Tuesday, April 14, 2015
LIFESTYLES OF THE RETIRED AT 15 CRAIGSIDE
When my wife Pearl passed away nearly six years ago, there were a few serious concerns about my survivability, for I had lived my whole life with people: growing up with my family, roommates in college and 47 years of marriage. She did all the shopping, gift giving, cooking, cleaning, and still worked full time, usually as a nurse, but also for U.S. Senators Spark Matsunaga and Dan Akaka. Well, it turns out I loved being alone, and in some ways appreciated being given this freedom during my final phase of life in my Craigside penthouse.
However, for a variety of reasons, almost a year ago I moved next door into 15 Craigside, and suddenly found myself in the midst of 200 residents. Every sudden transition is a challenge, but I again survived and look forward to this purgatory before the final curtain, which is perceptively beginning to close. For one, there is total security, as we are part of the Arcadia system, operated by the United Church of Christ, and that retirement residence will have been around for half a century in 2017.
Kahala Nui and One Kalakaua are somewhat equivalent seniors centers, but places like the family of Plaza assisted communities are, to me, dangerous, for, while you don't have an initial investment to move into your apartment, if you ever get really sick, they basically kick you out. We have a skilled nursing facility on our second floor, and if you ever permanently get there, this is a hospice leading to the end. But at least you're comfortable and your stay is guaranteed even if you run out of money.
In any case, life at 15 Craigside is far from seniors drooling in their soup. I counted 15 exercise/strength/balance classes being held just yesterday and today. Bridge MWF and poker TThSat.
Over this past weekend we were treated by Arcadia to a reception of wines, beef wellington, lobster ravioli and an excellent chocolate mousse with raspberries and blueberries, before being ushered to the front section of their theater for the premiere of their annual follies, directed by Jack Cione, a famous local entrepreneur who is approaching 90, and was once known for his risqué productions. Some of the costumes worn in these Arcadia follies leaned in that direction, and these were ladies in their 80's. They also had near professionals mixed into the show, with dancing and lip sync-ing the mode of entertainment.
Dining, of course, is at the heart of what's left in most of our lives here. I somehow became Dining Committee chairman, and we meet for the first time (group got officially re-constituted on April 1) in an hour with Chef Kyle (he was executives chef at Ruth's Chris Steak House before coming here), his staff and a couple of administrators. There are nine others on my committee and I'm the only male. As a guy living here remarked, with at least some seriousness, make sure we don't gravitate towards quiche. There is mostly satisfaction with dining here, so our committee hopes to further improve things.
We had our first fine dining outing a couple of weeks ago to Hy's Steakhouse. Lunch Saturday will be at 53 by the Sea, and a week later, dinner at Royal Garden. There is a sign up list, and places are taken within the hour. Our shuttle takes us there and back. Other dining options are being discussed, perhaps even strolling violins and, for Cinco de Mayo, a Mariachi band. Tomorrow I host in my apartment, for residents on our floor, karaoke before dinner.
I many times sit with six others, and, to some degree, we "control" 15 Craigside, for one of them is the Program Chairman, and another a physician who has been key to various medical decisions here. However, I also have dinners with a professors' table, where the discussion is at a higher intellectual level. Nah, not really. Then, there is our rapidly becoming notorious Monday night table of seven:
If you bothered to count, there are five bottles of vodka (two from France, and one each from Russia, Sweden and Hawaii), red and white wines and a Bailey's Cream with mint. The president of the 15 Craigside Association dropped by for a chat and we joked he should arrange for seven wheelchairs to insure that we can safely get back to our rooms. Actually, we were serious. Three professors and two 442 veterans of World War II with some amazing survival stories. It was Bloody Mary night. Next week, Mai Tais. Someone volunteered to get some real sugar cane to use as swizzle sticks. Perhaps hula dancers to entertain us. We agreed that once a week our bodies should be able to survive this ethanol challenge. Photography in our dining room is highly discouraged, but a staff member volunteered to take this photo. This might be the final one you'll see. This not a typical table.
The Mayo Clinic has published a study showing that social activity reduced cognitive impairment by more than 50%, while the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center indicated that Cialis and Viagra helped fight cancer tumors. Such is life at 15 Craigside.