A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-93

Halloween Costume Party

We had a great time at Happy Hour last Friday, when a handful of people had dressed up. We joined another couple from the cottages who did a skit. He sang songs in Italian and I was swooning, with long black gloves holding a long cigarette holder with a cigarette. The day before, I had no idea where to get a cigarette for my holder. This is a smoke free campus, and even my morning helper had no success.

On Friday morning, after my dashboard had indicated the car needed an oil change, I made an appointment with the garage. It would take and hour and a half, so after dropping off the car I took a walk on the shady sidewalk of the neighboring street. Fifteen minutes to the end, then back. On the way back, looking down on the parking lot of one of the Duke Hospital facilities, I noticed a parked car with an open window through which smoke drifted out. I walked past it, thought for a moment, then turned around and a walked back towards the car. ‘Where there is smoke, there are cigarettes’ I thought. I needed to walk down to the parking lot through a steep 8 feet border with pine needles and mulch, and then I walked around the car and stopped six feet away from the window behind which sat a smoking woman. Since I had no idea if she spoke English, I said slowly and enunciated: “Tonight, I am going to a Halloween costume party and I need one cigarette. Do you have one cigarette for me?” With a nice smile, she nodded and offered me a crumpled cigarette pack. In it was one cigarette. Her last one, and she offered it to me. For a party. Her kindness and generosity touched my heart. But I was prepared to give her something in return. With my left hand I carefully lifted the cigarette out of the pack and with my right hand I took a one dollar bill out of my pocket and handed it to her. You should have seen her smile! And mine!


Yesterday, after I had walked in Wimbledon with Lani, through what I call The Divide (the forested area between our two neighborhoods), I dropped her off at home and walked back to take a look at the large tree that had fallen over about two years ago in a storm. I have to duck underneath it every time I walk to and from Wimbledon, because it fell across the trail I had created. I thought the tree was long dead. Nobody would cut it down, because nobody goes there. It is no-man’s land. I looked at the roots, which were sticking up in the air vertically: a very shallow root system for sure. But when I looked closer, I saw that a small part of it, about 5 inches around, was still “grounded”. I looked again at the trunk of the tree. It had not fallen to the ground, but right on top of another, smaller tree, which had bent under the weight of the big tree. And then I noticed that all over the trunk of the fallen tree, thin branches had grown up, all full of leaves and about 4 to 6 feet long. The tree was alive! Thanks to the support of the smaller tree, it had not uprooted completely and crashed to the ground, but it was still alive, growing branches in every direction: a miracle in nature.

We have a friend, whose wife has a Glioblastoma tumor in her brain. It is terminal, they were told. The tumor affected her total right side: she can’t see, hear or move on the right. But her left side is still functioning. Left-handed, she has made the most beautiful quilts, small and very large: their house hangs full of them. When she could no longer handle the mental challenges of quilting, she started doing jigsaw puzzles, and playing Scrabble on her iPhone. She was diagnosed in 2016, that’s five years ago! She has had treatments and tests, has been on Hospice Care for two years, but now she is only on palliative care and a checkup  every three months. She sits in a wheelchair most of the day. Her husband is her full time caregiver. He takes her everywhere, even to the beach for family reunions. He is like the small tree that carries the weight of the large tree and keeps it alive. The two of them are a miracle of human love. We are blessed to be their friends.

May your days be peaceful and happy

Until next time,



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