Aging Well December 30

I should learn not to wait until Monday to write this column especially when there is the possibility of spending Monday morning shoveling snow. But all things shall pass, and soon it will be a new year: a time to turn over a new leaf, to open a new door and maybe even find the car keys. It’s also a time to make those New Year’s resolutions that spring from hope and optimism and usually end in defeat and disappointment. But the real lesson is that we keep trying. And each year we identify old and new ways to make ourselves and the world a little better.

Do you have any resolutions for this new year? Trying something new: writing a poem or a song even though it may not be heard by anyone else. Or to start walking or maybe just to get out of the house more often. Or to spend more time with family and friends which according to at least one survey is the most common resolution. They don’t have to be spectacular or memorable. They can be small steps, but steps nonetheless that will help us fulfill our purpose during this sacred and noble stage of our lives.

Thanks to all the folks who gave of themselves to make this Christmas season special for others. There are many examples from the small but meaningful gifts of cookies or special Christmas ties to church and community Christmas programs, to the Christmas Eve dinner; a community effort spearheaded by Tracy and Mark Linebarger that fed hundreds. And Meals on Wheels would like to thank those who made Christmas a little more special for the folks who receive home delivered meals: Mid-Columbia Medical Center and the Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors for providing the Christmas gifts and Gloria Vanderzanden from Regence Blue Cross for arranging the large donation of small live Christmas trees.

Tonight Truman Boler will have the Center bouncing with his “Country Gold” – he was snowed out earlier this month and hopefully it won’t happen again. And next week I am not sure who is playing until I get word from the one who shall not be named who books all the musical talent. All I can say is he always lines up good music. The music and dancing starts at 7:00 and there is no charge although donations are appreciated.

The correct answer to last week’s question, “What 1939 Christmas story was put to music and sung by Gene Autry in 1949?” was Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. Of the many correct answers, the first name drawn and the winner of a bingo packet for Saturday Night bingo was Diana Weston.

For this week’s “Remember When” question, I am adding a little twist. There will be no wrong answers and all answers will be included in the drawing for either another Saturday bingo pocket or a box of chocolates – which ever sin you prefer. And the question? “What is your favorite New Year’s Eve memory?” Email your answer to, call 296-4788 or just drop off your recollection at the Center.

Well that is it; another day, another year and another decade. Until we meet again, tread carefully and keep the faith.

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~Hal Borland

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential. ~Ellen Goodman

Aging Well December 15

As we experience life we realize there are no absolutes. Though we may strive to be perfect, we are imperfect; we make mistakes; we hurt others intentionally and unintentionally, and we pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

At the Center’s lecture last Tuesday, Dick LaFever testified to the power of forgiveness and the benefits it has to our mind, body and spirit. But in many ways forgiveness is misunderstood. It is not about minimizing the hurts and wrongs which are real and painful. It is not about forgetting, but we need not let the offense dominate our lives. It is not about condoning or excusing the act, although there may come a time when reasons are better understood. It is not the same as reconciliation for the offender does need to be a part of our future. And forgiveness is not a sign of either weakness or saintliness, but an expression of human strength.

We carry with us conscious and unconscious hurts that bonds us to the past; unable to enjoy and explore the future with passion and love. And although it is extremely difficult and may take time, forgiveness can set us free. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said “without forgiveness there is no future”.

As we get closer to our own sunset and realize the importance of the years remaining, Joan Chittister in her book “The Gift of Years” asks, do we really want to waste any more time on the grievances we hold – no matter how legitimate and hurtful? Do we want to be like the men Alfred Lord Tennyson describes? “Two aged men, that had been foes for life, Met by a grave, and wept – and in those tears They washed away the memory of their strife: Then wept again the loss of all those years.”

The answer is no! As Joan Chittister concludes “forgiveness puts life back together again” because “life does not have to be perfect to be perfect; it only needs to be forgiving – and forgiven.”

As long as the weather doesn’t turn white or a sheet of ice, there will be music at the Center every Tuesday night in December. Tonight Truman Boler will be playing. And come early because Truman draws a crowd like a cold winter day draws electricity. Next Tuesday you can enjoy an evening of “double your pleasure and double your fun” with the Jazz Generations and the Notecrackers both playing on the same night. The music starts at 7:00 and the cost is zippo, but donations will show Santa what a good boy or girl you are.

The answer to last week’s question was Gillette, the company that sponsored the Cavalcade of Sports every Friday night. Marcia Wynn’s name was drawn from the six correct answers that were submitted and wins a free breakfast – but only if she brings Al – to this Saturday’s Christmas breakfast. Mill Creek Point has planned special surprises to go along with a breakfast of Texas French Toast, scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, plus fruit and your favorite beverages.

This week I am going to spice things up a bit by offering a bottle of Bolton Cellars’ fine wine – thanks to Design Structures – instead of a free breakfast. I will see who prefers wine over breakfast – or who considers a glass of wine to be breakfast. So in the Christmas spirit, the question this week is “In what movie was the song “White Christmas” first sung?” Call 296-4788, email to or drop your answer off at the Center by midnight on Wednesday.

It’s almost the end of another year. Until we meet again, don’t forget to not only listen with your ears, but also with your eyes, your head and your heart.

“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” Thomas S. Szasz

Aging Well December 8 2009

Is it going to snow? How cold is it going to get? And why do Portlanders whine when the temperature gets below thirty – as if it’s really cold? And why do we complain when it gets below twenty as if it is really, really cold? Some believe the Scandinavians – who know a little about cold weather – have the secret to happiness. They have the good sense to know that it can always get worse!

But as we enter this winter season, it becomes more difficult to get out and about for many folks. I know when it is cold and blustery outside, my first thought is to watch a good movie with a cup of hot chocolate inside. And who wants to drive in the snow or ice with the chance of getting stuck. Or after dark when the eyes just don’t adjust as well as they use to.

But although this hunkering down at home may reduce certain risks, it can be harmful if it creates greater social isolation. We as human beings need a social network – however limited – to keep active and engaged, to provide help when needed and to know that someone cares. Some of these connections are provided by neighbors, church congregations and Meals-on-Wheels, but we can do more to help folks who are more isolated during the winter months. On the horizon there are some exciting possibilities including electronic communication: emails and video conferencing, but that technology is too new and too intimidating for many.

But this winter, the Center wants to be a resource for you. We may not be able to help everyone, but we can get you in touch with Marilyn Buchannan and the Friendly Visitor program at the Area Agency on Aging, Scout Troop #395 – they have shoveled snow on an hours notice, or other appropriate agencies and volunteers. So if you need any help this winter, give the Center a call at 296-4788.

The music will continue nonstop through the month of December, because sometimes you just gotta get out there and shake a few tail feathers – with what tail feathers we have left. Tonight the Cherry Park Band will be playing their crowd pleasing favorites and next Tuesday the Sugar Daddies will be back. These bands are so hot, when they play we have to turn on the air conditioner – even in December. The music and dancing starts at 7:00 and the cost is absolutely nothing, although we do appreciate any donations to keep the doors open and the bands happy.

Last week, I forgot to mention the answer to the question, who sang “See the USA in your Chevrolet”. It was Dinah Shore and Alex Currie was the winner. This week’s winner of another free breakfast was Marilyn Ciranny who still remembers Xavier Cugat, the conductor who was known for holding a Chihuahua in one arm while conducting with the other – and still had time to marry the flamboyant and provocative Charo.

In the fifties, as with Dinah Shore’s show, it was common for companies to sponsor the whole show. One particular sports show my father use to watch every Friday night on NBC was the Cavalcade of Sports from Madison Square Gardens featuring all the great boxers of the time. The sponsoring company even had a popular theme song: “Look Sharp, Be Sharp March”. What was the name of the company? To enter the drawing email the correct answer to, call 296-4788 or drop it off at the Center by 5:00 on Wednesday.

Start planning for this month’s Saturday Breakfast on December 19th sponsored by Mill Creek Point with special entertainment and other goodies. Last year’s special December breakfast was canceled because of snow, but the folks at Mill Creek Point have promised the weather on the 19th will be so warm and balmy, Santa will be wearing shorts and flip flops!

Well it looks like it may be one of those “Baby, it’s cold outside” weeks. So until we meet again, keep your hands and heart warm this holiday season.

Aging Well December 1 2009

I hope everyone had as nice a time visiting family as we did, sharing Thanksgiving dinner with my in-law’s side of the family and enjoying good food and nice, careful conversation. We are of northern European stock so when we get together we avoid the usual controversies: politics and religion, and stick to the family safe topics: kids, travels and football. (And how about those Ducks and Beavers?)

Mabel again attended the gathering even though she will turn 100 in January. Her hearing isn’t the greatest and she moves a little slow. But then so do I. This may be the last year she is able to share Thanksgiving with us. And yet we didn’t do anything special – it was just another Thanksgiving dinner. I guess we just didn’t want to think about the inevitable – that some day she won’t be with us. But I wonder how often we do that – ignore the importance of each moment believing they are infinite. And then, later, regretting the missed opportunities.

Besides wanting to know the main dish for the Meals-on-Wheels dinner or who is playing on Tuesday night, some folks read this column to answer the “Remember When” question. But remembering events and stories from the past isn’t just fun, it is also another way to keep your brain sharp. One activity included in the Center’s weekly brain Fitness classes is reminiscing as a group about some past experience: raising pigs, favorite trips, past teachers, or old songs. There even is some research to suggest that reminiscing lowers depression and stimulates the hippocampus where memories are stored in the brain.

I have enjoyed my own reminiscing while trying to identify each week’s question. I have stumbled upon entertainers and events I hadn’t remembered for decades. (Does anyone else remember Tom Terrific?) But I know my experiences and memories are different from yours and other folks. So I took advantage of the family Thanksgiving gathering and asked around the dinner table what entertainers, stars or just plain personalities did they remember. And from their many responses, came this week’s question. What orchestra leader was famous for holding a Chihuahua in one hand while waving his baton with the other hand? All correct answers emailed or called in by Wednesday at 5:00PM will be entered in the drawing to win a free Christmas Breakfast on December 19th sponsored by Mill Creek Point.

The Center’s Loan closet has been a tremendous success thanks to Visiting Health Services and Hospice of the Gorge. But while we once we were full, our shelves are now practically bare. We particularly need rolling walkers (we have plenty of the regular grey walkers), transfer benches and good condition wheelchairs, because as soon as they come in, they are loaned out. If you have any stored in your basement or stuck under your bed, or hidden in your freezer, we would gladly accept them and make sure they are available to someone who needs them.

Tonight Truman Boler will be playing his “Country Gold” – and usually to a full house – and next Tuesday the Cherry Park Band, another popular group, will be playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Music always starts at 7: 00. And the admission is just the walk through the door, but donations are appreciated.
Dick Lafever has experienced tragedy that none of us wants to experience, but from that experience he has a story to tell. On Tuesday, December 8th at 11:00 AM, he will discuss his personal testimony about the power of forgiveness.

I am barely crossing the finish line and they are about ready to turn off the lights, so I better bring this to a close. Until we meet again, enjoy the special gift of each other – nothing on this earth is forever.