A New Life! Retirement at its Best 72

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Everybody has a story, but if you live life on the surface and never make deeper connections, you will miss out on many of those stories. This week I decided to visit Jayne. She lives in Independent Living and has been here perhaps two months. She has a 24 hour caregiver and is on oxygen 24/7. She was one of those women that make you think why does she not live in Assisted Living? Very skinny, not very well dressed, with hair that stood out in bunches in several directions. One night, she was seated at our table of seven and we had the opportunity to talk to her and listen to her and hear part of her story. She sounded so interesting that I could not help thinking that I would want to visit her to get to know her better and hear her full story, and perhaps fix her hair. I have washed and styled patients’ hair when I was a Hospice Volunteer, so I knew I could do that for her.

Well, after meeting one of her sons and one grandson at brunch last Sunday, I was even more impressed about the whole family and I called her to see when I could visit. She had said she would like to see my mother’s diary, because she had my book on her Kindle, so I took that with me on Thursday afternoon to show it to her. What an interesting life this little Jayne has had. She once owned a Travel agency, was married to the love of her life for 65 years, and then Lung Cancer attacked her lungs – even though she had never smoked. Three quarters of one of her lungs were taken out, but the cancer has returned, though growing slowly, and only in her lungs. I won’t mention the other things that she is suffering from, but it is a burden that is almost too heavy to carry. The small container she carries with her to the dining room contains compressed air, not oxygen, as I thought. Because the one with oxygen is too heavy for her to carry. So she only has a limited time to breathe when she is away from her room. She has a very old miniature poodle to keep her company, for which she has two dog walkers, and every available surface in her apartment displays family pictures. We enjoyed our time together and I promised I would visit again. Her hair looked better, she just had it cut downstairs at the hairdresser’s. What she said made a deep impression on me. “I don’t care how I look. I don’t care what people think about me. I have other things that are more important to think about.” And indeed, when there are so many things wrong with you, when you feel miserable, when you have to breathe through tubes and you are on Hospice Care because you don’t have a long time to live anymore, I can understand that you don’t care how you look, only how you feel. She was happy with the small tube of fragrant hand cream I gave her, one of six I had received at Christmas. It is easy to share if you have so much.


Meanwhile, I have been texting with Onno’s daughter and the news was not good. After intensive care Onno went to Hospice and did not regain consciousness. My plan to be with him on Saturday to give his daughter some respite could not be accomplished. Caroline texted me that he passed away early Friday night. God knows what’s best for us, but that is not always easy to accept.

I found out in the process that if I make time available for others, things can run out of hand! It is a delight to visit with people and listen to their stories; but it is like everything I do, I need to limit my desire to go in all different directions and forget about the most important reason for living here: Mike and Lani and the de Jong family. All five de Jong descended on us Monday night, as a surprise, to celebrate with us the final hour of the sixteen year old’s birthday. That was wonderful, and that’s one of the reasons we moved to Cary.

Guy Cowan Willis

I trust that all of you have read my Anthology Survivors of WWII in the Pacific. Do you remember that I interviewed four WWII Veterans, living in Prescott? Two of them died in the mean time; one fell out of bed and broke his hip and surgery was not possible; another one committed suicide. But two of them are still alive in Prescott, and one of them surprised me with a gift. His name is Guy Cowan Willis. There are several Guys and Maries and Marys and Glorias and Bobs and Johns and Bills living here, but only one Guy and one Mike and one Ronny) and he was involved for 20 years in the Bomb Testing Business, starting in New Mexico where he lived. He sent me his recent book (only published for family and friends) Atomic Bomb Testing – The first Twenty Years – 1945-1965. He published this book at the age of 91. It is amazing and interesting, full of maps and beautiful large pictures. Glancing through it, I remembered many of the names he talked to me about before and during his interview for my Anthology. Now, I have them all in writing and can follow the chronological continuing development of the Atomic bombs after Little Boy and Fat Man, dropped on Japan in August 1945, which ended the War in the Pacific and saved my life. What a gift! I can’t be thankful enough.

Ringing the Bells

After only four days of training, our little Lani is now getting my attention when she wants to go potty by looking at me, walking to the back door and pushing the string of bells that is hanging from the door knob with her nose. She is making progress in various training exercises. An important one is that she comes running when called. It already paid off on two of our walks, when she kept pulling on her leash and broke the connecting ring it was attached to. The first ring was small and held her dog tag, then we got a strong keyring and even that gave way after a week. Next, I will look into a wider collar with a strong ring and a wider leash with a larger clasp. She will be six months old on February 20 and as of now weighs 13.6 pounds.

Fob Sob

Talking about a keyring, I lost my main Fob for the car. It was a big thing, about 4″ long, and had my favorite little elephant on it. That elephant was a gift from the lovely girl in Prescott, who worked in our favorite Thai restaurant. Our birthdays were the 24th and the 26th of December, and we exchanged little gifts every year. I treasured that elephant. I could not find it anywhere in the house; coat pockets, purses, in drawers, I turned every place inside out and upside down. Of course I do have a spare fob so we can still drive, but have you ever lost something without finding it? All the things I lost always came back to me, except my little elephant. I even called the restaurant where we had been with the family to celebrate our 58th wedding anniversary, and the NC Museum of Art we had visited the day before. Nothing. Now, after four weeks, I have to let it go to get peace of mind. I have to get a new Fob. So I will. And so I did. And with it came peace of mind.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,





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