Maryland Aging in Community

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Memories of a Farm Boy

Welcome 2015- the partnership of attitude and good memories!
So many of us are greeting the new year on various trips to visit friends and family near and far, or hosting visitors at home. Often these visits include an exchange of stories, reminiscence of our shared past. many lessons and insights grow from these tales we share with each other. I think these stories and the process of the exchange can help us clarify our attitudes about important things in our lives. The dialogues let us begin to understand our choices and our thinking process. For some, the phrase “attitude is everything” is a profoundly important slogan of guidance! Do you find that ” you are what you think” to be true? How is your own attitude shaping your life as you make choices for yourself or a loved one who needs help?

Now half way through my 90th year, I finally admit to growing old. This means I know I really can’t shear that small flock of sheep down the road, or put a horse over a fence like I used to do. In fact, arthritis wouldn’t let me catch a sheep or saddle up the horse even though my mind says, “Let’s try”, my body says, “Forget it!”

 I really hate to admit that statement: in spite of my age and the fact that I have prostate cancer and much more arthritis than I need, I feel so good most of the time. I look forward to every day, every meal I fix, my daily exercise, and every person I see.

 I do not mind living alone, but my life is not complete because in January of ’14 my wife moved to an Assisted Living Home, 12 miles away. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago, our two children and I realized I could not continue providing the day and night care she required. Though she has no short term memory, she knows us, converses, is content and has excellent care. I hope to join her when I cannot take care of myself.

 We visit her as often as possible, but because of the arthritis I gave up driving a year ago so I have to wait until a driver is available.

The arthritis has affected my walking, balance, and posture but I try to adjust by seeking assistive devices that enable me to move as well as possible. One unusual device is an adult tricycle that I expected would be easier than a 2-wheel bike. Was I shocked when I got it? (As was someone else who ‘borrowed’ it one night … but abandoned it in the middle of our street not far from home.)

Though it is difficult, the biking rhythm is much more compatible to arthritis than is walking – which has become quite difficult – and with the handle bar set down, I get a total-body workout every time I ride. With two other pieces of equipment on our closed-in porch an excellent workout is available every day.

If I keep typing I may talk myself into finding a stable with a suitable mount … but I’ll forget the shearing.

However, I don’t want to forget milking cows by hand, being chased by a bull, driving teams of 2 or 4 mules that provided the ‘horse-power’ before a tractor appeared, wearing knickers to school, high school dances, and the wonderful rides on my horse after work on the farm.

Memories are all that is left of those days.

-Jack Matthews

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