Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Life Simultaneously

Jacqueline Ruffino/Platt

Earlier in my years I was a surgical nurse and privileged to work with the best doctors and nurses I knew. One extraordinary surgeon in particular always asked for me to assist him on his surgical procedures. It seemed we worked good together and always said I anticipated his surgical needs. On this one particular day while he was performing a Cesarean Section, (delivering a newborn surgically) he turned towards me, reached out and then fell by my side suffering a massive heart attack. The surgical staff was outstanding and came to his aid immediately while the assisting surgeon continued with the delivery of the newborn baby. Other staff doctors and nurses were summoned to the Operating Room to assist with this extraordinary situation. The surgeon, a family man, a very good friend to all and a very special friend to me had been pronounced deceased. At that time the surgical suite was still, no sounds, no words, no movement, except for the crying sounds of the newborn baby being delivered at that particular time. A memorable time for all. The birth of the baby and the death of the surgeon was an experience I would never forget. Birth…the crying of the newborn coming into a new life…and Passing of the surgeon entering into a new life at the same time.

A Birthday to Remember

Ellie Clark

When I was celebrating my 80th Birthday (which celebration went on for a week or so) a young lady, who had been my daughter’s best friend, came to Arizona to help me celebrate. She lives in California.

One of the things we decided to do was go out for lunch after a morning of shopping. I decided to take her to Coach and Willy’s in downtown Chandler. The reason for this was their wonderful Lobster Bisque. We arrived there around 12:30 p.m. and as I turned from Arizona Avenue onto Boston St. I noticed a parking place in front of Brunchies. It was a space between two parallel parked cars. I told Cindy “not to worry” I had never forgotten how to parallel park. I pulled up ahead of the spot; took a look back and proceeded to back into the spot. Once I was in I pulled forward to leave room in front and behind for the other cars. We got out of the car and were laughing as I had done such a good job when all of a sudden two men who were sitting on a bench between the two restaurants started clapping. They were stunned that I had made the maneuver so well. They had bet I wouldn’t make it. I told them this was an 80th birthday celebration and maybe that’s why I had such good luck, whereupon they stood up and proceeded to sing Happy Birthday to me. No, they were not drinking, yet they stood on a downtown sidewalk in Chandler, AZ, singing to the lady who had just turned 80. It was the only time I had ever been sung to by two gentlemen on a City sidewalk on my birthday or any other day. It was clearly a Birthday to Remember.

We proceeded to the restaurant for lunch and in all the excitement we wound up in Brunchies by mistake. As I often say, in my age group, you can’t get it right all the time.

Palo Verde Fountain

Ruby Regina Witcraft

At about 9:00 a.m. when I go for my every morning swim in the Palo Verde pool, I park facing the dining room entrance. In front of the covered entrance is one of the prettiest fountains in the whole Sun Lakes area. The stone work and the four waterfalls stand out as quite unique features along with the very gentile sound of the flowing water. At night it is lit up an invites you to stand and admire its beauty before entering the Club. One of the fountains other attractions is a memorial plaque in the name of Dutch Luchtel.

Some must wonder who this man was and why he deserves such a beautiful memorial piece. Well, Dutch was a 20 year Navy pilot during World War II and upon retirement became a banker, Rotarian, golfer, married, father of a son and two daughters. He also retained his love of flying and owned several planes which enabled he and his wife of 60 years, Jean, to visit many vacation spots in this country.

Once again. Why a memorial plaque in Dutch’s name? His wife, Jean, a very talented and active volunteer, over heard that there were originally plans for a fountain in the front of the over hang but the budget could not make allowances for this expenditure. Being a lady, “not to let an opportunity pass her by,” Jean suggested to Administration that she would gladly donate the cost for the fountain. Since her husband, Dutch had passed away February 2, 2011 she would also like it to memorialize him with a plaque. This seemed a win, win situation for all involved and the project was installed to every ones delight.

This gentle man, along with Jean, would sit on the patio of the club and wave to the golfers passing by. They loved it here so and I like to think of the fountain as a symbol of love and devotion.

Just a regular guy but I wish I had known Dutch.

Quantum Space

Dee Rysdahl

No, this isn’t about physics but about the small increments of co-opted passenger-comfort space such as that being foisted on us by the airlines, in their ever increasing attempts to get more paying seats on their planes. I had just been reading an article describing such triumph of airline greed over passenger comfort. Now I was to experience it first hand.

Recently I was flying on Southwest where there is a kind of cattle-call seating arrangement. The high number I had sent me toward the back of the plane. Even so, I was able to secure a coveted aisle seat next to an empty claustrophobic-engendering center seat.

I was all settled in when a huge man, not obese but well over six feet tall with broad shoulders came down the aisle and spied that empty seat, probably the only one left on a full plane. There was no way that all of him could fit into that seat, and it being Christmas and all, I offered to give him my aisle seat, and moved to the center.

After profusely thanking me he settled in and promptly fell asleep, his relaxed body spreading out with his left shoulder impaling my right shoulder, the one that was hurting from an old injury now irritated with arthritis. My entire right arm was rendered immobile. I thought of waking him up but even awake, there just was no place for all of him to be. I decided to try to relax and tough it out for the one hour flight.

Along comes the airline’s generous offer of a complimentary beverage. Thirsty from all the commotion getting to this point, I asked for diet Coke and water. I was told I could only have one, so I elected the Coke. I tried to put the tray down to hold the Coke but the big guy’s knee, too long for the cramped space between seats, was in the way.

It seems that the staff too felt the pinch of space as the aisle was so narrow they no longer used a cart but took orders and ran back and forth with a tray. I accepted the small plastic glass of Coke which was mostly ice, with my left hand, now happy that I had been stingily refused the water as there was no place to put it.

It’s obvious that the balance between supply and demand is not currently in the consumer’s favor, but with the general population getting genetically taller and nutritionally wider, all of this is going to come to a dramatic collision one day. Competition where are you?

Big Time Guilt

Dick Nelsen

The problem as I see it after all these years, is the terrible guilt I have carried with me. As a typical boy growing up in Iowa with my typical younger brother, we had certain rules that required strict adherence. For example, my father insisted that every evening at exactly 6:00 p.m. we all sat down for dinner together. Whoa be it to the person who was late for this family gathering, unless of course it was my father. Needless to say since my brother and I loved to eat this was not a difficult task to adhere to in our home.

My brother liked to put everything he ate between two slices of bread. Most things fit pretty well. Mashed Potatoes, squash, and vegetables did not look particularly appetizing, between two slices of well buttered bread. But my folks didn’t say anything as long as he cleaned his plate. His most memorable sandwich, that failed inclusion in Gourmet Magazine, was his gravy sandwich. When he picked it up the bread failed to hold things together. The resulting mess was really comical. Even our dad was laughing.

We did have a lot of fun at the dinner table, our dad told stories about things that happened in the drug store that day. My mother made her usual excuses of why she had no time to clean the house, because she was busy knitting things for church or baking cookies, for the next Cub Scout den meeting, or engrossed in a love novel. My brother and I told about our day in school, or what games we had played with the neighbor kids. All in all it was very enjoyable, until that fateful day.

My mother prepared her special round steak, boiled potatoes, and for a vegetable she fixed cooked spinach. I knew it was a leaf vegetable that came in a can and it made Popeye very strong. But I was not prepared for the smell, appearance, or texture of cooked spinach. I thought it looked like something an animal had thrown up. Which was the major fear I had of doing, if made to eat this slimy mess. I was told that spinach was high in Iron, laced with Vitamin A and C, certain to make us smarter in school, immune to colds, and give us muscles to die for. However, I just couldn’t do it. It was then I was told that I was not to leave the table until it was all gone. My brother solved the problem by putting his spinach between two slices of liberally buttered bread and was grinning at my misery. I sat there and watched the hot spinach turn cold, afraid if I took a bite the rest of my supper would end up on my brother who sat opposite me, eating his dessert.

Then as a last resort my father said I should think of the starving children in China who had nothing to eat. With a faint glimmer of hope I suggested we mail my spinach to those poor underfed urchins. That was the wrong thing to say, because my dad said I was sassing him and believe me that was not something one did to my father. I vaguely remembered some form of corporal punishment, thankfully banishment to my room with no dessert. However, to this day I have always had a sense of guilt.

Because you see, by not eating my spinach, Chinese children went hungry, and hungry people are susceptible to unscrupulous men. They fell victim to Communism and it’s my fault. I didn’t eat my spinach and a country of over one billion people became victims to a totalitarian regime that poses a threat to its neighbors and perhaps the world. Oh, if only my mother had fixed green beans!

Speed Control

Margaret Daniels

There were several phases in my life that left an impact upon my life. It all started when I was a little girl. My dad would take our family to stock car races. In those days the speedway was dirt and we would sit on a sloping hillside covered with grass without a fence to protect the crowds. We always had a great view of the entire track as we followed the race car drivers trying to keep control of their cars as they increased their speed.

My mother would spread out a large blanket. Earlier in the day she had prepared a lunch for us to have while we watched the stock car racers trying to overtake the cars in front of them. There was something about the sound of the crowd cheering for their favorite car, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of car engines whishing by, and exhaust fumes that intrigued me. At that time I did not realize the control these drivers needed for driving on a dirt track.

In my mind, the next scene occurred when I entered high school. Every weekend, the cool boys would have their engines fine tuned to get that magic sound that only a car can make. There was every make and color driving up and down the main drag in town. You could hear their V-8’s going vroom, vroom while they had their foot on the break to control their speed while trying to make the engine sound even more powerful. It seemed that the sound carried the vibration right into your body. In this small town, the police seemed to know that the high school boys were just having fun. It was their way to have some control over their independence and to be able to show off their master piece of metal.

When I went off to college the third revelation of power and control occurred. Nampa, Idaho at that time was really small. We could walk just about everywhere. Periodically, I would see an older lady in her 80s driving a bright red convertible car with the top down. She had long blonde hair and a long silk scarf that flowed behind her. One could see the blur of heavy make-up and bright red lips as she drove past. Sometimes she wore a wide brimmed hat that was fasted down securely around her chin.

The carefree attitude this lady had as she controlled and maneuvered her car around the short streets was amazing. This scene was captivating to me as her red convertible went whizzing down the road at a velocity that caused the shrubbery to bend over.

She never followed the speed limit requirement. In her thinking there was one speed and that was fast. The police just looked at her, smiled while shaking their heads. Her speeding was ignored as long as she kept control of the car. Every time I saw her, I thought when I get old I want to be like her.

As time went on the fourth scene occurred. NASCAR racing became the new sport. Every weekend was spent watching the drivers and their families. The phrase, “It ain’t over until it’s over,” comes into play when one driver loses control of their car causing other cars to crash affecting the outcome of the race. During the early years, it was a “Good O’ Boys” competition. This was not a sport for women until many years later NASCAR allowed women to compete in this amazing sport.

Now that I am a little older, but not old, I do have a little white hard top T-Bird convertible with a V-8 engine that has the power to overtake most cars on the road. Funny thing was that when the car was purchased, I didn’t realize that it was a convertible. I just liked the design of the car. I have had fun driving this car.

Coming home from work late one night with no cars on the road, I speculated if my T-bird could reach 120 miles per hour. Thank goodness that evening better judgment slithers in, which kept my thinking and speed under control. I have to admit, that it has taken a great deal of control to just sustain the speed limits with this car, especially when I am tired and just want to get home.

If I could just be young again, I would be a race car driver. Hair would be long and blonde and I would have my long silk scarf and hat to complement the image of a carefree grandma. Then I could be that foxy grandma that my kids tease me about. But for now, I just sigh. So, if you see a blond lady cruising down the road with a silk scarf trailing behind and maneuver the corners elegantly, it might be my day dream of a scene of what could have been.