Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Story Only You Can Tell


A while back I suggested that everyone, especially October/November folks, ought to consider writing their own personal memoir. After all, you have lived a full life. Chances are you have time on your hands and stories to tell. Seems to me those are the necessary ingredients for the most personal late-life project I can imagine… that only you can create.

So, what kind of response did I receive about what I considered a viable idea? Most replies sounded like……“I couldn’t do that. Why would I want to? I’m not a writer. Besides, who wants to read about my life?”

Those are all valid replies, but perhaps they are the right answers to the wrong questions. More to the point, they seem to miss what I have come to accept as the most important virtue of creating one’s own memoir. 

What if the first and most important question to be asked is…. “What would I gain from writing my own memoir?”….What would I learn about myself if I took the time to study the most eventful pieces of my life, from beginning to now. Have I ever stopped to think about how those ‘pieces’ fit together to create the ‘me’ I have become?

Allow me to digress for a moment. I have mentioned before that I have walked that ‘memoir path’……378 pages of serious digging into my life through 2020. On the very first page of that story I said, “I want to know more about the ‘me’ I have become.” When I had finally completed that search I had the resulting book self-published, and ordered five copies, one for myself and each of our children. There will be no reason for any more copies. 

Based on that experience I learned that the process of reviewing my life…… the highs and the lows, one step at a time……while trying to understand what each step meant to me, was an empowering adventure. 

Most of us think of a memoir as something to be read by others……the few who may care enough to read our story. I am asking you to consider ‘your story’ as something by you,  for you…… opportunity for you to visit, and revisit, your life, one step at a time. Whether or not you ever ‘write’ that story, you may find that the time spent reviewing and reliving those ‘steps,’ outlining your own memoir, is the most productive part of the process.

With that in mind I have decided on what feels like an October Bold approach. What follows is Chapter One of the memoir I call In Retrospect…. My bumpy road to growing up, which explains my memoir logic about as well as I know how.


                           CHAPTER ONE

“An unexamined life is not worth living.”


“Only as we look back at the course our footprints have traced do we fully understand how we have read life’s inkblot.”

                    Huston Smith

                                   WHY TELL THIS STORY?

There are, of course, dozens of reasons to explore one’s life, and dozens of ways to approach that process. Beyond those matters of motivation and technique lies the most fundamental question of all. Why do I feel called to tell my story?

As I set out on this journey I have at least three reasons in mind. Chances are I will find others along the way. For now, however, I will be seeking to answer these questions. 

1) Why did I choose not to concentrate on the opportunities I was gifted as a young man? 

2) Why did I instead settle for my own ‘road less traveled.’ Making my way to a more satisfying destination? 

3) And, how was I lucky enough to win the lady who would put up with all my foolishness, while providing a helping hand in my search?

I want to know more about what made me the ‘me’ I have become. In the process I will be retelling and perhaps even reliving bits of my life in hopes of gaining insight. To be sure, this will be the most personal writing I have ever attempted. And most importantly, I am doing it to satisfy myself, no one else.

At eighty-three it is high time to face this life of mine head on and see where my thoughts take me. Hopefully I can confirm that satisfaction and fulfillment are not prizes to be found in the world of ‘things,’ but are instead products of soul-deep expectations we cultivate in the course of a lifetime.

I won’t pretend to address every detail of my long life. Instead I want to gather the recollections that stand out to me, whether or not their importance is obvious to a casual reader. It is that hopeful gathering of long-dormant memories and emotions that draws me toward telling my story. 

I know there are intuitions and aspirations, anxieties and injuries that inhabit the inner ‘me,’ like ghosts of times past. I want to know more about those invisible specters. What should they mean to me? How are they connected to the person I have become? How do those long-ago episodes, perhaps insignificant at the time, relate to the answers I am still seeking at this advanced stage of life?

Have you ever wondered how seemingly-minor, often-momentary events are able to create such lasting subconscious associations? You and I live daily with hopes and anxieties that confirm the significance of long-past events. 

Are those yearnings and apprehensions real? Are they the basis of a fruitful life? Or simply illusions, unsafe to lean on in the heat of life-stressing situations?And where do all those questions come from? 

More to the point, why is my octogenarian mind still seeking those answers? Surely, by this time of life I should have learned to live with my accumulated doubts and uncertainty. Why haven’t I created more satisfying answers by now? Seems that most people my age have managed that.

In the course of a lifetime all of us construct explanations that we rely on to create our ways of coping. Some of that logic may be shaky, barely able to hide the dysfunction it is meant to address. Some of it is more productive. I would like to know more about the ‘answers’ I have fashioned on my life journey. Which ones created real resolution? Which ones simply shielded me from the reality of unwelcome questions?

My search for personal answers, the strongest motivation of this exploration, may not make sense to anyone else. The drama and emotion of my seeking may be real only to me. Chances are an outsider will consider my questioning asides strange at best, occasionally humorous, and perhaps at times the work of a deranged mind.

For the most part my life answers have been adequate. They have allowed me to deal with the situations at hand, if not always well. Some questions that required an answer in an earlier time have ceased to be an issue for me. And, of course, there have been times when my answers were simply wrong and unproductive. 

Like you I have spent a lifetime trying to create satisfactory responses to life’s challenges. In the process I have reached the supposed calm and quiet of retirement……yet there are questions that still remain.

Will this telling of my story, help me find those answers? How can I know that at the beginning? Ask me again when we reach the end. In the meantime why not join me on the bumpy road to my Becoming.


There you have it, dear reader. Whether or not you ever create a memoir, I happen to think that the process of thinking through the chapters that make up your life is a worthwhile exercise. I invite you to consider that challenge.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023



                                         Do you remember?

Wow! Can you believe it? There I was, nearly eighty-six years old. That has the ring of November, doesn’t it? Which makes it easier to admit that I can no longer do some of the things I did in the “old days.” 

But never fear, there are some things I can do better than ever….for instance, ‘remembering.’ Though I am prone to forget where I left the keys, and our offspring occasionally kid me about “living in the past,” the truth is, like my October peers, I do remember a great deal about the life I have lived. 

Consider the obvious. We have so much more past behind us than we have future before us. In that case why not take a moment from time to time to recall and revisit that past, and the ways it has impacted the persons we have become.            

For instance, a while back, in an informal email census of my high-school class, I have heard from several long ago friends. Truth to tell, claiming those folks as “friends” is stretching things a bit. We were in school at the same time, sixty-some years ago, and were more like acquaintances than friends. 

Though we haven’t seen each other in years, there was a time when we walked the same hallways and greeted each other in passing….or did not. Through no choice of our own we had been thrown together in a common place and time. Some of us had reveled in those common experiences. Others simply endured them. Either way, in the process we cultivated a common mythology, some of which we have shaped and molded over the years to suit our own needs.

Fact is, after so many years I enjoyed the chance to reconnect with those folks in a casual email contact. Actually, I recommend it. You ought to give it a try. But be aware, even the most superficial of visits is apt to trigger some serious remembering….a return to places and events you may not have visited in a very long time. 

Most of the resulting recollections will probably be of a general nature….pleasant musings about what we like to recall as an unfettered, less-structured time of life….creating a mood we may choose to linger in for a while. Occasionally those remembered moments may become more detailed and specific, complete with faces and names. Either way there can be no doubting the power of serious, heart-felt remembering.

Remembering, of course, is a very individual activity. Two or more persons, reliving a shared experience, are bound to remember their times together differently. After all, our recollections are shaped by our own uniquely personal filters. Yet no matter what we remember, a single constant remains….we are dealing with the past. Remembering is about looking back, and assigning our own values to what we experienced. The future, on the other hand, is a great unknown. At best it is a blank page of undetermined possibilities….answers we hope will arrive on time, but may not arrive at all. 

That is the dichotomy we live with, at eight or eighty….remembering our past, while trying to decipher the future. Having spent most of nine decades creating my own answers….some right, some wrong….I realize there is more, much more, for me to remember about the past than there is for me to look forward to in an ever-shrinking future.

So why not accept the truth of it? Connecting with caring “friends” in even the most casual way….with no need to impress or “one-up” each other….is one of the most therapeutic perks of late life. With that in mind I give thanks for pleasant memories of pleasant times spent with pleasant people. (Even those times when one or the other of us was not so pleasant) 

And a special thanks to the recent string of memory-makers who, for reasons of their own, stepped forward to offer their personal feelings about the highs and lows of October and November life. 

Their sharing and caring was enough to fuel my own remembering. I realize that was not their intention, but that’s the way it works. Though it may be unhealthy to dwell too long on our remembering, in the end everyone of us is a part of someone else’s memories.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023



October dreaming'....don't stop now

Hey, it’s okay. It is allowed. If you have given up on some grand idea, perhaps it is time to try again. Go ahead and dream your dreams. It’s good for you and fun too.

Recently, as I was roughing out my Family Matters story, I found myself deep in the “dreaming” business. The story I was creating followed three generations of the Padgett family as they struggled to find the elusive place where their individual, sometimes conflicting visions of the future could be blended into a common dream. It was clear from the beginning that not everyone would get everything they wanted. In the course of their seeking there was bound to be discord and the need for compromise. Sounds a lot like real life, doesn’t it?

For two hundred seventy pages the frustrated Padgett grandparents, the family’s late-life element, deals with radically differing visions of what retirement ought to be, while their daughter tries her best to save a relationship torn apart by another set of conflicting dreams. Meanwhile the granddaughter, longing for a return to the laissez-faire freedom of her Los Angeles roots, struggles to imagine a future for herself in small-town Tanner. At every turn it seems that someone’s dream is in danger of being stepped on.

I call them “dreams”….those enticing hints of the future we long to have for ourselves. It seems to me that if we nurture them properly and allow them to play out, those idealized visions can help us be the person we want to be and live the life we want to live. 

    I suppose most folks understand how important dreams are. In the beginning, when we first set out to find our place in the world, what else did we have but dreams? But now the question is….is there a place for dreaming in late-life, when it sometimes feels like we are used up and out of possibilities? If someone is taking a poll on the subject, put me down as a loud “Yes.”

Like you perhaps, I have had a few ill-defined “want to’s” bouncing around in my head for as long as I can remember. But it was only a few years ago, during what I like to think of as the September of my life, that I found the nerve and motivation to double down on my personal “dream thing”...telling stories about my Tanner friends and their October dreams.

Each of us grows up with a uniquely personal vision of what-can-be for us. Sometimes that vision is hazy, hard to make out. At other times it is as clear as daylight. And even as we shape and reshape those images they are also shaping us. We are both the cause and the result of our dreams. 

After all, we have spent a lifetime painting our own personal mind-picture of the person we are. Though we rarely allow anyone else to see the whole of that intimate portrait our dreams, the ones that remind us of “who we want to be,” are constantly at work on that mental canvas…. redrawing, refining, and clarifying the “me” we view through the lens of our personal dreams.

We October types have been involved in that process long enough to realize that integrating the idealized images which our dreams produce with the untidy facts of real life can be difficult at any age. Perhaps you remember how hard that was as a teenager. I do. How could I have ever entertained those silly pie-in-the-sky fantasies….of doing the things I dreamed of doing, of becoming this or that, of some special “her” liking the likes of me? You might think I would have learned my lesson back then. 

Yet here I am, late in life, still playing those silly mind games….telling my stories and dreaming those October dreams. And I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one trying to live out my “want-to” dreams. 

      In the face of October reality the “why” we keep dreaming may be found in loneliness, boredom, isolation, and frustration….or perhaps it is disappointment with our earlier efforts. Whatever the reason, most of us are inclined to wander back to that familiar mind space from time to time….telling ourselves that we ought to know better….yet still seeking the undeniable comfort of our dreams.

Of course, along the way there will be detours and disappointments, times when we step back to ask ourselves why we have not become the person we had hoped to be. Yet in the face of those shortcomings we keep dreaming….because we must. That was true in our formative years, in adulthood, and now in late-life. As always we are a work-in-progress….constantly bumping heads with reality, even as we continue to lean on what I call dreams. 

In Family Matters the Padgett family is forced to face their dreams....the ones that are pulling them in very different directions. (That happens sometimes, doesn’t it?) In the course of their journey there will be moments when the common ground they seek appears to be out of reach. But they are first and foremost a family. Their individual dreams require a recognition of that “familyness,” even when it means reshaping their own motivating visions. For them, just as it is for you and me, it will all be about the often frustrating blend of family, dreams, and compromise. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023




(This bit of fluff first appeared on these pages several years ago. Now, even deeper into Elderhood, it seems more appropriate than ever.)

Sure, I do fuss a lot about our late-life challenge to keep Becoming more than we are. I believe there are ways we can continue to grow, even improve, at our age. Still, I must admit there are times when I wonder how an old fossil like me can pull that off....when it feels like those doubts have the upper hand.

Then, of course, there are times when I come face to face with the sad reality of how much I can no longer do……..those moments when my mind’s ‘want to’ is trumped by my body’s “can’t do.” In those sometimes depressing instances it is hard to believe there is still any meaningful Becoming left in me.

So how do we carry on as late-lifer ‘Becomers’ when the clock and calendar seem to be working against us? Among the many possibilities is one that only we, you and I, each of us on our own, can make happen. Fact is, no matter how age has slowed us down we will continue to create and refine our personal legacy. 

Take a moment to consider the notion of “legacy.” The formal definition speaks of “Something transmitted by or received from a predecessor.” On a personal level we are talking about our life, the way we live, and how that affects those whose lives we touch. 

Passing on our unique, very personal life experiences and the lessons we have learned, is something no one else can do for us. As elder members of our personal sphere of influence we are always in the process of creating and refining that legacy……the lasting impressions and lessons we bequeath to those whose lives we impact. Whether by words, writing, or loving example our personal legacy is a gift only we can give.

I mentioned in an earlier post a book I was reading…….William H Thomas’ “What Are Old People For?” One of his most important answers to that title question reads as follows….“The first task of elderhood is the creation of a legacy that can serve others and be handed down to those who have yet to be born.”

Barry Barkan, founder of the Live Oak Community, puts it this way….“An elder is a person whose work is to gather wisdom from long-life experience and formulate it into a legacy for future generations.”

I would submit that each of us, in our own way, is capable of doing exactly that every day of our elder life. Certainly no one else can do that for us. A lifetime of words, deeds, and attitudes…..of choices made….has shaped the nature of our legacy and continues to do so to this day.

For better or worse, our presence in the lives of family and close friends has and will continue to have an impact. There is no way to avoid leaving our stamp, however modest, on every life we touch. A lifetime of choices made has created the wake that marks our life journey, shaping our individual Becoming and the legacy we pass on to our inheritors. 

We live in a world that is too often seems unwilling to accept that we October/November souls have anything left to offer. Perhaps we sometimes nurse those same questions. Yet we ought not doubt the fact that our life’s example…..the legacy we are still creating, has an impact……while serving as an indelible sign of our own continued Becoming.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

A FUTURE? ....... AT MY AGE?


          A FUTURE? -- AT MY AGE?

From one July to the next……what a year it has been. In the last few days I have noted the first anniversary of Her passing, and remembered what would have been our 63rd anniversary. 

It is that remembering which has me thinking thoughts I wouldn’t normally share in such a public way. Yet a part of me wants to shout about it from the highest hill.

You see, She’s been gone a year now, and there is still an empty space inside me. There always will be. Yet She had been so insistent that I must “Carry on.” Those were Her firm instructions. But what did they mean? How can I do that?

I realize that I won’t replace Her love, or my love for Her. What we had won’t change. For more than 67 years we experienced what seems to me the complete cycle of love.

As youngsters we knew the excitement of passionate, romantic love. In time we fulfilled our naturally mandated role in continuing the species. As adults we launched our children on their own life adventures. 

Along the way I learned my own life lessons ……that material success and status do not produce the satisfaction they promise. Though I may have been a slow learner, I believe that in time I became a more authentic husband and father.

Best of all, we grew old together, helping each other along the way……each of us supporting the other as we shaped the interests that kept us alive and involved.

And then came the time, as it does in any enduring relationship, when one of us moved on to the next plateau, and the other was left to make his way.

In Her absence I still manage to visit with Her most every day. (Some habits are hard to break.) At the same time I wonder how I can know for sure that we are still connecting. Am I actually reaching Her? Is there any way She can reach me when I need Her?

Lately, in my blogging I have mentioned that I want to use my remaining days or years, this time I have alone, in the best way possible.  How can I know what those ways are? What do I owe Her……..and myself?

In this new world of mine I have no interest in replacing what was……that life of young love, raising a family, becoming the adults we were, having a career. Like anyone my age all that is part of my past.

You see, I have reached a new place in life, considering a new future that many of us older folks face……dealing with the challenges of late-life, especially the day after day routine of life lived alone. The question has become, how will I deal with this new place?

Well…….WHAT IF?

WHAT IF I was thinking about a future that includes someone to share these last miles with me, someone I care about, who cares about me……perhaps someone who is facing her own late-life challenges.

For 67 years that soulmate of mine was my lover and Best Friend. But it seems that my priorities have changed. Years ago, in the final pages of the story I titled Best Friends and Promises, Aaron Peck found himself admitting, “At this stage of life I need a Best Friend more than I need a lover.” How prophetic is that? Here I am, living out my own fiction.

So what about the “someone” I have in mind, that ‘Best Friend’ I want in my life?  What if we decide that the two of us don’t have to be together all the time? We certainly don’t need to live together. I, for one, am not ready or able to be a caretaker, any more than I can expect someone to take care of me

But I do believe that being in that Best Friend relationship with a special someone works for me. Is it enough that our connection is nurtured and sustained by emails, phone calls, and occasional visits?

I believe it is. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023





                          (Originally posted 7/23/2017)

I call it ‘Elder Wisdom.’ The kids and grandkids are apt to describe it as “Gramps has gone off the rails again.” 

I suppose the truth lies somewhere between. Still, when my sometimes-suspect mind pauses to consider the matter it finds an ever-growing mountain of evidence to support my logic. The concerns that I first addressed in an earlier post, back when Oregon was preparing to legalize marijuana, were real then and even more real today.

“But why?” I wonder. What had me so upset about what I considered, (and still do) a cultural dilemma? After all, I am not a social critic. I write about late-life relationships. What prompted my emotional detour? Whatever it was, I have yet to outgrow it. With that, I offer Existential Anesthesia Redux.


I suppose I am a bit worked up, trying to find the logic in the wave of illogical claims. Whatever the reason it is enough to turn today’s BLOG into a RANT. I suppose it has been building up for a while and finally spilled over.

You see, a while back my beloved Tanner, along with the rest of Oregon, became a legal marijuana zone… willed by a vote of the folks who populate my mythical city, in the heart of a very real Willamette Valley. With that vote they became part of a rapidly spreading social experiment… that offers our population the freedom to indulge themselves with impunity. As you might suspect, I have some October (& November) reservations about the wisdom of that so-called “progress.”

Let’s begin with the obvious…..ours is already the most medicated culture in history. A large part that medication is perfectly legal…..for instance, the opioid epidemic that threatens our nation…..the toxic result of human need coming face to face with highly effective corporate lobbyists who spend hundreds of millions to convince us, and a cadre of well-funded lawmakers, that we need what they are selling. 

Disclaimer #1 - I will be the first to admit that when I seek the relief and healing of today’s medicines I am thankful to have them available. Like a lot of you, there have been times when I owed my life to their effectiveness. Yet I realize that even as they heal me, they are also instrumental in creating and funding a delivery system designed to insure huge profits for both vendors and providers…..while leaving our 

citizens to pay by far the highest health-care costs in the world, for what are often less than the best results.

Yet beyond those legal and socially acceptable forms of medicinal intervention our society, indeed the whole world, is awash in a sea of chemical “coping” agents……from booze, to narcotics, to pot, and a whole array of manufactured “designer” drugs. 

Our citizens are increasingly addicted to pharmaceutical aids, both legal and illegal. All around us lives are being ruined and families destroyed. Our streets are filled with the homeless survivors. At the same time governments rely more and more on the tax revenues generated by the sale of those products. And all the while a thriving underground economy is equally addicted to the profits that our ‘coping’ produces. Bottom line……more than ever before our “land of the free and the brave” is addicted to its addictions.

And now we find ourselves living in a world that includes yet another round of ‘socially accepted’ means of coping. Marijuana, long relegated to the shadow-side of the conversation, has been liberated. Now, firmly established in the light of day, it is available to one and all …..young and old. As I mentioned above, tipping the scales in the sometimes contentious debate leading to its legalization was pot’s undisputed ability to be a productive source of coveted tax revenue.

Disclaimer #2 - Before I dig deeper into my state’s “progressive” expansion of pot’s availability, let me take a moment to limit the scope of my objections. Like many states Oregon already had a modest medical-marijuana program in place. Though not everyone agrees with that, I accept the evidence of the drug’s medicinal capabilities and have no problem with it being available in that form, given proper regulation and oversight.

Rather, it is the brave new world of universal marijuana acceptance that has me concerned about what lies ahead…..the new world of ‘recreational’ pot. Though that new reality has yet to make its way into any of my Tanner stories, rest assured that it has more than a few of us October and November types wondering what good or bad, help or harm, will come from this new state of affairs. At least one old fossil I know feels the need to have his say about that.

To be clear, I don’t pretend to speak for anyone else. I may be the only one who harbors unsettling visions of where our chemically-sated society is heading. Of course, mankind’s efforts to escape the harsh realities of life are nothing new. Those tendencies are surely as old as the species. Everyone of us has moments when he or she wants to avoid hurtful circumstances. There was a time when scotch-on-the-rocks was my favored retreat. Fortunately, somewhere along the way I learned that whatever I was running from would still be there in the morning.

But I worry that in today’s increasingly chaotic world….with its ever-growing availability of more effective, even lethal, ways of avoiding life as it is….more of us are relying on those means of escape......those ways to dull the pain. I am so concerned about that trend that I have given it a name. I call our societal attempts to escape reality Existential Anesthesia or EA.

Of course, with true late-life logic I tell myself that if anyone needs Existential Anesthesia to face their circumstances, it would be we October and November types…..the ones worn down by decades of dealing with real life. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

But instead it seems that more and more of our young people are succumbing to EA in one or more of its often enticing forms. And they are apparently doing that at an ever-younger age. At the very time of life we hope they are curious, alert, and clear minded…..ready to prepare for the daunting challenges that await them… seems that too many youngsters, overwhelmed by those possibilities, are turning to EA…. seeking an emotional retreat that is likely to be a dead end. 

Still, the advocates of that brave new world tell us we must accept the reality of a ‘new way’… that makes pot available to everyone. They tout its “decriminalization,” a change that will allow future generations to avoid the legal residue of youthful indiscretions. And I’ll admit, those arguments ring true. Yet how many lives, young and not-so-young, will be impacted by the freshly reinforced message that we have the right to indulge ourselves in potentially harmful, but perfectly legal ways? How many of us will learn to cope by retreating into a TCH haze?

They tell us that escape, in a socially acceptable manner, is fine ….even therapeutic. They say it can be a wonderful stress reliever. Yet in the end how often does that form of retreat actually resolve the ills that drive our urge to hide and escape?

The fact is, however, in the end this is not an argument I am going to win. The forces behind the acceptance of marijuana as a valid form of EA are growing stronger. They will eventually have their way. I may not agree, and will sometimes give thanks that I won’t be around to see how it ends. 

But then I will pause to remember that my children and grandchildren will be there, dealing with that outcome. It seems that I must pray for their well being and accept what I cannot change. Unless, of course, I choose to pour myself a tall scotch-on-the-rocks and try to forget it.


Postscript…….Oh my, if only Existential Anesthesia was simply a matter of marijuana. Looking back, when I first offered my thoughts on what I considered a cultural misstep, legal pot was more or less my main concern.

But today’s cultural landscape has become literally unrecognizable to many of us. Our city sidewalks are cluttered with ragged tents and purloined shopping carts. Used needles are everywhere. Oregonians are overdosing at a rate never seen before. To the earlier list of anesthetic aids we can now add vaping, oxycodone, and the most lethal of all, highly addictive fentanyl…..and too, to stretch the metaphor just a bit, there is our individual and national addiction to the wonders of Debt, which they tell us will solve all our problems.

Seems that I remember reading somewhere….”the land of the free and the home of the brave is addicted to its addictions.”

So what do you think? I’m guessing that you have an opinion on these matters. I’d like to hear what you have to say. If you would like to “Comment” feel free to choose “Anonymous” to avoid exposing your personal details. If you are inclined to share this post I hope you will. Let me know what you think about this.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023



             AFTER ALL, SHE'S FAMILY

Let’s begin with the obvious. I am an old school kind of guy……heavy on the “old.” It’s the way I was raised. The first home I remember was literally a log cabin in the country, complete with a ‘one-holer’ outhouse in the back yard. We had a couple goats, some chickens, and a dog …….but no cats. Truth is, I have never been what you would call a ‘cat’ person.

Later on, when Roma and I were raising our own family, it seemed that then too we favored dogs over cats……perhaps because the two did not always coexist well.

It was rather late in the game, when dogs were not allowed in our digs, that Roma turned to feline companionship. As was her way, she showered her love on a series of cats, until they became part of the family.

But like I said, “I’m an old school guy.” Though her cats and I usually managed to coexist…..they didn’t have much to do with me, and vice-versa. That worked just fine for an old school guy like me.

And then our youngest son, Tug, moved in with us. From the beginning that was a blessing in most every way. So how could I hold it against him when he too decided that he wanted a cat…..making us a two cat family.

And that’s what we have been for several years now……a two-cat family. Roma’s ‘Nutmeg’ and Tug’s ‘Polly,’ became part of the family, though both of them basically ignored me most of the time. As far as they know it is their household. Since Roma left us, Nutmeg will occasionally sit on my lap, but that is about it. But  then, that’s okay….. after all, I am old school.

And then there are moments like the evening last week when Tug, who pays attention to such things, noticed that for the last few days Nutmeg seemed to be off her feed, and noticeably unenergetic. She was simply not her old self.

I had to agree. But after all, she is an old girl, so I suppose I can relate to such things. My own advice was simple enough. “Let’s  keep an eye on her and see if she gets better.” Though Tug was not totally comfortable with that, he agreed……at least until the next morning.

You see, the old girl was still not eating, not moving around like her old self. It was time to find out why……to take the next step. As you might expect, the ‘next step’ would involve a visit to the vet. The ‘emergency appointment’ was made for that morning. Since Tug was at work, I would be the one escorting Nutmeg to the doctor.

Long story short, I spent at least ten minutes with the doctor……long enough to offer my very unprofessional diagnosis……”She’s not eating and doesn’t show much energy.” Though the vet found no obvious problem, his nurse took a blood sample to be sent to the lab. The results were due back in a few days.

Once back home Nutmeg still turned up her nose at the food she normally attacks with gusto, and soon settled down on the same window ledge she had favored the last few days. Though I haven’t seen much change, I am confident she has received the most competent medical attention available in our small-town world.

How ‘competent’ you ask? Well, though she was still not her old self, I was convince that the clinic’s attention to our apparently distressed friend was so caring, thorough, and efficient that I signed the credit card receipt for $316, an amount Tug and I had agreed to split, without a moment’s hesitation.

I will admit, however, at that moment the ‘old school’ in me was making itself heard a bit. “Three hundred dollars spent on an aging cat?” It was saying. “What are you thinking?”

Yet, as I carried ‘Nutty’ back to the car, I was coming face to face to the truth of it. It was not such a lot to pay……three hundred of today’s inflated, devalued dollars……to help Nutmeg carry on. Why wouldn’t I do that……After all, she’s family.


                Postcript.......the vet called back a couple days later to tell us the lab work was 'normal.' So what was it that had us so concerned? He had an answer for that....."Could be she was just going through one of those 'spells' animals sometimes have." 

                Three hundred dollars to deal with a 'spell'? Are you.........? Never mind, the old girl is family, and she's feeling better. What else matters?