Monday, April 19, 2010

You're Only Old Once

You're Only Old Once
By Dr. Seuss

One day you will read in the National Geographic of a faraway land with no smelly bad traffic.

In those green-pastured mountains of Fotta-fa-Zee everybody feels fine at a hundred and three 'cause the air that they breath is potassium-free and because they chew nuts from a Tutt-a-Tutt Tree. This gives strength to their teeth, it gives length to their hair, and they live without doctors, with nary a care.

And you'll find yourself wishing that you were out there in Fotta-fa-Zee and not here in this chair in the Golden Years Clinic on Century Square for Spleen Readjustment and Muffler Repair.

Just why are you here? You're not feeling your best ... you've come in for an Eyesight and Solvency Test.

And if you're the type that gets finicky-finick, at this point you'll try to get out of that clinic. But they will out wit you as quick as a wink! The Quiz-Docs will catch you! They'll start questionnairing!
They will ask you point blank, how your parts are all fairing.

And your grandfather's parts. And Please try to recall if your grandma hurt most in spring or fall. Did your cousins have dreadful wild nightmares at night? Did they suffer such ailments as Bus Driver's Blight, Chimney Sweep's Stupor, or Prune Picker's Plight? And describe the main cause of your uncle's collapse. Too much alphabet soup? Or martinis. perhaps?

And the next thing to know, when you've finished that test, is somehow you've lost both your necktie and vest and an Ogler is ogling your stomach and chest.

Your escape plans have melted! You haven't a chance, for the next thing you know, both your socks and your pants and your drawers and your shoes have been lost for the day. The Oglers have blossomed like roses in May! And silently, grimly, the ogle away.

What those Oglers have learned they're not ready to tell Clinicians don't spout their opinions pell-mell. So you're back with the vestibule fish for a spell. Norval won't bring you comfort, you know. But he's quite sympathetic as Clinic Fish go.

There you'll sit several hours, growing tenser each second, fearing your fate will be worse than you reckoned, till finally Miss Becker, your beckoner beckons...

... to a booth where the WOrld-Reowned Ear Man, Von Crandell, has perfected a teast know as Bellows and Candle. If wind from the bellow can't blow out the flame, you failed! And you're going to be sorry you came.

You'll be told that your hearing's so murky and muddy, your case calls for special intensified study. They'll test you with noises from far and from near and you'll bet a black mark for the ones you can't hear. Then they will say, "My dear fellow, you're deafer than most. But there's still hope, since you're not quite as deaf as a post. We'll study your symptoms. We'll give you a call. In the meantime, go back and sit down in the hall."

So you'll find yourself talking to Norval once more. And Norval will think you're a bit of a bore because Norval has heard the same stories before.

To this fish you'll become a plain pain in the neck while you wait, once again, for Miss Becker to beck.

But Miss Becker won't come. With great swish and great swank a wheelchair will come! You've gained status and rank! And Whelden the Wheeler will say with great pride: "You have qualified, sir. You are now certified as a VIP Case. You're entitled to ride! Through thin and through thick I'll be at your back side."

Dear Whelden will show you great sights as you go: Right now you are riding down Stethoscope Row. And I know that, like all our top patients, you're hoping to get yourself stethed with some fine first class scoping. So I'm sure you'll be simply delighted to hear that in the Internal Organs Olympics last year Doctors Schmidt, Smoot, Sinatra, Sylvester, and Fonz won fifteen gold medals, nine silvers, six bronze! For the moment, however, we'll by-pass this bunch. There is plenty of time to see them after lunch.

You must see Dr. Pollen, our Allergy Whiz, who knows every sniffle and itch there is. Dr. Pollen will find, as he works on your case, if the face powder's wrong on your stepsister's face. He will check your reactions to thumb tacks and glue, catcher's mitts, leaf mold, and cardigans, too, nasturtiums and marble cake, white and blue chalks, anthracite coal and the feathers of hawks. Also corn on the cob. Also buffalo grease and how you react when you're stared at by geese. He'll take copious notes. Then I'll hazard a guess that he'll send you downstairs to see Dr. Van Ness.

Van Ness has enjoyed a high rate of success in his pioneer work in the Study of Stress. So, you can be sure, he will stress you a trifle, then he'll send you around to see Dr. Van Eiffel.

Dietician Von Eiffel controls the Wuff-Whiffer our Diet-Devising Computerized Sniffer on which you just simply lie down in repose and sniff at a good food as it goes past your nose. Fromcaviar souffle to caribou roast, from pemmican patties to terrapin toast, he'll find out by Sniff-Scan the foods you like most.

And when that guy finds out what you like, you can bet it won't be on your diet. From here on, forget it!

Then, into the New Wing! We'll see Dr. Spreckles, who does the Three F's-Footsies, Fungus, and Freckles. And nextly we'll drop in on young Dr. Ginns, our A and S Man who does Antrums and Shins, and of course he'll refer us to Doctors McGrew, McGruire, and McPherson and Blinn and Ballew and Timpkins, and Tompkins and Diller and Drew, Fitzsimmons, Fitzgerald, and Fitzpatrick, too, all of whom will prescribe a prescription for you.

For your Pill Drill you'll go to Room Six Sixty-three, where a voice will instruct you, "Repeat after me... This small white pill is what I munch at breakfast and right after lunch. I take the pill that's kelly green before each meal and in between. These loganberry-colored pills I take for early morning chills. I take the pill with the zebra stripes to cure my early evening gripes. These orange-tinted ones, of course, I take to cure my charley horse."

"I take three blues at half past eight to slow my exhalation rate. On alternate nights at nine pm I swallow pinkies. Four of them. The reds, which make my eyebrows strong, l eat like popcorn all day long. The speckled browns are what l keep beside my bed to help me sleep. This long last one is what l take is l should die before l wake."

When at last we are sure you've been properly pilled, then a few paper forms, must be filled so that you and your heirs may be properly billed.

Whereupon ... if you are smart, there's a very good chance that you'll meet soon again with your socks, coat, and pants.

And you'll know, once your necktie's back under your chin and Norval has waved you Godspeed with his fin, you're in pretty good shape for the shape you are in!

Friday, April 9, 2010


I've recently been reading some studies that emphasize the positive effects that volunteering has on the retired population. One study I found especially interesting noted the relationship between volunteering and depression. Kim and Pai, in their article "Volunteering and Trajectories of Depression" published in the Journal of Aging and Health, found that "volunteering affects the decline of depression for individuals above the age of 65." Now, I didn't have to read this article to know this because Grammy's been telling me that forever!
Maybe Grammy is just over-zealous, but she is a perfect example of how volunteering can improve a life. If there was an award for the Best Volunteer of the Century, I think my grammy would probably receive it. And, consequently, Papa would also receive it because whatever Grammy volunteers for, Papa also gets to do. He pretends like he doesn't like it, but I know he secretly does...And so does Jim Bevier. In the spirit of retirement, Grammy got me a subscription to Reader's Digest and amongst articles about shark attacks and saving money, I found this inspirational article:

Best of America: He Delivers to the Blind

In his spare time, this former FedEx pilot helps distribute cures for blindness around the globe.


You might think Jim Bevier—newly retired and finally kicking back after a harrowing hurricane season—would be content on his Mississippi horse ranch, teaching his grandkids to ride. But this 62-year-old former FedEx pilot has another passion. Bevier is a volunteer pilot for Orbis, a nonprofit that has fought blindness in developing countries for more than 25 years (

One of its weapons is the Flying Eye Hospital, a converted DC-10 aircraft that houses a state-of-the-art surgical and teaching facility. Bevier's mission is to land this giant sight-saving bird (as patients have described it) on runways that are most definitely not designed for it.

Jim Bevier
Photographed by Wyatt McSpadden
Jim Bevier pilots the Flying Eye Hospital.
"It's not like flying for FedEx," says Bevier. "We have to make sure the runway is long enough, get diplomatic clearances, figure out the fuel load, and find the safest place to park in case of a political coup."

Once he gets the hospital to its destination, it becomes a place for local doctors to get ophthalmologic training so they can treat conditions like glaucoma and cataracts and prevent blindness for thousands of people.

The plane stays on location for weeks, and while Bevier is free to return home, he likes to stay and meet those who arrive for screenings. Many walk on dirt roads for miles; many are blind children.

"I've seen them get on the airplane and come out the next day and they can see," Bevier says. The volunteer doctors can't handle all the patients. A Vietnamese boy who had made Bevier a paper airplane was turned away. "A pilot's job involves hours and hours of boredom and the occasional few seconds of stark terror. So you learn to keep your emotions in check. But when he didn't get picked, I broke down," he admits.

Challenging as the gig may be, Bevier isn't looking to retire anytime soon. "I don't golf, I don't have a recliner, and I tell my kids not to ever buy me those Velcro tennis shoes," he says. "You beat your body up getting there and back," he says of the Orbis flights, which can span 30 hours. "But I think of my grandchildren back home, and all I want is for those kids to be able to see their own grandparents for the first time."