Life On and Around the Funny Farm
Image of ice cream cone

The band a.k.a. "Three Men and Their Harmonicas" were the hit of the Saturday afternoon ice cream social. They cranked out tunes in rapid-fire succession without a break--except to take requests. They had more energy than most 35-year-olds, who I guessed to be about half their age...

The ice cream and music took place at The Marquette House, an assisted living residence--a hang-out for the "young at heart" who need a little help with daily living...

It seems like the ideal domicile for a youthful guy like my Dad. We'll know soon. He moved in two weeks ago.

He lived in the old apartment for 25 years--with Mom for the first dozen or so and on his own for the last half. He has lots of friends and was always spry and chipper. He was active at the senior center, calling bingo, sharing the "thought for the day," and telling jokes and stories to anyone who would listen. He was doing fine until about four months ago when he began to start feeling old and sad. His self-diagnosis: "I'm suffering from TMB--Too Many Birthdays!"

At 89, Dad does have some physical limitations and he's been depressed and lost his appetite, which led us to the conclusion that he couldn't live alone any longer. But, it wouldn't work to live with any of us. So, we decided on The Marquette House, which is just half a mile away from his old apartment building. That way he can stay in the same neighborhood and still get the services he needs...

He's participated in The Marquette House version of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. And, it's reported that he's been an avid participant in the current events discussions. He's even begun sharing jokes again.

Q: "What did the astronauts say when they found the bones on the moon?"
A: "I guess the cow didn't make it!"

Kathy, the marketing director, refers to my Dad as "my Bill" and hints that they're looking for a bingo caller. While Peggy, the activity director, has asked if Dad would like to begin sharing the thought for the day...

After the ice cream social, Dad greets several staff members and residents by name. He thanks the band members "for a terrific performance" and we walk toward the reception desk in the lobby. As we approach the young woman sitting behind the desk, Dad introduces us. "This is Theresa," he says. "She has a wonderful laugh." Theresa blushes...

"Stay young!" Dad shouts through cupped hands to the musicians as they make their way out the door. "Thanks again, fellas, it was great!" he says, waving goodbye.

As I sit and watch Dad interact with old friends and new ones, with a renewed optimism, I think to myself, "Stay young, Dad. Stay young..."

(excerpted from "Young at heart")

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