T Feb 13th, 2020, and I have been unable to stir up the energy that is required in order to write on my blog. It’s not like I haven’t thought about all of you, my favorite readers, wondering how the winter has treated you this past few months. But this has been the season for just getting thru it while pasting a smile on our faces.
It all started in December. We had gotten flu shots in Michigan in October and assumed that all would go well after that. Arriving in Florida in November we resumed our usual routine here in the sunshine and everything was going splendidly. Bob was looking forward to his pinochle games starting up and we put our daily walks on the agenda. But December arrived and we both started to do a lot of coughing, sneezing,and sniffling. Doctoring it up with the usual over the counter products, we grumbled and complained but none of it seemed to help at all. In fact it just got worse. Twice we visited the clinic hoping for relief, receiving shots, and antibiotics, but none of it helped. Finally I took Bob to the emergency room at Advent Health Hospital where he was admitted and stayed three days. But by this time he had done so much coughing and choking, especially with his asthma, that some damage had occurred in his throat. Even after we came home from the hospital the coughing continued. When he was sent for a checkup he was sent to a throat specialist. Now he is going to have a video taken of the vocal chords and then he will have 6-8 weeks of therapy because he has lost his voice, at least temporarily. Several of our children have been down here and a big help to us making it go a lot smoother.
We are both feeling some better now. Still some coughing, but nothing like it was. Bob and I are learning how to communicate with each other, but it is still pretty quiet in our house. He is taking a different medicine now, and it seems to be helping. Every once in a while he can say a few words and I can actually hear them. We are in good spirits mostly because we are very optimistic people to begin with. But it sure will be nice when I can hear him call me from the other end of the house! I will never complain about his hollering again! That’s a joke, my friend!
How I ever managed to get this far,
Remembering what a fascinating journey it has been,
Reflecting upon the many full time happy days gone by,
Counting all of the steps I managed to stumble into,
Refreshing my memories of the days of my childhood,
Smiling at the thoughts of happy teenaged years rollerskating,
Thankful for loving husbands, parents, family, and children,
Regretting the times I was too busy, too hurried, too something,
Believing that there was always going to be another day for me,
And here I am.
Still wondering, still perservering,
Knowing that the future is not ours to see,
And still smiling, still reflecting, still believing,
And still thankful.
On the next to the last day, December 30th, of the last year of this decade, 2019, the thoughts of newly arriving change are finally taking hold of my mind. It has occurred to me this morning that I am going to have to retrain my pen to write “2020” when I sign my checks. And as that thought sunk in, my mind flashed back to 2009, and I realized that ten years is really a big chunk when you are already on the senior end of your life.
In 2009 we were still living on our farm, growing great fruit, and going to the Farmers Market three days a week. Life was extremely busy, we were filled with great purpose, and time flew by. We didn’t have as many great grandchildren yet, and we were yet to feel the sorrow of losing our son. But time has a way of changing things whether we are prepared for it or not. Eventually we had to pick ourselves up, look forward instead of back, and then the changes began to take place. The main part of the farm was sold to a local farmer, we had a big farm equipment sale, and we began to adjust to retirement.
Retirement is a big word when you have spent your whole life with the thoughts of pleasing people with your product, beautiful, healthy fruit. It took several years before we began to feel that it was time for us to change our way of life, at least in the wintertime. The first year we traveled to Florida, rented a mobile home and began to make new friends. By the second one we acquired our own home, and Bob started planting us some orange and tangerine trees.
But in the summers we still returned home to Michigan and our farm. Life kept on moving at its own pace and we had to adjust to it. Time has now moved on and the decade is about to come to a close.
We are still here and life is still good. Our family has sometimes become smaller, and we have grieved, but then new members have arrived and we welcome them. This morning although I have looked back, I have also begun to look forward and wonder what will happen next. One thing that I know for sure is that nothing will stay the same for long. One of the best things for me is that I have been able to express my feelings by writing and I hope that will continue for another decade.
In the meantime we will continue rising every morning, going for walks in the park, and practicing how to write “2020”. I will let “2030” wait for a later day. There will be many changes to adjust to but we are strong and we will enjoy watching them.
A great new subject for our class this week! Simple pleasures in my life! Thoughts come rushing thru my mind in a hurry on this one. And the first one to land right in front of me is the one that anyone who knows me is that I am an avid reader. Anything that is in print has always been my constant companion. Reading under the covers at night with a flashlight, or the glow of the corner streetlight at my bedroom window is one of my most vivid memories. As a child no one had to ask twice what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. Luckily most of my cousins were just the same way so we did a lot of trading with each other. And fortunately my mother made sure that I got to the public library each week. So books or cereal boxes or newspapers, whatever came in front of me, I devoured. That has never changed.
Which brings me to the next big thing. Fortunately, they are both connected to each other. You might have guessed I am talking about my Ipad. I know I must have existed without it at some time, but I prefer not to look back to the Dark Ages before it. With the Ipad I can and do anything I want to, reading, studying, investing, puzzling, writing articles for my blog, working on my checkbook, paying bills: nothing much I can’t do. Whenever I get the urge for the latest one Bob is the fortunate one who inherits his next reader. He has finally found time in his life to become a great reader too. Retirement can be a wonderful thing.
But there still is another pleasure that I have indulged in this morning. For years I was the pie maker, I took great pride in my pie crust and with four growing boys, never made less than three at a time. This was just my thing and whenever we went to a potluck or picnic my pies were what I took.
But time went on, boys grew up, got married, and their wives became good pie makers. Gradually, little by little, my pie making took a different direction. Now I make one for Bob and I, slice it in 8 pieces, and it lasts for a long time. Occasionally I still take one to a sons house but it is different. Now the grandchildren are doing their share also. But this morning, I decided to make an apple pie for us. Peeling apples, adding sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon, making a big (A)on the top crust, I felt a little nostalgic about it all. As the added touch I sprinkled a little milk, sugar and cinnamon on the top crust and I thought of all the hundreds, probably thousands of pies I had made over so many years, and here I am, down to one pie, it is so simple. When I went to take it out of the oven, the house smelled so wonderful that I wished I could bottle that smell and keep it forever. Such a simple thing, the smell of a freshly baked apple pie, the juices bubbling, and yet I can still remember all of the good times when I was making three pies, and they were being devoured.
My simple pleasures are the ones that bring back the most memories and I am really grateful for all of them.
Every week at our Creative Writers class our facilitator has the duty of recommending some suggestions about interesting subjects to write about. It isn’t mandatory to do so, so if it doesn’t ring a bell for me I do a little digging into my own personal thoughts. But this one has some very personal recollections for my family and for me.
In July of 1969 our family made a big move from a house we had built ourselves on the outskirts of Muskegon, Michigan, to a small community called Holton, about 25 miles away. It involved changing schools, and driving farther to work each day. We bought a mobile home and 11 acres and a creek flowing thru it. It was just outside of Holton and it had never had electricity run to it. Getting the property all set up took longer than we had thought it would. But we moved in, did get the water installed and that was the main thing. At this time there were four half grown boys, aged 8 to 15 years.
But there was one big problem. The news was full of stories about the upcoming moonwalk and we had no electricity. This was truly an overwhelming event and we all wanted to see it. Since we had no idea when the power company was going to show up we made the decision to go shopping for a large generator. It cost $600 and we really couldn’t afford it but we did it anyway. It was very noisy when it was running so we were lucky we had no close neighbors.
So on July 20, 1969, we all gathered around our little television and watched all of the moon landing together. Outside the generator rumbled but we didn’t care, we were watching history! Watching an event with four young excited boys was a great deal in itself. Looking back is kind of a marvelous thing for a parent to do. I am going to ask those men, now in their 50s and 60s, what do they remember? Was it really a big deal to them at that time? Fifty years ago! I am sure it was. I know it was to me.
Saturday morning here in the park, and as usual it’s yardsale day. When you live in a mobile home park that is full of retired seniors you just know that something that everyone seems to like to do is to drive all around the neighbors and see what there is for sale. Up and down the paved streets you head, looking for signs of cars parked along side the roads or golf carts waiting for their turn to pull into driveways. It is a beautiful morning in mid November and you can hear laughter and conversations between your neighbors.
This morning Bob had already left for his morning walk and I was planning to go to the yardsale just four houses away. Pulling out my Rollerator I headed down the street. This was a good sized sale so I thought, “Who knows what I might find!” And right away I found just what I needed, a scoop to measure coffee for the Bunn I had replaced last week. And there sat two pretty mugs to pour the coffee in. But as I continued to look over the many tables I began to feel sad and uneasy. The home was being sold because of someone’s health problems and the articles for sale were a mirror of the past retirement years of this couple. They reflected the many interests they had, craft items, baking utensils, canning equipment, jewelry, tools, books, and now they were being passed on to someone else. Their whole life lay before us on the tables. And then I thought, someday this will be us, and we will be “downsizing” also, and all of the things that we take pleasure in will be spread on card tables too, just like it is here. And it won’t matter whether we sell or give it away, they are just things that someone else will find a use for, long after we have moved on.
After chatting with a few neighbors I recovered my normal good spirits, paid my 45 cents, and came home happy about my coffee scoop. But off and on all day I thought about what had happened and how I felt about it. It is inevitable that time moves on, but how I adjust to it is my choice and I must remember that. Luckily I have a warm and sunny day in which to enjoy yard sales right now.
Thinking today of the latest new experience in my life and thinking about my father. He left us at the too early age of 51 without any advance notice, and before we could even say our goodbyes. So I look at my old pictures and remember how I loved him and yet I never told him enough. When I was young it was not very common to say “I love you” unless there was something really serious going on. At least not in our family. And yet I loved him and I had no doubt that he loved me. We just didn’t talk about it very much. My father was a very quiet man, but he had a lovely smile. He instilled in me a desire to travel that has always stayed with me. In 1951 he and my mother managed to take us on a Western trip to Colorado and Wyoming in our old car, along with my Mothers parents. It was a major expense for them but also a lifelong dream of his.
So now this week I have thought about how he would have loved to participate in our latest adventure. For the first time in nine years we were to fly to Florida for the winter as snowbirds instead of driving. If you had ever seen our heavily loaded car in other years you would understand my anxiety as how I was going to manage. We’ve always taken our own apples, freshly made jam, and half of the kitchen sink with us. Being limited to two suitcases and two duffle bags seemed like an impossible task for us. For two weeks prior I made lists, multiple lists, about how I was going to cope with it all. But cope with it we did. Our children, Debra and Mike took us to Grand Rapids in our car, steered us into the airport and made sure our boarding passes were okay before returning home with our car. We had been advised to use wheelchairs for an easy get around in the airport. Everyone was helpful and two hours later we were enroute to StPetersburg, only two and a half hours. Unfortunately the plane arrived 35 minutes late in St Pete and our friend Virginia, waiting in the parking lot, became a little concerned as to our whereabouts. When we got off I was told there were 17 people using wheelchairs and they didn’t have enough attendants for them. So in the confusion someone took me in one direction and Bob in another. And for 15 minutes I couldn’t find him. Since he has a little hearing problem I knew he wasn’t going to hear any loudspeakers. A nice young man finally got me to the luggage and then he went looking, and he found Bob, much to my relief. We connected with Virginia and she said “Welcome to Florida,” and I said “Thank you, Virginia.”
Driving to Zephyrhills the traffic was unreal, across a miles long bridge, and I was so grateful for our great driver. I was tired after the long day, so quickly got out the Bunn coffee pot, and discovered it had died over the summer. And when Bob went out to turn on the water we didn’t have any. At this point I opened a can of cheese broccoli soup, we devoured it and headed for bed.
In the morning Virginia took us to Dade City where we had bought a used car from Jarrett Ford dealer online and that really worked out well. They couldn’t have been nicer. A friend fixed our water problem, we went to Walmart and got a new Bunn and groceries. We were in business again. All is well. We have survived our new experience and I know next time will be easier. Thanks for all the people who helped us along the way! And all of the prayers that were answered!