A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 17


P.T. has had several different meanings during my lifetime. During my high school years it stood for Present Tense and Past Tense, and it had to do with grammar.

In my college years it stood for Pro Tempore, which is often used to describe a person who acts as a locum tenens (placeholder) in the absence of a superior. In today’s world we could say, if President Trump became deathly ill, the Vice President would act as the country’s leader Pro Tempore, or Pro Tem. This expression is derived from Latin, meaning “for the time being.”

After we emigrated from the Netherlands to California with three kids and a dog, for a long time P.T. to us meant Pacific Time; right now we live in Cary and we live on E.S.T., Eastern Standard Time.

When we were new immigrants in Pasadena and we needed some extra income, I applied for a secretarial job with CSC, a NASA contractor at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, close to home. It was a P.T. job, one that I shared with a college student who worked in the morning so I could be home in the afternoons to be with the children. P.T. then meant Part Time, and it worked out beautifully for both of us. In 1974, when I worked at JPL we were sending the Viking 2 to Mars. In 1976, NASA landed robotic spacecraft named Viking 1 and Viking 2 on Mars. One of these landers worked there for nearly 4 years and the other lasted more than 6 years. Among their scientific experiments were the only ones so far specifically designed to discover whether there was something tiny (like bacteria) living in the soil. I am still in touch with my former boss, who, at the time, had a special bottle of wine which he kept for the time they would find life on Mars! I don’t think he ever opened that bottle, because at the time he gave up hope the wine was definitely too old.

When I did research for my books on World War Two, In the Shadow of the Sun, and Rising from the Shadow of the Sun, I learned yet another meaning of P.T.: a PT boat (short for Patrol Torpedo boat) was a torpedo-armed fast attack craft used by the United States Navy in World War II.

Years later, when I got onto Facebook and Twitter to promote my books, I found out that PT stands for Patriotic Tweeple. Tweeple means ‘people’ in Twitter slang.

Very recently I found out that P.T. is a first-person psychological horror video game developed by Kojima Productions, under the pseudonym “7780s Studio”. I have never checked that out, because I’m not much of a horror fan.

And last, but not least in my life’s experiences, I personally learned the meaning of P.T. as the treatment of a disease or an injury of the muscles or joints with massage, heat and exercise rather than with drugs or surgery. The good thing is that living in this retirement community, the P.T., or Physical Therapy is administered right here on the first floor of the main building, and it is all covered by Medicare. Why do I need P.T.? Well, back in April, on April 4th to be precise, I visited my daughter and her family in Victoria, Canada, shortly before we moved to the East Coast. I had bought my little granddaughters two special frisbee rings each, and the very first day we had fun on the lawn for about half an hour, throwing frisbees. Afterwards, my right shoulder was sensitive. I thought it would go away with time. But it did not go away. And in June, a month after our move, I developed neck pain as well. That, I thought, is because our pillows are no good. So in July, August and September, I bought, tried out and returned six different pillows in three different stores. The neck pain did not go away and neither did the shoulder heal itself.

So yesterday I checked in with the P.T. department. After an evaluation they told me that shoulder and neck were two separate issues, but the neck problem was caused by the compromised shoulder and not by too soft or too firm a pillow. Hm. I’m looking at six weeks or less of treatments, in P.T. and O.T., which means one or two hours a day, plus exercises to do at home of course. Now, in my case, O.T. stands for Occupational Therapy, but it has different meanings as well, which I will not go into at this time.

I strongly believe in the healing qualities of P.T. and it has some advantages as well: they recommend a massage once a week and nice warm compresses when I am relaxing in my chair as often as I do sit down. I had very few massages in my life, usually as birthday gifts, so I will enjoy them once a week as a luxury, for however long they will last.

I believe in healing qualities of massage as well. During my years in California, when my hands were still strong, I took massage classes, basically to treat my family members to a wonderful, relaxing massage once in a while. Nobody in the family was interested however, with the exception of our son Dennis, a young teenager at the time. By lack of a proper massage table, Dennis would climb up on the kitchen counter, stretch out on a blanket, feet dangling over the edge on one side, and enjoy my skills put into practice. I forgot how many times we did that, but I will see him this Sunday, so I can ask him if he still remembers.

It is such a joy to live close to and participate in events of his family! On Sunday afternoon the whole family is going to a performance of the Triangle Youth Jazz, presented by the Philharmonic Association in the Cary Center for the Arts. Our elder grandson will be playing his trombone in one of the three youth groups performing.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.