ELDER MUSIC: ...and Poor
A TGB READER STORY: Memory of a Summer Day

Random Thoughts on Daily Life While Old

WILD FIRE UPDATE: Fires continued over the weekend producing in my neck of the woods the worst air quality in the entire world, they said. Even healthy people – those without such lung disease as I have and who are young – were cautioned to remain indoors on Saturday and on Sunday.

None of the fires in my area have been contained but there is no imminent danger to my town. In fact, as I was writing this on Sunday afternoon, I received a fire alert that my town has been dropped from the Level 1 evacuation order to Level zero or normal.

Just in case, my bag is still packed and ready to go. The weather people say we may have rain tonight or tomorrow or the next day. If so, that should help the fire fighters.

* * *

Today's post is a few short takes on some thoughts and ideas I would like to develop further but haven't mustered the concentration to do so yet. Or, more likely, am just too lazy to get the work done right now.

Since the summer of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, there has been a lot of talk in public conversation and in polls about diversity indicating support for including more people of color, ethnicity and gender.

That is a good thing but I wonder why diversity discussions don't include old people.

Being in hospice is a pretty clear indication that my life is on the wane. Nevertheless, I have spent little if any time casting a backward glance over the life I have lived.

Certain episodes come up but they don't linger and when I have tried now and then to find a thread runs through my years, nothing comes to mind. Even so, in general I feel that I have had a good life. Perhaps it is that I have lived as singer Elton John once said he had:

“If you let things happen, that's a magical life.”

That's how it has worked for me. I never had a plan, I just followed my nose from one day to the next, one month and one year to the next. What about you?

If you have a serious disease or two, as I do, daily life gets reduced to its essentials: rest, meals, medications with remaining time devoted to one's individual kinds of pleasures of old age.

I've made a schedule for myself. Medications at certain times of the day, cooking and cleaning up at other, mostly specific times, resting for awhile two or three times a day, moving slowly due to breathing difficulties for such chores at getting the mail, taking out the trash, doing the laundry.

The trick is to leave large enough chunks of time to answer email, do some research, write a blog post or two and include some pleasure reading.

One night of poor sleep and it's all gone to hell. Then it's two days until old age normal routine returns. Surprises are not among my joys these days.


Thank you for your update. It is beyond reassuring and may it remain so. I will return to read completely your compelling post but wanted to hurry and thank you.

Happy to hear that your fire condition has improved. Those were some scary days, and yes, keep the bag at the ready since we have no idea what is around the corner.

I've thought of you every day this past week, knowing how bad our air is, and like you wrote, even those with good lungs are having issues. A young friend of mine ended up in the ER thinking she was having a heart attack. It was just smoke inhalation. JUST! Can you imagine! These are some crazy days in which we find ourselves.

Again, we’re all so pleased to hear you’re safe and prepared. Even if you don’t do a regular post, a short “all is well” would be wonderful.
And I’m with you on my life plan. I didn’t have one either, and am very content with the way things have worked out.
Stay well, lovely lady!

Glad for your fire update. Good idea, though, to keep your go-bag packed.

I've had a magical life also. The Universe has given me much. Some of the best parts of my life involve decisions I made with very little thought. And I've had white privilege, which made so many things easier. I try to live in a state of gratitude but sometimes I take these things for granted. When I think about the past I dwell on the exciting and happy times, which in a way is reconstructing it.

I will pray for a good soaking rain. All the fires and their intensity is unfathomable to me. I am so sorry, as I am sure it makes life very much more difficult for many.

My daily routines have been curtailed by covid. If my invalid husband caught it - life would be over for him - so I have to take special precautions to see that I don't get it or become a carrier. Staying home all the time is worrisome, as I used to be a "goer" and being with other people was a definite plus. I miss it terribly, but hope all will return to normal (whatever that is) soon.

Please take care, Ronni, and do keep your bag packed. I hope you won't have to use it.

I was lucky with my life in that my parents”brainwashed” me when I was a child into believing I had to become a doctor. Luckily I proved to have the IQ for it. With that decided, all I had to decide myself were the minor issues of whom to marry, how many children to have ,where to live etc. And I was lucky in those too; been married happily to the same girl for64 years, have z kids who have both been successful at the jobs they’ve chosen, and live near us. And only in later years have my wife and I been limited physically (we are 93 and 92}. And I have always loved to read, which I consider a blessing. So while you can’t say I entirely just let things happen, I did to a large extent. And I certainly wouldn’t change a bit of it if I could. I consider myself truly blessed and thank God for it every day. Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts with all of us. And know that we all wish you well. And God bless you.

Why age rarely enters into discussions and protests re diversity: it's not seen as (as the gestaltists say) as figural: you're a person of colour who is old, you are a transperson who is old, or you are an unsheltered person who is old. In my reading of news and editorials, it is usually the second adjective. And often, simply reaching old age while enduring inequity and injustice is seen as "well, at least you're still here"... a kind of consolation prize. Only organizations whose mandate is better care for elders put the age first, and they are few.

What a time of tumult we are living through, regardless of age. I am relieved that you have persons looking out for you there.

Thank you for describing your daily routine.I also have COPD and can relate to some of the things you mentioned.
Wishing you continued strength and Joy as well.

Ronni, so good to hear you are okay - in terms of the fires. You have been on my mind and so I'm very glad you have managed to stay put in your home. Re planning one's life: mine also just happened and there have been ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for anything else. I've met some incredible people in my life and have wonderful memories as a child in a loving family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. All my experiences, including the tough ones, have made me what I am. Being isolated due to Covid hasn't been bad for me. I still don't have enough time or energy to do all I would like. Of course, having two adopted pets make for good company. Sending positive thoughts always to you during your journey. Hugs.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I’ve spent my life mostly flying by the seat of my pants. Other people had goals and lists and expectations. I didn’t even know that was a thing! Still, it’s been great. In spite of myself I’ve acquired some education and knowledge along the way, had jobs I’ve enjoyed and some I haven’t, and a family I love dearly. As I look at my life, it reminds me of the frustration and fun I had learning to crochet my first afghan. It turned out to be colorful, albeit with many mismatched colors; it had mistakes and imperfections, some visible, some hidden. But when I wrapped it around me it gave me warmth and a satisfying feeling of having done something worthwhile.

Wishing you well and thinking of you often, Ronni.

Anybody living in a long-term care facility , locked-down and quarantined for over 180 days, unable to have visitors or to leave the premises can tell you why old people were left out of diversity discussions. Nobody gives a damn.

My state (NY) is clueless as to how to proceed with normalizing our condition.

Malls, restaurants and even casinos are permitted some relaxation of the rules. But not us. The only reason I can think of is that we are looked at as a drain on the economy rather than an asset. And, in a country that has demonstrated the almighty dollar means more than human life, we are tossed aside as so much detritus , to be discarded the next time the garbage truck rolls by.

I was captured by the individual pleasures of old age. What are they for others?
Is it spending all the time I want on line? Eating a cookie? Petting my dog? Going to bed early? I mean really early.

What are your pleasures of old age?


I have always said the theme of my life is: bad timing. Never had a definite plan and have lived, by and large, a good life. On the other hand, some life decisions I made which seemed good and solid at the time, later looked wrong...per something unexpected that happened. So in the rearview mirror (at 68), to say I am now a bit cautious about any decision would be an understatement! Anyway, thank you for the wildfire update. Having survived two tornadoes here in the South, I can attest to being prepped!

Ronnie -- I admire your focus. I hope I do as well as you.
I was very lucky overall and had a good life. The pickles I got myself into, I was able to
get myself out of -- life lessons learned.

I can still enjoy walking my dog, reading books and just sitting outside and enjoying
the wildlife, birds and whatever else comes my way.

I'm very thankful!

all best to you,
(good idea to keep that bag packed!)

Change happens. Surprises happen. I try to just blunder through everything. Sometimes it works. I have a whole list of doctors that seem not at all pleased with me. Then again, my pulmonary doc said "you are going to live forever" while wanting me to come back in six months.

I send good thoughts and a prayer or two your way. Hugs...

So glad you're on Level "Zero" fire alert--hope it stays that way. It's still smoky up here near Seattle but maybe a little less so than yesterday. Hard to tell since it's foggy, too.

Whatever life plan I might have had got derailed for 20 years or so in my youth when I partied much more than I should have. In my late 30s I got back on track and started acting like an adult. It was about time! The ensuing 40 years, between 40-80, were good. The 80s, not so much, but as I've said many times (and NOT in any context related to the thousands of unnecessary deaths from COVID!) it is what it is.

Please keep us posted (as you can) about the fire situation.

Why aren't old people included in diversity discussions? Because we're already a part of one or more of those diversity groups. We're already black or Hispanic or gay or whatever.

My life as an aging individual? I've made some bad/stupid mistakes getting here. But every time I start regretting decision A, I remind myself that without it I wouldn't have reached B or gone on to C, etc. So here I am approaching X, Y, and Z and life is good.

So glad to hear you're safe, Ronni, and that evac orders have been eased. I think about you daily. The West Coast fires are such a tragedy for so many.

Thank you for sharing your journey. I happy to hear you are safe.
I, too, have followed my nose, my passion, my curiosity during my career and life. It has never let me down. I have learned at every step of the way. What to do, what not to do or do better . Life has been quite an adventure and I have done things I never thought I would do.

I appreciate how you handle your fears. Fear is the great paralytic. Most folks, when confronted with major challenges, opt into fear and magical thinking. It doesn't work.

I am a 4 time traveler with cancer--two times with breast cancer-the other two time-the rest of the reproductive system.
All of those times, I have embraced moving forward. Is there fear?--yes. Do I let it consume me? no.

I am still seeking out new challenges and new projects. Still having a blast and working through the issues.

Thank you for your column.

"...resting for awhile two or three times a day..." that you mentioned reminded me of my sister, in fairly late-stage Parkinson's disease, never lost her sense of humor. One morning she announced, "Well, I think I'll take my nap and get that out of the way."

So very glad you're off the evacuation list! Yes, eventually everyone should be part of the diversity discussion! Everyone is their race, ethnicity, and then we're all so much more than that also. As I read history to try to better understand the
present........... I see the same power/discrimination problem over and over, and wonder if humans are, inescapably flawed in that way. Ugh, maybe I'm just being down about the whole thing today.

Glad you've been released from the evacuation alert. Having a bag packed for a variety of possible emergencies can never be remiss, especially when we’re older, live alone. In fact, I think it’s the better part of wisdom to do so. Here in SoCal earthquake preparedness is ever present. Beginning in my mid-seventies i became aware I might want to consider a 911 trip to ER could be a possibility, too, so I might want to prepare a bag —just in case.

While old age is more than just disease, debility, distress, all too often the percentage of time those factors infringe on our daily lives lessening pleasure periods does seem to increase. I think age group issues, including those of older people, is separate from those of race, gender, etc. There does need to be be more recognition, examination of subgroups for the years 50 and up — old at any of the ages on that spectrum can be significantly different from one another.

I did have a plan to go to college by one hook or crook though I knew the total cost would be mine — as it was. While I had plans, I was also very flexible as perceived responsibilities for others often altered them, including even where i lived. Adjustment and adaptation became guiding forces to maximize any personal benefits for me.

Life is what happens when you’re making other plans often has seemed most applicable for me. Circumstances resulted in my making choices limiting my maximizing my potential as I realized at the times of decision, but personal values of importance to me took precedence which I don't regret though I’ve sometimes been curious about.

Hoping weather and fire conditions keep getting better there. I once visited Langlois Oregon and remember the beauty and wonder the conditions now. Not able to find out, my friend there died the same year our son did. I'm betting her blog is still up. Nope just checked, after years it is now gone.

Since I got thrown out at 14 my plan has been to just earn enough to buy food. I spent my life running scared and now that security has arrived, I don't know what to do with it. The great thing about a job and the military was the structure required forced me to suppress my demons. Now with the pandemic and plenty of money and food, I am realizing what I missed. I can reach out for help (and have done so) without threatening my income. Man, what a difference! However, l feel empty. Like I used to tell people at my old job, this would have been great 40 years ago. Now, I'm just another "old guy" using up my time. This blog is a great place to use as a sounding board and your comments, Ronnie, as well as your readers are very enlightening. Thank you. B

Glad to hear the evacuation orders were canceled. Made me stop and think. My condo is filled with assorted things to keep me breathing. I think I should gather most of them in a duffel bag on wheels. They are stored in a plastic box on a shelf and in the bathroom and in my bedroom. This way they would all be in one place. Probably better anyway. I already have a small bag for the intermittent hospital visits I make. If I throw in some undies and an extra phone charger I'd be good.

I'm another who just sort of followed my nose. I made plans but after college real life kept getting in way. All things considered it went pretty well. I have no bucket list because of it. If things calm down and the universe is in order I'd visit Alaska again for awhile. Right now it's enough to hope to see any of my family and friends. I

Thank you for the update, Ronni. Blessings!

Until I was in my mid-thirties, I let things happen to me with the overriding goal of love and marriage. After a divorce and remarriage, I realized that I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live, so I deliberately changed things. I had a husband and four children to deal with but I took the first step in gaining control by enrolling in college at the age of 34.

Those happened to be the good years (the late 60s) so being a 34-year old college student wasn’t a disadvantage. But since the husband I had at the time was not into what was called “women’s liberation” it wasn’t long before I had chalked up a second divorce. For the next five years of undergraduate and graduate education, I managed to have some love affairs while still keeping my eye firmly on the prize.

After college, I lucked into a career path and acquired the expertise to succeed. Since I was focussing primarily on career, I found that there was no time left for romance but realized that I didn’t miss it at all. The next 20 years were dedicated to my job and the people it served. Then I made the mistake of taking early retirement because of a very enticing offer.

I tried a couple of part-time jobs but soon decided that office politics were always going to be there to mess things up. There was some major surgery, recovery from which required dedication that left no time for outside activities. So I turned into a dawdler, something I never was before. I shlepped around decorating my home or creating gardens, did some minor traveling, dabbled in creative writing, found whatever socializing I needed in family, and in general was running out the clock—but in a good way.

The life I have is strangely satisfying with TV, internet, reading and writing to keep me entertained. I have enough money to support the causes I care about and provide financial help to my children and grandchildren while leaving plenty to care for my modest needs. What else is there to want at my age? What I don’t need is a husband or partner. I have found that independence is what I always needed and I now have it.

I’m thinking about you too Ronni! Lets catch up soon.

About just letting things happen: I’ve always felt that life’s ideas were much better and more interesting than mine. When I was young I helped a self-help guru, Barbara Sher, write her first book based on her “success teams” seminars. They were all about mapping out a path to your “dreams.” Ever since, I’ve hated the self-help genre. My mantra is “Surprise me.” Somehow life’s surprises (and of course I had to recognize and accept them) have turned out to be more fitting than anything I could have imagined or planned.

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