Category Archives: aging

On Behalf of the Dying

My friend is dying. A friend I’ve never met in life except through phone calls and a few videos we send back and forth. Oil_Can_Harry is his name on SingSnap…a site devoted to people who love to sing…but his real name is Jack. I just realized I don’t even know his last name. Sad really. But my dear friend called me yesterday when I was away. The message on the answering machine was, “Well Hon, I got some bad news from the Dr. today, I wanted to talk to you about it.” I called him back immediately. A few weeks ago I had called him and we had discussed his serious heart problem. So serious, in fact, that his Dr. began providing Hospice services for him. Jack has one daughter who lives several hundred miles north of him. There is no wife, no close friends that he’s ever told me about, just the friends that he’s made at http://www.singsnap.com.

Jack is the only guy I’ve ever allowed to be a bit ornery when talking to me. His old piss and vinegar attitude and gravely voice are all I knew about him. You can immediately tell the heart of gold this guy has, so when I called him back, I was irreverent, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Hey darlin, what in the hell are you doing?” (we call each other darlin alot) Jack:Well, I was just about to lie down.. “So what’s going on, you sounded pretty serious on the message?” Jack:”Well darlin, I’m trying to decide which day I die.”

I sat back in the chair not really fully understanding what he meant at that time, thinking he was being maudlin and just poking a bit at me to get a reaction. “Why’s that Jack? What’d the Dr. say that makes you say that.” Jack:”Well, they’re gonna pull the plug on me and I have to decide which day I wanna do it.”

Suddenly I was thrust in my mind to a scene at a hospital with my father-in-law who was on the verge of death. My husband and his brother had to make a decision on when to pull the plug to allow their father to die. Then I was immediately pulled forward to two years ago when, by a decision of my side of the family, we allowed my father to die. My father’s death haunts me to this day. It wasn’t the quiet peaceful death I’d seen on television:I was expecting that, instead I saw a man reduced to a gray pulp, mouth gaping, struggling for his last breaths of air. A scene I relive over and over again in my mind to this day.

My thoughts came back immediately to Jack. “Jack, has something changed, are you worse? Why are you even contemplating this?” Jack:”Well, I’m tired darlin, my hearts completely give out, my kidneys are shutting down, and I don’t want to go through dialysis. I’ve decided to let them pull the plug. It’s not like it’s going to be today and probably not even tomorrow. The doctor says I should just pick a day and he’ll make all the arrangements and come on over to the house and we’ll do it.”

There was sadness in his voice, God why wouldn’t there be, but there was something else. A quiet peace. It was as if he had really thought about the decision, found an answer that he could comply with and was ready to carry on.

There’s more to the story, but it consists mostly of me crying, him saying one of his favorite days was meeting me, but that’s the personal stuff.

My husband called on another line while I was speaking to Jack, so I let him go with a promise to call him again. My husband ascertained quickly that I was upset and asked what was wrong, so I told him. Hubster:”Haven’t I told you not to get too close to people. You just get too upset. You don’t even really know him.”

I’ve always been blessed with making friends. I think perhaps I may use the word “FRIEND”
too easily sometimes. I hold people in my heart over the smallest of things. People have been my greatest joy and sometimes my greatest sorrow. I would rather have a very good friend for one day than never have had the encounter with them at all.

I thought many hours about how someone, when given the news that their life is truly nearing an end, internalizes that information. I know there are several processes in grieving. Are these the same emotions one would go through if given the time-line of their own demise? First there would be the shock of the news, then the fear, the anger, the bargaining for more life, the resolution of the truth and finally the death itself. The reflection goes on from day one of the process. Have I lived my life in a manner that I wanted? Why didn’t I go after that opportunity?

Then I came to a realization, one I’ve known all along really. We are all finite, we do not know our last hour in most cases, however we all live with the knowledge that we are going to die. I’m sitting at a kitchen table writing this, but anything could happen. It could be an embolism, a freak accident, who knows? The point is while sitting here, I realize that this moment could be my last, and if it is have I lived the last few hours in a way that people will say, “That Londie, she was Fun, she was imaginative, she was a go getter, she always encouraged others, and she had a good heart.”

About Jack…when I started this article back in February, I thought Jack wouldn’t be here much longer. I made it a point to call him weekly and say, “Hey Jack, not today. Don’t choose to go today please. I want to talk to you one more time.” I’m very proud and happy to say Jack is still here. He’s no worse, and he’s much happier, but in our last conversation the other day he said this to me. “Londie, I know you want me to keep going, but darlin, one of these days it’ll happen and I want you to be prepared for it.” I couldn’t believe what he said…he wanted ME to be prepared for it. What an honor to be thought of so highly by someone I don’t really even know well. Thanks for the Life Lesson, you’ve made me such a better person because of knowing you…Oh and Jack…Not today…I wanna talk to you One More Time!

Not Forgotten

I walked through tall amber and green grasses to find you

You lying peacefully beneath the brown earth and blue sky

Awaiting someone who has not come for so long

Because the pain of being without you was too much to bear

Pausing to remove a weed or two from where your feet lie

Rearranging the faded blooms of silk left by another

Patting the marble as though it was your hand

I stand transfixed in memory, savoring the moment

Knowing full well I may not venture here again

I turn to go but feel the pull of your no longer beating heart

Telling me that it’s ok to live my life without you

Assuring me that life for me will return to what it was

But the memory of that moment of your passing haunts me

And I can’t let go that memory even though I try

Forgive me for not visiting more but I don’t think of you here

I think of us alongside a riverbank, basking in the moment

Enjoying the sun, smelling the water and the grass

As we sit together awaiting nothing but having everything

I’m leaving you now

But I’m taking you with me everywhere I go

Our journeys will take us to many places but none so sweet

As when I sit alone on the riverbank knowing you are there

Watching and providing the warmth that I feel

Jennie Pearl-Peoria’s Lost Sweetheart

Part I Finding Jennie Pearl

I live next door to a legend. That may seem to be an overstatement, but it’s true. There once was a young girl named Jennie Pearl who, when she was the tender age of fourteen or fifteen back in the late sixties, developed a love of music and playing piano and guitar. This sweet innocent child became friends with a few people of like minds and together they created the Peoria Folk Anthology Group.

This story all came about by accident, which is the usual way great stories start. One day our electricity was out and I went next door to the Hayes residence to ask if their electricity was out as well wondering if was a neighborhood problem or a personal house problem. Jennie answered the door and in the background I could hear the sounds of a man singing loudly. It wasn’t the greatest of voices, but a pleasant one and I smiled hearing this candid neighbor moment. I asked about the electricity to which Jennie replied yes, theirs was out as well and then turned to leave but pivoted to tell Jennie, “I sing a lot myself and if you and your hubby would like to do Karaoke sometime, just let me know.” Jennie’s face took a sudden strange turn. In fact, enough to set me on the path home quickly. It wasn’t a smile, or frown, it was just like she had escaped to another place. Frankly, I worried that perhaps I had offended her with my offer of cheap entertainment.

I really didn’t know Jennie and Alan very well. They’d moved into the home next to ours the previous year, and we would smile and wave to each other with occasional comments about the neighborhood deer and raccoons that run rampant in our yards. I’d wanted to strike up a friendship with her. Jennie always reminds me a bit of Lee Remick, yes the actress from Hitchcock thrillers and movies of the sixties and seventies. Except Jennie seemed more fragile, prettier, and a lot more shy than a Lee Remick.

Fast forward approximately two weeks. In this two weeks, however, I had thought many times about the strange look on Jennie’s face and had worried many times throughout those days about having offended her. I was in the throws of yet another Midwest Garage Sale and working in the garage quite a bit. On one of these days, Jennie’s husband Alan came home and I happened to see him pull in and waved hello. On my driveway was a cloth covered guitar case, an extra one I’d owned and had decided to part with. Alan came across and headed directly towards it. “Are you selling a guitar?” he asked in a very excited voice. I explained that no it was only the case and then the story of Jennie began. “I’m looking for a guitar for Jennie. I just found out she used to play guitar. In fact, Jennie is well known, and neither of us knew anything about it.” Well, this of course, piqued my interest immediately for two reasons. I had played guitar for a LONG time and the fact there was another musician on my street thrilled my soul! “In fact,” he continued, “one of Jennie’s songs is on a CD. We just found out about it. She’s even getting royalty checks for it. Guess people have been trying to find her. Some guy from the New York Times called her while she was at work and scared her to death. Have ya got a minute? Let me run home, I put together something for her that I want to show you.”

Alan’s eye were afire with excitement and pride as he strode quickly across my yard over through his garage and into the sweet little brick home he and Jennie have made. I was left standing helplessly in a bit of shock on my driveway, not knowing if I should go inside, or wait where I stood. I decided to wait where I stood and it was a good thing because Alan emerged quickly with a huge framed object about three feet long in his hand.

“When we got the first letter from the guy from the “Times” I decided to look Jennie’s name up online and I found several people had done reviews on her song.”

He had handed me the large frame and I looked in disbelief at the letterhead from the New York Times reporter’s letter which said things like, “We’ve been looking for you everywhere. You have a large following of fans. Wonderful to have spoken to you.” And, there were a couple of other pieces of paper which were actually the downloaded comments that Alan had printed off. Here’s an excerpt from one:

Salon.com – March 14th 2006
Numero Group’s latest, “Wayfaring Strangers: Ladies From the Canyon,” compiles one track each from 14 of the probably thousands of obscure she-folkies who sprouted up in the early ’70s, trailing in the wake of the grand pooh-bah of she-folkies herself, Joni Mitchell. If it seems odd to bother compiling the work of transparently derivative artists, it’s worth considering that if a scholar were to sift through the compositions of the legions of stylistically similar but patently inferior composers who labored under the shadow of, say, Mozart, he or she would certainly turn up a large number of gems — for even middling artists often have one concentrated burst of inspiration in them, the products of which would be lost forever in a sea of mediocrity were it not for intrepid curators like the Numero Group, who have rescued some pretty astonishing specimens and presented them on this wonderful release. My favorite is the haunting, heartbroken “Maybe in Another Year,” which has a piano introduction that sounds like the work of a child trying to copy Mitchell’s flowing piano style — which, indeed, it is, this being one of two songs ever recorded by 15-year-old Jennie Pearl.

I know there was more, but I honestly couldn’t grasp it all. I’d love to see it again to really look at what he had shown me.

I’ve sung and played guitar since I was sixteen years old. My life revolved around communities about 60 miles west of Peoria in my younger years and then encompassed the Peoria area during the 80’s, 90’s and even now. I explained this to Alan and told him how much I’d love to just get together with Jennie and talk about her experiences and share a bit of music. Then Alan handed me a CD.

“This is the CD I told you about. It’s called “Ladies From The Canyon.””

I took it from his shaking hands. He was shaking with excitement and the elation he was feeling from sharing this amazing story about his wife. “I didn’t even know she could sing, or play guitar!” he said as I walked over to a boom box I had in my garage. “I found out by accident. We went to a wedding of one of her relatives and they asked Jennie to sing. I was sitting on the ground level and Jennie was in the balcony. And then she started singing and I was in shock. I didn’t know she could sing so well.” Obviously the shaking was contagious. I gingerly took the disc from the CD case and put it on the player. Alan was talking, something about the track numbers. I was in Euphoria. It was as if I had held the Holy Grail myself as I pushed play. And then this lovely piano began to play and a voice as innocent and gentle as I have ever heard came wafting through my speakers. I was immediately hypnotized and in awe. The melody was haunting, and the sound of a very young girl, who must have been very wise beyond her years poured out her soul in the simplest terms, but one that clutched my heart with it’s power.

I know I must have been standing there with my mouth open as I listened in awe. And even when it ended I didn’t know what to say. Truly there were no words to express what I’d heard. I handed the CD back to Alan and we shared a brief “Yeah I know” moment before he turned with the three foot frame and the CD and began to leave. “You know, I really want her to start singing again. She needs to do it for herself. I don’t know why she stopped.” I told him I would try to get into a conversation with her at the earliest convenience and see how she felt about it. Alan nodded and returned home while I stood standing in my driveway, totally spent. I remember the feeling of floating. Like I’d been witness to something absolutely ethereal and even Holy! But this was only the beginning of my journey into learning about my neighbor, the lovely, the haunting and haunted Jennie Pearl. TO BE CONTINUED!

It Ain’t Ozzy & Harriet!


Oh God! I’ve done it! I’ve been wanting to have a “Serious” Blog for awhile but haven’t been sure just what I could add to the Millions of blogs online and why on earth would anything I’d have to say be of any interest to anyone outside of my immediate family? I’ve been approached by several people on Twitter and told that perhaps my ramblings might be of greater interest if they were put into Blog form. So here I am, undertaking the next phase of my ever changing, ever wonderful life. I won’t bore you with a lot of my past, but there are some things I will share with you just for the sake of making a point on whatever topic I may choose to discuss on any given day.

I’m over 45, ok..over 55 and YES that is me in the photo. The biggest joke of my life is truly that photo. Everyone assumes from the photo that I am a real GlamGal, but in reality the blond behind the glasses is just a midwest housewife, married 37 years to a wonderful guy who grew up in a farm family. The blond has two beautiful and amazing daughters who live and work in/near Los Angeles.

You can check out my eldest daughter at www.shoutingintothewind.com. She is not only a computer genius, she is an accomplished writer/blogger/and wine connosieur. My younger daughter works for a new production company in LA and is on the fast track to fame and fortune and becoming a producer herself. Both daughters have been successful writers, and both daughters are single and live together in LA. Both born on the same day three years apart! I tell you this because part of what happens with me is directly in response to what happens to them.

I thought at this stage of my life I would be settling down into my hubby’s retirement plans and sitting in a big easy chair rocking grandchildren to sleep. But that was before the reality of life took over and my daughters announced they had bigger plans than staying in the Midwest and becoming housewives tied to home and children!

They moved away from home, over six years ago, with one living in Chicago and one living in Orlando. The one in Chicago went to college in Chicago to eventually go to work in the entertainment industry, while the other went to work for the largest amusement park company in the world. When my youngest daughter came home one day and announced she would be looking for work in LA it was a day that changed our lives forever. In less than four months, she moved got work and took up residence. About a year later, the eldest daughter announced she was ready for a big change and that she would be working on a transfer to California. I’m pretty certain the world began spinning faster and faster after that. Sometime later I’ll tell stories about the nightmares I’ve had about my two beautiful daughters living and working in Los Angeles. It’s been over six years now. They aren’t moving back. Their lives have gone through some amazing transformations over the past few years. Some things we’ll talk about and other things will remain private for their sakes and for their security.

I’m pretty sure the shock of their “MOM” having a blog will take a bit for them to get used to. It’s going to take awhile for me to get used to as well. I’ve not made this kind of committment in a long time, but I truly feel I have information for those women who have hit the age of 50 and older and perhaps feel they’re caught between being one of the Desperate Housewives or maybe Jamie Lee Curtis or Betty White. I want to try out some products that are made especially for us “Mature” women and report my personal findings. I want to discuss a bit about current events including the movies, politics, religion, weight, sex, fashion, movie/tv stars and all those other things we’ve been told we shouldn’t discuss if we want to get along with each other in this world. I want to have some contests with some great great prizes. I want to report on great Free or almost Free Stuff you can find and great websites for us over 50.

I want to talk about some of the amazing women that I’ve had the great fortune meeting here on the internet and give you a look into what has made them the successful women they are today. I want to focus on women who really didn’t start having a life until they hit the age of 50. I want you to read what I have to say, get inspired and go out and start your own business, build your own website, start your own blogs or whatever will take you from that place you are in your life today and help you become the woman you never imagined you would be at any time and especially after you’ve reached an age over 50.

I guess that’s enough information about what this things going to be about. I plan on posting every day I can. If you have a website with products geared towards women over 50, please feel free to contact me with information, samples, prizes or whatever! I’m talking ANYTHING that you would like to promote to we women of great worth! If you are available for interviews I’d love to talk to you! I am hoping to do a podcast somewhere down the line and post those on this site. If you are 50, almost 50, dating someone over 50 and have anything you would like for me to investigate, discuss or try out, please feel free to email me as well.

Thanks for stopping by for your first, and hopefully not your last visit! We’ll all get through this together!