A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-44

Immediate improvements

Two days after I took the Executive Director on a short tour of the premises, miracles had happened. The coat closet was empty and clean, with just the wooden hangers on the rack and the items of Lost and Found on the shelf. Both the patios I had shown him were clean, and the dirty old rubber mats had been removed. For two days, Peter has been working on the front door, mostly sanding as far as I can see, and there is an appointment date set with the Roofer to look at the leaking gutter. Peter muttered that because they had to do these other, first priority jobs, all his other forty maintenance job orders had been put on the back burner, but he saw the necessity of cleaning up the face of the building.

I arranged the items on the Lost and Found shelf in the coat closet, as before, took pictures, put together a flyer and asked the Life Enrichment Manager (what a title!) to copy and distribute the flyer to all Residents, as before. This morning: immediate results. Three articles had been claimed by their owners and hopefully some more will follow. Unclaimed articles will go to Dorcas next week.

Red wheels

Mike has been walking with a cane for a couple of months, afraid to lose his balance and fall. When that became rather tiring, even with me holding his other hand, he decided he would like to try a rollator. We found a nice one on Amazon, a Nitro, a European brand, which was available with a higher seat and adjustable handle bars for tall guys. Three days a week, he now walks to the Fitness center on the first floor of the Club and back to work out with a Private Trainer. He likes it, because the trainers he works with are mostly women.

There was one problem: with inclement weather to be expected soon, we would be stuck, because I could not lift the Nitro into the trunk of the car. It took two days, searching Amazon and talking to our son, and the problem is solved. I fold the Nitro sideways by lifting a handle in the seat, secure it with a clamp, lift it a few inches off the floor by the frame and slide it into the trunk. The first time it did not work, but then I had a Junior Moment (the opposite of a Senior Moment): I could fold half of the back of the rear seat forward to create more space in the trunk. Yea! But in order to do that I had to take off Lani’s hammock from the head rests. It worked! Yesterday, we drove to the Club, had breakfast in the dining room and Mike had an early haircut appointment afterwards, all with his red wheels at his disposal. It’s wonderful. He is more independent and feels safe.

It is unbelievable how many people here just fall and break a hip. Other than inconvenient and the cause of a lot of pain, it seems to be common practice for hospitals. The fallen have surgery, come home after two days and then need physical therapy for a few weeks. Piece of cake! One of the ladies was back in the garden working with a rake and a broom in no time at all. Yet, I’d rather not go through it.

True, when I want to take Lani in the car for a walk in Wimbledon, I need to push up the back seat and hitch up her hammock, but when the weather is good (and it is still in the seventies now, on October 27), I can still traverse the Divide. The white mushrooms pushing up through dirt, fallen leaves and needles on the forest floor are as large as breakfast plates or my cereal bowls, and then there are smaller ones in various colors, just beautiful. It smells like Fall, and I am so enjoying my walks. So is Lani. I am training her to immediately sit when we walk along the street and a car is approaching. Everybody we pass says what a model dog she is. And she is!

Getting back to normal

Today I’m going to the monthly spelling bee, always fun, even though fewer people attend. And on Friday the monthly Residents’ Meeting will take place again; actually they will hold two meetings, in the dining room. We will have to keep distance, so two people per table and the tables set far apart. Safety first. And so, slowly but surely, things return to normal. We are all hoping that the new normal will soon be here.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time






A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-43

Staff Shortage

On Sunday morning, when I came to pick up our breakfast, it was not ready. “You have to do it yourself today,” said the dining room manager, who was scurrying around with bags and papers. “Only two people showed up this morning, Eric and me, so we put everything on the table over there and drinks and yoghurts are in the cooler.” It was no problem for me, so I selected my breakfast items and went home, but I noticed that the dining room was full and Eric was carrying a tray from the kitchen to one of the tables. I felt so sorry for them that I went back to the club after breakfast. Eric and Mary were cleaning up in the Café. I said, “Mary, if you run out of kitchen crew again, please let me help. I am up very early, so I can come in before breakfast to help in the kitchen. I am able bodied, sure footed, sound of mind, and I can follow orders. I can work in the kitchen and nobody needs to know about it. The only thing I need is an apron.”

“Oh, thank you so much, Ronny. We have plenty of aprons. I will ask the Chef’s permission and I will let you know. This is my last day.”

“Are you going on vacation?”

“I am going on a leave of absence. My dad had open heart surgery on Friday.”

“Was the surgery successful? Is he going to rehab?”

“I will be his rehab and I’m going to take care of Mom as well.”

“Goodness! Please let them call me if the Chef approves, and best of everything with your family.”

People often complain; people have left and people have died. There are over twenty vacant apartments. But you never know what goes on behind the scenes. Mary will have her hands full at her parents’ house, and I know that she has three school-age children who are taking virtual classes at home; she never mentioned a husband.

I am glad I volunteered. They did not call me on Monday, but I will be on standby. And I will go to the Manager to discuss what can be done about this ten year old, once beautiful facility that now lacks luster compared to other senior communities that have recently opened up. They were planning a total makeover of the common areas in February. Then Covid struck and nothing happened. But that does not mean that a dead cockroach can be lying in the downstairs exit for ten days without the cleaning crew removing it; and it does not mean that the coat closet that I showed to new cottage residents on Monday is full of chairs, a wheelchair and a walker. And, walking around the building multiple times a day, I notice more such things that can be easily fixed and cleaned by the maintenance crew. So I am going to talk to the Manager. Because I care about this beautiful campus and the nice cottages. No other community has cottages surrounded by nature. That’s why we will stay put. We can not yet envision living in an apartment in a four story building.

I did go to the Manager yesterday. He could not see me until 4:30 p.m., so I had time to write down everything on a list for him. I know that when we have a conversation he starts scribbling notes on a small notepad, but I wanted him to pay full attention. When he was ready, I sat down in his office and said, “I would like you to listen to me for a few minutes, and then I will take you on a tour. And you don’t have to write down anything, because I did that for you”, waving my list. He sat back in wonder. Two blue eyes above a white mask. First I told him that yesterday I had proudly shown two cottage newcomers the coat closet: and I opened the door. He looked like he had never known there even was a coat closet, and was aghast at what he saw:  there was no room to hang any coats. “Yes, these chairs have to go. I wonder where they came from.”

“Everything has to go, but not now.”

Then I took him outside, turned around and looked at the front door, the first image clients get of Waltonwood. “Oh no, this is not an antiqued door. I will tell Chris to get some stain and then Peter can stain it.”

“And this floor needs a good scrub.”

Next, we walked to the “meeting patio”, where for months family from the outside could talk to their loved ones for ten minutes through the glass door of one of the vacant apartments.

“The corner of the fourth floor gutter leaks. Look, it has not rained in three days, yet you can still see the drops come down, one…two…see? And the wall is stained and rusty, the border is a mud pool and the patio is filthy. The guests have to tiptoe on two tiles to “get across” to the patio.” I showed him another patio and more.

Do you know what I felt like on this tour? A combination of The Ghost of Christmas Past and the Ghost of Christmas-yet-to-come. I had fun with it. Lastly, I handed him my list. He was very appreciative, thanked me twice, and said he would be able to get all this done in three or four days. Yea! Mission accomplished! And I am going to watch that movie again: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Will you join me?

It’s a wonderful Life!

Until next time,



A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-42


Two deaths in our immediate family within a month have saddened us deeply. Writing sympathy cards and notes and receiving them, sending flowers and receiving them, telephone conversations and virtual hugs, I had no idea this could have such a paralyzing stress on us. Magnified by two somber, rainy days, the sorrow feels even deeper. I can’t get myself to do anything; reading gives only a momentary relief, taking the dog on the trail the third day, now that the sun is out again, feels better.

I have no inspiration to write another post; but just today, a lady in Prescott, Arizona, sent me a review of my latest book Anguished. She was not able to put it on Amazon, but it appears on my website. I will post her review here, thankful that it arrived at a time that parallels my feelings of the past.


Book Review on 10/12/2020 by Patsy L.Ray, Prescott, AZ

Written from her heart, author Ronny Herman de Jong lived the nightmare of Anguished and shares it as a warning that even trusted family members may not be trustworthy and that nursing homes and legal jurisdictions in various places function in different ways so that, should you find yourself in such a conspiracy, cover-up, and trial, they may consider you guilty until proven innocent.

We all hope that the last days of our loved ones will be handled with dignity in keeping with their wishes. That was Vera’s intention when she traveled from the United States to visit her mother in the Netherlands, who, at 101 years of age, was very frail. Five days into a 14 day visit she found herself being interrogated by the police. Behind her back, her nephew had accused her of planning to kill her mother.

The title of this book is perfect – Anguished. As you read what is happening to Vera, you viscerally feel the physical and mental torment she is experiencing: betrayal by her favorite nephew, being lied to by the nursing home staff, and being threatened by the staff’s doctor. In order to protect her mother from an unwanted autopsy, Vera returned to the U.S. where, after her mother had passed away alone, she learned that her nephew had embezzled all of his grandmother’s money.

It takes courage to find peace after a trusted loved one has deliberately executed a plan to harm you and your beloved mother. Ronny Herman de Jong has not only survived her anguish but has bravely shared her story to alert others who may have loved ones in nursing homes.

Life is a gift. Live it to the fullest.

Until next time,



A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-41

Past and Present Posts

Well, last week’s Post did not come down the chute until about 8:15 a.m. because we overslept. We watched the Presidential Debate until the end and then some of the discussion afterwards. For undecideds this would have been an opportunity to get to know the plans for the future of both candidates, but they did not learn much. Chris Wallace could not handle the President, who did not adhere to the rules, and so it was total chaos most of the time. You will agree if you watched. We voted early, so we cannot change history anymore at this time.

This week’s post will be ultra short, because I spent a lot of time watching television after it became known that the President had contracted Covid-19. Well, the news gets repeated every time another newscaster comes on, so if you watch once a day, you will get it all. It’s a total waste of my time to just sit and watch all day the ongoing opinions of doctors and scientists, once is enough.

Garden maintenance and Wardrobe

This week, anticipating the cooler weather, I took in the bird bath and the hummingbird feeder, after I had seen no visitors. when I rolled up the garden hose in a corner of the border, I noticed a whole area of tiny red mushrooms, the size of a quarter to 1/8″. How special. I remember I saw a few last year in the grass; in the border they are more visible and I will keep an eye on them as they grow. When we walk in Wimbledon, it rains acorns, and squirrels abound.

I decided to exchange my summer clothes for the winter clothes this week. It’s a huge project, but I made a dent. Would you believe that I could put almost all my summer clothes away without having worn them even once? Since early March, we did not go to church, nor to dinner or parties at the Club, not on outings to the beach, you name it! We stayed put, and I discovered you can live with very few clothes if you don’t go anywhere. I am giving several items away, but will keep the rest, hoping for better days to come next year.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,