Beautiful Ladies……

We had one of those spectacular fall weekends here in Denver. The Broncos won and the temps were in the 70’s. I took a run on Saturday. I have been dogging it since our trip to the Northwest so I needed to do some miles. Six to be exact. That includes a jaunt to Washington Park which is a two and a half mile oval festooned with a picturesque lake and trees that are burnt orange and umber this time of year. More importantly there are a ton of cute girls running. Kathy always asks upon my return “How were they?” My reply without hesitation,”Great”. Hey, an old guy can dream.

I love to think when I run. They call it the Runner’s High and it kicks in after a mile or two. This week gives me a lot to think about. The move is obvious but also there was a special day at hospice on Thursday. Things are slow right now at the residence with only eight of our 18 beds occupied. Guess people are still enjoying the fall.? Not ready to go just yet. It is good because you can spend a little more individual time with your charges.

I stopped by to see Sally. Not her real name because HIPPA won’t allow me to do that. Whatever! This is one sweet lady of 100 years young. She doesn’t look a day over eighty. She is beyond with it having all her faculties and then some. I met her two weeks earlier and looked forward to our chat. She has cancer and understands perfectly her situation. Just playing the hand that has been dealt. But her tranquility was not resignation but a realization she had a good life..

She was born in a little town in Kansas and she and her husband happened to be married the same year my parents were. They travelled to California during the Depression and told of passing poor folk on the highway. Run down jalopies with all their earthly goods tied to the roof in some fashion. They were on the side of the road because they had run out of gas, money and hope in one fell swoop. I didn’t need to read Steinbeck. This woman witnessed the Grapes of Wrath.

Her husband was a sign painter but when the World War II came he could no longer get the paint to do the job. He went to work for the Navy painting dirigibles in cavernous hangars. The blimps roamed the coastline in search of the enemy. Those days you did what you could and what you had to. The war affected everyone unlike our volunteer and drone clad forces of today. It was a good thing because we were all one and dedicated. A lesson to be learned.

The first president she voted for was FDR. She told me how wonderful it was that he put people to work on the WPA et al. There wasn’t a hint of partisan politics. He just happened to be the right man for the job at the time. Tea Parties weren’t part of the spectrum. Nor were environmentalists or radicals. Just wasn’t done.

As I asked her how she pulled this all off for so many years she seemed to intimate that she just took what life gave her and not only accept it but embrace it. She didn’t bitch or bemoan whatever her lot in life was but rather she spoke of her good fortune at having so much. In reality it was probably not a lot by today’s standards but more than enough to live by. Her kids come to visit every day. They are just as classy as she is. A beautiful lady indeed. I hope she hangs around for a few more Thursdays. I guess that’s selfish.

As I rounded the bend coming home to Williams Street I caught sight of another old lady. Our home. It was built in 1895 by a hardware salesman. It complimented a carriage house and barn next door. Victorian by design it is not as sprawling as our various neighbors but it has been a wonderful place to live for the last six or so years. When we first set eyes on her it was love at first sight….at least for me. Nooks and crannies provided perfect hiding places for our growing crop of grandkids. I hope they remember bits and pieces. Six of the seven crossed that threshold for the first time.

I really thought of all the history. The people. The joy and probably a little heartbreak from time to time. During the big war she was made into a two family house. The marks on the old hardwood floors where walls and doors had been are not disfiguring but a real reminder of times past. I still don’t know where they put the kitchen on the second floor. The windows are huge in the parlor. Passersby would comment on what we had down to the interior of the house although they had never been inside it. No secrets here and that was just fine by us.

I will meet with my two wonderful ladies this week. One for the last time today and one for the last time some time soon. There might be a tear or two but then again what a celebration of all things good. I am so much better for knowing both of them. I have learned a lot. It’s time to move on but not forget. I have to see if I can mimic their great qualities. Like Sally I have to embrace life for whatever it throws at me. Like 701 Williams I hope I can continue to strand tall.

As Always
Ted The Great

Factoids:
Those over 100
1950…2300
1990…37,000
2010…53,364

The average house in the US is 34 years old. 40% of homes today are over 40. I guess remodeling and renovation are going to be big business in years to come.
It takes anywhere from 6 to 18 months to build a house from scratch. A house or scraper to be torn down can have that accomplished in 2 days at the cost of $10-15,000. Personally I am against scraping. There have been very few houses over the years that I can’t find redeeming qualities inherent.

Yes it is true you will spend more on healthcare in the last 24 months of your life than you did for your entire life prior to.

Hospice cost $225 per day for in facility care and $465 dollars for intensive care. The cost for intensive care in a hospital can range between $15,000 to $25,000 per day depending on your location. Go figure. Literally!

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