A New Life! Retirement at its Best 84

A Fashion Show

It has been ages since I went to a fashion show, and longer than that since I was actually modeling clothes myself. I remember modeling in a tearoom in Beverly Hills, a boutique in La Cañada, in a large mall in Riverside and a fashion mall in Arcadia – all in California, before we moved to Hawai’i. I have fun memories and a few pictures of those shows. A couple of months ago, a flyer in the bulletin box mentioned a fashion show of the Cary Woman’s Club at the MacGregor Downs Country Club on April 27; fashions by Dillard’s, here in Cary. The proceeds would be going to their scholarship fund for underprivileged students. Finding none of the ladies in Waltonwood interested, I invited the daughter of one of the friends who passed away recently. We had a great time together and enjoyed first a delicious light lunch, and then a very nice fashion show, presented by ladies in three different age groups, like mother-daughter-granddaughter. Although they were members of the Cary Woman’s Club, not professional models, they did a good job and the MC was an actor with a formidable voice, who did a funny presentation and got a lot of laughs. It was a nice, sunny day and a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. The clothes modeled were not my taste, but the 20% off coupon in our envelope will definitely get me to Dillards before Mother’s Day.

Day 9

Today, on two of our walks, Lani was not pulling hard on her leash! Progress! We will not give up hope. She is so smart. She still grabs everything she sees on the street before I do and chews on it. But when I say, Lani, drop it! and I hold a treat in front of her nose, she does obey. The only thing, a few days ago, that she was ferociously chewing on and unwilling to release, was a flat, dead frog, that stank to high heaven. I had to pry out of her mouth. For the rest it is dry or fresh goose poop, pieces of wood, clods of dirt, mouths full of pine needles in the back porch, and pinecones. She is so fast that it costs me a lot of treats to get her to behave. We were afraid she would gain too much weight with all the treats she gets throughout the day, and so we limit her breakfast and dinner to 1/2 cup each instead of 3/4, and the rest she will get in treats.

A True Survivor’s Story

In my Anthology Survivors of WWII in the Pacific you will find Camp Stories by my friend Hannie Blaauw. I just talked to him because he is again at a fork in the road of his life. As a young man, born on Java, he survived the Japanese concentration camps of WWII. From the Netherlands, he and his wife were sponsored by his church and able to emigrate to the US, settling down in California. They had a son and two daughters; the son, in his early twenties, drowned while rescuing a swimmer from the ocean. Hannie and his wife celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in Prescott, Arizona, where we met and became friends. One daughter became a threat to them so he did not want any more contact with her. His wife got ill and he took care of her for years, cooking the delicious Indonesian meals they both loved and doing all the chores. He was a tennis pro and won silver and gold medals in the Senior Olympics. After his wife died, he moved closer to his other daughter and grandkids. He knew nobody but made many friends instantly. He joined the church choir, even though he could not read notes. He played tennis until his knees became too problematic. Then he discovered pickle ball and when that became too much for him, he turned to music. With a little ukulele he joined a ukulele group and learned to play and sing. It became his greatest joy in life and he made many friends again.

He had more problems with his knees and lay for six hours next to his car on the garage floor until a night guard noticed the open garage door. He went to the hospital, got a pacemaker and a walker. The ukulele group grew, became famous and auditioned for a 5-day performance at a large venue close by. They won! Hannie joined them all the way up to the dress rehearsal, sitting on a chair. Then, on his 92nd birthday, he landed in the hospital for two weeks. He got out, hoping he could still join his group, the friends who had come to his hospital bed to play for him. He went home but needed 24 hour care. The producer said he could play one song if he then would go home. But his daughter thought it would be too stressful for him and convinced him not to play. Hannie called me and told me of his heart wrenching decision not to even play one song, because his health was more important. And so, like Moses who could not enter the Promised Land, Hannie could not be a star in a production he had dreamed about for months; not even for one song. And the worst thing was that they took his Driver License away and told him he could not drive any longer. So there he was, having lived independently in his own home for five years, still able to drive. Then his daughter took his little dog to be with her because he could not depend on his knees any longer to walk his dear Scotty. Then they took his Driver License away and he was stuck, with caregivers, without being able to see friends or go to the gym.

He called me this week – he often uses me as a sounding board – to confirm for himself that he is doing the right thing. He said that his daughter thought he should move into an Assisted Living place closer to her. Knowing that he needs that at this point in his life, I encouraged him. I told him he will make new friends at yet another place and time in his life, and his ukulele group can come and play with him again, because he will not move too far from where he is now. I told him he would no longer be alone and locked up in one place, but he would be able to walk with his walker to a dining room, the library, and every other room in the building that is accessible for the residents. “Yes, Hannie, go. It is the right thing to do. Call me when you move and let me know your new address.” A little man with a big heart and a love for life; a little man who survived incredible hardships and sorrows in his life; a little man with faith in God and a sense of humor that kept him going. A friend for life. Read my anthology Survivors of WWII in the Pacific if you have not already done so.

It is too bad that I couldn’t say, “I will come and see you soon.” I live too far away now, farther than a car ride. But perhaps I can teach him to use his iPad for FaceTime with me. Our grandchildren do that all the time. Who said teach? I had better learn first how to do FaceTime myself with my kids and hope they can teach me!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,



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