Posts Tagged With: parents

The Friendliest Place?

the villages
We’ve just spent a week in The Villages, Florida visiting my dad and his wife, Marian.  They bill themselves as “Florida’s Friendliest Retirement Hometown” and with the disclaimer that they only refer to their fine state and not the other 49, I give you these items:

  • After patiently waiting for a handicapped space to open up, a woman cut off my dad and grabbed it.  My dad walks slowly with a cane and the woman who blithely cut him off moved pretty quickly with no assistance;
  • A very cranky old guy with a distinct New Jersey accent told my husband, “Hey pal, why don’t you walk your dog on your own street?”.  This was said a few mornings ago and might I add, there are plenty of dogs around The Villages;
  • When Marian used a handicapped space in a restroom she was chastised by a woman with a cane and told “you’re not handicapped – I’m going to report you.”  Marian has pretty severe arthritis and qualifies for a handicapped placard, but no, she doesn’t need a cane.

Friendly, huh?

Okay, before you jump on me that there are sour folks everywhere, I know.  And elderly folks are not more sour than younger folks.  But there is something that my dad alluded to and that is a fair number of folks in retirement communities have switched from a “we” orientation to a “me” orientation.

It makes sense – all of their lives they’ve been doing a lot for others – their own parents, their children and spouses and now they are living primarily for themselves.  We went to a financial seminar/luncheon and the presenter said that many more of his clients are deciding to not leave money to their kids, reasoning that they paid for college, grad school and the purchase of a first home and this is . . . enough.

Again, it makes logical sense.  Nobody should be expecting an inheritance to get to the next step in their own lives.  I know people who have done that, and one in particular used to fight with the trustee’s of her dad’s trust for money just to pay her rent.  What?  C’mon, girl, get and keep a job.

But the Me orientation often ends up as a “Me FIRST” orientation and is on display there at The Villages.

One of the cutesy symbols of The Villages is the golf cart – I think to be fair, they should also have a symbol showing a poor shnook being run over by a golf cart – just to put everybody on notice.

Yep – the Friendliest Hometown.

golfcart man

Categories: Life on the Road | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

A Road Trip? Yes, Please.


I mentioned my father in the last post about our elderly parents. He’s 83 and not in great health.

He started smoking when he was 11, rolling his own. He quit awhile back when he was told if he didn’t, he’d die and pretty soon.

Not that the threat of death stops smokers.  I have a close girlfriend who was told the same thing and she decided to continue smoking – she died in April of this year from severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (yes, the elephant on the chest – COPD). And she was only 57.

But in my dad’s case, the threat worked.   The damage to his cardiovascular system was done but stopping  smoking staved off additional damage that would have hastened his death.

So two big problems – a dissection in the descending aorta (a rare condition, and the one that killed the actor John Ritter), and then as that stabilized and the doctors decided not to repair it surgically, he was told his ejection fraction rate is lowering over time.  A normal ejection fraction (a measure of blood flow through the ventricles) is 50-65 and my dad’s is like 17.

My understanding is that eventually as his EF goes even lower, he will probably die from I guess a heart attack.  I’m not clear on exactly what might kill him.  I’m also not clear on why they say there is no further treatment available, whether that is a medical decision or one based on his age.

What I know is that he sounds very labored on the phone, like he’s trying to catch his breath and he reports that he has to stop and sit or lie down frequently.  He just doesn’t have all that much energy and gets winded quickly.  That’s not good.

He says he’s ready to die.   He’s more religious than he was, so I guess he’s comforted by his belief in heaven and of meeting those who have gone before him, including his parents and his beloved third wife (he’s currently remarried – a surprise for everybody).

So when we got a note on a birthday card that said “Come visit – we’re getting old” we took notice.  I don’t know if this will be the last time I see him before he passes away, or just a nice trip.

Which is why this retirement stuff becomes important.  It’s like, “Wait a minute, we’re retired, so we could take our time going cross country, visiting and then returning.”  Well . . . yeah.  We could do that.

So next week, we’ll hit the road and begin to post about our adventures.  Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get a motorhome yet, so this trip will be in the car and stopping at motels.  The nice part is that Izzy will be part of our trip.

Oddly, or maybe not, with both of my parents smoking (and my nearly 80-year-old mother still smoking), I never started.  I had other vices of course (cheesecake, anyone?), but cigarettes were never one of them.  I’m thankful for that, but when it came to my son, he started smoking at 19 and although he’s tried quitting with variable results, he’s smoked on and off for the past ten years.  I had no idea it skipped generations.

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Oh the early days – on carpet, the ‘rents, and the honey-do list

We’ve been busy!

Early retirement is a series of doing and planning projects that you never got to while you were working. In Bob’s case, this included working on his 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix. I will let him describe what needed to be done, but suffice it to say – he did the work himself within a few weeks of being retired over the course of many days. Well, not that many. It’s just when you usually have access to your car and then don’t, it feels like a long time. That’s a California thing.

We have another big project that’s been a back burner one for a long time. When we bought our townhouse it had hardwood floors in the formal dining room and kitchen, but the living room, landing and stairs were carpeted (along with the bedrooms). Frankly, we’d wanted these areas to be hardwood, but the builder had made their selections and it was a done deal.

Fast forward eight years – eight years of multiple teenage and young adult men, cats and now a dog and just living (including one tumble by yours truly down the stairs with a full cup of coffee – !!!) – and builder-grade carpet doesn’t look so great.

Plus, although a great thing – we got a Roomba for our birthdays from the kids. The one that picks up the pet hair. Amazing! It does a great job and has begun to pull up the old stuff buried within the carpet, including old dander and other noxious stuff. We’re sneezing more. Ugh.

All of this is to say – it’s long past time to get that darn carpet up and out and put down hardwood. Not an inexpensive proposition, of course. We were going to do it ourselves, and may still to save money, but we’ve got a decent bid from Lowe’s. It’s still a pretty big job, like all home projects often are.

And the other ongoing “project” we have is our elderly parents. Both of us are lucky enough to have parents who are alive. People in our age group often do not. There’s longevity there, too, especially in Bob’s family. His mother comes from a long line of long-lived Estonians; he has both an aunt and uncle in their 90’s. Bob’s parents are in their mid-80’s.

My dad is 83 (more about him) and lives in Florida. My mom is 79 and lives down the street from us. My parents are not in the greatest of shape, due to long-term smoking on both of their parts. Ironically (I guess) neither has gotten lung cancer, but smoking affects more than just that – it affects the entire cardiovascular system, too. Yet, even with their medical issues, they are still alive.

And they all need us more, not less. Three out of four relatives are local to us which helps, but I am an only child and Bob only has one sister, who does look out for their parents quite a bit (thanks, Karen Sue!). But now that Bob is retired, we expect more involvement.

So with parents, projects, grown up kids who need help now and again (some more than others), and a grandchild, and trying to fit traveling and writing and all the other fun stuff into a life that still includes laundry, and groceries and keeping our cholesterol and blood sugar down to reasonable numbers, there’s honestly no dull days.

Whoever has time to work?

Categories: Home Sweet Home | Tags: , ,

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