Senior Living July 22 2008

In the last year and a half I have a learned much about aging from articles I have read and conferences I have attended and from the senior center’s weekly lecture series. But most importantly I have learned from the fine people at the senior center who live each day as a gift even though many have experienced physical ailments, loss of independence or the death of a spouse or child.

Through this column, I have tried to share with you lessons and thoughts about aging in an appealing and meaningful way. But I am only 60 and in many ways I am just a young thing and even worse, a boomer. What do I really know about aging? Well, I’m not really sure. I know I don’t have all the answers. We are always learning and encountering new experiences, jumping in the water even though it looks awfully cold; looking behind doors we were once afraid to open.

When I was in my twenties I thought I had a pretty good idea what life was all about. I had all my adult years ahead of me. But I really didn’t have a clue. Age does that. It gives you a broader perspective and clearer idea of what is really important. With the experience comes a little more wisdom. At least I’m hoping.

We will all continue to face challenges that come unexpectedly out of the shadows and if we are lucky we will be able to duck but not always. At times we will be strong, other times scared and all times human. But my journey is not your journey. My experiences won’t be yours and yours not mine. Hopefully we can learn from each other as we look forward to new adventures and new lessons whether we want them or not.

I will continue to provide some seeds for thought which you can use or discard, as we experience the challenges and joys of growing older and wiser. And when I look back twenty years from now, I hope I won’t again be thinking “he didn’t have a clue”.

We had a nice turnout for the Saturday breakfast including both The Dalles Rodeo Queen, Jessica Gunnier from Toppenish Washington and Miss Rodeo Washington Jessica Crouch from Vancouver Washington. Meeting them reminded me of the quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr who at the age of 92 saw a pretty young woman and said “What I wouldn’t give to be seventy again.” Both Jessica’s live and breathe rodeos and are hoping to take advantage of their reigns by pursuing careers in agri-business or equinine science. On the other end of the good-looks scale is Bob McFadden. He and three of the young high school students who will be traveling to Japan in early August helped serve coffee and clear the tables to raise funds for their trip. Bob and his wife Kris have been the real sparkplugs that have made The Dalles Sister City program so successful. Incidentally, The Sister City program is considering a trip for adults to Japan next spring. If you are interested in such an adventure, contact Bob at Golden Key Real Estate.

The Dufur Boys with Herb Watts will be playing next Tuesday the 29th at the Senior Center for your musical enjoyment. And for that night only, the music starts at 6:30. And tonight “The Jazz Generations” will be playing the Big Band favorites from the 20’s through 60’s before they head up to the Seattle/Tacoma area to play for nine days. If you think Tuesday Night music is only about sitting and enjoying good local musical talent, you are wrong. It is about good local talent but it is also about a chance to dance and lift up your heals and your spirits. Everyone is invited including Juniors, Sophomores and Freshman. Music starts at 7:00 and admission is free although donations are appreciated.

By the time you reach your midlife years you have experienced many trends and fads that prove the old adage “what goes around comes around”. In the late 50’s my mom wore “peddle pushers” which have recently come back as “Capris”. Same style different name. I recently bought a pair of madras shorts that are coming back in style.They reminded me of a pair of long madras pants a fellow student wore in high school during the mid 60’s which the school officials deemed unacceptable and he and his pants was immediately sent home. From the comments and ribbing I got when I wore the shorts at the senior center, they may still be considered unacceptable or at least pretty ridiculous. But I can also imagine some young kid thinking madras shorts are pretty cool until he sees me, this old guy with skinny white legs, trying to relive his high school glory days, wearing them and then thinking “No. I think I will wear something else!”

Here is a different type of volunteer opportunity for all the gardeners out there. The Columbia Gorge Center, which provides support services for people with disabilities, has started making and selling hand made paper to provide both work opportunities for people with disabilities and to raise money to support the program. But they are in need of marigold seeds, preferably with the petals attached or included, to add color and texture to the paper. With the seeds embedded in this special hand made paper, instead of throwing the paper away you can bury it in your garden and grow a marigold. If you can collect the seeds and petals in a small plastic ziplock bag, drop them off at the Senior Center or at their thrift store in historic downtown in The Dalles on Second Street.

Will that is it again. On Friday, I will be flying back to my home town of Indianapolis for a family reunion so I have asked Marilyn Ericksen to fill in and she has graciously accepted. Marilyn wrote this column for many years before she handed it off to me and folks really enjoyed Marilyn’s perspective and personable style. So until the next time, enjoy one step at a time.

I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now.” Author unknown

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