A New Life! Retirement at its Best 69

Daily Routine  

While the month of December was full of out-of-the-ordinary happenings, January has taken off with a normal everyday routine. Caring for the dog, which means walking and training and feeding and trying to prevent damage on rugs, carpet, slippers, towels, you name it, by strict supervision. Today is the monthly Resident’s Council meeting at the Club, and this week shows appointments for dentist, barber shop, Birthday dinner and, on Friday, loose leash training on the street with a personal trainer. I have pledged to do all it takes to get a dog that calmly walks next to me, without dashing left and right looking for things to eat, like wood chips, paint chips, goose poop, dog poop, and more. Yesterday she picked up the dried skin of a small snake, which I managed to get out of her mouth in two pieces, without her swallowing any. But here I am, talking about the dog again, as if there is nothing else on my mind.

Once a month the Chef treats all the people who have a birthday in that month to a special dinner in the Café. Each of the birthday people may bring one guest to the feast. Dinner usually  consists of a small salad, steak and lobster and special vegetables, with a piece of a huge birthday cake for dessert. Often, the Manager serves the salads and he also pours the wine. My birthday was last month, but we could not be there because the dinner was on December 26 and we had arranged for a carriage ride in Raleigh that night. The chef promised me a rain check for January. Tomorrow night is the night! while everybody else is looking forward to lobster and steak, the Chef always makes me something special, since I don’t care for either one. This month I have asked him for a salmon fillet with spicy chili sauce. Yum!

Bringing a bit of Sunshine

Living in a community like ours, where people live who postponed their move until they could absolutely not live in their own home anymore because of disabilities, we come across many illnesses and body part replacements we never knew existed. Aside from the usual knee and hip replacements and shoulder surgery, like mine, and colds and the flu and bronchitis, we heard from several people who get shots in their eyes on a regular basis, some who get a pacemaker replaced by a bigger, stronger one, some who wear a large band-aid on their head or their nose or their cheek to cover cancer surgery, and just now someone went to the hospital to have his esophagus stretched. If you want to listen, people will tell you everything, into the minute details. Like, when a larger, stronger pacemaker had to be inserted, the surgeon, after taking out the stitches, had a hard time to get his hand into the pocket to widen it for the larger device. That finally worked, and he closed it up again. See? Here is the scar, unbuttoning and pulling back the shirt and T-shirt for show and tell. If you think about it, all that can be pretty depressing. And perhaps I already wrote about this once. But these are recurring events.

I am not bragging about our decision to plan ahead to move closer to one of the kids at a certain age, yet I really think we did the right thing. For many people it would be more fun to live here and make new friends while they would be ten years younger and have fewer disabilities. That is not to say that we were happy to leave our beautiful home in Prescott, Arizona. But when we finally sold it, we packed up and moved to our new place, clear across the country. We had other heartaches too. Prescott had been a wonderful place to live, and a week before our departure we had to put our beloved Rottweiler Isabelle to sleep because she had cancer. The best scenario of living here is that physical therapy is on the premises and many hospitals are close by. Most of the time something can be done for people who go to the hospital and they re-appear in the dining room – which is where we meet most people – but that does not always happen. When I was a volunteer for the Visiting Nurses Hospice in California, I supported people who were dying until they died. Here, we don’t see the end. People just quietly move out of sight. They disappear.

For six years I was a one-on-one Hospice volunteer in California. I became a friend to many of my patients and their families, but had to say goodbye over and over again after a few weeks or months. Many people have said to me that it must have been depressing to be a Hospice volunteer. But it was not depressing to me. Because I felt I was contributing to the deepest needs of my patients at a time they had to say goodbye. Goodbye to their loved ones and to the life they knew. They had to take a journey into the unknown, with nothing but uncertainties; and they had to go it alone. With palliative care, Hospice would try to make that journey pain free. After six years of losing friends, though, I was burned out. I could not give any more. And that is when we moved to Hawai’i and a whole new life began, more wonderful than I could have ever imagined. God has a plan for us…

Thinking back to that time, where I could mean a lot to people, relative strangers, by just being with them, sitting and listening, I decided I should be able to do simple things for people around me to make them smile, feel happy and loved. Like that little old lady who called me the best friend in her whole life a day before she died, just because I had found a common love for rocks and started sharing some of mine. We both benefited from that friendship without any effort.

At first I was thinking of spending one day a week doing things for other residents, but that goal will be too high. I am busy enough as it is. But I am sure I could spare an hour here and there throughout the week, don’t you think? And I have plans for the future, too. When Lani is a calm, mature, obedient dog, I will take her with me to people in Assisted Living and perhaps Memory Care, as a therapy dog. Not that I want to train her to be a therapy dog, heavens, no! I recently watched a documentary about what it takes to train those dogs. And if you have ever had a puppy you will know that regular obedience training is all I can handle, especially at my age! But just being able to pet and cuddle a little dog can be therapeutic, I think. We’ll see how long it takes before Lani will live up to that expectation. I hope it will be soon! Life isn’t exciting if you don’t plan ahead!

On the Welcome Page of this website I wrote one of my mottos. Can you find the other motto I live by? Try and find it and let me know!

Life is like being alone in a little kayak on a river with a life of its own: if you don’t consciously direct your own mind to where you want to go in life you may end up where you don’t want to be.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,


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