Past - Present - Future
By Patrick M. Kennedy
There were so many keen things in the past for
today's seniors. The lowdown of this snazzy earlier period will
be a wacky and juicy journey, and fun, and will open your blinkers
to many past dreams and familiarities. The memories will blow
your wig. The first thing that comes to mind is the Golden Age
of Radio and all those dingy radio shows you used to listen to
as a family while gathered around the old white-enamel radio sitting
on the souvenir cabinet in the living room. Fibber Magee and Molly,
The Shadow (Only the Shadow knows), Amos 'n' Andy, Adventures
of the Thin Man, Abbott and Costello (Hey Abbott! or Who's on
First?), Gunsmoke, and music by Artie Shaw, Bing Crosby, Ella
Fitzgerald, Glen Miller and Louis Armstrong, to name only a few.
Usually a half-an-hour at a time trip into another world, and
your mind would forget all the problems around you.
No TV in the real old days, but oh the movies that drew you downtown
to the movie house. Lust for Life; The Treasure of Sierra Madre;
Arsenic and Old Lace; musicals like Show Boat, Annie Get Your
Gun, Kiss Me Kate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Singing
in the Rain; The Mummy; Anne Frank; A Bridge Too Far; and stars
Clark Gable, John Wayne, James Stewart, Boris Karloff, Marilyn
Monroe, Jane Russell, Debra Kerr, Ava Gardner, and the young and
older Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney - and all if it came
with popcorn you could afford without taking out a second mortgage
on the home. And the drive-ins! What fun! Oh, the rummaging through
nostalgia is nice, but what Ralph Waldo Emerson said leads us
to the next exploration, "With the past, I have nothing to
do; nor with the future. I live now,"
The present is so much easier for seniors to deal with because
it is right there where you can reach out and touch it and deal
with it. At least most of it, except the wishes and what-ifs and
the woulda, coulda, shoulda factors. You woulda changed your life
if you coulda known what you shoulda done differently. You won't
know now anyhow. So you might as well enjoy what you have, and
try not to get stuck on the treadmill to nowhere. Or, you wish
you could lose some weight. Well, you can, it still is now and
not then and tomorrow you could be thinner. Or, you wish you had
more money. Well, you can if you want to work for it, but that
sounds like work and not retirement. What if we had moved to warmer
climate after retirement? Maybe you still can, if you have that
extra money you may have to work for.
Movies are still around in all the Cineplex's with seating for
hundreds at six to sixteen shows in one building and some open
24-hours each day. The movies are in Cinemascope, Cinerama, about
Sin-Sin and Action-Action, in 3D that attacks you in your seat,
with dozens of actors you've never heard of before but will see
over and over again, and popcorn and soda and unknown candy assortments
that cost much more than the ticket. They are a fun trip and worth
it to keep your blood flowing and almost better than TV.
TV these days will entertain you 24-hours a day. There's no test
pattern at midnight, and hundreds of channels are available traveling
to you through cables and satellites for the price of monthly
admission called a bill. Movies from all the ages as well as new
ones just out of the theaters; games shows for every age and education
level; regular programming of comedies, mysteries, crimes, documentaries,
sports, and 24-hours news. But you know all this because it is
just a few feet in front of your lounge chair. Of course, you
could follow the advice of Groucho Marx who had a long running
show of his own, "I find television very educating. Every
time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read
The future is a mystery that will never be reached and never solved.
It is always there in front of you. You can make plans for it,
make lists of things to do today, layout vacation plans and make
reservations at a nice resort, then your plans could change because
the car won't start, or you stub your toe and have to go to the
clinic. The future is kind of hidden a door between now and then
that you can't open to reveal its true identity. It's only manifested
in the dreams we have about how it will be. "The future ain't
what it used to be," said everyman's philosopher, Yogi Berra.
And for many seniors that is very true. It used to be thoughts
of relaxation and coming down from a life of stress and work and
money worries. The only answer is to lay back and keep the dream
alive, however possible. That sounds like work, but the reward
is bliss. But one psychologist, Wayne Dyer, said, "Go for
it now. The future is promised to no one."
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The Arithmetic of Retirement
By Patrick M. Kennedy
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, well,
there goes another week. Whoops, wrong math! Time is endless and
stretched before you, why count, there is no final answer. So
the best answer is to enjoy it while you have it. The real crisis
at hand is to resolve the problem, 'how much money do you really
need to retire?' Some say you must have saved a $million dollars
to retire on. Boy, you think, they must drink a lot of beer and
eat platters of Nachos. And some say a few $hundred dollars each
month over your Social Security check is enough to get by on and
just relax and let that time go by. Those are the seniors who
laze in their lounge chair all day and can subtract two years
they have to pay for in their life expectancy for being so idle
and listless. Those other seniors who have a monthly pension from
their old job are a little better off, but not much, and certainly
In reality, how much cash is needed to retire comfortably? In
the first place, reality is a hard term to define. Each person
has a different idea and attitude about what it is. One definition
is the state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than
as one might wish them to be. Definitely a person-to-person thing
to each his/her own.
Of course, budgets are only for those on the borderline between
surviving or not, and on the other hand, if you have that million
in the bank, spend it while you still can. Who knows, those lavish
meals may catch up with you. And the budget involves a lot of
arithmetic. And arithmetic involves a lot of special signs, for
instance, the + (plus) sign: Rent/Mortgage + Utilities + Food
= a Lot of Cash each Month. And the - (minus) Sign; Money in the
Bank - a Lot of Cash each Month = Less Cash for Retirement. "I
have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy
something," said Jackie Mason. And that's one of those one-liner
jokes that makes some sense.
And the final question is again 'how much do I need to retire?'
Most experts say to start saving early in life. But most seniors
probably start too late. Just remember what that Unknown Author
said, "By the time I have money to burn, my fire will have
burnt out." There are dozens if not a gazillion experts who
can guide you through the process of money management. There are
retirement calculators online that tell you how much should have
saved at a certain age; retirement plans and checklists for travel,
living quarters, and health options; and the choices of how you
should get started in life. What?
It's plain old 3rd grade arithmetic. You take the total savings
you have accrued for your retirement fund; divide by the amount
you wish to withdraw each month; then divide that answer by 12
and the answer will be the total years you can last on those funds.
If it isn't long enough you can add to the fund, lower the monthly
withdrawal, or if that still doesn't do it there is another plan.
Get a library card, subscribe to some magazines, get a good TV
cable, and sit at home a lot, and when you travel make it a walk
around the block, along the river, or beside the lake. Or heed
the Peter's Almanac, "Early to bed and early to rise - till
you get enough money to do otherwise." This arithmetic method
of dictating our retirement is a sometimes rewarding and sometimes
a cruel and painstaking master. Oh well, one, two, three
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The Work/Retirement Crossroads
Patrick M. Kennedy
"Oh, No!" some of you are moaning to
yourselves. "The economy is in the dumpster, and the cost
of living is growing like a prickly cactus, as are my monthly
bills! Do I have to go back to work?" or in the case of some
of you on the other side of easy street, "Do I have to work
longer before I can pass my life into those retirement years?"
Neither situation sounds like much fun in retirement. Work and
retirement are the two opposite poles for seniors. The cold, cold
North Pole of work or the fancy striped Barber Pole of sitting
around in retirement chatting and visiting with friends at your
own leisure, not around the water cooler. And besides, work is
a 4-letter word that shouldn't be spoken in the mixed company
Oh the decisions. As the famous unknown author sorta said, probably
about the government and our social environment, "Our job
is not to make up anybody's mind, but to open minds and to make
the agony of the decision-making so intense you can escape only
by thinking," and thinking and making decisions sounds like
work already. What Ogden Nash said doesn't solve the problem either,
"If you don't want to work you have to work to earn enough
money so that you won't have to work." That sounds like a
circle where a senior citizen can get very dizzy
you don't have to work?
The second choice, staying at work, is a little easier to deal
with. You, after much contemplation and selling your soul to the
devil, you come to the decision to stay on for a little longer.
You just have to report to the same old polyester, canvas, foam
rubber walls of your cubical, sit at the desk in front of a computer
screen, and bounce off the walls until they become so stained
you have to leave it to the next sucker (worker). Or in other
cases, you may have to keep punching that clock, punching that
clock and keep punching it until your fist becomes too sore to
work. Then you quit. Because, "Nothing is work unless you'd
rather be doing something else," said Coach George Halas.
On the other hand, looking for a job after retirement is a job
in itself, especially if you haven't done it for a while, or even
worked for a while. The best place to start is with a Temp agency
because they normally don't care about your age and more concerned
about your skills so they can place you. You just have to give
them a copy or your resume. Resume? That sound like a chore before
getting work: what did you do before; how did you do it; who did
you do it for; when did you do it; what tools and techniques did
you use; and what are your references? It sounds like you will
need some help in this area by a professional or a habitually
The resume can be dropped off or mailed or e-mailed to potential
hirers, or posted on the internet at specialized sites while looking
for permanent, or even temporary jobs, and also dropping it off
at job sites while you are searching for jobs on the internet
looking to get an interview. Interview? Now comes that time when
you will have to talk to yourself with a purpose
imagining what they will ask and what you will answer, if the
Other things to consider are barnstorming with your friends and
networking with old pals at your former workplace; going back
to school to learn a new trade or update your present skills;
or maybe even changing employment directions completely like teaching
what you know to others. After all this, and you don't have a
job yet, you heed what Alan Ladd said, "I'm working myself
to death,' and you don't even have a job yet. Nobody said either
choice was easy, if you have to make it in the first place. Think
about it: Work? Retirement? Work? Retirement? Or better yet: Hobby?
Hobby? Which sounds better?
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This is Your Life
By Patrick M. Kennedy
This Is Your Life was an American television series
originally hosted by its producer, Ralph Edwards from 1952 to
1961. In the show the host surprises a guest, and proceeds to
take him or her through their life in front of an audience, including
friends and family who would ohh and ahh and laugh at what you
did. These days as a senior you don't get that surprise attack
and audience and the glamour of being on TV. You just have that
camera called a brain that reruns and replays past scenes on the
screens of dreams and daydreams. Or you get to roam through the
old photo album or a box of snapshots from the closet. Who are
all those people, but you must have known them because you clicked
photos and Polaroids of them
real flashes from the past.
You are probably sitting in your favorite spot in the living room
staring at the cloud formations in the ceiling, or on the deck
in the sun looking at real clouds, reminiscing about the good
old days and how you got to this spot in life. In some cultures
of life it may be called memories. But here we call it thinking
about the building blocks that got you here. "A life spent
making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than
a life spent doing nothing." said George Bernard Shaw.
Mistakes are made by everyone, and getting past them built your
character as a senior: either you are a mean old fart; cranky
old lady; or a rather jolly person nice to be around. Thin or
a little over weight; healthy or not; bald or not; wrinkled or
not'. Whatever you are or how you got here, this is what you are
and you have to deal with it because it's too late to call time
out like when playing tag as a kid. Said John Lennon, "Life
is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
I was happy then, but Whoops, I didn't notice I was getting overweight,
you may say now.
Life is defined as the quality that distinguishes a vital and
functional being from a dead body, or the sequence of physical
and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual.
And it can be further added that life progresses day by day. "You
only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough,"
said Mae West, so doing it right is important to life's satisfaction.
And where you are now and tomorrow are more important than the
past, although the past can't be forgotten, it can't dictate the
The past leads to the present, elderly age, maybe retirement,
marginal health, and those other small things people joke about:
kidnappers are not very interested in you; in a hostage situation
you are likely to be released first; no one expects you to run
into a burning building; and there's nothing left to learn the
hard way. It also leads to the comfort and satisfaction of knowing
you have been there and all is good. "Don't cry because it's
over, smile because it happened," said Dr. Seuss. "Life
is good" is a quote by many unknown contributors analyzing
the stations in life, and life is good as a senior, even if it
is a little slower and sometimes outmoded in these fast times
of high tech and young voices dictating the way.
Sure, kick the can as a kid, flag football and softball were fun
as a teen, and even those dart games at the local pub weren't
so bad, but all in all, those days of enjoyment don't have to
just modified a bit to lend a hand to the stiff
and aching bones
a little less taxing and more relaxing.
You will just have to ignore what Woody Allen said, "I'm
not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens."
But the truth is you want to be full of life as long as it lasts.
Back to top
By Patrick M. Kennedy
It is a sure thing that many seniors roll their eyes, wrinkle
their brows, and squint into the blank air when they hear the
lingo and rap-n-rap language of the youth of today. Most seniors,
except the most inquisitive or those who must communicate with
a teenage grandchild, can't understand what they are talking about.
'Shucks', you say, 'it sure is hard to comprehend what they are
saying and what they mean'. But don't forget, idioms, that is,
a speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar
to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual
meanings of its elements, has been with you for years. You know
that 'Shucks' means to express mild disappointment, disgust, or
something of little value especially in the phrase
not worth shucks, you've been using it for years. Of course, in
the real world, a shuck is a husk, pod, or shell, as of a pea,
hickory nut, or ear of corn. You have been using it all along
and now you know.
'Golly', or Gosh, Gee, Wow, Goodness, Holy Crap, etc., I didn't
know that'. These are words you used as youth during the 1950's.
Now the words are mainly used humorously to mock the purported
wholesomeness of American culture. The kids of today use these
words to mock the past as being shallow
if they only knew.
'He may be old in years, but he's still as sharp as a tack and
knows what he's talking about.' Ouch! That hurts. But it makes
the point that he should be listened to
and that could
be you. That saying has been around for years but today it could
be, 'sharp as a push pin' or a 'needle', or that vee turn you
have to make with the RV when heading to the lake.
To create an agreement or solution to a problem -- After months
of just talk, my wife and I have begun to hammer out a deal which
will join our two personalities. We'd been arguing about issues
for weeks, so the two of us got together to hammer it out
no, no hammers were involved, just words: loud and sometimes abusive.
At first look it looks vicious, that is to shape or remove with
or as if with a hammer, but in this sense it means to form or
produce - an agreement, plan, etc. - after much discussion or
dispute. Another old saying that can be misunderstood if taken
as reality rather than as an old saying.
There you have it; it is all 'right as rain'. If things are right
as rain, then everything is going well in your life. What does
that mean? Some of you may remember. Only a couple of generations
ago, most agriculture depended on rain since irrigation was not
as prevalent. The life of everyone in a village, town, or city
depended on the success of the local crops which in turn depended
on spring and summer rains. Rain was essential to survival. No
crops equaled famine. No rain meant no crops. 'Right as rain'
thus means needed, appropriate, essential, or hoped-for. The expression
'right as rain,' meaning perfect, well, absolutely right, appeared
first in England about 1894, before many of us were walking the
Communication, of course, is the exchanging of thoughts and feelings
through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures,
or written symbols. Such a system includes rules for combining
its components, such as words: Different words from different
generations are the splendor of language, and the list goes on
and won't stop here. Holy crap, get it together.
Back to top
By Patrick M. Kennedy
are those celebrations that just happen and there is nothing you
can do to stop them. When younger they were festive occasions:
Seven and a Half and going on Eight and you could hardly wait.
All the kids in the neighborhood come to the house; balloons and
crepe paper hanging around the walls; paper plates and plastic
forks on the table and then a fancy frosted cake with candles
on it showing your new age is brought in; and then fun and games.
Sometimes a clown would appear out of nowhere and entertain with
tricks and jokes, or that one time when you were brought a pony
to ride around the yard. Those were the days.
One year at a time birthdays come and go leaving ages behind:
One, then Ten, then sweet Sixteen, Twenty-One; then Thirty and
Forty follow, and then, and then, as seniors they again become
festive occasions: Whoopee, you made another one. And unless you
are a monarch or somebody important like a president or senator,
it just comes and goes. Of course sometimes the kids or grandkids
or friends make it important and another reason for them to have
a party. "At 20 years of age the will reigns; at 30 the wit;
and at 40 the judgment," said Benjamin Franklin, but he didn't
say what reigns after that.
Oh No; What if you were born on February 29th in a Leap Year;
what a dilemma. Do you celebrate every four years or cheat three
out of four years and celebrate on the 28th, but then you are
really a day younger than your age at the party. March 1st is
out of the question because that's into your next age cycle. Oh
you of the 1 out of 366 births have a problem and good luck and
have fun, whenever. Just follow what Jack Benny said, "Age
is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it
doesn't matter." And anyway, "After 30, a body has a
mind of its own." says Bette Midler.
And for seniors there are many benefits, just remember, life begins
at retirement. And of course the challenge of retirement is how
to spend time without spending money. And there is that other
problem, the body, "They say that age is all in your mind.
The trick is keeping it from creeping down into your body."
Said that Unknown Person who doesn't want to be known to keep
from being stoned for telling the truth.
What's it all about anyhow, age? The first hundred are the hardest
and it's just coasting from there with little peer pressure. "Growing
old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you have
not committed." said Anthony Powell, and many seniors aren't
ready for another birthday just yet. Age is just a chronological
measurement, not an attitude. And aging is different than age
because it is the accumulation of changes in a person over time.
So what if the calendar says you are seventy, you feel and act
like forty, so there, take that. You can be what and as old as
you want to feel.
Getting back to the beginning, birthdays are celebrations that
happen every year, just another day in a life. Age is just a tag
put on that celebration. Merriment and Fun are the keys to a celebration
of the day and that is something to be remembered about birthdays
not the past.
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One and Two, Three and Four; or One,
Two, Three; or One-Two Hip-Hop; no matter what rhythm or beat
you follow or dance to, music is there for all the ages. No matter
what the genre of music you follow or love or are just stuck with,
the basic music scale is typically the same all over the world:
seven notes from A to G written on a five-line staff of horizontal
lines, one octave and then the next, and they are broken down
into lengths from whole notes on down the fractional spectrum.
They can be sharps, flats, minor keys, major keys, or just simple
Specifically 'music is the art of
arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified,
and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm,
and timbre'. Throughout the ages these sounds have ranged from
tom-tom drums in the jungle to violins in the concert hall. No
matter which decade you came alive in, or when you reached adulthood
and music appreciation, the 30s, 40s, 50s on up until today, or
all the decades.
And no matter which musical instrument
played these notes and reached your ear; music is music. Of course,
some music is better that others, but that is an issue of opinion
and argument that will never be settled, and that is good. Music
will vary in styles forever and tastes will change or not. 'Music
happens to be an art form that transcends language,' said the
musician Herbie Hancock.
Many senior citizens, 'a person of
relatively advanced age, especially a person at or over the age
of retirement', have come through the age of dancing or finger
popping to the music of the Duke or the Count; or romantically'
crooning with Bing, Perry or Frank; then dancing in the aisles
with Bill Hailey on the stage rocking and rolling. There was the
screeching as Elvis entered the stage, or screaming with Little
Richard or Jimi Hendrix, and singing along with the Beatles and
Stones, blistering our ears with mind-bending screeching guitars,
and then there's rap, who knows where it goes from here.
Lurking in the background of all these
sounds there is an easy-flowing rippling river and is classical
music. It is the favorite of many seniors and it doesn't change
with the whims of a decade, maybe every century or so. 'What is
classical music if not the epitome of sensuality, passion, and
understated erotica that popular music, even with all of its energy
and life, cannot even begin to touch?' said the Canadian musician,
Lara St. John.
Two seniors go into a bar. The first
one says 'I like the music in here.' The second one says, 'that's
just the sound of glasses toasting.' The first one says, 'I like
the music in here.' Music is in the ear and mind of the beholder,
that's why so many dissimilar sorts and sounds of tones and voices
comprise what we call music. Taste is the ultimate definer of
what's music and what's not, what's good and what's not, and seniors
have seen and liked or disliked a lot of it. Of course seniors
could follow the approach of Jimmy Durante, 'I hate music, especially
when it's played'.
But music is the equalizer, the common
denominator that pulls all generations together, or not. And seniors
have seen a lot of pulling and pushing through the years and some
of it was even called dancing.
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The Hard Lawn
The longest yard is a movie about football.
The longest yard for seniors is that one that seems to grow bigger
and dirtier and harder to work as each year passes by. Sure, sitting
out in that yard on a sunny day, lying back in a comfy patio chair
and sipping a cool drink is great. The memories of barbeques with
all your friends and neighbors crowding every corner of the yard
like a multitude at wonderland, brings a smile to your face. The
folding chairs spread around the yard with conversations here
and there, chimed good times all around. The aroma of dogs and
burgers on the grill make your mouth water thinking about it.
But looking out as the grass grows, and the weeds flourish, and
the hedges burst into full bushes, and remembering how the lawn
mower is getting heavier and harder to push, the hoe developing
a contrary personality, and clippers that seem to get heavier
and duller with every clip or clunk. That takes some of the pleasure
out of it. And with each tick of the clock your muscles get sorer
and your joints get stiffer and that makes it harder to kneel
down and play in the garden bed.
Keeping up a happy home is hard, especially for those who have
developed physical ailments. Besides the task of mowing the lawn,
there's climbing a ladder to change light bulbs, shoveling snow
off the walk and stairs, and vacuuming the rugs, and scrubbing
the floors; these things could become part of the past. 'I like
the dreams of the future better than the history of the past',
said Thomas Jefferson. And that's the key, what to do now and
how to do it.
There are many solutions to this problem. Maybe the whole yard
could be paved or covered with tiles so there would be no mowing
or weeding. But then it definitely would be a hard yard and there
goes the croquet games and practicing putting the golf ball.
Maybe hiring some help would do it. Getting some neighborhood
kids to mow the lawn and weed the garden is one option. Of course,
that would take the fun out of gardening and maybe raising your
own healthy vegetables for salads. Getting a maintenance man and
house cleaner to help around the insides might do the trick. But
you would have to disappear for a few hours each week so they
don't have to work around you. These are good options, but do
they fit within that retirement budget?
Then there is the ultimate option, sell the whole thing and move.
Go to other's houses for back yard parties. For years they have
been coming to your place, now it is their turn. But where to
move to is the big question? Buying a condominium or renting an
apartment are two choices. They can be very comfortable and elegant
places, and someone else does the mowing, trimming, weeding, shoveling,
and sweeping. You can still have parties with friends coming over
Or if that doesn't seem like fun then maybe moving to a senior's
or retirement home. Residents need never be bored at a senior
community. There's something for everyone. Entertainment and activities
are usually offered, both on-site and out in the local community.
Entertainment can range from visiting performers, to day trips
that might include local landmarks, forays into nature, or just
an outing to the local art museum. There may be transportation
to local shopping or medical appointments. And some allow some
space so you can plant your own small garden. Some of them provide
three meals a day if you are tired of cooking all the time. At
senior living communities, you don't have to worry about grocery
shopping, meal preparation, or even coffee brewing
relaxing and having fun.
This is just another option to getting rid of that hard yard.
Of course, the other option is just stay where you are and find
a way to have fun.
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Unlocking the Mind
By Patrick M. Kennedy
Those little things you want to forget, as the clock turns by
ticks, keep popping up like the morning toast. Only the good things
matter. Memories come in all shades rattling around in the psyche
storage compartment. Oh, all those recollections are treasures
that only you can possess, and only you can spend. Unlocking that
chest of experience is something only you can do, that is, when
you want to share with your friends.
The time you played hooky to go watch the girls soccer team practice
was just a tattering shade of monkey-shine gray called youthful
hormones. You won't tell anyone about that those days, although
it was great bragging rights in high school. And then there were
those lost lovers, or those that entered your mind as a fascination
but didn't seem to jell. Only you remember about those and they
bring a slight grin to your face and no one knows why but you.
You lock those away as too personal to share.
Three seniors walk into a bar and sit at a table. The first senior
asks, 'Have we been here before?' The Second senior says 'Yes,
I believe it was a few weeks ago.' The third senior says, 'I recognize
the smell of the place.' The bartender says, 'The usual boys.'
And he sets 3 schooners of beer on the table. Of course, there
are always lapses in memory, but there are unlocking reminders,
too. The first senior says, 'Oh, yeah, yesterday,' and takes a
sip of his beer. 'What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined ... to strengthen each other
... to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories,'
said George Eliot years ago.
Memories are just experiences you have had; some good and some
bad, but experiences none the less should keep you out of trouble.
'I've done that before, and I don't want to do it again'. Or 'that
was fun; let's have another stab at it.' Or then the good advice,
'A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn
in no other way,' said Mark Twain.
How to; been there before; a skill of something or some event
gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event;
fished; worked; loitered; traveled; or anything else can be the
definition of experience. One thing seniors have in common is
the baggage of experience. Money can't buy them, and the lack
of money can't destroy them. Unfortunately, years can blur them,
health can alter them, but nothing can damage them. They are gray-iron
markers in your path through life.
The mind, the brain, intelligence, wits, the senses, emotions,
and a carload of other physical and mental accessories contribute
to memories. 'Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment,' said Buddha, and
that's good advice.' and then, 'There comes a time when the mind
takes a higher plane of knowledge but can never prove how it got
there,' said Albert Einstein. And that's the point, you got there
and it is time to unlock the mind and live for today. Life is
to live forward, and understand it backward.
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Silence or Boredom
By: Patrick M. Kennedy
Laying back in your living room easy chair on front
of that blooming plant, examining the cloud formations and moon-crater
patterns in the white stucco ceiling is not cool; the kids and
company left a couple days ago; 'silence is golden' they say;
so, why not cash it in for some good-time fun. You could look
through the photo album you consider, nah, too many old memories
of times and people you'll never cross paths with again. Writing
your memoirs is the same thing. Playing one-person chess is too
depressing because you always beat yourself, and there is no one
around to celebrate with when you win. You've counted your toes
many times and they still come to a total of ten.
Is this relaxing silence or boredom settling in? Whichever, you
can't let it last too long or dark clouds will begin to form over
your head, silence is nice but when it turns to boredom, that
ain't good. Someone experienced or very smart once said, 'whatever
is better than boredom'. Whatever in this case is one, or some,
or every, or all things without specification of a specific activity
to doom boredom. In this case it can mean anything but boredom.
It can mean taking up a hobby; creating a family tree; cruising
art galleries, walks in the park; a long drive in the country,
which can be pretty hard if you live in a large city; talking
to or walking with your pet but 'arf arf' and 'meow meow' don't
last long in conversation, and you can't take the bird out for
Computer browsing is just another lonely and sometimes boring
whatever; E-mails from faceless friends and mostly strangers doesn't
cut it. 'Discussing how old you are is the temple of boredom,'
said Ruth Gordon, and sometimes, most times, discussing that situation
happens in e-mails and it can get as old as your old friend on
the other end.
'He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest,'
said Dylan Thomas. What a dilemma, caught in the middle. You want
the rest, but for heaven's sake, many know work is a four-letter
word. 'I can excuse everything but boredom. Boring people don't
have to stay that way,' said Hedy Lamarr. But work? Boring is
defined as being uninteresting and tiresome; isn't that the same
definition for the work we retired from to get away from? Whatever
sounds like the answer to the problem, the opposite of dull?
Of course we know that whatever is a slang term meaning 'whatever
you say' and 'I don't care what you say'. The term is used to
dismiss or disregard a previous statement and express indifference
and is usually considered offensive and impolite. In this case
we are using the word as an interaction to the positive, a path
to non-boredom, a list of other things to do. Just remember what
Benjamin Franklin said, 'As we must account for every idle word,
so must we account for every idle silence.' In this case we are
addressing the problem of silence (boredom) and not the word.
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Senior's Coffee Shop
By: Patrick M. Kennedy
A coffee shop largely serves as a center of social interaction.
The small neighborhood coffee shop provides social seniors with
a place to congregate, talk, write, read, entertain one another,
or pass the time of day, or even do computer work with something
called wireless, whether individually or in small groups of 2
or 3 sitting around a table. And this should be done in a comfortable
environment. Is rap and grunge Music blaring from the oversized
speakers that line the ceiling corners really that relaxing for
seniors? Is the flip-flop language yelled at each other by the
sales clerks and coffee makers really what you want to hear?
A coffee shop is a business that primarily serves prepared coffee
or other hot beverages. It shares some of the characteristics
of the local bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant,
but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffee
shops focus on providing coffee and tea as well as light breakfast-type
snacks. When did the coffee shop become a browsing area for artists
and art patrons, and
ranting parlors for political maniacs?
When did it become a replica of a hospital or high school cafeteria?
In the 17th century, coffee appeared for the first time in Europe
and coffeehouses were established and quickly became popular.
Granted, coffee shops in the United States arose from the espresso-
and pastry-centered coffeehouses of the major U.S. cities, notably
the beatnik customers of Greenwich Village and San Francisco's
North Beach. Students sat around and listened to and read poetry.
Sure, most seniors remember those days as fun trips to the other
side of life. That was then, and this is now. This is the other
side of life now for most seniors who have spent their lives in
regimented job routines and uncomfortable working conditions.
Now, fun and relaxation are the goals in life.
OK, what does a senior want in his/her coffee shop? The coffee
menu is fine, and the selection of pastries is tasty looking behind
the glass in these modern coffee shops. But when you have a coffee
cup in one hand and a plate with a muffin in the other, you have
to sit on a bench designed by the Spanish Inquisition team of
stylists. It takes an Olympics gymnast to bend body and descend
to a chair or booth next to Formica table top with yesterday's
patrons' coffee stains still resting on top. The bench will be
hard wood and the chairs will be hard-wood or plastic seats. A
small senior citizen finds it hard to eat and drink products that
are at their eye level on a table.
Comfortable, regular sized upholstered chairs and coffee tables
would help: Linen napkins instead of brown paper, and metal spoons
instead of plastic. Background music with lyrics that can be understood
and maybe familiar to the general population rather than a cult
of young punksters would make the coffee shop environment more
comfortable. And artwork and photos on the walls that make sense
to well-traveled and highly-educated and experienced senior citizens
would ease the pain of extra-hot coffee steamed to a scald and
muffins baked to a brick. Yes, seniors are dreamers, too.
And yes, you are probably saying that seniors should drink their
coffee in an antique store or a museum. This is the new world
and coffee shops, that is, coffee houses are mostly near colleges
and cater to the young. If you want comfort and coffee, then stay
home, or build your own senior coffee houses with all the frills
that's what the young say now, but just wait
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What isn't now once were
By Patrick M. Kennedy
The Dodgers once were in Brooklyn. The Giants once
were in New York. They moved and followed the covered wagons west.
Newspapers were a dime and sold on the corner, and there were
penny candy stores just around that corner. There were Five-n-Dime
stores instead of Dollar Stores. 'Times, they are a-changin' Bob
Dylan wrote and sang years ago, and he didn't know what was coming
next or even tap into the progress time-stamps on living day to
At one time we did all this typing on a Smith-Corona typewriter,
and made corrections with an eraser, messy white out, and extra
copies were made with carbon paper. More than one copy was a real
mess, especially if you had to correct a typo. Changing the ink
ribbon was a real challenge, and there was only one font, until
IBM invented the electric typewriter with an interchangeable font
ball. Now that was real progress, we thought. Fold and place a
letter or bill in an envelope, place a stamp on it, and drop it
in the mail box. Boy that seems like a lot of work, but really
just routine in the good old days.
Of course there were those loyal gas station attendants who pumped
your gas, cleaned your windows, and maybe checked your oil. Maybe
you were one of those guys earning money after school. And then
there was free air for the tires on that car. When did air become
The radio was always turned on and it entertained the kids and
moms while they puttered around the house. The Lone Ranger was
one of the popular programs that drew the kids around the radio
like moths around a light bulb. 'Hi-yo, Silver! Away!' echoed
off the walls
'Who was that masked man anyway?' was the
question asked, and then answered when TV burst onto the scene,
was black and white and on only during the daytime. A different
media, but whole families gathered around it, like moths to a
until The Lawrence Welk Show came on and it
was only the adults in their easy chairs staring at the light
in the corner.
The Iceman Cometh was not only a Broadway play, but a reality
in most households. The icebox needed to be cold to preserve the
food, and that was the function of the ice delivered. The Milkman
Cometh as well; he left glass bottles of milk on the porch a few
times a week. It is even rumored that some families had their
bread delivered. Of course, for some it was a trip down to the
corner to the Mom n Pop store to replenish these necessary supplies
and possibly a candy bar or two for the kids. And then
when the refrigerator was invented it became the center for family
gatherings and the invention of larger meals cooked, because they
could be snacked on for days.
For many households the coal bin had to be filled before winter,
and the coal repeatedly shoveled into the furnace to keep the
house warm. Others kept the furnace oil drums filled, and in either
case, they kept the dust cloths moving atop the furniture to keep
it clear of the unwanted dirty dust they created.
Kids were in the yard; two-wheel one-speed bikes, taped up baseball
with beat-up gloves; black tennis shoes for all; torn sweat shirts
and jeans; nothing changes.
Those were the good old days we remember as we flip through our
picture albums and note the times we had. Baseball is everywhere
now, and even on color TV. It's not so bad now, even if your team
Back to top
(Or: The Future Can Be Better)
Patrick M. Kennedy
Oh, it's so much fun being retired
and having the freedom to wake up when you want and to be able
to eat what you want, when you want. No more alarm clocks, no
more commutes, no more office or plant stuff, or punching time-card
stuff. The past is there and done, and as you age into the present
you find that all the other ages are behind you, but not lost.
Experience can make the future better.
You are talking about the future, bragging
about the past, and listening to your friends doing the same things.
You plan that trip, that project, or the hobby you wanted to do
and can do now because you have the time to fritter away. You
meet those new friends that you never had time for before, and
you find they have the same ideas and plans and dreams as you.
Sitting there next to a flowing river
or tidal salt sea-water shore, you say to yourself, "that tide
or river flow can take me anywhere I want to go. They move through
time so free; why can't that be me?"
Remember the lyrics to that old song?
'Happy talk, Talk about things you like to do.
You got to have a dream, If you don't
have a dream, How you gonna have a dream come true?' Well, that's
a good philosophy to follow in retirement. Have a dream and make
it come true. It's all up to you. Optimism, hope, confidence should
be the operative words for an in-high spirits retirement.
You worked and spent time for many
years, maybe at one job, or maybe at several, and juggled tasks
like a circus performer. They all got done and your chest swelled
with pride. Now you have just one task; being as happy and content
as you can find the time for and can afford. You remember all
the fun and games you had in childhood, but then as the middle
ages took over your life, the work controlled it all. Now, believe
it or not, the fun and games can be back. You can be a child again,
at heart if not in body motions, and play games and frivol away
the time. Of course, some self control must be maintained. You
can't go out and throw rocks at the garage door or the cat next
door. Climbing trees is out of the question and a tricycle is
too small. Riding a bike is permissible and a healthy thing to
The one word and mental condition
that must be avoided is that evil spirit - boredom. 'Perhaps the
world's second worst crime is boredom. The first is being a bore,'
said Sir Cecil Beaton of British fame. So it's a two-way street.
Keeping busy things on your agenda will eliminate boredom, but
don't overdo it and bore others with your projects and plans.
Happiness is the goal. 'Happiness is the meaning and the purpose
of life, the whole aim and end of human existence,' said Aristotle
several hundred years ago. Wonder if he was retired when he said
that. Happy talk is part of it, but happy activity is the key
to being content in retirement.
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I Hate Work
By Patrick M. Kennedy
Sounds like a line Ralph Kramden, Jackie
Gleason, would say in the Honeymooners: and follow with a belly
roar Har Har Hardee Har. I know some of you are going to think
that is a crazy statement. Work got us to where we are now: Retired,
happy, a nice home, a little income coming in, and a universe
of free time. Actually it comes down to that one thing, a little
income coming in, and toss in a universe of free time: Time to
do things and little enough income to do them. That's where 'I
hate work' enters the retirement puzzle because a lot of happily
retired citizens have to search the blue skies and back alleys
for some kind of meager part-time employment (work) to have the
fun we dreamed about. Just remember what Albert Camus said 'Without
work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles
and dies.' If you decide you need to do this, be careful.
Men/Women Wanted. . Man or Woman Wanted
For. . Circle and call. Circle and call. Not today, sorry! All
filled up today, call again tomorrow or when you grow younger
or own an American car. You can't demand. You have to request
and beeeee pleasant and have a silk suit and tie on your tongue.
A button-down brain cluttered with toothy smiles and polished
pleases. Your applications probably are stashed in file drawers
all over town between chopped olive sandwiches and Mary Missy
Sanitary napkins. You are too experienced and that is a negative
for most of the jobs available for your situation … retired.
A job in the 'Lost and Found' at the
bus depot sounds inviting. Dusty odd items stacked and hung throughout
the room: Cubbyholes and oaken drawers with numbers and dates
above brassy handles; alphabetical hooks and shelves that circle
the room. A collector of the small things people forget. Any retiree
can do that and maybe even dig up some old memories. You could
have treasures that people are hunting for; it's a position of
power. No one but you can decipher the notes you take to find
that lost ring or keychain. If you get sick and have to stay home
they would have to close down the shop. What security! What power!
Sometimes you will spend the afternoons
scanning for jobs in the HELP WANTED'S. It is something to pass
the time, so you pull out your pad and paper from the Formica
table top office and play your own game with your own rules.
WANTED: A delivery boy who owns his
own store. WANTED: Dental Assistant. Must own a welding set. WANTED:
Dependable, trustworthy young person for a reputable collection
agency: Must own a car with bullet-proof glass.
Then you wonder if you really want
to go back to work? Oh the pain of it all. Sometimes you aren't
so sure. Your Social Security and retirement checks have been
enough to pay the rent and buy the basic munchies with a clip
full of coins left over to tip a few beers. 'Nothing is work unless
you'd rather be doing something else,' said Coach George Halas.
That pretty much sums it up. Most retirees would like to be doing
exactly that … doing something else and avoiding the daily hum
drum of taking on work again. Of course, taking on a work job
has some positive sides to it but they are too few to list here.
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of light-hearted, witty, yet informative, articles about seniors
and retirement living. In addition, there are tad bits of useful,
if not useless, information to enhance the FUN in RETIREMENT:
Dreams, Fantasies, Facts, Jokes, and Elucidations that have come
from semi-scientific papers, true stories told by a liar, personal
experiences as logged and blogged on the Internet and passed on
as remedies and antidotes for the human condition … and just plain-old
at, click below:
of light-hearted, witty, yet informative, articles about seniors
and retirement living. They are written for the SENIOR WIRE
NEW SERVICE, the nation's leading syndication of news, information
and features for mature market publications. Over 50 papers
nationwide, as well as Canada and India, currently pick up
the WIRE's articles.
In addition, there are tad bits of useful, if not useless,
information to enhance the FUN in RETIREMENT: Dreams, Fantasies,
Facts, Jokes, and Elucidations that have come from semi-scientific
papers, true stories told by a liar, personal experiences
as logged and blogged on the Internet and passed on as remedies
and antidotes for the human condition
and just plain-old
to Buy this Book:
places to Shop:
order a copy from your favorite neighborhood bookstore.
here for a quick look inside the e-book
book offers guidelines to help these individuals adapt to what
is happening in their lives; even when their experiences aren't
what they expected or would have liked them to be. When senior
citizens enter this stage in life there are so many questions:
Where is the money? Where do I live? How is my health?
Being a senior citizen isn't just about retiring and traveling,
and it isn't just about the changes-good and bad-to which older
people have to adapt. Being a senior citizen means being an elder,
a responsible person in our society. The book explores and clarifies,
in an easy to read manner, nearly 60 serious subjects about and
for senior citizens; and the effort is made to include solutions
and answers in each subject addressed.
by Red San Publishing
to Buy this Book:
order a copy from your favorite neighborhood bookstore.
quick look inside the book, click here:
months after finding evidence that 80-year-old Duffy had been
mugged and is missing, and per his will and the money he left
for it, many of Duffy’s friends and enemies from Seattle ’s Market
and around the country gather for a wake and/or a celebration
at a Pacific Ocean beach. They are not certain if he is actually
dead or just playing one of his cantankerous old-man tricks. Some
hope he is dead, and others expect him to walk down the beach
and have a beer, laughing at the big joke on all. Detective Murray
is there to find the truth and he suspects everyone.
by Red San Publishing
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