetings all week and we are going to have some time together. I’m really looking forward to it.” Curious, of course, I asked what her business was. He said she was an executive vice president for a company. Wow! She was a busy lady.
I asked what he did and he said they had two children and he stayed home with the children while they were growing up. They are now in college but he is the one who keeps the house in order. He stayed home. She went to work. I loved how he explained it-“It was in her DNA to climb a ladder and work in the corporate world. And he said it was in his DNA to be the nurturing parent who was home.
He was very quiet, balanced, and I could see that he could be very nurturing. I asked what prompted him to want to stay home. He told me that his own mother had left the family when he was 4 years old. He is the youngest of four and was the baby at the time. I asked if he had much contact with his mother growing up-“Nope-not interested. I was the bitter one. My siblings all stayed in contact with her until she died.” He said that growing up he was shifted from various homes of Aunts and Uncles and family friends. He was able to observe parenting styles and internalized what he thought was the best parenting.
I asked how old his children were-both in college now and doing well-a son and a daughter and they are very close. He and his wife are now in empty nest, but his wife still travels quite a bit. When the children were young they did gravitate to him more as their mother was working and traveling while they were growing up. She would get home at 8:00 many nights and often only home on weekends. They all appreciated their mother and made the best of their time together.
I wondered what he does now that the children are out of the house and his wife is often away. So of course I asked, “what are you doing for yourself now that you’re no longer raising children. He said “ I hunt.” Somehow this gentleman just didn’t fit the image of a hunter, and I thought of my own negative judgments about guns and hunting, but I hung with him.
“What do you hunt?” He said, “ rabbits, squirrel, deer, wild boar and bear.” I grew up with a father who hunted squirrel and rabbit and I can still remember the flavor, preferring the tasty dark meat of squirrel to the blander rabbit. I asked if he ate what he caught. He said, “ I eat everything I kill. It’s an honor thing.” I wondered about the bear. “ Yes, the bear, the boar and all of the game I catch.” He said he made steaks out of the bear meat. “It’s a little tough, but still tasty.” He also explained that he catches his larger game with a bow and arrow and only uses the gun for smaller game.
He told me how he got started hunting. He was 10 years old when his father got him his first gun and took him out to hunt. His father never touched a gun, other than to teach his son, realizing it was in his son’s DNA to hunt. He told me he has killed 73 deer since he started hunting.”
I asked what he did with the carcass. The story continued with interest. He said he freezes the carcass until he is ready to preserve and tan the hide. He is a taxidermist. I had never met a taxidermist. He explained the process. You pickle the hide, just like pickles; then you brush tanning solution on the inside of the hide which preserves it. He then wraps the hide around a form and creates a piece that looks like either the live animal as in squirrels and rabbits or he makes a cranium form, which is just the head. With the bear, he made a large rug with the head of the bear. He is well known for his work and sells his pieces. He has been commissioned to provide pieces for the Cincinnati Zoo, Aquarium and other museums.
He told me how he uses his garage to complete his work. Carcasses hang in the garage when they are first stripped and preparing to be frozen. I could only wonder what the neighbors thought. Of course I asked. He said he keeps the garage closed and there is a drape that encircles the carcasses. He keeps the forms and completed works in “his bedroom.”
Wondering what his wife and children thought about it all, of course I asked. He said his wife tolerates it and his children have never been interested in hunting. He is the only one who will eat the game meat.
I wondered how often he ate the meat. He said he ate meat every day and game meat three times a week. He was not particularly overweight, but I pictured the inside of his arteries and had to ask about his health and cholesterol. He put his thumb up about the cholesterol and explained that his doctor is also a hunter and they take the same statin drug.
What about exercise? “ Oh yes, I walk 3-5 miles a day with my father-in-law who has Alzheimer’s disease.” This opened up a whole other part of the story. Not only was this hunter, a nurturing father but he was now the main person looking after his father in law. He told me that although his wife has brothers, he was the only one who could take care of his “Dad.” He had the nurturing DNA and the psychological insight, the time and distance from childhood baggage that it takes to care for someone with dementia.
He told me how he gets his father in law to take a shower by telling him interesting places they will visit. When his father in law refuses to go to the doctor, he would say, “ Dad, I am so afraid to go to the doctor. Would you go with me? “ His father in law would then gladly oblige, arriving only to get his own examination. His father in law’s nutrition by marking the garbage cans with a napkin-noting that anything above the last napkin was eaten.
This gentle hunter, house husband, caregiver, nurturing parent had a quiet air about him. He seemed to have a spiritual essence and I shared this observation with him asking if he practiced any form of religion or spirituality. He said he was Catholic, but also very much enjoyed his sister’s mega church.
He still goes to Mass every Sunday because his father in law wants to go. He also takes his father in law to say the rosary three mornings a week. During Lent his father in law wanted to go to confession, so they went to church together. He told me that the priest who heard their confession had once been convicted and “sent away” for molesting a girl in a nearby park. My mind thought of the movie Spotlight. And yet they allowed him to hear their confession-“ I guess you have to forgive, “ he said. I then thought-Wow! I get it, but what about forgiving his mother. I did not say what I was thinking.
We talked a long time and I wanted to get back to my reading. I asked him what he liked to read. He said he read the Bible, and took his King James version out of his carry on bag. He also had a book on depression. He said he was reading it because of his father in law, noting that his “Dad” seemed more withdrawn and depressed lately. He was hoping to gain some insight on how to deal with his father in law’s mood swings.
My gentle hunter told me how he was looking so forward to this trip with his wife but was very concerned about his father in law. While away his wife’s brothers would be looking in on their Dad. He shared that when he got back to Ohio, it was probably getting close to having his father in law move in with him and his wife. “The wandering is a problem. He just walks off…”
I wondered how his wife felt about this-‘Oh, she is fine with it. I would be the one taking care of him.”
This man was a paradox-he obviously was a skilled huntsman, but also a gentle and nurturing soul. He ate bear, yet seemed as cuddly as a Teddy. I thought how fortunate his wife is to have him to take care of everything at home including her father. Yet he said he was very fortunate to have her as she is the financial provider and they have had a very good marriage. All he asks of her is to make and manage the money. He is the homemaker. They respect each other’s DNA and it works.
The gentle hunter told me his nickname-“Carcass.” It fits but Caress might even me better.
The last thing he said was that he was really looking forward to this trip and hoped his wife was okay with him staying the entire week. Somehow, that felt a little sad. I hoped she was looking as forward to seeing him as he was her.
All I can say is never judge a book until you’ve heard the whole story-the same with people. I am so glad I kept my vegetarian health values to myself and listened to a tender story.
Nice meeting you Carcass! Hope you had a great week in Vegas.
I was reading an article about Drew Barrymore in today’s USA Weekend.
Life, Love and Babies At 35 Drew Barrymore wonders what’s next.
She is reflecting on the second half of her life. Based on her timeline I am 20 years ahead of her and well into my second half and I still wonder, “What’s next?” In the article she states, ” I am just a big walking question mark with an open heart…her personal life is still evolving.”
Whose isn’t? Even if we seem to have our life all figured out, that does not mean all the questions are answered.
I live my life as a question mark. I am curious about what’s next today, tomorrow, and in my future. I am curious about the people I meet, both those whom I may bump into by accident at the grocery store and those I have known for years. Life is interesting and although I may make some plans, and occasionally dream, I am willing to alter my plans or be interrupted if circumstances change. I consider life a dream made up of images and I am always curious about how things are going to turn out.
I feel open and free at my age. I am enjoying my home, being a grandmother, writing, friendship and more. I am grateful to be able to exercise and maintain a moderately healthy lifestyle. Regardless of what I need to do today to live it fully, I am open to be curious about the next moments of the day, tomorrow, and the time I have left to BE.