EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 13, 1998– 2008 SETTLING BACK, IT WAS A GREAT RIDE, Part 2
HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!
“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”
I NEVER THOUGHT
I never thought that when I’d be getting to the end of the trail that I would still have to be making the hard decisions. In retrospect things weren’t that tough. In the here and now, things are tougher when I start philosophizing to my wife. Somewhat complaining, she retorts, “Why don’t you be happy thinking about everything you have.” But the things that bother you aren’t the good things – it’s the bad things that you mull over in your brain that you wouldn’t want to discuss. Sometimes you have a tendency to think negative things even if you’re mostly a positive kind of person but it is human nature to let your mind drift to things that you worry about such as impending health issues, loss of income, loss of loved ones when you get to this point there’s a lot of loss, the objective as what my wife said, think about the have’s, all the blessings that you have received; that is also part of the have’s.
So I guess I fell back on one of my pillars, to be persistent. Being persistent about not worrying and that’s how I applied my basic mantra to my present mind-set.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press on,’ has solved and always will solve the problem of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge. –Ed.
So I channeled my energies in getting into a more favorable frame of mind. And as usual I sent out more letters, this time to President Clinton announcing that my wife’s birthday was upon us and maybe he would do a Presidential kind of Announcement as he did for my wife’s 76th, our 50th Anniversary and hopefully he won’t forget her eightieth birthday on January 16, 2000.
In the early part of this chapter I fired off a letter to my Congressman Mike Bilirakis on the potential Social Security reform. Things started to get even more intense as President Bush kept his proposal to reform Social Security with private investment accounts in the forefront. So, I set my sights higher and fired off another salvo this time to Florida, Senator Bill Nelson. He seemed to be in complete agreement, not to tamper with having retirees taking money out of Social Security to pay for a private account, in order to play the stock market. A copy of his response is cited below.
Figure #13.20 Response from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Florida
Naturally I kept my pen well-armed in fighting the wars on the home front for keeping Social Security intact, Health Care Reform and casino gambling from becoming the likes of another Atlantic City. It would eventually become a household word as part of the Hard-Rock Casinos establishments. But I did manage to keep the home fires burning with salutary letters coming in from the Head-honcho himself. This was always a pleasant surprise receiving Birthday or Anniversary wishes from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And “greasing the track,” doesn’t hurt to get the desired response.
Figure #13.21 and Figure #13.22 An encapsulated account of correspondence between President Bill Clinton and First Lady on Thelma and my Special Dates.
My darling Thelma has some health issues that kept rearing its ugly head. When you’re first put in this precarious situation you are at the mercy of health care experts. Our family physician was someone we knew and trusted. However, once you get out of the realm of their expertise; you’re like a babe lost in the woods so to speak. You go from one specialist to another; one prescription to another. Boy, were we loaded, with medicines that is. As it is a dutiful husbandry’s duty I managed to try keep track of all the “meds”.
This was just a sampling of the level of monitoring and administering, a whole company of these required pills at regular intervals. We developed a system whereby we kept track of the times the medicine was given; the blood pressure systolic and diastolic; pulse and reaction such as nausea; time of the meal and other incidentals like TV before bedtime. I guess this is part of growing old and can be part of the vicious health care conundrum. Complaining doesn’t help and we have been blessed with wonderfully good health throughout most of our entire lives. The way I rationalized it was that between the both of us if you divided all the pills and the meds. It came out manageable, only she had most of them and I had only some blood pressure and one relatively mild heart pill. As you can see it was a full-time job but as usual working together for a life-time means like I said before, ” You don’t give in and You don’t give up.”
Figure #13.23, Figure #13.24 and Figure #13.25 A sampling of the regimen for Thelma’s medicine
Even as this process worked, we didn’t want to be a burden on our children. But inevitably we would have to come up with a plan that all families must face. Thelma needed some extra care in addition to what I could provide. We also had the blessing of Billy and his job with Hillsborough County government having a provision in place that is available in all public and private sector employment. It allows immediate family members to sign up for and upon approval be available for assisting in medical care and appointments. But it was the supplementing this with home care visits by a reputable CNA’s (Certified Nurses Assistant) that became essential. It seemed to fill the bill and life went on relatively smoothly for the time being.
This is why I’d like to share with you this article by Ms. Lynn Brenner, “A Conversation You Can’t Put Off.” It was very timely in dealing with possible medical crises and being organized and addressing financial and legal issues. And to do it while everyone is in a clear state of mind. Each family situation is different so you need to act accordingly to handle changes in individual health, level of healthcare and possible long-term arrangements.
Figure #13.26 Dealing with Family Health Issues
As the years dwindled on, issues that I wouldn’t have given a second thought before are cropping up and naturally as I was predisposed to, I kept track of with “A Dossier” on and file them away to look them over when it was pertinent to bring them back out. Topics such as eating healthier, worrying about losing your memory and keeping your immune system in check. You cannot lose any ground when all this was creeping up beside you.
In an article written by John Mitchell; “Food substitutions mean healthier hearts,” There were some good things being suggested and we decided to include foods in our diets that would be translated into a healthier lifestyle. Reducing the chances of medical problems; this is what we hoped. Included in the article were recommendations and substitution hints on the American Heart Association and local chefs:
Although we know how important these recommendations sound, it is another thing to follow them. We did cut down on red meats which I was having a tough time digesting anyway and eating more fish and poultry. Sonny boy would go out shopping and we would get the low-fat processed, low-sodium sandwich meats. Dairy was a big concern and we used the more healthful butter substitutes that are available, yogurt and non-fat milk. We skimped on the salad dressing, croutons, cheese and meat.
We ate more fresh herbs and followed the advice of throwing away the salt shaker, specially watching out for the salt content in canned goods. The tough part was the desserts, we did try the fruits, sorbet and sherbets but ice cream containers seem to flow freely in and out of the freezer.
Figure #13.27 Changing health habits for healthier living article by Mr. John Mitchell
The other thing that constantly kept creeping into our psyche was how to maintain our memory, concentration and for all intents and purposes how to think clearly. As I mentioned earlier in this chapter trying to keep your mental acumen in gear through daily activities is not enough. Conversation, constant interaction with friends, neighbors and of course family all help to maintain a sharp mind as we get older. I was fortunate enough in keeping my writing skills intact and continued doing my crossword puzzles with Thelma standing by to offer assistance. The title of the following article by Dr. Ronald M. Lawrence, “Are You Worried About Losing Your Memory As You Age?” (** full article to appear in Book), is certainly a resounding yes, of course!! We all know there is no easy panacea for basically bringing up particular items of concern that must be addressed. I found that mental and physical health usually goes hand in. And as the old adage recounts, love and marriage, “you cannot have one without the other.” Which also falls back to the concept that the brain is a muscle and you need to exercise it. As most of these articles profess, these are problems we all face. They provide red flags that can spur us on to avoiding more severe pitfalls if we take the proper measures. We worried about our memory and how to maintain it.
Figure #13.28 Dr. Ronald M. Lawrence’s, “Article on Worrying About Losing Your Memory As You Age.”
As is always the case, our ability to fight off colds, flu bugs and an assortment of other physical ailments tends to leave us very vulnerable with so many communicable diseases running rampant today. We started to take this immune system seriously. There’s not much can do about your genetic makeup so we followed a little bit of the advice spelled out in the article by Lawrence Roy Stains and worked on changing our lifestyle.(**The condensed version will appear in the book) .A healthier diet of more fish, fruits and vegetables, we took vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C and B12. Some of the advice that was part of the article such as “Eight Ways To Turn Back The Clock,” was considered. This isn’t expected to perform miracles immediately though we felt every bit helps and we even tried to get the best results out of joining a wellness center for seniors.
Figure #13.29 Laurence Roy Stains Article, “Super Immunity.”
So in keeping with these options from the article above at hand and in addition to dealing with the “issues of our times,” I still managed to keep my letter writing level to at least two letters coming and going each week during this period.
Figure #13.30 Letter from Daughter Bonnie
Figure #13.31 Letter to our next door neighbor Emily Levine in Syosset
Figure #13.32 Letter to Actor, Movie Star, Mickey Rooney Figure #13.33 Letter to our “New friend,” John
Figure #13.34 “We are Survivors,” by Irv Greenfield Figure #13.35 Color Commentary
January 3, 2007 marked Thelma’s and my 65th Wedding Anniversary. People came from far and wide and near to be with us, celebrate with us, and share with us; a lifetime of memories. The Grand Affair was held at the Countryside Country Club in Clearwater, Florida. Over 100 people attended and Thelma mustered up all her energies and we commandeered her from the rehab stint where she was receiving some heart treatment. Thelma played the role to the hilt; The Lady of Honor. She looked lovely and it was the best medicine for her to be there with all the many people who loved her. We have a DVD to prove, it if anyone is interested. Speeches, a guitar rendition of Thelma’s favorite, Annie’s Song, by John Denver, good Luck Wishes from family and friends, children and grandchildren. We even were serenaded by our very dear friend’s 3 1/2 year old son, playing a song on his violin. My “War bride” did so well that we had a return engagement the following morning at a brunch in our honor. Bonnie took the lead, preparing memory boards complete with pictures, mementos, even a jeopardy skit that challenged family and friends to revisit highlights of our lives. Billy presented us with a framed rendering of our life together. We can’t forget the CD that was digitally mastered by Lee Landau, our Son-in-law. It included many of our special songs that preceded us throughout the years; starting with Tony Bennett, “Because of You,” from our Wedding Day.
Figure #13.36 Our 65th Wedding Anniversary Album Figure #13.37 A Record CD Prepared by Bonnie & Lee
We sang, we danced, we laughed and cried that was our strength; our family bond. It included many dear and loyal friends who joined us in our “Simchas,” Yiddish for Happiness and Joy.
It was so special and I can only wish that all people everywhere can taste at least a sampling of what Thelma and I have had. As one of the beloved humorist and humanists of our times, Bob Hope would always leave us with, “Thanks for the Memories.” And that’s how I would like to leave one and all, Thanks!!
Fig. #13.38 “A Love Story: Thelma and Joe’s Story of Love
Figure #13.39 A picture worth at least 80,000 words;Thel and Joe you can feel the glow
Copyright © 2016 William Sefekar
** Material will appear in book.
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