The Face in Reflection


One of the worst things I hate about where I live is the constant signs of death coming. When I lived outside of this retirement center; I lived for life, for being happy, for being able to move the knowledge of getting older aside.

 

There are over eighty apartments where I live. There is no way, unless I was blind, that I don’t see aging here. There are wheelchairs, walkers, canes, limps, falls, slow movement, sitting, gray hair, wrinkles.

 

Get the picture? You can’t escape this scenario and you can’t forget the fact, we are aging. What makes it even more concrete is when you hear the EMS and sirens. I know, someone has fallen or worse; died.

 

In the past week here; two have passed on to  heaven. Once again it is pounded in my brain; I will die too, but not today, hopefully.

 

I was sitting out back on the bench, waiting to take a photo perfect for this story, I knew I would write. The trash disposal dumpsters are out in this area. I looked at it and saw many pieces of furniture. There were miscellaneous items of household goods too.

 

Someone came out and I asked if there was another case of bed bugs and the furniture had to be thrown away. The reply was,” No, that belonged to the lady who just passed.” My heart instantly sank.

 

You see, living here, I know most of the people. We chat and eat dinners together. We share our feelings. I have helped her with medical issues in the past; so there was a connection.

 

On the other side of the coin, there are the rules of this building. If someone passes away, the family of the deceased may have rent to pay, according to how long the deceased’s belongings are in the apartment. The family has two weeks to get rid of all belongings of their loved ones and if it runs into the next month where rent would be due, the family has to pay for that.

 

On the emotional side; it killed me to see her belongings out in the trash. It killed me harder to realize my friend had only passed away twenty-four hours prior. Oh, I know the rules but Lord, to get rid of her things so quick made me feel like I am to pretend she was not here.

 

It is the way it is, I guess. It made me wonder what will happen if I don’t get the opportunity to move out of here, what will and how quickly will my belongings, the things I cherish the most, will be gone from where I lived and breathed.

 

Well, the photo I was waiting to capture for this story or post came in my view. A lady who lives here walked out the back door and down the ally. I captured her and when I looked at the finished photo; I saw my face in the reflection.

 

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It Should Have Never Happened This Way


She was poor. He was poor. The two together were rich in love. They scraped and saved and were able to put a down payment on a small property outside of town. It had one acre which was plenty big enough for the garden they wanted to plant. The house was needing a lot of love and they knew with time; they could fix it up real nice.

 

One by one the five children were born. Money got tighter but they made it. They grew their vegetables.  They butchered a cow once a year. They canned wild berries and peaches from the trees. They made their own applesauce. Nothing was wasted.

 

Christmas and birthdays were celebrated with a home-made cake with a vanilla frosting and there was always a stitched gift of some sort that each child needed at that particular time.

 

The kids were sent to the one-room school which had stood for over one hundred years. They attended until the parents thought they had learned enough and then kept them home to  help out on the land.

 

The kids seemed good in the parents eyes; but their deep thoughts were on anything but this home. They wanted more. They had read plenty of high society magazines and books and they knew there was a bigger world out there.

 

As each one grew up and found their own way, they either moved out and on or got married and bought a property in town. There wasn’t much communication between the kids and parents after those days. They seemed to be more interested in obtaining what they thought they lacked as kids and the parents were dealing with more and more health issues.

 

They didn’t have health care insurance. Oh, they got sick now and then. A cold, a flu to deal with or a bad stomach ache. Neither of them had thought or been taught about what would or could happen when they got old.

 

Pa had recurring pain in his chest until one day he fell down. He never got back up and the family came and paid their last respects out back underneath the big oak tree. It was right after that; they left to go back to their lives.

 

Ma tried her best to carry on what needed to be done each day; but she was not able to keep up. She was tired. She was ailing and she was old. Her gray hair was thinned. Her fingers had bumps in them from Arthritis. Her legs ached.

 

After about six months went by, she had a stroke. No one actually knew the real facts about how long she lay in that house until help arrived. She was checked over by the county doctor and placed in her bed.

 

Once a week the doc would come check on her. He would shake his head trying to figure out what was actually keeping her alive. She knew, but she wouldn’t speak of it. Words for her were hard to get out. Looking around her room, she saw work that needed to be done; but no one helped.

 

The kids came by about once a month. Their children played outside. It was almost like this was a task more than a visit. It was so filled with webs. The kids mainly sat by her bed and said few words. When they felt like the proper time had been spent, they called for the kids letting them know it was time to depart. No child ever said, goodbye grandma.

 

She was lonely. She yearned for the love of her dead husband. She had no reason to live. She made up her mind to take this in her own hands and so that next morning she willed herself to die.

 

Once again, the kids came to pay their respects. After the funeral was over, they went through the home and took what they wanted and took the remains and tossed it in a big burn pile out back.

 

When only ashes were seen, a sudden downpour of rain hit. Lightening struck. Trees were turned over. The sky dark. Thunder was as if it was cursing the kids for what they had done to their parents.

 

The lightening hit the barn and the house, burning it to the ground in no time at all. The kids who had run for cover, found no cover remaining. They were forced to watch as the home they grew up in was demolished. They were forced to hear the demons ravish their souls.

 

It was then, and only then, that the kids seemed to understand what had happened. They came together and held hands. They looked out and over the once loving home that their parents had given them and they wept; but it was too late. They would live with their guilt for the rest of their days.

 

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Seniors, Poverty and Why?


I was watching the news this morning. This is something I don’t do much anymore for exactly the reason I am going to blog about. The bad news out weighs the good news. It seems people really want to hear the negative or else why would the news be so popular.

 

The topic this morning affected my age group.

A) Seniors filing bankruptcy at a higher rate more now than ever♦

B) Rents raise for the poor♦

 

Why would Seniors file bankruptcy? In my parents era, there was a savings of several years hard work that helped when they retired. In today’s world, so many included benefits have been jerked away in order to save the companies money. The fall-out in 2010 did a lot of damage.

 

The co-pays on insurance have risen above being able to meet, forcing out- of- pockets to empty faster. Insurance companies seem to fight more on even paying what they should. Costs of medications, doctor appointments, and the outrageous prices being charged for inpatient hospital stays are absurd.

No wonder Seniors are struggling. They are forced to work for longer years before retiring and without the extra help government and retirement benefits would be given at the age of sixty-two, life becomes financially in a ruin. Sometimes bankruptcy is the only answer in order to be able to afford what has to be paid for.

 

Why would anyone charge the poor more money on rental properties and leave the moderate and rich alone? Is the secret name of the game to actually dismiss and rid the poor, leaving the fortunate ones to thrive?

 

I don’t  understand any of this. I know in my area and I also have mentioned this before in my other posts, I live in the Orthopedic Capital of the world. Is everyone in my area working at one of these fine manufacturing companies? No, they are not. It is easy to see that the rental prices of homes and apartments are skyrocketing here; but what about those who aren’t fortunate enough to work in these places?

 

Go back to school, further your education; is this your thought? It used to be mine too, but today, the cost of technical colleges and the bigger colleges is almost beyond our reach. The almost guaranteed job offer is not so much in our sight and of course that leaves us with paying those high college loans off. Some people are bettering themselves some, but the paying off those loans is for many years to come.

 

Landlords don’t keep the properties up to date because they would 1. like to keep the profit and 2. some can not afford the prices to do the updates.

 

It is a sad situation. I know for myself, I would love to have a little more freedom and less rules. I would love to have the inner fears removed that if I don’t do this or follow that rule; I am out of here.

 

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know there are rules, but rules are changed without voting. Rules can be changed and worded differently day to day. What about having the choice to sit in your yard and have a cookout? This is not allowed here.

 

What about planting flowers? We have employees that do that here. We can watch the flowers grow, but what about helping make that happen? What about having the joy of sitting out under the picnic tables, under the shade trees? Taking our tea or coffee and chatting with others?

 

We have benches here and the benches sit under the sun. We have one patio table with four chairs, that I am not sure would hold me and this patio table is to be adequate for eighty-two apartments.

I don’t mean to sound like I am bitching. I truly am not. My thoughts on this are; hey, we made it to our Senior years. We worked hard. We helped our spouses. We fought in the war. We raised our children. We deserve to not live in fear wondering where our next home will be and where funding will come from and; can we afford it.

 

We don’t want to have to file bankruptcy. We worked hard our entire lives and never saw those big, heavy courtroom doors. Why now? Why would anyone want us to have to wait for our retirement? Why would they raise only the elderly and poor’s rents?

 

Perhaps it is true. People don’t want us around or people believe we are children in grown bodies and are pretty much worthless and just taking up space until death takes us.

Well, this is why I don’t watch too much news. It makes me sad. It makes me angry. What is going to happen to our grown children? Their time is coming. What can we do to help them when we can’t even help ourselves.

 

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School Days, School Days


Summer is half over. I have seen school ads on the television and remember how our family scrimped and saved during July in order to pay for all those school books, supplies and clothes.
 
There was no extra spending on fun, groceries or trinkets. No matter how my kids begged, there just wasn’t the money. Back when my kids were in school, the price of a lunch was 50 cents and then worked up to tops of 75 cents.
 
Now I hear prices are over a dollar and they have snack machines and a much better variety of lunches offered. This is a good thing but i have to ponder on those that can’t afford to buy those lunches who may have two or three kids to feed.
 
I don’t remember me ever taking a sack lunch to school. I always ate in the cafeteria. In face, I remember what it was to receive a brown bag lunch when I went to the circus in the third grade. Opening it up and finding a sandwich and a cookie was so much fun.
 
I went to the Goodwill store a few days ago and I saw quite a few moms with kids and they were definitely clothing shopping. I remembered my days when I heard those older kids tell the mom they didn’t like what mom was picking it out. At the age of being a teen, my thought was the same as my mom’s thoughts. Don’t like what i am buying? Get a part-time job and that way you can buy what you choose.
 
With all the bullying that goes on at schools and in-room classes and on the buses, it makes me very glad I went to school when I did.
 
Of course there were those that picked on other kids, but the thought of hearing, “Jimmy, sit down in your seat or I am going to follow you right to the office and then I am going to call your parents,” scared those little pickers enough, that they behaved.
 
Why is it today that kids feel they do not need to respect or obey their elders? I didn’t get by with even voicing my opinions. It was considered mouthing off and I got in trouble for it.
 
I’m not saying kids shouldn’t have an opinion and voice it. I think I should have also. After all, how are parents supposed to get to know their children as they develop into their personalities. The difference though is, kids should be allowed to voice their thoughts but respect their parents enough to realize that the parents final decision is nothing more than final decision.
 
Nope, I don’t envy my children getting their kids ready for school and those teen years arriving sooner and sooner. I am not so old that I don’t remember that parenting day or how I tried to get my own way.
 
Good luck parents. School is almost here.
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A Brain Trip


I sometimes wonder why my brain gets going at 100% as soon as I rise from my bed. I was using the ladies room and I was watching a video clip, mentally, of my brain. Sounds weird doesn’t it? I just decided to let it fly and see where it took me.

Thoughts of missing my brother came to mind first. Next I heard myself thanking God for a new day of opportunities. I realized I had a slight burning headache so asked for God’s healing.

I saw photos of going to my grandma’s  house. Today is Sunday, so my video clip involved all of us kids taking heaping fulls of food. My grandma was a terrific cook like most grandmas.

I saw my dad sitting at Zale drug store after church, drinking a cup of coffee with his buddies. The video clip switched to the present when I realized that discounted cut of beef needed to go in the crock pot right a way.

I saw my brain counting out the days until the next monthly pay check came in. I felt stress enter my head as I realized I need $59.00 for a new muffler on my car. It is broke and noisy and wondered where in the world the money was coming from.

I stopped the clip as I realized I had been from the 1960’s-present in less than five minutes. My mind goes a hundred miles per hour from waking to sleeping. I dream a lot but most of my dreams are nightmares with real people I know playing star parts.

I guess the nightmare thing comes from my neurological problems. Who knows, maybe the wild, crazy places my brain takes me to, is part of my illness too.

Well, time to wash my face, comb my hair and get dressed. The crock pot and the day is waiting for me.

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A Conversation about Multiple System Atrophy


“I can’t do this anymore!”

“Do what?” the mind asked.

“This bouncing back and forth. Keeping my faith. Thinking everything is going to be alright. It’s just too much!”

” I understand what you are saying. I play this game every day, sometimes several times per day. It just gets old. I look down at my body. I see the crepe skin, the bags under my eyes. I see the smile try to widen and the reflection of tears welling in my eyes. I see my swollen legs and feet. I feel the sick feeling in my gut.”

The two sit in silence digesting each other’s words. Shame and guilt over the battle of the thoughts. Realizing there is not a damn thing that can be done. No cures have been found and it doesn’t seem enough people really are aware of the  need.

Thinking back to the days of bright sunshine. “Remember when we used to walk down to the playground and sit in one of the black, leather seats hooked up to a metal  chain? We pushed with our legs. “Remember when we had stronger legs?” Silence.

We felt the breeze brushing our hair and the feeling of freedom and joy. Wow, those were awesome times! “What happened? I don’t get it! It wasn’t supposed to end up like this, for heaven’s sake!”

“Today, our legs swing, but not the way we like. They swing when someone tries to sit me  up on the edge of the bed. They swing and feel like a wet rag when they believe I need to get up and take a real bath.”

“Why don’t people just leave us alone? Can’t they see we are humiliated by them having to witness what our bodies can’t do any longer? Damn it! Just leave us alone. We just want to be left alone and die with some dignity!”

“They love us dummy. That’s why they do the things they do. They don’t understand how we feel just by looking at our faces. They have to read our eyes! How can they feel our pain when we can no longer say a word?” Silence

Letting out a deep sigh, the other follows the lead. “This sucks, you know. We are no longer someone they can count on. They are being forced to ponder on what their life will be like once we are buried and out of sight.

“Yeah, you are right. We ought to feel more compassion for them. We promised them the world and forever, and we are now giving them a view of less time.”

“I agree. Let’s give them a break. Let’s try real hard not to show the pain we are in. Let’s try to show appreciation in any way we can, that they are still sticking beside us, taking care of us. I wonder why they do that? They could just take off and find another life.”

“Dummy, they stick around and do what they do for one reason.”

“What’s that?”

“They love us.”

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

06/26/2018

 

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Laugh for your day


I was invited to a Senior luncheon today by a resident in my building. I have been to this church a few times before and discovered the people to be very nice. It is a country church with a wonderful minister and a congregation with a country atmosphere.

So, anyways, I sat between the gentleman who invited me and a gentleman that I recognized his face; but didn’t know his name. I enjoyed a wonderful meal. These people should be on T.V. shows because they cook so awesome. I can always guarantee to overeat and gain a pound.

I had chicken and meatloaf, along with a couple of light desserts. I only took a couple of bites of each dessert to save my sugar numbers. Hey! It wasn’t like I wasted any food! I did eat some of it.

Well, anyways, the luncheon was over and we were all sitting there chatting and letting the food digest when the gentleman on my side leaned into me and asked,” do you want a kiss?” I said.”what did you say?” He came back with, “do you want a kiss.” I replied with a kind, no thank-you.

He smiled and turned away and I watched him grab a dark chocolate Hershey kiss. He unwrapped it and popped it in his mouth and looked at me and smiled. I blushed and reached over and picked myself up a piece of chocolate and popped it in my mouth and smiled back. We each went on with our chatting with the other guests.

 

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Days of Yesterday


Summertime heat is what we in Indiana are experiencing lately. Today at lunch, the ladies I sit with were talking about when we were younger.

I told them when I graduated from high school, I had no doubt I could have been found down at the beach. I was free! No worries. I had a job, but it paid well back then and I just had to put gas in my car; so no money worries.

I loved the heat and I would put Iodine in my baby oil and lay out under that blistering sun all afternoon.

I was telling one of the ladies that back in March of this year when we had a few days of forty degree weather, I would see young  people out with shorts and sweatshirts on. I would look down at my own clothes and I would have a winter coat, boots and pants on.

They laughed as they said they did the same things. My, how times change. I still go out in the ninety degree weather, like today, but I don’t stay out long. I don’t put that swimsuit on. There is no baby oil. Instead I place that with a hat and I watch for my skin to start to turn red.

What is something you did when you were young that you absolutely don’t do today?

 

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Story a Day


http://storyaday.org/day-28-use-these-words/?ck_subscriber_id=211865176

The Prompt

Your story must include these words; ink, previously, work, breeze, seven, run, delicious, example, spontaneous, barb.

 

Hi, my name is Mandy. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and today I am 19 years old and have just finished my freshman year of college at a Christian college. It was a lot of hard work; but I made it.

I watched many kids run around and have fun while I remained behind and studied. I felt a little jealous when they would bring back delicious smells of left-over food from where they had dined.

Every morning I woke to my alarm at promptly seven. I would run through my morning routine of getting ready for school. I would walk through rain, sunshine and windy breezes to catch the number seven bus.

My life was never spontaneous. Anyone who knew me; knew where I was most times. Today, I didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be free. I decided my first summer break day was not going to be previously what it had been yesterday.

I was going to mentally cross the barb wire and live on the wild side. I started my trip with a stop at the Tattoo Ink store. I looked through the examples of drawings and picked a cute butterfly. I told the artist I wanted it placed on my right ankle.

I then went to my favorite clothing store and then had lunch at a little bar and grill type restaurant. I walked more than ride the bus. I watched the birds and looked at the new leaves on the trees. I smelled the fresh air.

When I arrived home; I was tired, but it was a good tired. As I lay in bed I thought about what I was going to do with the rest of my summer. I wasn’t really sure; but I knew I would be ready for school when it picked back up again.

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Story a Day


http://storyaday.org/day-27-start-at-the-end/?ck_subscriber_id=211865176

The Prompt

Start a story that begins with the ending, then immediately jumps back in time.

With tears in his eyes, he was led away by his nephew. His bucket list had been complete and now he can tell the Lord he is ready to come home.

It all started sixty-seven years ago. A baby on the way. His marriage still a newlywed in his eyes, he received the notice. Six o’clock in the morning; he kissed his wife goodbye. He boarded the old, green bus and headed to the base head quarters.

He did everything his best. He scrubbed potatoes, floors and shined his shoes. He crawled under wires, got muddy, did morning drills. He lost weight, he learned to look but not love the enemy.

He killed, he protected, he wrote letters every night. He shared his love for his wife and child with his mates. He learned of the death of his parents and grandmother.

He fought hard, he fought well. He won. He was awarded letters and colored ribbons. He earned pins.

He was old inside when it finally ended. He was less a leg and carried emotional wounds that couldn’t be blended with the  new life he lived. He needed care; too much care. He lost his wife. He lost his child. He lived alone.

He wheeled himself to the nearest corner and watched the people walk by. He shook hands with the little children who stared at him. He passed out tiny flags for those who would take them.

He ate alone. He bathed rarely. The radio became his friend. His spirit had partially died. Days turned to nights. Minutes turned to  hours. He gave up.

Room 320 was his new home. Four walls,  painted mint green, baron walls, a free, black and white television. Friendly faces of people in white visited daily. A man in cloth spoke from the Bible.

A young gentleman with a heart on his shoulder stopped by to visit one day. One day turned into  daily and the two became the best of friends. Dreams and hopes spilled over.  A soda in a bottle was delivered. Special candies arrived with bright colors.

He was an old man on the outside. He knew his time was short. One afternoon in May, it was a holiday. The friend stopped by early. He changed my clothes. He put on my socks and slippers. He wrapped a shawl around my shoulders. He signed me out.

I saw the bright sunshine. I saw the green leaves on the trees. I saw mothers walking babies in a carriage. I saw the white, picket fence. I saw the people lined up; one after the other.

He helped me out. He transferred me into my wheelchair. He pushed me to the center of the crowd. I touched it. I felt warmth re-enter my soul. I felt memories flood back. My heart felt as if it was going to stop. My breathing slowed. I felt a hand on my shoulder.

” I wanted to help you complete your bucket list buddy.” He smiled. I returned the smile as my hand lay rested on the

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