Good Days and Not So Good Days

Questions, We Have Questions

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Sometimes in the comments on these pages, there are questions. I have always been too cavalier with them – answering some that seemed pertinent to enough readers to require a response and setting aside others to use as the basis for a blog post which I have done less frequently than I should have.

So today, I will answer two or three questions that came up in Wednesday's comments. Here is one from Lola:

”I'm curious about the 'presence' and wonder whether it is a physical sensation or a sort of 'knowing'. Like the inchoate not-quite-thought that becomes a poem.”

It's physical sensation, Lola. Until these pains began (I assume this applies to most people), I didn't notice my body much. It just did what I needed it to do and I didn't feel anything out of place unless a mosquito bite itched, I pulled a muscle or over-ate at Thanksgiving.

These “presences” are an awareness of various places on my torso, scattered front and back, an extremely mild ache - not something I would, in the past, pay attention to. But I've learned the hard way that they are precursors to the real pain they always become in an hour or so.

I now think of them as an early warning system: take the pain pills NOW before it gets worse. I still forget to notice now and then and suffer for it, but I'm getting better at responding to the presence.

Melinda Applegate left a long story in two parts in the comments – too long to summarize but you can read it here and here.

It is about Melinda's father, a piano player whose favorite song was The Entertainer, and the music box he owned that played the tune. A few days after he died, her mother was wakened at night by the sound of the music box that had not been played in years.

”I didn’t get much sleep that night,” Melinda writes, “as I was completely astonished by the story my mother had just told me. But I was also in awe of it and somehow comforted to know that my dad’s spirit, his energy, was still here before going onto another plane of existence.

“Several other unusual occurrences happened in the next few days and even later; one in particular that also involved the sudden playing of “The Entertainer” (this time on a jukebox)...

“All I know is that since the 'spiritual' visits by my dad to me and my mom, I strongly believe that somehow, in someway our existence continues after our physical body dies. There is another plane of or type of existence that is unexplainable to us as humans.”

Melinda then writes, “I sure wonder what you think about it.”

Well, Melinda, that, as they say, is above my pay grade. I've not had such an experience and as to whether our consciousness - our self - exists beyond the grave, it's not something I believe.

However, many people do believe and I'm perfectly happy to be proven wrong when I get there. (And no, I don't think you're loony.)

Another reader, Betty, also has a story of an encounter with dead loved ones. You can read that here. But she has a different kind of question:

” will we, your audience get along without you to lead the way. Will we carry on with our own stories or will this site die too. What do you want us to do and how do you want us to do it? Do others have this question?”

Arrangements are being made for this blog to remain just where it is online for at least five years after I've died. If anything is different, my friend Autumn, who is handling everything following my death, will let you know via this blog. So when she posts information, it will show up in your email subscription just as you receive it now.

I know we come to feel that others we read in the comments are our friends and in a way, that's real and true. I wish there were a way readers could safely contact one another but I've never sorted that out and I'm now running short of time.

If anyone knows of an online service that might facilitate that, do let me know – not in the comments, but via the “Contact” link at the top of the page.

Now it's your turn again. Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I'll follow up with answers to those one day soon.


Do you think back to the time you took a psilocybin trip? It made such an impact on you, especially around your fear of death. Do the memories help? Would you consider taking another trip (maybe no longer physically or logistically possible).
Wishing you courage, you brave woman.

Here's another question you don't need to answer, but I would like to know what some others say about it "Besides death and dying, what do you fear the most?"

I hope writing your blog continues to give you as much as it gives its readers right up to the end. Your candor is very much appreciated.

When my father transitioned I sat and called him within a few hours after, and I could feel his presence, even though his physical body was gone. I spent some time talking with him. It was profound to know with ABSOLUTE certainty that there is life that continues on after the physical body. I have no doubt, and of course you will have no doubt when it happens to you.

Promise you will come visit if you are not too busy doing fabulous things, zipping around, visiting people and loved ones

I admire you. I bless you on your journey

Will Elder Music continue being posted on your site, or somewhere else?

My father, born in 1909 in Oakland, California, had a favorite aunt who was a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles in the 1920s. One night my father was awakened from a sound sleep by Aunt Lottie's voice screaming, "Tommy! Tommy! Help me!" He puzzled over this but decided it must have been a dream because Aunt Lottie was 400 miles away in LA.

The next morning the family got a call that Aunt Lottie had been killed in a car crash in Los Angeles.

My father was neither religious nor superstitious and this was the only time in the 55 years I knew him that he recounted such a creepy tale. So I have to believe that it really happened.

How do you feel when you read a posting like the one above? I’m rolling my eyes! I’m pretty sure you might not answer....and I understand.


How rude.

If you do find you were wrong and life continues in some celestial plane or other, please drop in and let us know. Just once you're acclimatised, y'know?

Yeah, Gail, R-U-D-E.

My heart soared for a second when I read that the blog would go on for five more years.........and then plummeted when I realized that the 5 years would be without you, Ronnie, at the helm. So now I'm back to middle ground, really delighted that you are managing this for us. Another Ronnie trait I've appreciated so much over time, your generosity, it's huge. Thank you for taking such good care of us. Again.
And Bruce.........hmmmm, You caught me at a good time, it's beautiful out, a lot of gardening got done this morning, I just finished meditating, knowing that the others in my sangha were also sitting, so the answer, in this moment is "nothing."
Another moment...............

My son, Jeff, was killed in a car accident 36 years ago. Some days it feels just like it was yesterday. I no longer feel his "presence" as I did for a few years after his death. It was very strong and I actuallyfelt his touch at one point. But mostly it was just his voice reassuring me. Whether I was just intuiting this at the time or whether he actually was present in a different plane I'll never know. I am not a believer of an afterlife as we now have. Something else? Maybe I'll find out. I turned 80 in December and am blessed with good health other than the standard aches and pains but am MUCH more aware of my own finiteness. I'm trying to figure out how to move through the rest of my time on this beautiful planet. If it should be any different than what I've always been doing. Time will tell.

I’m not sure I believe there is life after death since I don’t remember anything before birth. Seems to me it would be revolving if it were true. If there is life, it doesn’t necessarily mean we come back as a human. Going on and on now, too much to ponder. We should all just live for today.

P.S. I’m not the rude Gail from above.

Ronni, you've not mentioned your son and grandson lately. Would love to hear how they are faring through the pandemic.

Also, I believe a number of years ago you had a list of elder bloggers and so kindly added my name to the list. Perhaps an update of that list could help those who want to remain in touch?

I always look forward to your posts and the interesting comments. You write so well, I wish I could write half as well on my blog. I hope your blog and the comments give you joy and help you. During the last few years of my husband Alzheimer‘s illness the comments on my blog were the only interesting words I heard (virtually) and they brought me comfort.

I’ll tell you what happened to me last year and many can roll their eyes – so be it. My husband died in late 2018. I still have most of his clothes in our house in Atlanta and some here in Nashville also. I travel back once a month to Atlanta to clear out the house. In Atlanta in May 2019 I had started placing some of his clothes in large black plastic bags. I carried them downstairs to the porch to bring them to Goodwill later, being careful that nothing was on the floor or in my way as the bags were large and heavy. In the bedroom closet I came to one of his favorite outfits that he wore often on trips, a beige plaid shirt and khaki pants. I was very sad to place them in the bag but I did with a heavy heart, and took the bag downstairs. Going back up, in the hall, was a photograph upside down on the floor. How did an old photo get there? The hall had been empty or I would have dragged what was on the floor. My photos are on the computer and I moved my old print photos to Nashville. I turned the photo up and there was my husband smiling, wearing the beige plaid shirt and old khaki pants I just placed in the bag. He was standing in front of an angel statue in Mexico where we had been years ago. How did the photo get there and that one with the exact outfit I had been so reluctant to let go? I did not know. I still don’t know. We don’t believe there are extra terrestrials, but there may be, so if there are, why not extra physical happenings somehow? I went back and kept the shirt by the way. With several more of his shirts I’m going to make a pillow.

Bruce asked besides death and dying, what do you fear the most. My own answer to that is this : At age 90 I fear being totally incapacitated more than death.. also after almost 69 years married to my sweet husband I fear losing him first.
Getting this old is not for sissies..6

Bruce, more than anything I fear inability to make my own decisions, relentless sadness, and nothing beautiful to see or hear.

I'm with Janet/Chancy and Wendl! Loss of capacity and the ability to care for myself top my list of fears, along with the loss of my husband who is 90--7 years older than I am. As I've always said, it's not so much death I fear but how I'll get there.

Andrea Bonette up above: My father had a similar experience of being woke up from a nap hearing the voice of a dear uncle and then learning a few hours late r that the uncle had died at the same time my dad got woke up from his nap. He told my mom about it before the call came so do not let the naysayer who 'rolled her eyes' annoy you. It's the only time my dad every had an experience like that and he was not religious either, like yours.

I had a experience after my husband died when I think he was trying to communicate with me. I had my wedding ring hanging on a straight pin on a bulletin board near my computer. (It was too tight to wear.) The minister came over to help me plan his funeral and after he left I found that ring sitting on my keyboard, the straight pin still firmly in place on the board. That ring had been there over a year and it was the only time it 'jumped ship' and no one else was in the house. The minister did not go in the room with the computer. Who knows, maybe a person's energy field/spirit hangs around for a short while. We don't know what we don't know.

I agree with Elizabeth. Loss of capacity and ability to care for myself, fear for my 87-year-old husband (17 years older thanI), and I don't fear death but the act of dying.

It may be silly, but I fear having to go into assisted living due to my MS and having to give up control of things like taking care of my meds, bills, etc. My mind is fine; It's the rest of me that is falling apart. My parents were in assisted living for a number of years, and I was not pleased with the rather laissez-faire attitude of some of the workers there. Of course, the pay and benefits in places like this are not great, so hiring and keeping qualified people is always difficult.

I fear having to leave my home for an assisted living or worse, a nursing home. A stroke worries me most, as you still have your mind, but often not your body.
Being a childless widow with friends my age or older, I fear not having the mind to handle my affairs and having to turn that over to some court appointed guardian.

Ultimately, I hate, but do not fear, just not knowing what’s going on in the world as crazy as it is. I’m too curious, I guess. But the feeling of the dread of non existence for all time forever to come, can unnerve me.

I don’t believe in an afterlife really, but one never knows.

I've noticed a few have fears of having to go to an assisted living facility. As you may know, I've been a resident of such a place for seven years. While some of your angst may be well-founded, there is much that is not.
If any of Ronnie's readers have questions about assisted living and want an unbiased and truthful answer to your questions you know where you can contact me.

I agree that the worst fear for me is being incapacitated. My mother died of a massive stroke at almost 83 after being in a wheelchair for a year. My father, age 86 at the time was taking care of her. She had medications, (probably for high cholesterol, blood pressure, and glaucoma),however,she was overweight her entire life and an alcoholic, only sober for 10 years at the end after much damage and probably her doctor laying it on the line about her chances of surviving if she continued to imbibe. My father died at age 94 from congestive heart failure but he was able to live on his own until the end with my youngest sister checking on him. He also suffered from dementia the last few years.

Due to my life-long depression battle I have always exercised to alleviate the symptoms b/c antidepressants only work for brief time and have side effects for me. So, at 80, I am in good health. MY husband is almost 80 and is also in excellent health. He is always full of energy and never misses a day of either riding his bike for 18 miles, or walking on the treadmill for an hour plus shorter walks in the neighborhood in the evening. I do find that my mood is better after I can work in my garden being in nature, and having my daily walks.

I have 3 children, and am most close to my only daughter who lives 45 miles away from us. I do not want for her to take on the burden of caring for me or for us both. My husband has one daughter but she would not be able to be a helper or a resource having her own problems to contend with. So....we both are plant based eaters and have been for about 10 years now and continue to eat healthy. Only a glass of wine for me about 5 pm everyday and no alcohol at all for spouse.

The only experience of visitation by a deceased person was when my friends and I rented a house near the coast and I was awoken about 3 am by a spirit dive bombing me as I slept in the living room of the vacation home we had rented for the trip. He had been a co-worker of my former husband who was sympathetic to him I assumed. It was very alarming.

When I visited my mother in the hospital as she lay in a coma I talked with her and told her that she could leave and I loved her. She died soon thereafter. I think that she was holding on hoping my older sister would visit her but that wasn't going to happen.

Ronni, I have one question. Prior to this blog did you ever write or edit in your career? I ask because you are such a good writer.

Ok. I lied, maybe two. Is Veronica your birth name?

Yes, please, Ronni, share your elderblogger list. That is part of your vast legacy: bringing us all together.

And here I will add my attitude toward dying. I'm with Carl Sagan, who said that we are all "starstuff," all part of the energy of the universe. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Like Sagan, I believe that when we die, our energy returns to the cosmos; we are back in the place we were before we were conceived. This is what Sagan told his young daughter when she asked him about death.

" Finally, he said that there was nothing he would like more in the world than to see his mother and father again, but that he had no reason—and no evidence—to support the idea of an afterlife, so he couldn't give in to the temptation. 'Why?' Then he told me, very tenderly, that it can be dangerous to believe things just because you want them to be true. You can get tricked if you don't question yourself and others, especially people in a position of authority. He told me that anything that's truly real can stand up to scrutiny."

In other words, trust the evidence of science until there is other evidence that proves something different. So, "rude" Gail, we are on the same page.

I'm a great believer in science and the scientific method, as they pertain to the study of the material world.

But to use science in an attempt to obliterate mystical truth is a tragic mistake in my opinion.

It's just as tragic as the mistake religious leaders made centuries ago and for that matter still continue to make, to try to convince the masses that religious dogma is the only truth and those with curious minds must be silenced.

As far as I can figure out, all true understanding must begin with open-minded observation and hopefully a sense of humility.

To dismiss, or worse yet heap scorn on the many millions of humans who have experienced what we, with our limited understanding, consider to be "other-worldly" phenomena, strikes me as both un-scientific (aren't we supposed to be observing all phenomena with a lack of bias?) and incredibly arrogant.

And yes, also rude.

The words of the Desiderata still seem like a good idea all these years later:

"Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others..."

That last part is really important.

I love this from Carl Sagan. Such a wise and decent man. I’m almost glad he didn’t live long enough to see the sad and dangerous mess America has turned into with our current so called leadership and slow destruction of our planet and everything we once held dear.

Dear Ronni, thank you for relaying my story in your post about my dad and the music box and answering my question. Also, thank you for not thinking I am looney.

About that jukebox, several weeks after dad died, my mother and I were making a car trip up to meet the rest of the family in Oregon and to bury dad’s ashes at the Applegate Pioneer Cemetery in Yoncalla. Along the way, mom was nostalgic and remembering all the places she and dad used to stop on so many trips they took together up north from Southern California. We talked so much about our memories of dad, it was almost like he was traveling with, listening, and laughing with us.

On the way back from Oregon, we decided to take a side trip to Reno, Nevada, and stay at the same nice motel where mom and dad had always stayed. After checking in and getting squared away in our room, we decided to go down to the motel’s bar and have a beer and a snack...The same small cozy bar where she and dad had sat and shared a beer so many times before.

We sat down at a center table and drank our beers and mom talked about all the previous trips she and dad had made to Reno. Behind us and to the left was a big old fashioned jukebox. It was not playing any music. As mom and I continued to talk about dad, suddenly the jukebox started up and dad’s favorite song The Entertainer started to play. Mom and I looked at the jukebox, stunned— mouths agape. The bar was not crowded and no one had gone up and put coins into the jukebox. How in the heck did it suddenly start to play dad’s favorite song? Mom and I just sat there listening to the familiar tune, and burst out crying. When the song finished, the jukebox fell silent again.

I think my dad’s spirit was visiting us, one last time, saying goodbye.

Still think I’m not loony?

Best wishes,

I don’t think you’re looney at all. It happened! Unexplainable, yes, but it happened. If only we were all as lucky as you to have had such a beautiful experience.

Thank you Jean. I agree. The “spiritual” visits by my dad to my mother and I were welcomed, magical and comforting.

Hi Ronnie - I, for one, promise to do my best to post my Last Day or Month or Year in Time Goes By in honour of you. I am 86.5 so I think your 5 year gift should cover me - thanks!

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