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I finally got myself back to the gym today for my water aerobics. Our regular instructor Karen was not there so we suffered with her substitute who is not as thorough and always late arriving. Karen’s husband is suffering from a brain tumor, and she had to take him for chemo. Their oldest son who lives nearby is helping out, but he has a life, so they relieve each other.
This brain tumor has been very hard on Karen and her husband. They are both physically fit, or were. Karen is a swimming instructor, and she swims in the Annual Chesapeake Bay Marathon each year. She is 68 or 69, and she won the senior division two years ago. Karen’s husband is a retired naval officer, and as is the wont of many military men, he has continued his fitness regimen, and had not retired from his second job until recently. He was very angry with his predicament when he found out about his health issue, and made life difficult for everyone for a while. Things have calmed down now, so Karen can get back to the things that keep her healthy.
We were very impressed with the two of them. This sudden problem with the brain tumor shocked us to our bones. People who eat right and exercise and look 20 years younger than they are, should not get so sick…right? Apparently, they do.
I talked with Ralph, a regular the gym, this morning. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and mentioned it. “Oh I was dealing with this and that,” he said. Ralph is 89 and works out in the pool every day when he can. He told me that when he was 80 he was still taking his boat out with his wife who is now deceased. Then he told me, “I stay busy….going to my friend’s funerals.”
Is that gallows humor? Don’t know, but Ralph keeps exercising and you almost want to ask him, why, but you don’t. I think the motto of many of us is, “We keep on keeping on.” That’s the life force within, and it is powerful. Like a locomotive engine, it pulls you out of bed on a cold rainy fall day, and helps you get your rear in gear and to the gym. It helps you keep on going when you don’t feel like going.
Karen keeps coming back to the pool to lead our class because we are as important to her as she is to us. Her husband has an inoperable tumor, and we all know what that means. Most of the women in our group are widows. Several of them are undergoing therapy for joint replacement surgery.
I drove Sue age 86, to her apartment today because it was cold, wet and windy. She seldom accepts a lift because she likes to walk home as her apartment complex is next to the gym, but she accepted a lift today. Sue lives alone and has for many years.
She is a retired government girl and she volunteers at the National Archives.
Before he died, her husband suffered from Parkinson’s. She moved to her apartment after he was gone. The building where she lives is home to several of the gals and guys in our water aerobics classes. Over the years, these women and a few men have formed a “senior” community. The realtor who helped them find each other and a new home was Karen. She also helped them find a way forward after loss.