OLD GUYS RULE!


Today in retaliation to the incompetency of local government inadequacy, Dr. A rose at five a.m. and joined the waiting line at the DMV to politely inquire where the heck his driver’s license was hiding within their files.

Paperwork in hand, and a somewhat pleasant attitude in place, he put the question of age to them. “Does the fact that I am 92 years of age have anything to do with putting my license in the holding file?” As our daughter reminded me, does the fact that he has never had an accident, that he drove over 300,000 miles a year over all kinds of terrain, and that his faculties are intact, mean nothing?

His Danish charm in full operation, they put him behind the wheel of his car to demonstrate that he still had it, and renewed his license for two years. It is truly a day of celebration!

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AGE DISCRIMINATION?


It’s apparent that there is discrimination against pit bulls, people of other color and/or cultures. We are reminded that this is not a good thing. Get to know them and maybe you’ll like them. Except maybe the pit bulls. Other than the occasional rude hand signal or honked horn, people are generally kind to the elderly.

My puzzled rant today is against the DMV. Dr. A applied for his license renewal last February in advance of his May 92nd birthday.
He aced the test, but needed his eyes checked. He took the form in to the doctor and she signed it. The DMV lost the form, so he did it again. Still nothing so he went into the DMV where they gave him an appointment for sometime in July. When he didn’t hear again, they gave him another extension in September. Yesterday he got a phone call from DMV telling him to come in for a driving test next week. When he went over they said they knew nothing about it.

Could it be age discrimination?It’s hard enough being 92 without people thinking you are old.

I agree that older drivers may not be as sharp as in the past, but renewing a license to drive locally in daylight as long as all the other faculties are intact seems fair. Licenses are given to people who cannot speak our language and to thousands of teenagers without a second thought. Case in point, we have a large round about at the corner which teenagers routinely race into and around in the middle of the night. I don’t remember any nonagenarean doing this.

THE CHILD


In those dark quiet hours of the night before sleep comes, our mind travels over many miles, exploring and revisiting memories from the past. Long dead relatives and friends come calling, often mixed in with an unfinished garden chore of that day. Vestiges of unrelated minutia crowd in to confuse and confound.

On nights when I fight my pillow and toss around like a tree in a windstorm, I remember all the beds I have slept or tried to sleep in. Moving often, as I did as a child, made me an expert bed tester. I mostly slept with my mother when my father was at sea, rarely having a bed of my own. When at Auntie’s, I slept on a cot in her sewing room, looking out the dark window at a few twinkling stars, and listening for the sound of a faraway train, while counting each chime of the old clock outside my door.

After moving to Connecticut, I often listened to the sound of the radio from another room, and joined the realistic panic after listening to Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds”, or “The Battle of the Sexes” radio show. Later, during the War, while staying with Aunt Hazel, my mother and I shared a makeshift bed in their common room, all of us listening to the Richfield Reporter give us the latest news of the War, and wondering where my father was that night. The summer we were with them, my mother and I slept one night outdoors in an open field counting shooting stars in August.

On a recent sleepless night, I was confronted in my mind’s eye with a child standing quietly while gazing around her in a tentative way. She simply stood in the middle of the room looking over at a piano which stood against one wall, and then at the many books on shelves in an alcove. She made no move to walk over to either, nor did she ask permission to either play the piano or read a book. She exhibited no interest in what the others in the room were doing, and seemed not to care that she was not a part of it. She simply stood alone in the middle of it all.

She was about eight years old, with a short Dutch cut hairdo, and dressed in the style of the 1930’s; cotton dress with puffed sleeves, and black patent leather Mary Jane shoes. As I wondered who she was and where she had sprung from, I recognized my mother, Grandmother and Aunt Georgia greeting one another with hugs and kisses, and I realized the child was me. I was being delivered to Auntie’s for another extended stay. I don’t remember if I had a little travel case, or what I often brought with me when I came to stay.

While recognizing this, it made me wonder just what my thoughts had been on the many times I came to visit. Was I happy to come, or sorry to leave Grandma’s house. I think I simply went where I was taken without any drama. Surely I loved Auntie and knew she felt the same, after all, I had been taken there since I was a baby in arms, while my mother would take a job. Remember that it was the Great Depression, and jobs were not easy to find and keep if you had few skills.

The great love affair of my parents lasted throughout their lives, though they were separated through a great deal of it due to the call of the United States Navy. When his ship came in, and she found it possible, she traveled to where he was. I was fortunate
to have a loving Grandma and my dear Auntie, though I sometimes wondered if Uncle Phil was as thrilled to have me.

Looking back at the child, I saw that she/I, though not shy, politely waited on the sidelines, deciding whether to sit or wait to see what the rest of them did. When I realized that, I saw that though not an introvert, I really DO wait to see how the land lies when in a new or different situation. Perhaps this is what the child came to show me. We do not change very much through the years. We are what we have always been, only more so.

I was an only, though not lonely child. Being alone most of the time, I created my own fun or amusement. We did not live near other children, and moved so often I did not make friends easily until my high school years. Those friends are still with me after all these years and we meet once a month in Alameda. I am frequently reminded by those women of some of the wild or risky things I apparently got them into. Perhaps the quiet introspective child was simply biding her time and plotting all those quiet years. Or maybe she was simply weighing her options. Either way I’m glad she showed up the other night. It was good to meet her again.

Through the years, most of us cove a lot of territory during the night hours. No one has come up with a foolproof way to get and stay asleep, but as long as we can recapture the scenes of our life while safe in our beds it’s a nice end to the day.

HAIL NO


They say April showers bring May flowers, but our Spring weather has become ridiculous. Woke up in the night to the souond of a deluge which turned out to be a hail storm. Woke up to brilliant sunshine, and the local news stations broadcasting pictures of hail covering most of the Bay Area. The fluctuating temperatures are bewildering as one is never sure what part to cover or uncover.

I know I have been rather proud of the fact that I used a flip phone and didn’t knuckle under to a collection of electronic devices. But slowly, without even realizing it, a collection has formed, many of which, like us, need frequent battery recharging. A small battle occurred the other evening over which plug fit which phone. Lines must be drawn.

Most of the devices which have found a home with us are useful in more ways than as entertainment. As eyesight diminishes the iPad is invaluable for reading books after paper books become things of a delightful past. Reading isn’t quite the same with them. One can’t really jump back and forth rereading a well-written phrase, or even an entire chapter. I suppose one could, but it would be cumbersome. The Smartphone for me offers the chance to use Uber for transportation in possibly the near future. We are in a holding pattern right now while waiting for Dr. A’s new drivers license to arrive. As the chief cook, I have been accumulating ways to get groceries from the store to home at some point. All part of trying to adjust.

I spent the morning listening to music I had forgotten about via our new friend Alexa. Our daughter gifted us with her and it is very nice to be able to instantly order someone about. It must be a latent fault. Alexa knows all and pops off the answers quicker than a wink. As far as music goes, she has most, though I have tried to trick her with odd selections she cannot supply. She is a toy, and one we certainly do not need, but in these days of stay at home days, traffic and afternoon hailstorms, she is a ray of sunshine.

WELCOME TO THE 90’s


To call something a fad, is to think of it as a passing fancy; something to entertain us for the time being, and then move on. A few years ago I had not heard of DNA testing except on TV cop shows. Now it seems that everyone is having the tests done to determine their ancestry and ethnicity. Not to be left behind, I spent yesterday afternoon spitting into a tiny plastic tube, to accumulate 1/4 inch of my precious saliva. At the age of 90 what do I hope to find? Will it prove my indomitable Grandmother wrong in her assertion that we stem from strong English stock with perhaps a drop of Irish blood derived from my sweet Grandpa? This of course does not include any scientific information from my paternal side. Grandma was quick to overlook anything she did not have an interest in. At any rate, it is a talking point and shows I am not entirely behind times.

I was feted royally by friends and family to acknowledge the undeniable fact that I have reached the vaunted age of 90. Dr. Advice reached this pinnacle two years ago, and when I saw the advanced age did him no harm, it removed the stigma I feared might occur. Though I have never been one to dwell on age, it is now amazing to me that I have so many friends who are in their 90’s and still upright and active.

Granted that some people need a little help one way or another as they age. My high school group in Alameda has increased from the original 6-7, as one is now in assisted living and her daughter brings her to the luncheon. Two others bring daughters who drive them now, and I have a good friend who does the same for me. The important thing is that we still come, and our intentions are still good.

We offer “tea and sympathy when needed as well, when we heard that one of our members is being forced out of her home. She gave the home some time ago to her daughter and son in law, but still lived in it. Her daughter passed away last year, and now the son-in-law is moving and plans to sell the house. A clear case of legal elder abuse. Another classmate a few years ago sold her home in Washington state at the request of her daughter and son in law and moved to Texas into an apartment which she hates. She has lost all her long time friends and her money from the sale of her house has been used to support her daughter and unemployed son in law. This is not to put sons-in-law in a a bad light, as I have had very good luck along that line.

All this proves is that as older people we need to stay aware. Hopefully Life has given us some measure of health and where-with-all, with a few brains left to protect both. We don’t need to become pistol packing mamas, but we do need to realize that we have become vulnerable and targets for those out to get somebody. anybody.

There are things to think about as elders though, which were’t a problem in our youth. Some communities have internet sign up groups to put people in touch with handymen, dog walkers, house cleaners, gardeners, and what have you. Chores which we once did for ourselves, but which require more muscle than we have left. Shopping can be a problem as well. We are awaiting the renewal of Dr.A’s driving license and mulling over possibilities to get to wherever in the possibility that he will someday have to stop driving. Last week we did a trial run with Uber to the local Safeway store and back. A good experience and relieved any anxiety we might have had.

Ninety is shaping up and they can start planning my 95th!

ONE-EYED JACKS WILD



Charlie in forbidden chair

A Jack Russell Terrier in the height of his powers is anything but temperate. Inside the adorably innocent exterior, resides a razor sharp brain wrapped in a chaos of planning his next adventure. Though his DNA includes the destruction of unwelcome rodents, Charlie cannot be bothered with the effort, instead he chooses to share the wealth of fallen fruit with all comers.

To say that Charlie is a dog of many talents is an understatement. He is a fast learner and as a puppy he learned a few tricks to show off, and mastered a few household chores as long as the treats kept coming. As he ages we find that his ideas frequently take precedent over ours, and as we age along with him it sometimes seems easier to let him do it his way.

As dogs have their own way of aging, it is hard to determine just where they are in the human scale of things. It seems to vary between breeds. We have been blessed to have several different breeds in our lives. Healthy small dogs as a rule live longer than their larger companions and we have had both, sometimes two at a time. A miniature dachshund with some health problems, stuck it out for 17 years, while a supposedly healthy German Shepherd dog developed cognitive problems at ten, as did a lovely quiet Old English Sheepdog at the age of eleven.

As with we humans, it’s a mystery that we, along with the medical profession, are determined to solve. Which brings me to the subject of today’s veterinary services.

Though we have been able to handle most veterinary problems through the years, save the annual vaccinations and occasional surprise injuries, we chose to enroll Charlie in a Wellness program when he came to live with us. For this privilege I pay approximately $50 per month. It entitles him to two big visits a year “free” of charge. Complete exams, dental cleaning and vaccinations. Charlie has been well cared for in exchange for the joy he has brought us.

Last week I discovered a roughness behind one of Charlie’s ears, and since he was due for an exam and tooth cleaning, I mentioned that there might be “something” to look at. When we collected him later in the day, the vet gave me the breakdown of his visit. The rough spot was a tumor, which when addressed, would come to approximately $600. and put him in the famous plastic head cone for some time while it healed.

Today we went in for the second part of the annual check up. On the way home he seemed pretty lethargic and lay in my lap in the car, where I cuddled him and stroked around his ear which showed no sign of roughness or a mass. That was good because we had already decided not to pursue a surgery at his age. When we got him home I looked over the papers which showed the results of his visit.

A small liver problem: a daily pill. Possible eye issue: we had already noticed his hesitation on coming through a partially open door: a paw reaching out to make sure it was open. Possible ear issue: no problem there, Charlie hears a footstep on the front porch long before I know they were there. Lately Charlie has been hesitant upon jumping up onto places he shouldn’t be anyway. I no longer tap dance.

For each of these things there were suggestions of tests to be given. No test for my dancing however.

For those of you familiar with the medical profession, does this sound familiar? We are grateful for the strides the medical profession has made, both human and animal, but as with humans, there is only so much which can or should be done regardless of the cost. We come, we are young, and then we age. and suddenly we aren’t as good in many ways. Nothing is perfect and maybe it never was. Enjoy it all while you can and play the hand you drew.

HELLO GOD, IT’S ME AGAIN


I seem to be checking in more often these days with gentle reminders. You will have noticed another new arrival last week when Roberta Gullick joined your flock of angels. She preferred to be called Birdie. We were all lucky she stayed here for 93 good years. But she got a little tired at the end and just lay down and went to sleep. She was always good at making decisions.

She was Dr. Advice’s big sister, and the advice gene ran in the family. She may find better ways to handle things up there, and she was more often right than wrong so you can take it under advisement.


“She hated to have her picture taken so this is the best I can do. This is her brother with her, but he is NOT coming yet.

If you can fix her up with a bridge group, she would sure appreciate it. It has been awhile since she could see the cards. Her eyesight has been failing for awhile which took away her pleasure in watching the college football games on TV as well. She wasn’t hot on the pro games but she did love the college ones, especially her beloved Cal Berkeley.

She found a real fit while at Cal during the War when they started the Cadet Nurse program. She looked real smart in her uniform and later in the white uniform and cap of a registered nurse. Later on, she also did some nursing after her family arrived.

She left a great family down her which she started with a perfect husband for her. I don’t know how you managed to get them together but it surely worked out well.

She was pretty shy and quiet, but still managed to involve herself in her kids activities and in the community, including the successful Halloween Ghost House here. It took awhile for her to make friends, but when she did, she was a good one.

She took swimming lessons as a girl, but was afraid of water. But she made sure her kids learned to swim and they all swim well.

She got interested in sports as a girl when her father took her to baseball games in Oakland. She rowed as part of a crew when she was in junior high, later she played tennis until an accident on the court finished that.

She was not one for “show”, choosing to stay in the background more often than not. She had her own ideas and wasn’t shy about sharing them whether you wanted to hear them or not. Her daughter in law would sometimes say softly “Now Roberta”. Maybe we all need such a reminder.

I first met her when I was sixteen years old, and wasn’t sure what she felt about me at that time. If you had asked me I would have thought she thought very little. As I began thinking more about others than myself, I realized that some people have trouble sharing their feelings. Why is that God?

She was my “sister” for nearly 72 years and I will surely miss her, so be sure to take good care of her God. Have a chat now and then, you will like her. She likes a vodka tonic in the evening.