Let’s make the bed together ©

The title of today’s column is a request my wife made to me a month or so ago that immediately resonated with me as a subject for this column; I told her so at the time and she gave me a quizzical kind of look. So I’ll share what struck a chord with me.

But first, a shout out to the Houston Home Journal and Cordele Dispatch for giving me this platform to share with you these thoughts. If it weren’t for that, my wife’s comment probably would have sailed right over my head. But this column makes me keep my antenna up for the “hidden” blessings of life; and this is one of them!

So please let me unpack my wife’s request a little bit at a time here.

I’ll start with the last work, “TOGETHER”. That means I’m not alone! I get to share life every day with my best friend. Not only that she loves me and the feeling is very mutual, even after 49+ years. With divorce rates being what they are today, that’s no small accomplishment; if fact, it’s one to celebrate which is exactly what I’m doing here!

She said “Let’s MAKE….” which meant that we woke up this morning, we’re healthy enough to be up and about and we’re exercising our free will, even if it is making the bed. As an aside here I’ll share with you that most mornings I’m up first and brewing a fresh pot of coffee which is at the top of my To Do list. And my bride is my first customer, usually before she even gets out of bed. It’s one of her little pleasures and I love to indulge her. Of course I had to wait ’til she finished her coffee before she was ready to make the bed.

Then as we were making the bed together it dawned on me that we SLEPT in it together. We got a wonderful night’s rest in a comfortable bed in a safe place that we call home; what a beautiful word that is: HOME! Neither one of us was alone. I realize that many of the readers of this column are alone having already lost their spouse. I admit have not walked in your shoes, but I would throw out this challenge: when the loneliness hits hard, hearken back to the years you did have together and embrace those cherished memories.

Finally, we got to SLEEP together! Hollywood seems to think that only young people like to sleep together; apparently they don’t have many seniors out there to tell them otherwise or if they do they don’t think they can make a profit showing a couple seniors enjoying the passions of embracing each other. Somebody needs to tell them what they’re missing. Sharing a bed together is not just for the young, is it?!

Well, have I made my point yet? Do you understand why the thought of “Making the bed together” with my wife struck me when she said it? I hope so!

So, guys, if your wife asks you to help her make the bed, don’t look up with a sneer over your newspaper; remember that you got to sleep in it with her last night and start stretching those sheets with her. It might help awaken your imagination to the first time you got to sleep with her. Who knows what might happen tonight?!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Photo credit – homebnc.com

Cousins’ Cabin Camp ©

Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a couple weeks but I’ve been at Cousins’ Cabin Camp, a much higher calling in more than one way. The first way is that the cabin is literally high in the Western Pennsylvania mountains. The second way is that my wife and I were reconnecting our granddaughters from GA and CT, who rarely get to see each other, and that indeed is a “Higher calling”!

Long time readers of this column may recall that several years ago my wife and her brother bought an old cabin in the PA mountains that had been in their cousins’ family for over sixty years. As a child, my wife spent the happiest days of her life there and she is passionate about sharing those memories with our grandchildren in such a way that they’ll feel the same about the place as she does.

The cabin itself is not exceptional in any way other than a beautiful and rustic old stone fireplace in the center of the living room. Other than that, quite modest. In fact, the only running water is the creek next door, the hand pump at the kitchen sink and the mile-away running mountain spring from which we collect and haul our drinking water. But these “Inconveniences” are part of the mystique of the place, especially to our grandkids.

So we packed up two granddaughters from Georgia and drove tag-team all night to Hershey, PA where we collected another three granddaughters from CT, and checked into a hotel. Next morning we were up bright and early ready to visit “Chocolate Town USA”. It’s a fascinating town and company with a rich, history of reaching out to underprivileged kids and helping employees through tough times as well. It was a day well spent, and spent we were after touring the “Factory”, which is really a tourist’s version of a real chocolate factory. The whole place reminded me of a chocolate-centric Cracker Barrel ® restaurant/store.

Then off to the cabin for a week. You talk about an exercise in patience, I think I deserve a “Gold Star” waiting on five granddaughters for a week, especially with three of them being teenagers!

But was it worth it? That’s the “$64,000 dollar question” (remember that show starring Hal March from 1955 to ’58 that got cancelled amongst a raft of quiz show scandals?). Only time will tell in the long term if our “Cousin knitting” will hold, but at the end of the week they all said they wanted to do a repeat next year so we took that as a good sign.

What did we do for a whole week? We hiked and swam under a mountain waterfall; swam in a stream under a covered bridge and picnicked IN the bridge when a thunderstorm broke on us; visited our favorite Amish store and bought lots of local maple syrup; sat around the fireplace every night reading aloud to each other The Long Winter, which kept everyone on the edge of their seats. I started the reading the first night while several of the girls were actually knitting, but thereafter the girls wanted to take turns reading which they did. I’d say that was a novel way to get teenage girls involved in this age of smart phones that everyone wants to talk to instead of real people.

5 Granddaughters

Bottom line: Was it worth it? Yes, we’re already talking about making it an annual excursion and we have no shortage of grandchildren coming behind these to keep it going. As long as we have the health to do it and willing cousins, I’d say it’s a “Go”.

Why put forth such an effort for a Cousins’ Cabin Camp? These days, families need all the help they can get to stay together. Do you have some grandchildren that need to be “knit together” too?

knitting

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Sticks and stones will break my bones….©

Last week we were on a wonderful family vacation to the beach……four sons, two daughters=in-law , six grandchildren and an extra teenager just for good measure! Hence no column last week.

This morning I’m trying to recover from a week of missed chores on the farm so I went back to look for a timeless column from my archives. Following is a sad one that I’m sad to say happened back in May of 2015 over another family vacation. Take heed:

I believe that some of the most untrue words we all learned as kids are “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”! (Wikipedia says that “names” and “words” are interchangeable in that rhyme; when I press my senior mind back I can’t remember for the life of me which way I learned it). But either way, it’s an absolute falsehood.

The reason I bring it to your attention here is that I watched last week with horror as some senior acquaintances of mine have let their relationship totally unravel over a few poorly chosen words. I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen and heard it firsthand.

Here’s how it rolled out. One partner of a senior couple sought respite help from the family for a week in order to get away for a brief, but much needed, summer vacation. The proposal was for the healthy, care-giving spouse to bring the other to the family for 10 days. The request was made a several months in advance of the proposed vacation so arrangements could be made….perhaps professional care-giving services such as Visiting Angels®, could be arranged if the family needed extra help in caring for the senior family member (a parent, suffering from dementia).

Somehow this request was totally misinterpreted and a fiery verbal response was delivered in such a way that inflicted damage far beyond what any sticks and stones could ever do. Think about it this way….. we can almost always recover from the wounds and bruises caused by sticks and stones. But the emotional pain and suffering from harsh words poorly chosen often goes with us to our grave. And this emotional damage can, as it has in the case I observed last week, actually result in physical setbacks for fragile seniors.

Life is built on a network of relationships. The most important of these relationships usually involve family, both immediate and extended. Those relationships are cultivated with words and actions. Usually, our actions are preceded by our words. Just a few poorly chosen or harshly spoken words can unravel a lifetime relationship in minutes.

Proverbs 15:1 puts it this way: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger”. And this anger can lead to devastating results…..I watched it happen last week.

The good news is that the opposite is also true as Proverbs 16:24 says: “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” I like the sound of that much better, don’t you?

If a senior tries your patience is this week, especially one with dementia, count to 10, take a deep breath or do whatever else your grandmother taught you to do so you can give an answer that’s ….”sweet to the soul” , and provides “health to the bones”.

Forget the “Words will never hurt me” nursery rhyme nonsense.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..See you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Thumbs up music ©

Last night my wife cooked an incredible new recipe called “One pan French chicken”. It was as beautiful as it was delicious; so much so, that I sent a picture of it to my gourmet cooking daughter, before putting the pan in the middle of the table and serving from it.

IMG_1395

It was too special for our regular meal at the kitchen dinette so we decided to eat in the dining room which we normally reserve for our big Friday night family farm dinners. But this looked and smelled too good to be just an ordinary meal. So dining room it was!

Now that we’ve both passed the “Three score and ten” mark on the calendar, I figure that every day is a bonus and any excuse for a celebration is good enough for me. And it’s hard to have a celebration without music, right? For sure, and that’s where the title of this column comes in.

I don’t claim to be tech savvy by any means but there is one app that I really enjoy: Pandora ® music. It’s a free app for your phone and/or computer that allows you to select virtually any music genre and artist and play it whenever you wish. It is wonderful and adds so much ambiance to whatever you’re doing that there’s no excuse for not filling the house with life-enhancing music. Not just for dining but for cleaning the house, paying bills, or just plain relaxing. It makes for a wonderful extra dimension. I guess that’s why you see so many Millennials with ear buds stuck in their ears all the time. Well, we seniors can pay that game too!

So back to last night’s dinner. My wife cooked it and I selected the just the right music for what she cooked: “Smooth Jazz dinner music”. In fact, I just went to turn it on to see if I could pull up a history of what we listened to last night and Oscar Peterson came on with “Love is here to stay” from his 1959 album, Oscar Peterson plays the George Gershwin songbook . I’m not tech smart enough yet to look up last night’s history, but suffice it to say that my wife and I were humming the tunes and recalling the words of most of the classics that were playing in the background as we enjoyed our dinner. Oh, Nat King Cole just came on with “They tried to tell us we’re too young”. Bring back memories to any of you? I hope so!

I know there are other music apps including Apple music, Spotify®, etc. which I’m sure are similar, but for whatever reason I got started with Pandora® and that’s what we’ll stick with until there’s a reason to change. I believe most of them have a free version which occasionally inserts an ad and a premium version which is ad-free if you pay a monthly fee, typically around $10. So far, we’re still using and enjoying the free version.

And best of all, the more you listen the more you can teach the app what music you like by clicking on the “Thumbs Up” icon if you like it or the “Thumbs Down” icon if you don’t.

I hope you decide to enhance your lives with “Thumbs Up” music too.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

#pandora #thumbsup #dinnermusic #chickendinner #seniors #visitingangels #celebrate

Threescore and Ten ©

Threescore and ten is the birthday mile marker we celebrated for my wife last week.

 

We did it with just a small group of family and friends at the Houston Lake Country Club where the food and service were impeccable; hats off to the chef and waiting staff! And the special cake that Chris Vines made for us was as delicious as it was beautiful (I’ll bet my daughter in law can find some pictures of my bride and the cake to show you what I’m talking about). 

 

I have known this girl since she was just a teen ager in her freshman year of college at Wayne State University in Detroit; I had already begun my career as an automotive engineer when we first met. I remember the night I met her like it was yesterday  and her smile is as captivating now as it was then. Maybe some would say “I robbed the cradle” (She was still in Jr High when I was in college) but I’d gladly do it again!

 

I know the calendar says she’s 70 but I swear she doesn’t look a day over 50. Yes, I’m prejudice but lots of other people say the same thing so I’m in good company. It’s because  she takes such great care of herself as well as all of us under her care that the years have been so kind to her.

 

That’s part of the reason I hope and even expect that God will grant us many more years but none of us has that promise do we? In fact, Ps 90 says:

            The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

 

So, I’m going to try to may every day from here on out a special one. Pastor Rick Warren , said in an interview “That life is like a  set of railroad tracks; while they run parallel to each other, one represents joy and the other sorrow”. It has been so very true in our lives and I suspect yours as well. No one who lives to be our age is without sorrow. But the real art to living life well is to bask in and and celebrate the joyous moments while recognizing, but not being overwhelmed by life’s sorrows. Easier said than done but worth the effort as we walk through the years together.

 

Anyone who really knows my wife has been blessed by her in some way and me most of all. I can honestly say that after living with her for Two score and ten of those years. Thanks, Bess, for saying “YES” 50 years ago!

 

Thanks for reading “All About Seniors”…..see you next week.

 

PS  If you’re wondering where else you’ve heard the familiar words,”Threescore and ten” it was in Macbeth by Shakespeare in 1606. No, I didn’t pay that much attention in English Lit; I came across it on the internet doing research for this column!

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Of Chicks, Kittens and Politicians ©

My wife is never happier than when she’s looking after a wounded animal. As you may be able to imagine there is no shortage of wounded animals here on the farm so she’s right in her element.

The two latest casualties are a Road Island Red chicken, named “Chicklet” and a kitten named “Kubo”.

So here’s the story. A few months ago we were having a terrible time with fox predators killing our free range chickens; we lost 20 or 30 of them before I finally was able to do away with the mangy foxes.

So we bought a dozen Road Island Red chicks to begin replenishing the flock. We kept them longer than usual in the brooder to insure no other predators would get to them before they were able to start laying their beautiful eggs. Well, as fate would have it, one of the chicks must have been weaker than the others and it wound up with a severely broken leg. I rescued it from the brooder and brought it to my wife a couple months ago and ever since I’ve had to share the bath tub with “Chicklet”; I should have known better!

Well, now at least, Chicklet has graduated to her own box in the bathroom fully equipped with her own feeder, water and kitty liter (Yes, it works for chickens too). We’ve both agreed to a major celebration if Chicklet ever lays its first egg.

Now, to the kitten story. A month or so ago, I broke down and decided to buy a new Kubota tractor, with the blessings of my wife and our accountant (How did farmers ever get by without computers and QuickBooks ®) ?

My son, Jess, agreed to drive to Nashville with me to get it and tow it home (Yes, a $6000 price difference made it worth the drive). Sunday afternoon on the way back, I was in touch with my other son, Bill, whose sons, Luke and Josh wanted to see Pop Pop’s new tractor. So we made a pit stop at the Sod Farm off I-75. And bingo, as soon as Luke stepped out of the car, he found an almost new but wounded kitten, later to be named “Kubo” after the new Kubota tractor.

After an appropriate tractor seat tryout by my grandsons, it was time to be on our way to the farm, and of course, son Jess, had to bring Kubo with us; he gets it from his mom.

After two days and $250 at the Vet, we found out what we already knew; Kubo had a broken leg and “Maybe we can fix it for another $1100”.

Instead, we opted to keep Kubo quiet a week or so in a cage so maybe the leg would heal on its own, which it did. Now my wife is dreaming about where she can spend the $1100 she saved! Not really, she’s actually quite thrifty.

So now the challenge is to keep the rambunctious new kitten away from wounded and vulnerable Miss Chicklet. All was well for a couple weeks and then the inevitable happened; Kubo discovered Chicklet. And it happened on my watch after I’d been duly warned to protect Chicklet at all costs.

Can you guess what happened? Kubo also discovered Chicklet’s kitty litter, did his business, and left without so much as ruffling even one of Chicklet’s red feathers!

Now the moral to this story is this: Maybe if we dump a load of kitty litter on Congress we could teach Donkeys and Elephants to do their business together too. But don’t hold your breath, I think chicks and kittens are smarter than politicians!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Are you curious ? ©

If so, then I have a new TV “Station” for you. It’s called Curiosity Stream.com as in http://www.Curiositystream.com .

One of my sons, who is a real curiosity/self learning buff, discovered it a few weeks ago and subscribed to a free trial to get started (Plans start at $2.99/month or $19.99/year after 7-day free trial). After watching about a dozen episodes with him we’re hooked; guess we’ll have to splurge $20 for a year’s worth.

If you’re as fed up with broadcast TV and its trash content with endless commercials as we are, then Curiosity Stream may be an option for you. Their website bills them as “….The Home of Award-Winning Documentaries” with 2,000+ shows.

They are basically infotainment documentaries that are very easy to watch and hold your attention (we even watched a couple episodes with our eight and four year old granddaughters), and none of us fell asleep!

The site lists the following categories of programs: Science, History, Technology, Nature, Society, Lifestyle, 360 Degrees, Physics, Space, Mind, Biology, Genetics, Medicine, Evolution, Geology and Psychology.

Then, under each of those categories are subtopics like these under Lifestyle: Food, Collecting, Performing Arts, Creativity, Home Projects, Philosophy, Health and Wellness, and Travel.

So, no matter what kind of a curious mood you or your spouse are in, there should be something that catches your interest.

Now I’m not here to endorse all their content; I’m sure I’d take issue with some of it but I am pleased to say that we haven’t been offended yet, even after watching some episodes that dealt with biblical content and archeology. And we most certainly haven’t been offended with any language or crude content…..what a delight that has been! Hat’s off to Sprint ®, the sight’s sponsor. Almost makes me want to trade in my cell phone! And, delightfully, even though Sprint ® is the sponsor, there are no ads; only a banner over the homepage of the site!

While we don’t watch much TV at all, especially since moving to the farm, it is really nice on a cold January night to spread out in front of the TV and relax with something interesting, educational and entertaining all in one package.

The one shortfall so far is they don’t offer any football…..guess I’ll still have to go to my son’s house for the Super bowl!

Are you curious enough to try an alternative to traditional broadcast and cable TV? If so, I’d love to get some feedback from you at the email address below.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have question s or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Adult Protective Services ©

I don’t want to ruin your New Year but there is something we need to discuss. This is a repeat column from 2016 but unfortunately it bears repeating in these days where senior abuse is as prevalent as it is.

I can never write about this topic without recalling what happened to my own mother right here in middle Georgia several years ago. Two teenage boys came to her door. When she answered, they pushed in the door, ripped the phone lines from the walls, demanded her purse, threw her in the bathtub and stole her car. When mom finally came to her senses she was able to walk next door to Granny Ellis’s house where they called the police. Fortunately, through effective police work, the perpetrators were arrested in just a few weeks, tried, convicted and sent to jail within a few months. We are blessed with a relatively peaceful community here in middle Georgia, but we’re not immune to violence and abuse toward seniors.

Who commits these heinous crimes?

Strangely enough, adult children are some of the most common perpetrators of family violence against seniors, followed by current or previous spouses. Some time ago at Visiting Angels®, we took on a new client who was homeless because her grown son scammed her out of her metro Atlanta home using a refinance tactic and then her daughter left her without transportation when she made off with her mom’s car. Imagine being left destitute like that by your own children! Unfortunately, “relationship crimes” are more common than you would think

The Tip of the Iceberg

All the reports of elder abuse recorded by authorities every year are only the tip of the iceberg; according to data from different states, for every case of elder abuse reported, another 12 or 13 are not. Why? Several reasons, including:

fear of being sent to a nursing home

fear of reprisal

lack of awareness about what help is available and where to go for help

shame of having raised an abusive child

fear of not being believed

nowhere to go

fear of being denied access to grandchildren

fear of being rejected by family

intense family loyalty

What to do if you suspect….

Senior abuse in your circle of friends? First of all, be alert to ANY suspicious activity, behavior, or comments that involve the seniors in your life. Don’t be naïve. Remember, what the Bible says in Jeremiah 17: 9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”

States differ on who is required to report suspected elder abuse. According to Adult Protective Services in Georgia, mandated reporters in Georgia include: medical personnel including physicians, interns, residents and others; osteopaths; dentists; psychologists; chiropractors; podiatrists; pharmacists; physical therapists; occupational therapists; licensed professionals and counselors; nursing personnel; social work personnel; day care personnel; coroner; medical examiner; employees of a public or private agency engaged in professional health-related services to elder persons or disabled adults; employees of a financial institution, and law enforcement personnel.

How to report suspected elder abuse? Of course, if it’s an emergency, dial 911. Otherwise, if you suspect something you can report anonymously at http://aging.dhs.georgia.gov/adult-protective-services. I’m sure you won’t remember that website but a little Googling will get you there where you can report online or by phone.

Let’s vow to keep our vulnerable seniors as safe as we can in 2019.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Prayer in the Stockyard ©

Last Thursday night one of my sons and I were at the Turner County Stockyard in Ashburn, GA. We took a cow/calf pair and our beloved bull, Jack, (more stories about him in another column). Our herd has grown from zero to 21 head since we’ve started this little farm adventure and the herd has outgrown our available pasture so it’s time to downsize. I hate to see any of them go; they’re almost part of the family!

The stockyard is a fascinating place, especially if you’ve never been to a cattle auction. It sits right on highway US 41 in the quaint little town of Ashburn, GA. It was built in 1948 and has steadily grown under three generations of leadership by the Wiggins family to where it’s the “Number One Stockyard” in Georgia as their website proudly proclaims.

On any given auction day (every Wednesday afternoon) or special monthly sale of bred cattle and bulls, you’ll find the stockyard parking area full of dually pickups and cattle trailers from all over Georgia as well as Alabama and Florida. Cattlemen, and women, come to shrink or build their herds as their needs might be. It’s a colorful crowd of cowboy hats, boots, suspenders and red handkerchiefs surrounding a multi-tiered bidding pit that could be right out of a set from a Hollywood western movie. It truly is entertaining to hear the auctioneer crying out his colorful chant pitting one bidder against another and then another up on the top row; only this is real life! And it runs like a Swiss watch. It’s almost mind boggling how they can auction that many cattle, get them to their new owners, and checks to their sellers almost instantly. I was impressed!

But what impressed me most was how Mr. Allen Wiggins started off the auction session both times I was there: with prayer. Last Thursday the prayer was especially for the victims of Hurricane Michael. If I didn’t know better, I might have thought I was at a small church prayer meeting.

But now I’d like to wax political for a few minutes. As I thought about this public expression of prayer I was really moved and motivated more than ever to go to the polls in a couple weeks and exercise my constitutional right, privilege and duty.

Back when we seniors were kids, we might take for granted a public expression of prayer like this; but not anymore. Almost weekly I hear of lawsuits being brought by the Freedom from religion foundation, or some other group, trying to exorcise any religious expression from our public life. And if you think about it, they have been largely successful while many of us quiet conservatives have sat on the sideline. Not anymore; it’s way beyond time for us to make our voices heard loud and clear at the polls.

So, in order to protect the precious first amendment to our constitution which “prevents the government from respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech…..” among other things, I plan to vote on Nov. 6th.

No Bull!

I hope you will too!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

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