Author looks ahead to a new chapter in his life

Our city of Tiffin happens to be blessed with two fine nursing homes, one of which is Autumnwood Caring Center and the other St. Francis Nursing Home. Both are a blessing to our community. This past March, I have become a permanent resident of Autumnwood, so I would I like to share with you my experience here.

As I look out the window from my room at Autumnwood Care Center on this sunny March 6 afternoon, I see dozens of birds flying about, enjoying the abundance of seeds which were set out for them. As I look up, I see a squirrel sitting on a limb peeking right at me as if saying, “Happy birthday, Frank.”

So, it was on that March day I since have chosen to designate as chapter one in my life — 87 years ago. Time just seems to get way out in front of you nonstop. However, as I stop and think about it, chapter one was quite eventful. But before I get to that, I feel I should be honest with you and tell you a little secret about me, as it started with chapter one on my birthday.

I think that most of my friends see me generally as a straight-forward person — a person who holds nothing back, so I may as well tell you my secret. A I mentioned, I’m 87 years old. Now, you may be thinking, “So what’s the big deal about? There are a lot of people 87 years old.” Well, the big deal is even though I’m 87, there still is an outstanding balance of $25 due on me.

So, this is the problem I must struggle with. Even though I am 87 years old, for ever one of those years there has been an outstanding balance of $25 due on me. Yep, $25 that has never been paid. Here’s how that happened.

It started in a room in a little house on Miami Street, which in those days was referred to as Little Italy. In this room was my mother, with an older Italian woman seated next to her, which was perfectly normal in those days. In the next room sat my father with a friend of his and probably a box of cigars, waiting for me and the doctor to arrive.

Guess who arrived first? Yep, it was me! Knowing myself, when the doctor got there, I probably was lying there smiling at him. My dad told him we didn’t need him now. So, he left and sent my dad a bill for $25.

Sometime ago, my dad told me he never paid for me. I asked why, and his reply was, “Well, first, we didn’t need him; second, I didn’t have any money and I didn’t have a job.” I think it was a reasonable answer, because it was 1931, the year if the Great Depression. Keep in mind that in 1931, there was no such thing as Walmart’s return policy. So here I was, a brand-spankin’ new baby with a price tag of $25 still on me.

Chapter two: A lot has happened since that day in March when that squirrel wished me a happy birthday. My wife and I have been married for 63 years. We raised four wonderful children, we have 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

So, what’s the point in writing all of this? And do I really have a point? Is there something I can say that would cause others to feel more comfortable even thinking about a nursing home? Most who have read what I have written realize much has to do with lifting others up so they feel better about it. Not all of what I have written has done that, of course, as there has been much during our political “discussions” and that which we hear on the cable “news” that has not done a good deal of lifting.

Things have since changed; my wife has been a resident of Autumnwood since January 2017 and I have been a resident since my 87th birthday this past March. I have done a great deal of deep thinking on it. Not too long ago, I would have thought of it as something negative — with thoughts like, “Well, it looks like my life is finished — I’ve done all I can and now it’s all over with.” If that’s what you are thinking, then I would suggest you give it further thought.

Let me share with you some of my thoughts — the thought that entered my mind as I looked out the window at the birds and squirrels — the day that designated my re-entrance into Autumnwood as chapter two in my life. Such were my thoughts: My wife and I’ve been married for 63 years. Never did either one of us ever regret one year of our marriage. That is the truth, even though we have our share of problems, we have raised a very lovely family and are proud of all of them, we can look back an feel that we have done our share. We hope God can take a look and say, “Job well done.” I certainly do not expect everyone to think as I do, but perhaps it will inspire your mind to come up with some good positive thoughts.

So now, my life is not over. It’s just not finished — I now go into chapter two. I hope to accomplish in chapter two as I did in chapter one, and when chapter two is finished, I hope that The Lord will say, “Job well done, Frank … and by the way, about the $25 that your father has never paid on you, I just declared it paid in full.”