Not too long after we retired to North Carolina, my husband and I made a trip down to Florida to visit my father-in-law, Wayne Sr., as well as meet Sandy, his new lady-friend. We refer to him as ‘Pops’.
It was a lovely drive and we anticipated a nice, quiet weekend hanging out with the ‘old folks’. We were in for a surprise.
Pops was in the process of renovating his home and showed us all the various projects he was working on. His future plans were quite ambitious as well. He mentioned that since he had a lot he wanted to accomplish, it was a good thing he was an early riser.
Shortly after arriving, Pops drove us over to Sandy’s beautiful home on a lake (Florida has quite a few lakes). While gazing out over the water, Pops pointed out the grass growing near the shore and commented, “That’s where the alligator’s like to nest.” He went on to tell us that if one comes at you, the best way to outrun them is to run in a zig-zaggy pattern. Good to know.
Back at Pops’ house, we all changed for our night on the town. Pops and Sandy dressed up in western attire that would make any ‘rhinestone cowboy’ jealous. We decided to find a restaurant and then stop by the Eagle’s club for a bit of karaoke fun. That sounded harmless.
Walking into the Eagle’s club after eating dinner, we experienced a ‘Cheers’ moment. People sitting at tables all around the room noticed my father-in-law and called out, “Hi Uncle Wayne!” He smiled at everyone and they both made their rounds chatting and introducing us to all the folks. He and Sandy then sat down and quickly filled out their karaoke requests. They encouraged us to sing as well. We thought we would rather watch. As soon as the music started, the dancing began. Since my husband and I love to dance, we joined in the fun. Yes, they eventually wore us down and we ended up singing a few songs as well.
As the evening was winding down, (we thought), Pops leaned over and said, “there’s a band we follow playing in the next town over, we’d like to head over there for a while.”
So off we went. Walking through the door, we had another ‘Cheers’ moment, “Hi Uncle Wayne!” folks from various tables called out. The band was pretty good, we all danced some more. By now it’s really getting late. How do they do it? Pops is in his 80s, and yet he and Sandy are dancing the night away. Finally, the band called out “last song!”
We were ready to go back to Pop’s house and collapse. As we’re gathering our stuff, Sandy leans over and says, “We usually go get a frosty afterwards.” Of course they do. We get our ice cream and finally head back to the house in the wee hours of the morning. I figured everyone would want to sleep in the next morning. Wrong! By the time I finally opened my eyes, Pops was already up and busy working on a project.
When I asked him the secret of his joy and what kept him going, he said,
“I have given it much thought, and I am very happy when I’m working in my shop. I like to use my God given talent to help those who aren’t able.”
Pops turns 87 this month. He has accomplished a great deal in his life. One of his more recent accomplishments is a book he wrote when he was only 85 titled, “Hydro Henddor: In a Cavern, in a Canyon”. It’s a western, available on Amazon.
The story is about a man called Hydro Henddor. After gaining his freedom from a life as an indentured servant, he sets off with his wife and son to find a place of their own. Near a town called Paradise, he finds the ideal spot, Slatebox Canyon. Hydro quickly sets out to build a stone wonder of a home in the cliffs and caverns in the canyon. The family encounters trouble in Paradise between angry Indians and rowdy ranchers. Through Hydro’s engineering capabilities, kindness, and more than a few fights, peace eventually prevails as they win the hearts of the surrounding community.
It’s not surprising that he became an author as he has been an avid story-teller all his life. His love for Westerns inspired him to write Hydro-Henddor. In spite of his busy schedule, Pops is currently working on a second book. I can’t wait to read it.
Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “FinishingWell: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and tips about doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy on your own, unique journey. Find our group on Facebook and Twitter @finishingwelli1