Death and New Life: Mary Ann and Harper Grace

One magnolia fading after a full bloom, another magnolia opening to the day

One magnolia fading after a full bloom, another magnolia opening to the day

Yesterday at 3:30 a.m. a dear friend in Alabama passed away from complications following surgery. We were neighbors for several years and our children grew up together. We shared many meals and laughs, helped each other when needed and worshipped together. We’ve lived apart for maybe 18 years now, but we have stayed in touch. Her loss is deeply felt by my wife and me. Rest in Peace, Mary Ann.

Mary Ann leaves her husband, Keith, and three sons, all of whom are grown and married. She and Keith were married for well over forty years, and he now faces a loss that will reverberate through his life for years to come.

Then at 6:30 a.m. in Vermont, one of our nieces bore her third daughter, Harper Grace, and everyone is doing well. We probably won’t see Harper Grace until late fall or early winter. She joins her two sisters who are full of curiosity, hope and love, and her parents, Marc and Amy who are in middle life, devoted to work and family, and spending their own energy as if it were boundless. Welcome to our family and the world, Harper Grace. Continue reading

When Dementia Strikes Home, We All Need Help

A review of, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias, 101 stories, eds. Amy Newmark and Angela Timashenka Geiger, (Cos Cob, CT: Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, April 2014).  Available online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and perhaps your local bookstore.

Photo by Matt, Chicken Soup for the Soul, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dippy_duck/

Photo by Matt, Chicken Soup for the Soul, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dippy_duck/

The editors of this fine book have compiled 101 useful stories of living with dementia. I wish it had been available years ago.

Mary Jane (MJ), my mother-in-law, suffered from dementia for many years. My wife, Barbara, and I aren’t sure when it started; but MJ had been growing less capable, more dependent, since the late 1950s. Continue reading

Later Living Encores: Ola’s Quilt Shop

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When retirees get to their middle 80s, most don’t want to or can’t stay physically active. Instead they relax, take up hobbies or devote full-time to television. Their conversations often concern their health problems. But there are exceptions, like Ms. Ola Coombs.

Ola had always wanted to have her own quilt shop and she got her chance at age 79. Ola’s Quilt Shop in Lavonia, Georgia opened in May, 2006. This year Ola will turn 87. Continue reading

Family and Friends at the Pond

Drew, Alex, Devon

Drew, Alex, Devon

A pond occupies the center of our neighborhood, and a goose and two ducks live there. They have become, well, friends. In most places, geese hang with geese and ducks with ducks, so our pond, with an inter-species friendship going on, is a little more interesting.  Continue reading

Who Are You?

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Sunset on Lake Champlain

Who reads these posts? What’s going on here?

This blog is now two years old and we might take stock of our efforts. Two years ago I expected most readers would be retired. Now it’s clear that many readers are not even close to retirement but instead work serving a senior population.

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The Resurgence of Interdependent Families

These guys may be on the table next year

These guys may be on the table next year

 

Retirees and others are digesting prolonged economic hardships, and like “Old Love,” it can be hard to spot. Two recent reports from Merrill Lynch pin down what many retirees experience in their own families.

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Tough Times for Our Working Children

Some work is dangerous and hard

Some work is dangerous and hard

Many retirees are having a ball. They receive pensions and Social Security, own their homes, live in the moment, indulge hobbies, travel, and worry only a little about the future. Of course there are some who are struggling, some still working, but on the whole, seniors are doing better than at any time in modern history.

On the other hand, our working children are facing hard times, even though many don’t fully appreciate it.

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Options Near the End of Life

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Last week Mr. Donald Keene asked about a couple who can’t afford good institutional care but doesn’t want to force either one into the role of caretaker for a long terminal illness. What are the options for a peaceful end of life experience for both?

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