My Golden Late Life Years

What I learned about my mates in life could be a book in it’s self. Now, that Dick has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has spent numerous days in the V.A. hospital and a Veterans long term care contract home, I realize that most of our problems were as a result of the mental illness. I just wish he could have gotten help and medication in the early years of the disorder. Maybe things would have turned out differently. But then, I wouldn’t have met Howard and he truly has been the light of my life. I needed purpose and he’s given me that. When we were first united I didn’t know he had such a soft side. Everyday he makes me feel valued and worthwhile. It’s the opposite of how I felt with Dick. He also has a need of being appreciated. I read in the book “Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus” that men need appreciation and women need to be listened to, which probably sums up most relationships.

My house as a youngster had five doors to the outside. It was a 3 story house with a wrap around front porch, a parlor that was later turned into a bedroom. Only strangers came to the door that faced the road. Company came to the door that entered the dining room which was the main entry on the south. The other entry on the south was to the kitchen, and it was used by close family and friends. We never locked the doors, and I never remember being robbed. As an adult I’ve lived in two states: California, and in Kansas. I lived in rural Carbondale for over 21 years, and then to Topeka in 1994. We always kept the doors locked at night. It was a habit developed in California. The back doors were used the most by visitors in rural Carbondale—again, the front door faced the highway and only strangers seemed to drive up to it. Everyone else came through the garage. In Topeka, where I live now, the front door being close to the drive way, is the door of preference for visitors, except when the garage is open and family or friends come through to the open back door.

To tell about my grandchildren would also take another book. Corey Devon was the first and I was only 38 when I became a “grandma”. Being so young gave me the opportunity to really play and dote over him. He was our pride and joy. And, when Chase Denton, came along that pride and joy grew, but he started out his life with a bit of complication-his heart. Seeing him in the hospital all hooked up to monitors, tore at my heart. Your grandchildren give you the opportunity to value life more than when having your children. You feel more pain, or maybe a different intense pain. He came through and today is a wiry, energetic and hard working young man. Then came Danae, and when she was given that name (the name I had wanted for a daughter), she held a special place in my heart, too. Carissa DeAnne was next, and it was a wonderful feeling being blessed with two granddaughters. I was finally feeling like I wasn’t outnumbered by males in the family. Carissa was kind of a fussy baby but has grown into a lovable and cheerful young woman. On my side, the last grandchild born was Kamrin Joelyn. And, wow. She was just petite and precious, and still is, enough so, she’s a K-State cheerleader! All five of my biological grandchildren have given me so much joy. I try to make memories at “Grandma Pete’s” house special. We’ve done wonderful things together—Chuckie Cheese (a pizza restaurant just for kids), painting, playing in the yard, baking, spending the night sleeping on the floor watching television, and giving them lots and lots of presents to open on birthdays and at Christmas. I will always remember piling all five in my car and feeling so good about having them all together. I want them to always fondly think of me, and to value the wisdom I try to impart. On Howard’s side, during our first twenty years of marriage, Addison, Joaquin, Burke, Teagan, and Brynn all became as “my own” too. Addison Tsehay reignited my husband’s endearing childish ways and she became one of the lights of both our lives. A few years later came Preston Joaquin, the sports star with the little English accent he learned while they lived in Africa. Burke was born next, who has captured our hearts from the moment he was born, to his lengthy stay at St. Luke’s for meningitis, to his politeness we experience every time he is in our midst. Next is TiTi, (Teagan Scout), our unexpected surprise to experience her birth in Topeka because Shawn had to have her here, since the State Department flew her home from Africa where the hospitals were lacking in OB. TiTi, is our theatrical grandchild most likely to become a very successful actress. Last but not least of our ten grandchildren, is Brynn. She’s the one who’s been the most challenging in many ways. Her independent character will most likely enable her to be the first woman President if one hasn’t been elected by then. They call me Grandma Gummy cause when “Adder Catter” looked at a picture of me after I spent time with them in D.C. and she said “there is Grandma Gummy” cause I always gave her gum. And, it stuck (the name that is).

Besides the loss of my parent’s I’ve had others I’ve grieved for over the years. My grandpa Mangold was so special, and so was my Aunt Minnie. I yet have to face the loss of a close friend. It was especially difficult when my former parents in law passed on. They were my only parents for so many years, and then when I divorced it was difficult, but they still loved me in their own way. I didn’t go to either funeral. I felt so bad about that but I knew it would be better for Dick and me if I didn’t go.

Technology has made life more satisfying than in the days when my parents were living. Now we can communicate by email, and cook so much faster with all the new gadgets. Clothes are easier to take care of and so is the cleaning of the house. I even have a shampooer for the carpet and a robot vacuum. It’s nice to have computers, iPads, and Howard loves his MP3 player that stores thousands of his favorite songs. Maybe, what’s less satisfying is the fact that life is fast paced. There seemed to be more visiting with neighbors in the olden days, and we played more family games. The holidays were a bigger event, too. But, all in all, family has remained the most important focus in all lives. A career is important, but when it’s all said and done, everyone values the relationships they have with those they consider family.

Of course some of the things I longed to do in the past and now it seems I never feel again, was “to have enough money to not care about buying things on sale”, or “taking trips that gave me the opportunity to visit far off lands.” I hope continue we make enough money to do these things and then pass it on to our children and grandchildren so that they will be able to fulfill their dreams like this. One thing I loved doing was a trip to Hawaii with my sisters when the oldest turned 50. We felt we deserved to celebrate since our mother didn’t reach fifty before she died. And, we were going to take a trip for each one who did hit fifty. But, that first trip brought with it reborn sibling rivalries and it turned out that we decided not to ever do that again. Janet and I did get to go on a cruise together with our husbands. And it was one of the most wonderful times in my life. I was with my beloved and my sis!

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