This was a milestone year as I turned 70 in August, joining Donna who became a septuagenarian last year. While 70 is just another number and is only one more than 69, there is something in becoming 70 that has some significance. Many people are still working when in their 60s, but few are in their 70s. And with the increasing number of “aches and pains” that accompany getting older, there is something about 70 that makes me begin to “feel” old as well.
Family – Chris went to Kuwait early in the year with the Florida Army Reserves. He is slated to come home sometime next month. Because he is overseas for less than a full year, he does not get any time off during the year for a “vacation.” But on the plus side he is in a place with good Internet connectivity and is able to have a video call with us each Sunday (afternoon his time but before church in the morning for us). We’ve been blessed to have a chat with him every week.
Our annual trip to Florida was a little bit different as well. We had arranged for Aryon to come and spend a month with us. But he’s not old enough to fly unaccompanied. So, around the end of April, Donna flew down for a few days and brought him back with her. Aryon spent most of his time watching his younger cousins (gaining experience in “adulting” instead of being a kid) so that Donna and I could get a few projects done. I also spent some time with him on educational topics so it was a learning experience. At the end of May, I flew back to Florida with him, not only spending time with our daughter-in-law and three grandchildren, but also visiting some long-time friends, Dick & Flo Gehman, and taking a trip to Lake Wales to visit some distant cousins – Laura and Alan Donaldson. You can read about my relationship with them here - https://ramblinrussells.blogspot.com/2018/06/finding-birth-mother-rest-of-story.html.
We still have full-time childcare duties. Three of Kim’s children are in school now – Ethan in 3rd, Isaiah in 1st, and Caleb in Kindergarten. That means that during the week we only have Asher to deal with. We are looking forward to having our days free next year!
Just a few weeks ago we had some new additions to our PA family. Caleb had been expressing interest in a dog. So for Christmas we found a 12wo Havanese puppy – now named Mocha Cappuccino. In addition, for the other boys we have added several Beta fish (in small individual containers). This to go along with our existing menagerie of cats and birds. Who says that life isn’t interesting!
Travels – Since we are tied down a bit with caring for grandchildren, we don’t get in much traveling right now. Besides our split travel to Orlando and our usual week at Pinebrook in the Poconos with the entire family (minus Chris this year), we did very little traveling this year.
The only other trip was a day trip to Connecticut for the annual Pierpont Family Association reunion on Father’s Day weekend. As the co-historian of this group I did some research on one of our famous family members, James Lord Pierpont, the author of Jingle Bells. You can read my research here - https://ramblinrussells.blogspot.com/2018/06/is-jingle-bells-racist.html.
Health Update – Getting older also seems to involve additional medical challenges. I was starting to make some good progress in the healing of the sore on the bottom of my right foot through the use of grafts of placenta tissue each week. Then in January I developed an infection under the graft and ended up with my second bout of sepsis (blood infection). This time I recognized the symptoms early on and so again called the ambulance for a ride to the ER where they opened up the infection and drained it (ouch!). Another several days in the ICU on multiple antibiotics then a few more days in critical care until the infection was under control. Left the hospital with a walker and instruction to not put any unnecessary weight on that foot while I had another two weeks of at-home IV antibiotics. Eventually “graduated” to a cane after learning how to walk on the heel of my right foot for a few months. When the healing stalled (again), I went to the wound care center for a soft cast for about a month until the wound was finally gone after a total of two years. In the meantime, I had my second colonoscopy and unlike the prior year when I had several polyps removed, this time there was only one small one so I’m cleared for another 10 years.
Another thing that I volunteered for was a study group for a new vaccine for C-diff. Here is a technical description of the study for those who are interested - https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03090191. I qualified for this study because of my hospitalization and multi-week IV therapy. But I’m happy to participate as if this new vaccine works then it will help untold numbers of people in the future as there is currently no vaccine available. I guess some good may come out of my January adventures.
Miscellaneous – This year we noticed that the ash borers which had infected all the ash trees in the area a few years ago had ended up killing nearly all the ash trees. While over the years we had removed most of the really tall trees around our house and trees dying in the wooded area are not an issue, the house across the street that we had purchased for Kim and family had about 20 dead/dying ash trees in the front yard. We are in the process of having them all removed – making us a bit sad and a little poorer, but it’s better than having the dead limbs/trees falling on the house and causing significant damage.
Hoping that all of you are doing well. Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
.Alan & Donna