Aging Well in the Gorge

Many friends tell me they read the Chronicle every day, not for the local news and great sports reporting, but to see if their name is in the obituaries. Although I don’t know anyone who has found their own name, unfortunately, we do find the names of many of our friends.
Death is a difficult subject. But when we check the obituaries, we become more familiar with death as we are reminded our existence on this earth doesn’t last forever. Death no longer is a nightmare experienced in our youth, but becomes a reality with which we struggle to come to terms with in our own way. Learning of friends who have passed away becomes a part of life. And no matter how difficult, somehow, we learn to live with our loss and to keep living.
Over the past two weeks we have lost several people who in their own special ways have contributed significantly to the Center.
Ardyce Edling was the inspiration for the tap and clogging class that she taught at the Center for I don’t know how many years because she was teaching it when I arrived at the Center ten years ago. She was still teaching the class, when they celebrated her 90th birthday, and I thought if I can be that active at 90, I will have had a good life.  
We also lost David Zopf. David, with his wife Nancy, was a faithful driver for Meals-on-Wheels, as well as spending hours taking care of the grounds around the Center – particularly the rose garden. You would often see him trimming the roses and bushes on the weekends. When he saw something that needed to be done, he would just do it. David had a dry sense of humor and when he talked to me, I was often uncomfortable, because I wasn’t smart enough to tell if he was teasing or if he was serious and I had better shape up.
Then to make bad things worse, Betty Harlan also passed away. She was an integral part of the success of Meals-on-Wheels including director – even before Meals-on-Wheels moved to its present location at the Center in 1987. She was also the Center’s interim director when I arrived ten years ago. When she retired, she couldn’t stay away – volunteering her time working at the check-in table for Meals-on-Wheels and as an afternoon receptionist for the Center. And Betty didn’t stop volunteering when she could no longer walk comfortably and was confined to a wheelchair.
It has been an inspiration to have known Ardyce, David and Betty. It is comforting to know they lived a good life – with determination, purpose and compassion, making The Dalles a much better place. In the back of our minds we knew this time would come, but it is still a sad surprise. The Center and Meals-on-Wheels will truly miss them.
If you enjoy listening or dancing to live local music, stop by the Center on Tuesday Nights, when the Simcoe Boys will be performing on March 21st. The doors open at 6:00, music starts at 6:30 and donations are always appreciated.
The name for a mechanical instrument used to compute mathematical problems that looked similar to a ten-inch ruler (but I also learned came in circular models) was the slide rule. (It must be hard to forget those math classes, because I received a slew of correct answers from: Bernie Sleep, Lucille and Harold Stephens, Sandy and Bob Haechrel, Lana Tepfer, Ed Anghilante, Jerry Phillips, Sonja Peterson and Kathy Shebley, who is this week’s randomly drawn winner of a quilt raffle ticket.)
But this week I’m moving from science to romance. Back in the 60’s, I found dating wasn’t easy for me during high school. But to assist in that extracurricular activity, my friends and I would wear one of the popular colognes – back when fragrances weren’t discouraged because of allergic reactions. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was your favorite cologne or perfume during your high school or college days? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a bottle of Jade East, my favorite cologne.
Well, it’s been another week, trying to adjust to the time change. Until we meet again, as Leonard Cohen once sang, There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

 “It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen