Until death do us part

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

With the aid of modern medicine there are a lot more century-old human beings living their lives today. I joke when I go to my swim class that not one of us would be there if it weren’t for high tech operations and modern medicine. Just recently an acquaintance who was told that he was dying, got a reprieve. He had lost a lot of weight and coughed off and on most the day and night. A friend who is knowledgeable about the drug companies stepped in and read the fine print in his contract. After intervention by this health advocate, he managed to obtain the costly medication that has given him a new lease on life. Believe it or not, he has gained weight and has stopped coughing and is able to care for himself again.

Speaking of survivors, recently I got a call from a fellow who was proud of the fact that he and his wife Betty had just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary and he would be celebrating his 100th birthday this summer. When I mentioned that I still drove my car, he said he was driving up until just a couple of years ago but finally he decided that there were too many crazies on the road for him to be driving anymore. Yes, the crazies out there behind the wheel don’t make it entirely safe for anyone these days.

Visiting on the phone with hundred year old Dick Wood certainly made my day.

He reminisced about moving to South America with his wife early in his career to take a new job. He said, “We went down with two children and came back with three.” Yes, those who are willing to chance new opportunities far from home often have very rich memories in their elder years. Luckily Dick married someone several years younger and they are able to remain in their beachside home while others his age are moving out to assisted care.

It so happens that I met Dick’s daughter even before he called me on the phone.
I was waiting in line at the post office and as is my usual manner, I struck up a conversation with a young woman who said she lived in Canada. We were almost friends by the time my turn came to be helped at the counter. Small world. Dick called me to reveal that the woman I visited with at the P. O. was his daughter. She told him that she thought I was a really friendly and interesting person. Well, after all, I am not afraid to be friendly in a waiting line where people usually just stand glumly waiting their turn. I figure that life is short and every moment counts.

Just imagine Dick and Betty visiting at least one hundred different countries in their lifetime and still enjoying life in their beach home. While I was talking with Dick, Betty was out working in the yard. As I always say, life is too short to waste and Dick and Betty aren’t wasting theirs. I can’t wait until my fellow and I can go to visit them and hear more of their stories. My fellow has a few of his own stories to throw into the mix as well—army duty in the South Pacific during WWII, enduring freezing weather in Hokkaido and parachute jumping—just to name a few past exploits. So as the day approaches to celebrate those who served in battle my fellow and I will be visiting with two other oldies. We women will have childbirth struggles to share while the men share war stories. Maybe someday we women can influence the war makers to stop that activity and both sexes can celebrate bringing the next generation into the world and nurturing the young instead of taking part in devastating wars. For now we can live a peaceful life and share our memories. That’s what life is all about, right?

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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