August 18, 2017

My year 2015. All the pluses and minuses!

By John Guy LaPlante

My grandson Thomas, visiting from Florida, did his best to show me at my best. Hah! I'm in my office in my mobile home at Morro Palms here in Morro Bay.

My grandson Thomas, visiting from Florida, did his best to show me at my best. Hah! I’m in my office in my mobile home at Morro Palms here in Morro Bay.

Dear Friends. It’s my great pleasure as always to wish you a Happy New Year. A bit late, I know, but sometimes life intervenes.   May your 2016 be filled with many pluses and zero minuses.

For years now, it has been my ritual at year’s end to give my family and friends an accounting of my last 12 months. You know, the Good, the Not So Good, and the Bad. So here goes.

The Good:

I am in my 87th year, and in just 16 weeks, will begin my 88th! How lucky I am.

This is such a great surprise for me. When I was just seven or so, our family doctor came to see me because I was sick. He had come before. Standing by my mother, with little me next to her, he put a hand on my head and told her very sadly, “Madame, I am afraid that your little boy will not reach the age of 30.”

Gosh, have I fooled him! And I’m told now that yes, I have problems, as I well know, but everything considered, I’m in very good health.

I am finishing my first year of living seven months in Connecticut and five months approximately in Morro Bay, California. I’m in Morro Bay right now, of course. You can figure out why. Never ice or snow here. Two palm trees in my yard!

I am here to be under the loving and watchful eyes of my daughter Monique and son-in-law David. They’re just 10 minutes away. They live their life and I live mine. We speak to one another every single day and see one another often and spend quality time together doing interesting things. What a year-round Christmas present that is for me!

I am still having adventures, but of a milder kind – giving talks, staying involved, writing, blogging, and adjusting to my new community. Just last week I started Season 2 of my Saturday “Gabbing with Old Guy” radio show. It is broadcast on 97.3 FM here. The Rock, as it is called. Every week I find a guest and we chat about something interesting and, I hope, of value to listeners. I choose carefully. Quite a variety of topics.

The latest topic was the housing market here. Very tight. On the California Coast as it is, with a beautiful harbor and impressive mountains nearby—and its mild climate and only 15 miles from beautiful San Luis Obispo—it is a very popular tourist and retirement community. House prices are high, yet incomes are no higher than in Connecticut, say. Result: many people born here, with ordinary jobs, cannot aspire to own a home here. Very sad.

Interestingly, there are nine or ten mobile home parks here. Plus others nearby. So, many, many mobile homes. Typically mobile home prices are much less than house prices. They can be a smart alternative to a house. For younger people, but also older people who want to down-size. My guest was Marion Grisso, a retired teacher, who has lived in one—in the park I live in—for many years. This after many years in a conventional house. She was a fine guest. I was pleased with the show, and I could see she was also.

My scattered family is doing well — Monique and David here; my son Arthur and his wife Marita and their three children, now all young adults, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and my son Mark and his wife Stacie and their two little children in Madison, Wisconsin. They are all good people, good citizens, admirable in every way, successful, making contributions to the world in their own ways. Talk about blessings!

Imagine! I have two homes. They are not chateaus, but! My nice condo in Deep River and my nice mobile home here in Morro Bay. Both more than adequate. With everything, including full computer set-ups. In fact, perfect for my needs.

I enjoy a more than adequate income. No outstanding bills, just the current ones. A lifestyle of my own making that I can’t think of improving in any significant way. Interesting, challenging work–so many people have terrible work. In the works is a course for me to teach at our Senior Center, “Writing Your Life Family.” And,I am rich in friends. And have no enemies, well, as far as I know.

And two cars, one here and another back in Connecticut. Even two tricycles—pure pedal power. No motor—some do have a motor. Identical, but one blue, one crimson. With three-speed transmissions and a big basket in back. Not toys. I use one every good day—I’m close to everything I consider important. . Wonderful for my legs, my lungs, my heart, and such fun. Sometimes I go two or three days without using my car.

Oh, I am a 100% vegetarian now. It’s been a long, gradual process. But not a vegan. To me vegetarianism makes good sense and for more than one reason. I consider it a blessing. And by the way, I prepare 99 percent of my meals….morning noon and night. I like my cooking.

And I have excellent medical coverage. Essential to mention that. And excellent health professionals.

One other marvelous thing. I have two library cards! One here, one back in Connecticut. I’ve had a library card since I was 12 or 13 years old. I consider a good public library the best thing any community can have, second only to a good supermarket. I get to the library every day it is open. It’s a must.

Now the Not So Good:

I am declining. I can see that I am, and there is no hiding it. I can’t walk as far. I often use a walking stick. I keep my cell phone close, just in case. I misplace things. Forget things. I have aches and pains, but minor so far.  I have to get up 3 or 4 times a night, and you know why.

For three years now, I have been totally deaf in my right ear. It happened suddenly, like a bolt of lightning out of the sky. A small stroke, they speculate. I have a hearing aid, and it helps a bit. Having just one working ear affects one’s balance. Our ears are also our body’s gyroscope. I find ways of coping with both problems. Sometimes it ain’t easy.

Before very long I will have to stay put in one place. It’s inevitable. I will have to leave Deep River. Very difficult to contemplate. Deep River has been my true home for some 20 years.

Some life-style changes are essential. I can no longer contemplate long solo motor trips. But I’ve enjoyed so many. Or trips abroad. And you know my foreign wanderlust! And the year before that I went home Connecticut the slow way. In my little RV. I slept in it every night. I traveled 101 days. And 5,300 miles .Gosh, just two years ago, I was in China. Alone. My fourth trip there.. And the year before that I went home Connecticut the slow way. In my little RV. I slept in it every night. I traveled 101 days. And 5,300 miles.Gosh, just two years ago, I was in China. Alone. My fourth trip there. Things can change so fast.

My passport is about to expire and of course I intended to renew it. But why? Very doubtful that I will ever leave the country again. Yes, we use passports for ID purposes now. But I’m sure my driver’s license will do. That said, how much longer will I be able to keep that?

And now The Bad:

Nothing, really. Of course, I know my clock is clicking down. I’ve seen this coming for a long time. I hope I make it to 90. But I accept the fact. I’m prepared for it, well, I think I am.

Life is precious, as we know, maybe so precious that we are willing to go to extremes and to accept great pain and difficulty and expense. All in order to milk life of every hour and minute that we can. I have seen a friend or two do this. That is not my intention, at least as of this writing. I think that at a certain point, a nice clean, quick, complete heart attack is God’s blessing. We’ll see what we’ll see.

The Bottom Line for me. I have lived more years than most people in the world. Incredible! I’ve had my challenges and fears and failures. Yes, I have. But I’m pleased with my batting average. And I’ve  had so many good people in my life. And so many pleasures, joys, and grand experiences.For sure that’s one reason I smile easily. I am no genius, but I am smart enough to appreciate what a lucky star I was born under.

I have often said that adventures are essential for a happy and satisfying life. Well, for me anyway. I have had many. By definition, an adventure is a challenging undertaking that has a strong possibility of success, but also a possibility of failure. They enrich life. I have found this to be true. Maybe my adventures may not be over. There may be one or two left, if so probably of a spiritual or intellectual nature. Who knows?

So, I’m a few days late, my apologies please,  but Happy New Year to you, one and all. No year is ever perfect. But may 2016 set a new record for you!

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