SETTLING BACK – IT WAS A GREAT RIDE PT. 3

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 13, 1998– 2008 SETTLING BACK, IT WAS A GREAT RIDE, Part 3

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.”

MY LEGACY

To my mother and father who left me no legacy except for longevity, an even disposition, the energy and the stamina to meet all life’s problems honestly, forthrightly. I wrote these words down on an envelope as I was finishing up my “tour of duty.”

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Figure #13.40 “No Legacy” left by my Mother and Father   Figure #13.41 Jotted down on an envelope.

Yes, my folks didn’t leave me a Legacy, they left me so much more.  What they left me with was the basic building blocks which were more much vital to being successful “in-life,” contributing to the health, welfare and the arts and paying back in some small way what it meant to be a citizen of this great country.

One of the themes that was running rampant in the early part of this chapter was a preoccupation with related health issues.  I kept the articles in folders hoping they would be of some value in bettering our understanding.  This would come in handy in the future as we dealt with all the medical twists and turns.  Case in point, Thelma had developed an acute case of insomnia.  Don’t know if it was a result of all these years of her having to deal with my snoring.  I guess it sounded like a truck going to our bedroom at night.  But whatever the case, we had to confront with the other possibility of sleep apnea and on three occasions she went to the Mease Hospital in nearby Dunedin, Florida for this condition.  She stayed overnight and they monitored her sleep patterns with both neurological, physiological as well as video equipment.  We read up on all the different approaches but nothing really worked.  In the following article written by Rick Weiss, “When Sleep Won’t Come,” many of these sleep problems were discussed such as more than half of people 65 or older complain of chronic sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep or difficulty with excessive sleepiness during the day, according to the National Institute on Aging.  About one-third if seniors have chronic insomnia.  Happily, most problems are treatable often and very simple ways with such as a nighttime breathing device.  This wasn’t the case with Thelma and as I mentioned sleep apnea which can be recognized by snoring loudly at night and sometimes associated with stop breathing and causing her to awaken with a start.

The end of the article finally acknowledged that “there is often an overlooked perfectly sensible option for some older people to find themselves slaves to their advancing internal clock: Go with the biological flow.  Get to sleep as early as possible, wake up naturally at three or four in the morning, and take advantage of the quiet, predawn hours to get some things done.”  Which is what I am doing exactly now; predawn inspiration.

Here are some of the suggestions; we couldn’t follow all of them but some that made very good sense were:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Bedroom for sleeping; don’t read, watch TV or eat in bed.
  • Limit daytime naps. Take a 20 to 30-minute warm bath before bed, drink a glass of milk just before bed (warm or cold); milk contains tryptophan, a naturally sleep–inducing amino acid.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and chocolate (which contains caffeine) in the afternoon or evening.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before bed; it can cause rebound wakefulness in the night and exacerbates snoring and apnea.
  • Exercise during the day may promote better sleep at night, but don’t exercise in the three of four hours before going to bed. From “All I want is a good night sleep” by Sonia Ancoli – Israel (Mosby 1996).

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Figure #13.42 Article by Rick Weiss “When Sleep Won’t Come.”

Next two articles deal with “Stroke Symptoms” and “Help with nursing home issues.”  The first article appeared in a local publication which I’m not able to find the exact citation as well as the author.  It was found under the heading “REACHING YOUR BEST.”  It describes certain risk factors which increase with age and sometimes might not be easily picked up when the symptoms occur whether it’s a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA is a temporary interruption of the blood’s life to an area of the brain.  TIAs can appear hours, days, weeks, or months before full stroke).  The article discusses seven “Uncontrollable Stroke–Risk Factors:” as you can imagine high blood pressure; high cholesterol; atrial fibrillation and other heart diseases; personal history of stroke or TIA; smoking; alcohol consumption and excess weight.  I was one of the fortunate ones that my risk factors did not reach the critical levels and subsequently the minor stroke that I experienced could be treated and I could resume a normal life.

Another common health issue more prevalent among seniors and attributable only to men is prostate cancer. And yes, I have articles about the different approaches and treatment.  But I will spare my viewers this touchy subject and refrain from posting any articles; except on demand.  It is a very serious subject and it is important from my perspective that routine tests are part of your annual health exam.  My brother Al, was diagnosed in the early stages of a possible malignancy and it was successfully treated.  So I know firsthand why men should have regular visits to the doctor to make sure they are not affected.

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Figure #13.43 Symptoms of a Stroke Figure    #13.44 Suzanne Palmer, Article about “Help with nursing home issues.”

It is one thing to plan and is another thing to have plans work out. We did manage to have excellent care with excellent caregivers during this timeframe and Thelma was doing very well with CNA’s that would be scheduled for twice a week, a few hours each.  The “Nursing Home Issue” as discussed in the article by Suzanne Palmer was not required at this time.  And Billy was close by, within earshot range for the most part.

I guess while we are dealing with life-threatening issues, might as well throw in another zinger. “Life-ending” issues that we needed to address.  I made the necessary arrangements for a place for Thelma and I to spend the here-after.  It was a plot that would be close-by where we live; for family to visit.  But not dwelling on this too much we did take into account other even more important impending issues.  This related to our estate and an equal distribution of whatever earthly wealth that we accumulated.  As usual I found an article that appeared in USA Today in their Managing Your Money Section written by Sandra Block, “No Will?  There’s a way online.”  It looked into the new fledgling advantages of the Internet.  Included were some of the websites that were available at this time.  Provided as well were tips about downloading free technical and legal advice; at least it gave us an idea of the guidelines and parameters from which we would base our final decisions.  Realizing that this was something that appeared at the time, it is certainly recommended to do your own “homework”.  We know so much has since evolved and is now current.

We did have a lawyer friend of the family, Greg Fox who Bill was very close with for over 20 years and we knew his family.  So, we sat down and came up with a “Living Will” and “Trust”, all families and individuals need to come to grips with this.

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Figure #13.45 Sandra Block Article, “No Will? There’s a way online,” USA Today

 

In taking editorial liberties, I will digress and revert back to another place and time; my beginnings, “My Eyes Were Young And Gay” as part of my earliest recollections.  These notes and letters would become the hallmark for putting together my memoirs and artifacts almost like the Big Bang theory that exploded and started the wheels churning.  The other letter about this time was sent to my granddaughter Beth Landau in response to her question, “Where were you born?,” It jogged my memory which a few years later in 1997, I would undertake with the help of my son to type these remembrances and occurrences from handwritten notes and letters that numbered in the hundreds.

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Figure #13.46  “My Eyes Were Young And Gay.”1             Figure #13.47 Letter to my granddaughter Beth Landau

1 Author’s note, at the time that I wrote this, the word gay was taken in the context of almost 100 years ago as in the “Gay Nineties.” A time when gaiety was identified with jolly cheerfulness.

 

As was mentioned in the last chapter, it was a most memorable evening listening to Prof. Elie Wiesel the Nobel Peace Laureate.  I even had the distinct honor to have Mr. Elie Wiesel sign the program.  What makes this even more of an amazing encounter is that a few years later at the opening of the Florida Holocaust Museum and Education Center in St. Petersburg Florida, Elie Wiesel was the main speaker at this major event for the city.  It just so happened that Bill as part of his duties as producer of the Public Access TV Show. “B’nai B’rith Presents; Jewish life in Tampa Bay,” was there to film this.  Also on the program was a Cantor William Hauben who at that time was Cantor at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Tampa.  Cantor Hauben also a friend of Prof Wiesel performed the Priestly benediction to open up the program.  As fate, would have it, 10 years later in 2008 my son would begin a three-year writing project that resulted in co-authoring a book with Cantor Hauben; himself a Holocaust survivor entitled, “Light: Courage and Hope.”  I took these pictures from that historic night.  Little did I know that in 2010 when the book was published I’d be at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. for a reception with the Ambassadors from these 10 righteous nations that helped save Jews and others during the Holocaust.

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Figure #13.48 Professor Elie Wiesel Main Speaker at the Opening of the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL, February 1998

Figure #13.49 On Stage standing next to the Podium, Cantor William Hauben who would author his second book “Light: Courage and Hope,” with Bill Sefekar.

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Figure #13.50 Opening Dedication Ceremony of Florida Holocaust Museum, Cantor William Hauben is sitting at the right.

Elie Wiesel, the Nazi death camp survivor who won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, spoke to a standing room only crowd at Eckerd College warning of the dangers of religious nationalism and fanaticism.  The article below appeared a few years before in the Jewish Press of Pinellas County November 1991.  He said “I’m afraid the trend towards extremist movements – political, religious, and social bear close scrutiny.  Increasingly, he said more people are clamoring for answers, and fanatics of all types are eager to fill the void.”

“I’m afraid of this. It’s easy, it’s so tempting to be a fanatic.  The fanatic has no problem.  He knows it all, wants it all, has it all, the fanatic never doubts.  He believes only he knows what G-d wants. Ultimately, in the end, he thinks G-d is guilty and he replaces G-d, puts Him in a prison.  It is when the fanatic feels he moves within the framework of history that we are all in trouble.  We must fight against fanaticism by learning the lessons of history and become more sensitive to other peoples’ plights.  The student of history and ‘messenger to mankind’ called upon his audience to help promote understanding and tolerance of others.  You have a sense of responsibility – the only human response – to defeat the fanatics of the world who put us all in danger.  Remember, not a single human being is identical.  That means plurals pluralism, variety, differences and tolerance.  I must say I respect your belief of faith, and I’d like you to respect mine.  It is not easy.  We come from all different backgrounds and with all kinds of baggage.  But we must learn, we must start again.  If we use our beliefs as a weapon instead of as in friendship, we poison our world.  We people live in fear, we are afraid of strangers.  Well, society can be measured by the humanity it demonstrates towards stranger.”  I would like to thank the Jewish Press of Pinellas County for their following and reporting on human interaction and tolerance for over 35 years in the Tampa Bay area.

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Figures #13.51 and #13.52 Elie Wiesel: ‘We must fight against fanaticism.’

 

Continuing to always wanting to “leave them with a smile,” the other side of the local newspaper article above that discusses “symptoms of strokes,” deals with a little more levity as was located in its “BIT OF HUMOR,” section.  I don’t know if I would’ve known about these classes when I first started out whether it would’ve helped me along the way.  But I did manage to come up with the right things to say and do, most of the time.  In that passage in Chapter 12 about making it to the magic age, one of the things that was mentioned in being successful and accommodating with women; the three special words: “Compromise and give in.”  But in this day and age it seems people take liberties above and beyond what was considered in my time as “rules of engagement.”

“So here is a two-year degree: being offered at universities many of you should be interested: ‘Become A Real Man/Husband.’ That’s right, in just six trimesters, you, too, can be a real man – as well as earn an AA degree (AA Real Men).  Please take a moment to look over the program outline.” Be prepared to smile!

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Figure #13.53  Bit of Humor

 

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Figure #13.54 Perpetual Calendar,

 

One of my nephews happened to loan me copy of an old memorable songbook and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I kept it for quite a few months musing over all the songs that were so much a part of me as well as my wife’s world.  One of the songs that I remembered fondly was this song that seemed to capture my starting out with Thelma, when I was wet behind the ears.  “Making Whoopee,” was just that kind of song.

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Figure #13.55  Lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “Makin” Whoopee

 

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

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