Monday, April 25, 2016

"Whosoever humbles himself shall be exalted."

by Chris Foster, resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community


AS A PHYSICIAN I am bound, of course, by the Hippocratic Oath and its first principle, "Do no harm." This ancient document moves on to more positive aspirations and so do I. I have never considered it sufficient to simply avoid doing harm. I believe we have the moral obligation to seek to do good wherever, whenever, and in whatever way we can.


That was probably what motivated me while growing up in Glascow, Kentucky to choose a career in medicine. It began with a Bachelor's degree in Biology at Vanderbilt, followed by Med School at the University of Louisville. It was there I met and fell in love with Kathy, a nursing student from Indiana. We dated for a year, then decided to get married despite the fact that student nurses were not allowed to marry. A private ceremony was held in Kathy's home in Indiana and then we returned to Louisville and continued to live in our separate dormitories. We did keep an off-campus apartment, but that was kept secret too. Only on the day of Kathy's graduation two years later did we "come out" and wear our wedding rings in public.

Next came a three year residency in ear, nose and throat surgery in Roanoke, VA and a two-year hitch with the U.S. Air Force before I could begin my private practice back in my home town.

In 1969 Kathy and I and our two sons moved to La Jolla, California where I pursued the dual careers of surgery and teaching at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. There was symmetry in that since I have always been both an active practitioner and a teacher.

While doing both of these demanding tasks I also became certified as a Bible instructor and for many years taught a large adult Sunday School class at La Jolla's Torrey Pines Christian Church. So now you know that a foundation of my philosophy of life and system of ethics is solidly based on Biblical principles.

My career as a surgeon came to a sudden end when I lost my sight, literally overnight. I am now legally blind, though I continue to see shapes and images "as through a glass darkly." I still dream some nights of being back in the Operating Room, but with nothing but a 40 watt bulb for light.

But when one door shuts another opens. I now, in my retirement, am actively involved with the Braille Society, both as a student and as a teacher.

Let me share with you one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. Several years ago I was President of the San Diego Ear, Nose and Throat Society. We were meeting at the beautiful Atlantis Restaurant. Our guest speaker was Dr. Bill House, who was one of the world's greatest ear surgeons. My job was to introducing him. Just prior to the introduction we were served Tortilla Soup. All of a sudden I got very hot. My tie had fallen into the hot soup and was being soaked up like litmus paper. As I stood to introduce him, Dr. House noticed my tie and my embarrassment. He then intentionally put his own silk tie into his soup. He began his speech by commenting that apparently this was a custom in San Diego. I never eat soup without remembering how this very great, but very humble, man helped ease my moment of red-faced chagrin. Ever since I have looked for moments when I might do something similar for someone else in their time of need.



"Whosoever humbles himself shall be exalted" is an excerpt from Aging As An Art Form: Through the Eyes Of Residents of Wesley Palms by Wesley Palms resident Don McEvoy. The book contains 50 stories, experiences and life lessons either self-written or told to Don through interviews.

Don McEvoy is storyteller, former pastor and civil rights activist. Aging As An Art Form is available from Outskirts Press and Amazon.com. Proceeds from the book benefit the residents of Wesley Palms.


Love, Laugh, Pray

By Bea Rogers, resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community


THOSE THREE WORDS are one of the signs I have posted on the door of my suite here at Wesley Palms. Laugh, Love and Pray. That pretty well sums up my philosophy of life.

The other sign on my door is a note to God, telling Him that I am ready, but in no hurry. I celebrated my 99th birthday last month, but am in no rush to move on quite yet.

I grew up out in the country in Orange County, California in an area that later became Disneyland. Those were the years of the Great Depression. We were poor, but never went hungry. The chickens in the coop outback and a garden provided our basic needs. We wore uniforms to school, so I never had to worry about whether my dresses were as good as those of the other girls.

My favorite teacher, the one who had the greatest influence on me, taught music. More importantly she taught Life. I had the role of Yum Yum in our school production of The Mikado, and leads in several other shows. She was such a meaningful person that for many years twelve of us, three boys and their wives and three girls and their husbands, held an annual reunion with her, until she died.

I always loved to sing. In church, in school, everywhere. In later life I have often wondered why women seem to lose their voices, but men never do. Just look at the choir in almost any church and you will see young women and old men. It just doesn't seem fair.

But I am not complaining. I don't do that. I never did. Well, maybe I did once. In high school I worked in the cafeteria during the lunch hour. I was paid 15 cents a day and had no lunch. That was my spending money. But the boys who washed the dishes were paid 25 cents and given a free lunch. That was not fair, and I took the matter to our supervisor. His answer was: "But you are a girl." I told him that girls get hungry, too, but he didn't budge. Maybe I was a pioneer in the women's movement and just didn't know it at the time

Later I became a very successful business woman. A friend and I, who worked together in a dress shop in San Diego's North Park area, decided to go out on our own and start our own shop. Older, wiser, and more experienced people told us we simply did not have sufficient resources to begin a business, that we would surely fail, and lose what little we did have. We chose to ignore that advice. We struggled for a while, but we persevered. At least, I did.

My business partner stayed as long as she could and then announced her intention to "marry money" and left it all to me. A change of location to a rapidly developing area of the city brought success.

One era, when women's skirts were extremely short, I struggled every Sunday to keep my knees covered at church. Capris solved that problem for me. I guessed, correctly, that other women were having the same problem. My shop began to specialize in Capris and capitalized on that fashion trend.

I was married to a wonderful man for nearly 70 years. On our wedding day my father poked a finger in my chest and said, "I give this marriage two weeks." Every anniversary thereafter my husband would tell me, "Honey, your two weeks are almost up."

When I was in high school I told my mother, "If you will give me my freedom, I promise I will never do anything to embarrass you." Later, as a mother, I tried to be the freedom-giving and trusting person I had asked her to be. Raising a daughter was easy, an absolute delight. A son? What did I know about boys? But it turned out well. He is a wonderful man. My only advice to parents is: Love them. Just love them.

I can honestly say that I have never disliked anyone. I have thought about this a lot recently when considering what I wanted to say today, and I can confidently repeat it. I never disliked anyone.

And, I don't know how anyone could make it without God.

Love, Laugh, Pray is an excerpt from Aging As An Art Form: Through the Eyes Of Residents of Wesley Palms by Wesley Palms resident Don McEvoy. The book contains 50 stories, experiences and life lessons either self-written or told to Don through interviews.

Don McEvoy is storyteller, former pastor and civil rights activist. Aging as an Art Form is available from Outskirts Press and Amazon.com. Proceeds from the book benefit the residents of Wesley Palms.






Music, Poetry and Health Foods Are the Secret

by Wilma Haines, resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community


IF YOU WERE one of the forty-four members of my family, you could expect a poem I had written especially for you on your birthday, every year. These, along with other poems I have written, now fill two large notebooks. That would not be the only time you heard from me, either. Over the years I have mailed Wilma's Weekly to them and my journals fill 42 books. They are in cursive writing which is not taught now. I think it is important to keep in touch.

My husband, Roger, and I were married for 74 years until his death a year ago. He was an air conditioning engineer and we moved extensively for his work, all across the Midwest, the Southwest and California. We also found time to participate in 14 Elderhostel travel seminars. Those programs, now called Road Scholar, came after we had raised five children.

My life has been filled with music. I was a music major at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa back in the 1930s. After graduation I taught pubic school music for

two years, then took a "leave of absence" to give full attention to motherhood. Except for teaching private piano lessons.

I also played the violin some, but when a new chamber music trio was being organized and needed a cellist I decided I could probably switch instruments with ease. It wasn't as smooth a transition as I thought it would be, but I became quite proficient with the cello. It became my major instrument. I played with orchestras in Albuquerque and elsewhere for many years.

I also sang, and only retired from the choir at the Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods a couple of years ago, at age 97.

But it wasn't just music that kept me active and alive. I love to read, especially historical fiction. Roger and I used to play at least three games of Scrabble every day. And, I hosted a Bible Study group in my home for many years. One must keep busy.

Another serious hobby was the planning and cooking of nutritious meals. I attribute my longevity to my devotion to healthy foods. Good eating habits and keeping actively involved are the secret I am happy to share.




 Music, Poetry and Health Foods Are the Secret is an excerpt from Aging As An Art Form: Through the Eyes Of Residents of Wesley Palms by Wesley Palms resident Don McEvoy. The book contains 50 stories, experiences and life lessons either self-written or told to Don through interviews.

Don McEvoy is storyteller, former pastor and civil rights activist. Aging as an Art Form is available from Outskirts Press and Amazon.com. Proceeds from the book benefit the residents of Wesley Palms.