Sunday, May 16, 2010

Don't Sit With Your Back to the Door

About ten years ago I was honored to be asked to participate in a book on aging by Willard Scott.
This is my contribution to the book “The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune” by Willard Scott
and friends. It is a book well worth reading by anyone approaching their senior years. Among
some of the other contributors were Dr. Joyce, Brothers, George H. W. Bush, Hugh Downs, Bill
Cosby and Art Linkletter to name just a few.

Don’t Sit With Your Back to the Door
~~~~~Ann Roberts~~~~~

We thought a long time about how to explain the philosophy of life as it pertains to Aubrey and
Ann Roberts and what has made us what we are today. And I suppose this is the best explanation I can come up with.

Face life straight on. Good or bad. You are going to have to face it, and if you see it coming in
the door and it doesn’t slip up from behind, you have a better chance of dealing with it. And deal
with it you will. You may not like it, but it is there. Whether it be good times or bad times, it is
there for you to face.

As senior citizens, we have seen about all there is to see of life. We were never the kind of
people to sit in a corner and crochet, if you will. Aubrey is a musician and bandleader and also
held a regular job to support a wife and four children. I worked for a railroad for many years
until retirement. And we are both still able to do the things we enjoy. He is still playing his
music and I am involved with my art, only I do it digitally now instead of with watercolor and

Aubrey was the oldest of six children. When he was eight years old, his father was killed in an
accident, leaving his mother with no income or help of any kind. He assumed the role of helper
and through this he came to music. He found when he was fourteen he could make fifteen
dollars a night playing fiddle at country dances. The most he could make plowing for someone
was a dollar a day. So he came to music, which is his one love.

I was an only child, without even a first cousin. When I finished high school at sixteen, I got a
job. Back then, a girl either got married or got a job. There was no money for higher education,
but I managed to get a fair education through correspondence schools and night schools.

We have seen loved ones die and leave us. We are the oldest survivors of either of our families.
We lost our parents, siblings, some children and grandchildren and friends. How it hurt to lose
people we loved. We felt the loss, but still we wouldn’t sit with our backs to the door.

In 1969, I was involved in an automobile accident. A drunk diver hit us from behind. My father
was killed, and I suffered a broken back and still wear a brace, but we faced it and went on from
there. It is painful, but I have not allowed it to take priority in my life, and have learned to cope
with it without the use of drugs.

The worst time was when Aubrey had to have brain surgery in 1996 and the struggle back to a
normal life. We faced it and were up to the challenge. There is very little that he is limited in his
ability to do. He cannot lift over twenty pounds, but who wants to pick up sacks of cement
anyway! We started putting even more effort into the music and are now the best-known
Western Swing dance band in the vicinity.

We also do a lot of charity work for the disabled and elderly. And through this connection,
Aubrey was nominated for the “hero of the year” award in 2001. We proudly display the
certificate in our studio.

In our many years on earth, there have been many challenges and triumphs and never once did we shirk or shun them. And we feel it was simply because we weren’t sitting with out backs to the door.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joys of growing old

As I grow older I realize there are many joys to it. You remember so many things and they are as fresh in your memory as if they happened yesterday.

While lying on that hard table in radiation with the mask on my face pinning me down, I remember things like the way the violets looked and smelled each spring. I was raised in the country and all along the border of the front porch there were violets. Not fancy African violets, which I also love and have had great success raising in the past, but the old fashioned kind that were so pungent with their scent. And along the front and side fences there were jonquils and daffodils and in one corner of the yard there was a bush we called a burning bush as it was covered with small red flowers. And the honeysuckle along the fence. The first bouquet of the violets each spring was taken to my favorite teacher. We remained friends until her death a few years ago and each Christmas I would send her something with a violet on it in remembrance of a long ago friendship.

We all take photographs to remember but I find I don't really need a photograph to remember the look on my parents faces. Or the perfume my grandmother wore. I can still smell it now when I remember as strongly as when she was living years ago. And I can remember my father's laughter and my mother's sweet voice and southern drawl. And all my friends of childhood. I can see their faces and remember special times.

And Aubrey the first time we met and he smiled at me. He had a smile that would melt a rock and that went through his entire life with him and with me. The first thing I notice about a person is whether their mouth curves up or down and mostly I stay away from the people with the downward curve.

And cats. I always had cats. When I was a little girl I would take cardboard boxes and make castles for the kittens to play in. I like some dogs but I like all cats. I have one now and he is a very good companion for a woman growing older as he is quiet and gentle.

Another thing about growing older is that you seem to forget all the unpleasant things in your life and all the pain and remember the good times and the laughter. So I don't have to relive that part of my life, but just the good part and this is good. Long ago, I put aside anger and seldom seem to get upset about anything anymore.

I guess what I am saying is that I am trying to embrace my age with dignity and not be the wicked witch. I am not going to say I am not afraid to die. I am. I think everyone, to some degree is because we are always afraid of what we don't know or have never experienced.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Radiation Therapy

When I was 15 I had a bad case of mono caught from dirty dishes in a drugstore where all the kids hung out. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital with a very high fever. And had a huge fever blister on my right lower lip from it. My doctor treated it with boric acid. He said it was either that or surgery which would be very noticeable for the rest of my life. My father begged him not to use the treatment as he was afraid of what might happen later in my life. Through the years I would have blisters in this area and then one day it didn't go away. After staying dormant about 50 years suddenly it started growing. I kept putting off having a biopsy made until it finally reached a point I no longer felt comfortable around people so I went for a biopsy. It was diagnosed as a basal cell cancer and I had two options. Either have very disfiguring surgery or radiation which would be less disfiguring or have radiation to shrink it. I chose the radiation.

I was fortunate to get the same doctor that had done radiation on Aubrey for his brain cancer about 15 years ago so I do feel comfortable with him in charge.

Daily I go for a treatment which only lasts a few minutes but is scary. The first day I was put on a table flat on my back and they put a warm mask on my whole face and shaped it to my exact face and took X-rays and marked the part that wold be treated. I am not going to deny being scared out of my wits with this. The next step was to the radiation room where I was again placed flat of my back on a table with the huge machine similar to the one that is shown in the photo at the top. The mask was placed back on my face. I can see through the mesh and can breathe and talk to them. Then they went out of the room and I was in there alone with this huge machine. It is controlled by a computer outside the room where they can watch me and hit the precise spots that are marked on the mask.

It is a terrible feeling to have your face in a mask and that mask attached to the table where you cannot move. Although the treatment each day only lasts for about 20 seconds and the whole time you are in the room is about 2 minutes it is still scary. The first couple of times when they got me up, I was very dizzy but the dizziness seems to have passed but I am still very uneasy. I will have to have about 25 more days of this. I go 5 days a week so expect to end the treatment in about 5 more weeks. It is totally painless and I am not restricted in any way in the things I can do.

If you suspect cancer, please don't wait. Go for a check-up. I surely wish I had listened to my doctor when he kept telling me to have a biopsy made. It is healing but all this could have been avoided had I not been so afraid to hear the word cancer.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Smart Judge

friend sent me this and I thought it was funny.


In a small Texas town, ( Mt. Vernon ) Drummond's bar began construction on a new building to increase their business.

The local Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers.

Work progressed right up till the week before opening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.

The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise in its reply to the court.

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, 'I don't know how I'm going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that does not.'

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Remembering my first love

A dear friend wrote in her blog about old cards and letters. I started thinking about the box I had that belonged to my mother and got them out again and looked through them. I found a photograph from long ago that I had missed the other time I went through them. It was of my father's best friend and my first love.

This started my memories flowing back to the time when I was in my late teens and, as young girls are likely to do, had a crush on this man. By most standards he would not have been considered good looking and I suppose the best word for him was just plain nice. A deep friendship developed between us. As he was divorced I naturally hoped to marry him when I was old enough. He did not encourage me to feel this way and in fact discouraged it, but it was there nevertheless. At one point we did consider marriage but he decided that it wouldn't work as he was so much older. So we parted as friends.

I went to work for the same railroad that my father and this man worked for and for 14 years I was in the same office with him. He was the boss in that office. He remarried and we still remained friends. When my circumstances changed I moved back to my home state and we kept in touch by letter and an occasional phone call. When he retired he and his wife moved to the Gulf Coast to a retirement village. We still kept in touch.

Once Aubrey and I went to see them but by then they had both been moved to a nursing facility. She had Alzheimer's but he was as alert as always. He asked me if I was happy and I told him I was. He said "All I ever wanted was for you to be happy".

After his retirement and move to the retirement village I always sent roses on his birthday. One day his wife's cousin called me and told me not to send them that year as he wouldn't know they were there. Shortly thereafter she called and said he had passed away. So the roses went to the funeral instead.

I have wondered through the years if I had gone on and sent them to him if somewhere in his mind he might not have known that someone still cared about him. His wife had passed away several years before and he had no family left.

I feel that no matter who you love, even if you love them more, you never seem to really forget your first love.

So my dear old friend, these roses are for you with fond memories.