The Adjustments: The Last Chapter

After revisiting the previous blog post entitled Lesson from Lauren I realized there was an important additional lesson to learn. I’m 92 and never expected to be here. I’ve outlived everyone in my family, including my son, Paul. One thing is guaranteed. Sometime in the future I will die. That is true for each of us. I have no idea when that will be.

I do know that I am in the last chapter of the book entitled “My Life”. There is no way of knowing how long the chapter will be. Given my age is likely to be relatively short, 10 years at most. During that time I want to take responsibility for and take care of myself. When I Copy of Copy of Copy of Untitled-4need assistance to fill the gaps that come along with aging, I want to be able to compensate those who provide that assistance. For more about the effects of those changes check out my prior blog post entitled Giving Up Driving.

The balance of my surplus will be devoted to hanging out and interacting with those who want to spend time with me and writing about the ideas I want to share with others, including my blog posts. I accomplish that by talking to my computer and editing on a large screen.

The COVID-19 pandemic as made many things more difficult. As a part of the more vulnerable segment of the population, I have decided to self-isolate. That along with my decreased flexibility in going where I want to go, how much rest I need, etc. requires more of my limited TERF. These days people have to come to see me or we have to Zoom or talk on the phone. We can’t just get together, go to a restaurant and hang out over a meal. I still go to the Farmers Market — with a mask on. That is all part of my current reality.

Each of us must choose the path that we are comfortable with, paying attention to the uncertainty that the new and novel Corona-virus brings along with it. That path determines the outcomes that we will face. Remember, that you always give up whatever else an alternative path using the equivalent amount of TERF would have provided. Whoops, there I go is an economist again.

I woke up one morning last week in a really comfortable place. At my age and stage I’ve pursued my objectives, developed fine relationships and look forward to what the future will bring. That includes hanging out with those who want to spend time with me and coming up with new ideas that I’d like to share with others — including blog posts like this one. But I sure do miss the HUGS.

 

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The Adjustments: Significant Changes

aloneLet me tell you about two recent experiences that have brought about significant changes in my life. They are, in fact, caused by important changes in the lives of two friends over which they had no control. The only thing I could do was to change my behavior and adapt to the new circumstances.

I met Wanda at a local craft show shortly after returning to Carrboro from the USVI’s. Typically Wanda and I would get together once a week. We’d hang out and have lunch together. Either I’d drive up to Hillsborough or she would come down to Carrboro. After I decided to stop driving, Wanda made the weekly trip to Carrboro and after lunch she would take me to Trader Joe’s to pick up the things I needed.

One day about a month ago, while she was driving in Hillsborough she passed out at the wheel and had an accident. Luckily no one was hurt. It is not clear what caused the problem. Wanda’s driver’s license was suspended for at least six months.

With me no longer driving that really changed things. Not only were we not able to get together on a weekly basis, I could no longer take advantage of the support she has provided. That has resulted in an important change in our socialization pattern and has required me to seek help elsewhere. Moreover, I could not drive to Hillsborough to give her a hand.

I have another friend, Sarah, whom I met at the Farmers Market. Sarah is a really fine, creative craftsperson. She is her family’s principal wage earner with a full-time job on the staff of Blue Cross-Blue Shield. She has three adult children, two of whom are married. They all live in the Portland, OR area. Two have medical issues. Last year when her son developed a life-threatening condition, Sarah went out to take care of him.

When he improved she came back to the area, only to learn that her ex-husband, who lived here on the property with her, developed medical issues as well. Amazingly, she has been able to perform her job and take care of all the problems as well. What she has had to put on the back burner was her passion — her art.

Before all this happened Sarah I hung out together at the Farmers Market every Saturday. We developed a really nice relationship. Not only do we have a common interest in art and craft, we have a special way of communicating with one another. From time to time we had lunch together. When Sarah invited me to her studio I’d jump into the MINI and off I’d go.

Understandably, Sarah has been overwhelmed by what has happened and I’ve barely seen her since. A couple of times we’ve been able to hang out briefly when we were both shopping at the Market.

With both Wanda and Sarah, the things that have happened in their lives have limited our time together. They were things that none of us had any control over. Our time together was and is very important to me. It is up to me to find ways to fill the gap that opens up when the help or services they provided are no longer available.

The new, current circumstances, over which I have no control, limit my independence, freedom and flexibility. They also make it more difficult for me to take care of myself. To accommodate to the new reality I am more reliant on others and have to make arrangements for their assistance. Some of my limited disposable time, energy, resources and funds (TERF) have to be used up to accommodate to the new conditions and to compensate those who provide assistance.

The thing that bothers me the most about these situations is that I can’t do what I really want to — namely, to jump into the MINI, hang out with my friends, and give them a hand. Not driving not only makes it harder for me to get the support and services I need, but makes it harder to me to support the people I care about. All I can do is adjust to the new circumstances as best I can. Which, trust me, is more difficult as we age.

Welcome to 2020

When I was growing up in the 1930s and 40s, 20/20 meant that you had perfect vision. We’ve just reached 2020 and I just turned 92 years young. Obviously, 2020 now has a different meaning. Trust me, I never expected to make it to this age! Moreover, my vision is not perfect! In order to help it along I havebernie and Grace five pairs of glasses and a large monitor in order to read the large print on the computer screen. Just as a reminder, we did not have computers, the Internet, smartphones or GPS at the time.

Over my 92 years I’ve gotten considerable experience. In spite of that, there are a very few things I can assure you of. I do know that sometime in the future I will die; that is a certainty. My extended experience does give me a somewhat different perspective on things, and that is what I enjoy sharing with you all in my blog. My sincere hope is that my posts will improve your understanding of the things that are important to you.

Welcome to 2020, the opening of a new decade. One filled with chaos and hostility. Let’s hope that at the beginning of the next one, 10 years from now, we have arrived at a very different position, like the one advocated by Wendell Wilkie when he ran for President sixty years ago. Namely, that we are all part of “One World”. Let’s make it a world filled with Peace and Love. I’m not sure whether I’ll be around to see it, but I’m committed to working towards building a world community based on reciprocal love and respect. Let’s work together to see if we can make it happen.

The Adjustments: Giving Up Driving

miniFrom the time my son, Paul, was a teenager his passion was cars. Eventually he set up a business repairing foreign cars. When I got back up to the States after being in the USVI’s, he suggested and arranged for me to get a 2006 British racing green MINI Cooper S. Boy, was he right on. The MINI fit my minimalist lifestyle perfectly. It is small, compact and comfortable and has the extra power and space when needed. All that at 33 miles per gallon on the road. How about that! The MINI was right there when I needed it. I jumped into the car and took off. The MINI supported my independence and flexibility. And, it is great to look at to boot.

However, I have a condition called Aging Macular Degeneration (AMD), and a little over a year ago I had a cataract operation on my right eye. I developed an inflamed retina. The inflamed retina did not respond to the initial treatment. At the doctor’s recommendation we followed through with the next step — an injection of the medication directly into the eyeball. Two days later a haze developed over my right eye. There was no clear explanation and eventually the haze went away and a mild version of the inflamed retina came back. Continue reading “The Adjustments: Giving Up Driving”

The Adjustments: An Opportunity

Change, especially unexpected change, brings along with it the question of “Where do I go from here?” Often along with it comes a sense of hesitation, anxiety and, perhaps, even fear. Adjusting to the new situation can certainly take up a considerable amount of one’s limited disposable time, energy, resources and funds (TERF). That is even more likely when it is a type of change one hasn’t experienced previously.

As I’ve gotten older, I experienced all kinds of changes. Some are difficult, like not being able to drive—which I will write about in an upcoming blog post; diminishing vision, and feeling more isolated. Some of the changeschange present new and unexpected opportunities. In this series of blog posts called “The Adjustments” I’ll tell you about some of the changes I am currently going through and how I am navigating them. I will also share with you some of the major changes I’ve experienced throughout my life and how the decisions I made during those times affected the course of my life. I want to begin by telling you a story where I experienced a major change that led to new, unexpected opportunities.

In December of 1986, a month after my mother died, I went to St. John, USVI to sort things out. My middle son, Paul was there with me. After a very productive couple of weeks, it was time to head back to the states. We were standing in the bow of the boat heading back from Cruz Bay to Red Hook on our way to catch the flight from St. Thomas back up to the States. I turned to Paul and the words out of his mouth were “Yes, I know Dad.” I was about to tell him that I had decided to move to St. John. Six months later I did just that. I lived there for 18 years with no intention of ever leaving. Continue reading “The Adjustments: An Opportunity”

The Adjustments

earthTrust me, aging brings change along with it. Some of the changes are predictable, others not. In the hope of helping us learn better ways to deal with change, I would like to share with you the experiences I’m going through and how I am adapting to the changes they bring about.

To do that I am starting a new series of blog posts entitled “The Adjustments”. It is designed to address the issues that I am facing associated with aging and how I am adapting to them — sometimes successfully and sometimes less so.

For each of us one thing is certain. At some time in the future we will die. When I was growing up in the 1930s Social Security –a.k.a., Old Age Benefits (OAB) –- was just introduced. They came into play at 65. The expectation was that you might make it to that age, or perhaps longer. My dad died at 68. The bottom line is that the amount of time we have left here on Mother Earth is uncertain. I certainly can attest to that at 91, going on 92. For each of us that opens up the question “What do we want to do during the rest of our lives?” There’s another way is to ask that question. In light of the uncertainty, how do we want to use our limited remaining time, energy, resources and funds (TERF).

I’ve addressed the question and here’s what I’ve come up with. Let me begin by telling you a little about myself.  I call myself a nominally retired economist. I have lived alone here in Carrboro in a two-bedroom ground-floor apartment for the last 15 years. One of the bedrooms serves as my office-study-studio-playspace. I am pretty much able to do all the things necessary to take care of myself on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis with some occasional help. (You can see more about me in the blog post entitled “Me–Then ’til Now“). My primary objective is to do just that — that is, to take responsibility for and take care of myself and when I require assistance, to compensate those who provide it. Most of my remaining disposable time, energy, resources and funds (TERF) are used in finding ways in which, based on my background, experience, and expertise, I can help others. The books, essays, video and blog posts on this blog are a part of my contribution. My plan is to continue on that path. Hopefully that will be part of my legacy. Continue reading “The Adjustments”

Monuments: The Unrecognized Achievements of Ancient Cultures

stonehengeWe are all familiar with ancient monuments like: The Egyptian Sphinx and the Pyramids, the Parthenon in Athens, the Colosseum in Rome, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, the Cathedrals throughout Europe, the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge in England, the Great Wall in China, the Mayan Pyramids, and the Statues on Easter Island, just to mention a few that have survived. There are others as well, including the recently discovered Mayan treasures that are hidden by the regrowth of the rainforests in Central America and the monuments that were lost to the ravages of war, conflicts time, and nature. This accompanying complete list provides additional information and references

It is one thing and fully appropriate to honor the magnificent monuments that previous societies created.  However, there is another very important hidden attribute to understand and honor as well. It is almost always neglected. It is the accomplishments of the cultures that gave rise to the structures. Especially impressive is the fact that the cultures were able to create the beautiful works of art under the limiting conditions they faced. Continue reading “Monuments: The Unrecognized Achievements of Ancient Cultures”