Posted tagged ‘Aging’


March 12, 2018

Okay, this is the last post about birthdays for a while. I promise. As many of you know, I turned 70 last week. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.

70 is a big one. In one’s life there seem to be certain milestones. For me the milestones were 21, 30, 40 and 70. At 21, I could vote and buy beer. At 30, I met Paula, fell in love and got married. At 40, I felt like I had arrived. Secure in my space in my job and my family. 50 and 60 (I celebrated 60 by getting laid off from HP) didn’t feel all that important, but 70 does.

At 70, I feel like I have outlived many of my friends. I have outlived my father. (He died at the age of 65 or 66.) Perhaps, I have my mother’s genes. (She lived to be 89) And not my father’s. I think that if one can beat cancer, one can live for a long long time.

So looking back, here is a list of friends and co-workers that have passed away in the past 15 years (mostly due to cancer).

  • Betsy Burton
  • Richard Nicoll
  • David Eno
  • Karen Butland
  • Fred Marsh
  • Dean McGorrill


Note: If a friend who is younger than me dies, it was automatically before their time.


March 27, 2017

Time for an update. Not a lot of change here. Mary continues to eat two meals a day and sleep in bed most of the day. Right now the only thing we seem to get her up and out is her weekly visit to the hair salon.

She usually skips watching the evening news on TV. She says that it is too depressing. Okay, I guess.

We had a local election here in LA a couple of weeks ago. It was a primary for mayor and other local jobs. Mary didn’t vote. In fact she hasn’t voted in any of the elections for the past 2 or 3 years. I think the process is too much for her to understand. I am not even sure she knows who the current president is. We don’t talk politics.

The other day she asks us if we could arrange for her to get some exercise. We tell her we would be glad to take you for a walk, but you have to ask us. You have to want to do it. You have to get your butt out of the bed and do it. It doesn’t happen. This is a recurring theme.

Yesterday, she was reading her Time Magazine. She has a subscription that delivers the magazine every week. For some strange reason, she asked for a pen to underline a couple of sentences about the election for the president of France. She didn’t ask us any questions about the article. She just underlines a couple of sentences. So Paula and I are seriously scratching our heads over this. So later after she went to bed we looked at the magazine. She doesn’t like to watch the news anymore but for some very strange reason she was interested in the French presidential election. Go figure.

So last week, Mary asked about seeing the grand kids. Mike and his family used to come over every Tuesday for dinner. Now with Jonathan in school, that keeps him up too late. So now we do dinner once or twice a month usually on a Friday or Saturday.

We tell her that the best time to see Sarah and Jonathan would be at church on Sunday. Would you like to go to church with us and join us for lunch after? Maybe she says. So Sunday rolls along. I get her up by 8:00 AM and feed her breakfast. After breakfast, she gets dressed and goes to lie down. I remind her about church. I will ask you again when it’s time to go. So at 10 AM, I go into her room and ask her if she wants to go. Nope. Not this time. Sigh.

We have been working on lining up caregivers for her so that Paula and I can go out on a date to see a movie and do dinner at a restaurant. Found a couple of folks, one from lodge and one from church. It was so nice to get out to a movie and quiet dinner without Mary. One of the brothers from lodge came to stay with her. He didn’t charge us. All we had to do is feed him some fried chicken from KFC.

On a final note, we have made our travel plans to visit Boston in May. Snow should be gone by then. One whole week without Mary. Woo Hoo! We are so looking forward to seeing our east coast friends again.




October 7, 2016

Here’s a quick update on Mary. She has been doing pretty good the last couple of weeks. We even got her to go to church this past Sunday. (Be still my beating heart). Still, she wasn’t up to doing Bible study this past Wednesday. I think that confuses her a lot. Of course, she won’t admit it.

Paula took her to see her eye doctor on Wednesday. It turns out that her prescription is in serious need of updating. She could barely read the big letters on the chart. So Paula ordered her two new sets of eyeglasses, one for her to use watching TV and one for general use. New glasses will be ready in a couple of weeks.

She is getting used to using the walker. She goes to PT twice a week. I think it helps, and it certainly doesn’t hurt.

The above picture was taken by me when we were at the Pacific Diner after church. Mary likes that because she gets to the the grand-kids.

So Paula and I are celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary and Paula’s birthday. So we got in touch with our caregivers to watch Mary while we take a trip up the Central California coast. Today, we toured the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. I will do a blog post on that tour on Sunday or Monday.

We are staying in a nice hotel in Morro Bay. Beautiful view of the bay. It’s nice to get away for a couple of days.  Drive back tomorrow. Our son Neil will be in town on Sunday. His trip is mostly for his girl friend to visit Disney Land and hit the beach. But we’ll get to have dinner with them on Sunday evening.

Write Me a Letter

July 10, 2016

We spent Saturday doing another deep dive at the storage locker. We took a lot of glassware to the Goodwill. We threw a bunch of stuff into the dumpster. And we brought back a couple of boxes of pictures and memorabilia worth looking into. We continue to struggle with lack of dates and info on the back of pictures. We found a bunch of black and white pics from the 40’s and early 50’s. Paula didn’t recognize anyone and I’m sure that Mary won’t have a clue. Also, the pictures were too small to bother with scanning. So in the trash they go.

We did however find some treasures. We found a couple of pictures that I had taken during a vacation trip in Maine and PEI.


The other interesting tidbit was a letter sent by Pvt. Paul Stanley (Harold’s Father) to his wife (Mimi). The letter was sent in November 1942 from Midland, TX where Paul was in the Army. We’re not quite sure exactly why Paul was in the army. He was a bit old for active duty (he was born in 1898). So here is the scan of the envelope. Two thing to note. No stamp. Postage was free for personal letters home. Addressed to Mrs. Paul Stanley, not Mrs. Mimi Stanley. Married women were always referenced as Mrs. [husband’s name] [husband’s last name.]

Apparently Valley Falls, KS was a small town. No other address info. I suspect that the letter reached the intended recipient without any trouble.

Apparently, Mimi (aka Mabel) joined Paul in Texas soon after the letter was sent because there was an ID card for Mabel at the Army Air Forces Bombardier School in Midland issued in Jan. 1943. So at this point, Harold was 24. Harold was born in August of 1919. Paula tells me by that time he was working at the Douglas Aircraft Co in Long Beach, CA. Interesting how people moved in those days to help with war effort.

So Mabel was 43. Her statue was listed as “Stout”. There’s a euphemism for you. That’s what you called someone who 5’2″ tall and weighed 156 lbs. The letter begins, “Dear Mother”. To which I replied, Huh? Apparently a term of endearment. I guess.



By the way, Paul (or Paw-Paw) as Paula called him, died of a massive heart attack in the summer of 1954 while traveling up to Lassen National Park in Northern California.

Father’s Day

June 19, 2016

stan bowkerMy father died about 50 years ago when I was about 19. I don’t exactly remember all the exact dates. My memory has gotten just a bit foggy over the years. So here’s my story.

My mom and dad got married after WW2. They got married on March 3, 1946. My father was not in the military due to his epilepsy. Plus he might have been a bit old for the military. They probably didn’t feel right starting a family while the war was going on. Another reason that they might have delayed getting married was that my mother was a school teacher and at that time school teachers were forbidden to be married. Get married, lose your job.

So marry they did. They had three children, born in 1947, 1948 and 1950. So they were well into their 40’s by the time all of my brothers and I arrived.

Okay, fast forward to the late fifties. My dad suffered a heart attack. I think it was 1958 or 1959. What I remember most about the incident was how little the hospital could do for him at the time. No open heart surgery. No stents. All they could do was have him rest. Eventually they sent home from St. Elizabeth’s. He asked the doctor how he was going to manage the stairs to our home on Etna Street in Brighton.

Doctor’s instruction was take a step and then say one Hail Mary, then repeat. Anyway, life went on. That’s it for post-hospital instructions. I suppose there might have been some medicines, but they didn’t tell this 10 year old.

So in November (or maybe December) 1966, my dad had gall bladder problems. Surgery scheduled. Back in the day, they didn’t have laparoscopic surgery. They did it the old fashioned way, they cut you open. In those days, there was no MRI so when they didn’t quite know what was wrong, they cut you open. The term they used was “exploratory surgery”. Yikes.

At any rate, Dad came out of surgery okay, but was suffering some bleeding (showing up in his urine, I guess). Mind you this was a man that only 8 years prior had had a heart attack. So they scheduled another surgery (exploratory this time). I learned this when I went to visit him at St E’s after school one day. At any rate, he coded during the surgery. The surgeons did managed to get his heart restarted, but the damage was done. He never woke from the surgery. He was in a coma for about 6-8 weeks before he died.

So here are my take-aways.

Medicine has come a long, long way since the 1950’s and 1960’s. Looking back on that time it seems like it was dark ages of medicine. If the heart attack had occurred even 20 years later, he might still be alive.

My Dad never got to see us get married and have children of our own. I can truthfully tell you that grandchildren are such a fantastic blessing. Nothing makes me happier than to have our grand-kids run up to me and say “Hi, Grandpa” along with a hug.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

Remember when we talked about…

January 4, 2016

Okay, we started a new year on Friday. On Saturday, we planned to take Mary to the wedding of our friends Stephenie and Jeremy from OES. So we had talked to Mary about this several times over the past couple of weeks. We usually review our calendars with Mary at the beginning of the week. Mary writes things down in her calendar that she keeps in her purse.2016-01-02 18.48.19

So she asks us on Saturday what are we doing today. We explain to her that we will be taking her to the wedding. She says, “Who’s Stetphanie?”. I think we answered that question about four times Saturday. We sometimes make the mistake of starting the comment to her with the words, “Remember, when we talked about…”. When we know full well that she doesn’t have a clue who Stephanie is or for that matter anybody else she might know.

By the way, the picture was taken at the wedding. As time goes on she seems to be having a lot of trouble remembering people that she has known for years. I have this fear that one of these days, she is going to get up in the morning and ask, “Who are you? And what are you doing in my house?”

So we got her to the wedding at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. I drop off then go park car. The church is right next to the lodge so that one only has to walk down a path to get to the lodge. But the path was dark and a little bit uneven. A dark and uneven path really upsets her. So, Paula on one side on I on the other walk her across the path. All the while telling her that we have you in hand. You will not fall.

I suspect that her world is very confusing. She reads the newspaper every day. Most times three or four times. If we didn’t collect the paper and put it in the recycle bin, she would read it again. She watches the evening news (both local and national). We record it on our DVR, but she has no clue how that works or how to operate it. When they announcers talk about things like the internet, or hacking or social media, I am sure she doesn’t have a clue.

We all had a good time at the wedding, but knew it was getting time to go when I see Mary looking at her watch. When are they going to serve the cake? Not leaving until she gets her cake. Many people stopped to chat with her at our table.

The reception was at our lodge. I suspect that the lighting was disconcerting for her. They had lights that changed colors every few minutes and it was dim. So time goes on. So in 2016, she has started on her 92nd year. We try hard to keep her safe. Whoever said the growing old was easy?

The Chair

November 13, 2015

2015-11-06 15.14.21So we’ve been living with Paula’s mother now for a bit over three years. Sometimes the woman just drives me absolutely crazy. One can’t have an argument with her. Logic just doesn’t work. She can’t remember anything that happened a week or a month ago.

So I asked her the other day, do you know how long we have been living with you? I get a dazed, deer in the headlights stare back. Not a clue.

So a few weeks ago I told her that I wanted to replace the reclining chair in our living room that I usually sit in when we are watching TV. I told her that I have trouble getting up from it. The chair is a combination rocker/recliner. So when one wants to get up, you lean forward and the chair dips low making it difficult to get up. A problem aggravated by my bad knees.

I told Mary that she has trouble getting up, too. No, I don’t she says. Not going to win this argument.

So I told Paula, that we’re getting a new chair with or without her approval. Her only choice is what we’re going to do with the old chair. The old chair can go out with the trash or it can go into her room. To put it in her room we need to make a space. There is much clutter in her room with stuff that she can’t live without. She has a massage table that she wants to keep. It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t used it in years. How do I know that? You might say? Well to use it one would have to take the boxes of stuff off of it. So we managed to move some stuff around and made space for the chair. So last Friday, Paula and I go out to the local LaZ-Boy show room to buy a chair. I am happy. Not sure how we will break the news to Mary.

Then, on Monday, she says “I guess it would be okay for you to get a new chair”. I didn’t want to tell her that we’d already bought the chair and it would be delivered on Thursday. At any rate, the chair was delivered and Mary has forgotten all about the argument. I’m happy. She’s happy (I guess)

By the way, she is doing pretty good. No illness, no falls. She is going pretty slow though. We try to have extra time built into our appointments for her. Two speeds, slow and slower.

We had lunch with Theresa and the grand-kids last Sunday after church. She loves to see the grand-kids. Here’s a picture.

2015-11-08 12.46.28

Mary helping Jonathan with his crayons and coloring.