Many months ago, when I had completed and had published my third book, Lofdoc's Stories: Short and Sweet, with the subtitle "An Octogenarian's Oracles," I was asked the question "Will this, your third book, be your final contribution to the world of literature?" I responded by saying, "I would love to continue exploring new vistas, but the laws of nature will always have the final say; after all, I am eighty-nine years old."
Well, now, the rest of the story.
I guess I am no different than anyone else; after all, we are all birds of a feather, are we not? When the mountain climber was asked "Why do you climb mountains?" his answer was "Because it is there." And so it is with me. I write because I am still here. But I confess that I reverently hope that I would still be around to continue to tell you the "rest" of my stories.
So yes, dear reader, I have poured many hours of pure joy into this, my fourth book. There are stories titled "Crying Out in the Wilderness," "The Ten Armed Swimmer," "Quackery," "The Sand Dollar," "Treasures of a Nursing Home," etc. I have tried to be accurate, sincere, and entertaining. I have given you a new world of thoughts and remembrances that you will hopefully embrace and enjoy. I sincerely believe this, my fourth volume, represents the best of all my lifetime literary efforts.
I hope you will embrace and enjoy my little stories as much as I have loved writing them. I now give you Lofdoc's fourth book.
Oh, by the way, perhaps you might want to know about my use of the name Lofdoc as my pseudonym. No secret. I love fishing, so Lots of Fishing Doc. Yes, I am a retired doctor of medicine. I had practiced medicine (solo) for over thirty years in Ohio. I now devote most of my time caring for my medically wounded angel, my wife of sixty-five years.
Andrew Opritza, MD, FACP
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Poor Lofdoc's Almanac
Short and Sweet
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Andrew Opritza
All rights reserved.
A HELPING HAND
Recently, I had written a whimsical short story about a swimmer with ten arms titled, 'the ten armed swimmer'. It is a lowly (simple) story about the life and adventures of a squid – yes, a squid – it is just an interesting story, with a fetching title. But, the story I am about to relate to you, has much more substance and human emotions intertwined — with -- 'a helping hand' and kindness.
One need not look too far afield, to read or hear of a story documenting someone's kindness – heralding 'a helping hand' performing a good deed. Needless to say, 'the everyday' 'helping hand', such as helping someone carry a package, or opening a door for someone, is appreciated and welcome; but, every so often, a helping hand, is so much more; it is an act of love performed without hesitation, or concern, for personal welfare and safety; -- more -- anon.
The "Helping hand," may not even be a hand; the helping hand may be a smile that helps penetrate the deep gloom of a person in despair. "The helping hand" may be a handshake of friendship, or it may simply impart a nudge, or encouragement to a faltering friend's need for understanding and support. And, not the least important, a helping financial hand may be, at times, a critical life saver.
One need only visit a hospital, a nursing home, or a home for the indigent, to affirm that the aphorism 'but for the grace of God, go I', is alive and well today; the human spirit of caring, understanding, and brotherly love can be seen, at every turn of life's journey.
But, hold on, as in most life riddles, there are twists and turns that often muddle, even more, life's realities. Yes, there may be many gentle, extended helping hands, but sadly, the very persons (the elderly and infirmed), that are most in need of support and caring are the very ones, who, willingly, reject the kindness extended to them. It appears that the elderly population may be said to be either, of an "independent" or "dependent" frame of mind; the latter group do blessedly, and gladly, accept the offered helping hand. Tragically, the 'independent' senior citizen will not "Cry out in the wilderness" (crying out to the world around him for help); no, it isn't because he / she rejects kindness, and the mercy of the helping hand, but right or wrong, believes, that he / she should not be a burden to the ones they love. However, if one would look closely, you would hear their silent crying out, in desperation and futility.
A recent event, during one cold and snowy day, prompted me to revisit, and praise, this life altering, human expression of love – THE HELPING HAND.
If you have ever experienced a time of total isolation, you will understand my deep frustration, when, after parking my old car in the garage for the night, noticed steam pouring out from under its hood – a sure sign of -- Oh, oh. To make matters worse, it was very cold, and a heavy blanket of snow made travel very difficult. Under normal circumstances, the problems this eighty-eight year old encountered would be solved — sooner, or later, but time was of the essence. I must go to the nursing home, twice a day, to feed my ailing eighty-six year old wife her daily lunch and dinner – so, what to do?
Yes, I did, in desperation, send an e-mail to my son who lives about 50 miles from me, asking for advice about my faltering car.
I'm sure you already know, "the rest of the story. "
Yes, early the next morning, I heard a commotion up on the driveway sure enough, there, was my son, removing the deep piles of snow that had accumulated the previous days (I had been unable to use the shovel, because of severe back pain). After he had finished the snow removal, he checked the car, and added antifreeze to the radiator cooling system; he then went to the nursing home to give his mom – a helping hand.
There are many wonderful gifts that are given and received in this world; but the most precious gifts of all:
Are the love and friendship, of family and friends;
Who unhesitatingly offer --
THE LOVE --- OF A HELPING HAND.CHAPTER 2
Isn't it strange? Isn't it strange that the simple task of writing a letter can be torture for some folks, and a blessing, for others? Do you think it's the result of something in our genes? I suppose we will never know for a certainly; but, for better or worse, we will, all of us, write a bunch of letters in our lifetime. And, there is one thing, for sure; the letter is a permanent record of our thought process' at the time of inscribing, and reveals just a smidgeon of our DNA – the letter is a unique reflection of 'who we are'.
It is an obvious fact that there are a 'zillion' reasons for writing a letter, but the most rewarding, and treasured letter, is the one with ' heart' (the one with love and caring). No, I'm not referring, necessarily, to carnal love; I'm referring to the 'love to make a life' – just a little bit happier, and better, for someone. Ah, now we have the reason why I have embarked on this 'tale of prose', titled, "A Letter".
In the following paragraphs, I will write a letter, to my now adult granddaughters, who seem to be confused, uncertain and are struggling with the age old questions: "What is my future; what am I to do next? Or, as it has been said by so many, "I've been trying to decide what to do with myself when I grow up; and then sighing, in frustration, "Growing up is harder than I thought it would be". Yes, my granddaughters had arrived to a stage of life, when there are more questions than answers. Perhaps, Grandpa's (G'pa's) Letter will be of some help to her.
My dear granddaughter, when I read your comments concerning the uncertainties of life, and the realization that the difficulties "of growing up," can pose some very unsettling dilemmas; I remember thinking, "gosh, those are the same frustrating, frightening moments that a young man (whom I knew intimately) had; he struggled mightily with those very same worrisome issues, so many years ago. I remember how he agonized with the same unsettling questions about life: what direction and pathway he was to follow in life; would he ever find love; was there a God; and, above all, would girls like him? Yes, those were some of the fearsome questions that the young man heroically battled, seemingly forever. But, he continued on with his life, filled with hope, openness, and "I will do the best that I am able to do for myself – and, for others".
Having encountered all the confusing and unsettling questions posed during 'growing-up', I had irritably asked the question, "How is it, that we, as a human race, have no control over our futures, or what we do in life; why can't we assert ourselves and say 'enough, ' it's my life, I ought to be able to determine the direction and pathway, I will follow"!
But, alas, I eventually realized, that they (my heartfelt questions about life) were unanswerable. I soon understood that we do what we do -- it's our destiny! I then asked myself the question. "What then; what is one to do in life, how does one decide?" The answer is really mysterious (unanswerable), but it soon became obvious, that I, and I, alone, must find a solution before it is too late. I, mercifully, determined that the surest way of finding the answer is to know, and understand myself, and then, do the best that can be done to succeed – and thus, feel good about who I am, as a person. IT IS ONLY WHEN A PERSON IS COMFORTABLE FROM WITHIN, THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO EXUDE HAPPINESS – AND LOVE, FOR ONESELF, AND OTHERS. So you see, my dear, life is like a puzzle that has many unfamiliar twists and curves. It may take some doing, but with patience, perseverance, courage, and a touch of serendipity (a little luck, never hurt anybody), will it be possible to find, and follow, a beautiful rainbow, leading to a happy, contented life.
Interestingly enough, although destiny appears to be our guiding light in life, it appears that when it's all said and done most of us are able to say "Heck, I'm kind of proud of what I did in life; after all, what else could I have done better"? Well. I've given you the thoughts of an old man – just thoughts.
How many of us have taken a picture of a happy event, then put it away someplace for safe keeping? And, alas, how many of us have forgotten about it, and even worse, forgotten where the heck that safe haven was?
A recent invitation for dinner, remarkably, brought back many poignant memories, and yes, even to the location of a special picture that had been taken many years ago. No, this was not an invitation for just any dinner; it was a very special dinner, in a very special place.
Although the meal was delicious and appreciated, it was the home and love that permeated it that brought back my joyous thoughts. The host and hostess for this memorable event were my granddaughter Dana and her husband Mike and the location for the affair was their first home.
They, as most young home owners, were proud of their first, new domicile and were engaged in improving and changing things around to suit their needs. It was obvious that their efforts were not considered work; it was a labor of love.
It was this occasion that brought back to me fond memories of a little five-year-old girl who, many years ago, helped me make a snowman during a very cold and snowy winter day. Although she, her twin sister, Laura and I had many fun times during those early years, the snowman that we constructed the year that they were five, stands out above the rest.
If you think that our snowman was a masterpiece that would have made Michelangelo jealous, think again. Actually, it was the skinniest, sorriest, most pathetic and downright awful snowman ever created. It was beautiful!!! It was so magnificent that someone had taken a picture if it, and worse, the picture included me and the girls. Since I was photographed with that forgettable creation, I would be forever linked to it. There is no way I can disavow responsibility. I was caught red-handed! Oh, the pain!
But you know, now after these many years, I'm glad that someone took that picture. In fact, I kind of like it. Oh, it's still a pathetic sight, to be sure, but what beautiful memories it has showered on me.
I wish there were a thousand more pathetic, beautiful pictures like it!!
Ah, yes, my prayers have been answered.
A TERRIFYING EVENING
I don't know how many people have experienced a life threatening event in their lives, but I am sure it is a vast number; especially if you consider the many wars, and other Government horrors perpetrated on their own citizens. But the brain numbing, horrifying event that I experienced one night had nothing to do with wars or any other violent situation; my life changing experience occurred when I was at peace with the world, and was enjoying a cool evening walk along a well-known path at a mountain resort. The walking and running paths at the resort were well kept, and were touted to be safe (day or night), because great care had been taken to ensure that there would not be worrisome attacks from wild animals, or other predators.
In order to properly tell my story, I must tell you the topography of the well thought-out locations of the various pathways, because it was the pathway positions to one another that possibly saved my life.
The pathways were designed to provide different panoramic views, and to give various degrees of exercise to persons of all ages and abilities. Some pathways were more perpendicular in length than others, and some provided a more horizontal, longer and level stretches, for the less athletic outdoorsman; but all the pathways were situated close enough to each other so that, if needed, emergency help could quickly be obtained.
I will now continue my harrowing story, but forgive me if I falter at times.
My decision to take an evening walk by myself was unusual by itself because, being of advanced age I am usually accompanied by my wife, or one of my children, to help me if I falter due to a medical mishap. But, it was a pleasant evening and for some unknown reason, I just wanted to be by myself for a while. I did take along my smartphone just in case of an emergency, or if I wanted to take a picture of something. The decision to take along my smartphone was prescient – it saved my life!
It was a warm lovely evening, not a cloud in the sky, and the aroma of forest and wild flowers made for a perfect time to be outdoors. I decided to walk along a fairly long, level pathway that didn't appear to be crowded. I had been walking slowly for about a half-mile, while observing the birds and numerous rabbits and squirrels, when I notice a well-dressed, pleasant looking gentleman approaching me. As he came closer, he nodded and waved his hand as if to say "hello". When he was about to pass me, he seemed to be scrutinizing me in a manner that sent shivers down my spine; I was relieved when he passed me. I then picked up my walking pace because somehow I sensed danger, and wanted to get as far away from him as possible.
After I had walked a few hundred feet without looking back, I stopped and looked back to see if he was gone. It was then that I knew that my worst fears were realized, he had stopped a few hundred feet from me, and with a half – smile, slowly began walking toward me; I knew then what his intentions were. Strangely, although I had fear, I remained clear headed and considered my options. I knew I couldn't outrun, or fight him successfully – so what to do? It was then that I saw him holding a cord of cloth, or wire that was tied on each end to small pieces of wood – IT WAS A GARROTTE! – He was going to strangle me!
As he slowly approached me, I thought about screaming for help, but even if there were people around, I knew they couldn't come in time to save me. I did hear voices that seem to come from a parallel path that was several hundred feet below me, however.
When he came to within 50 feet of me, he stopped, stared at me with a blank expression, grasping firmly the cord's wooden handles, and slowly came toward me. It was then that I knew I was going to die if I didn't do something quickly. Although I was shaking and fearful, I quickly reached into my pocket, grasped my smartphone, and almost simultaneously, pointed it at him, took his picture, and threw that camera over the embankment to the path below to where I thought I had heard voices. I then shouted as loud as I could, that the camera had the picture of the man who killed me.
I then looked at the man and asked him to spare me. I threw my wallet toward him, and said "If you kill me, they will catch you because I sent your picture to a friend, and I also threw the camera to the people on the path below." My only hope was that my would-be killer was sane and understood the meaning of my actions.
After I had pleaded with him to spare my life, the man stopped his advance toward me, and seemed to be confused. He didn't say a word, or move, for the longest time; he then slowly, relaxed his grips on the garrotte that he had held in his hands, turned, and walked slowly away.
I am unable to tell you "the rest of the story;" because --- thankfully,
I woke up It –
was -- a bad dream!
It was just a bad dream!!CHAPTER 5
BE PATIENT, BE PATIENT!
How many times have you heard the aphorism, "Be patient," in your life time? It seems that we all know what 'Be patient' means, right? But, do we? Sometime words have several meanings that can be confusing and even worrisome at times. Consider: synonyms of the word "patient," can oft'time lead us astray; words in the dictionary such as: easy-going, persevering, tolerant, long- suffering, and enduring are also listed under the word patient -- in addition to MY MEANING of the word patient i.e. 'to be capable of waiting'. And finally, I guess the word 'patient' could even mean 'somebody given medical treatment'! Well, I guess you know by now what I am trying to say – it's a tough world – Charlie Brown.
So it seems that the word, patient, could simply imply that a patient person is one who is capable of waiting--- or --- maybe not.
What, you might ask, is the purpose of my even bringing up the subject of being patient, in the first place? You probably won't believe me, but the subject of being patient, cropped up during a fun day of fishing with my friend Lon. Let me explain.
Normally, when fishing, I manage the motor, and fishing boat because I know the lake very well, since I had fished the lake for over 40 years, so naturally I was able to move about the lake quickly, and knew the various "Honey holes". So, every time we tried a new fishing area, I would say, after a few casts, "Ok, let's go, there are no fish here!" MY friend would then shout "Be patient be patient!" Each time I decided to go to another area, after a few casts, he would sigh, and say -- be patient, BE PATIENT.
After fishing a couple of hours (by the way, we soon found an area of the lake where we did catch a bunch of fish), we were having a cup of coffee and resting (from catching so many fish), when he sadly lamented, "you know Doc, I have lost some very good friends lately, why did they have to go, and why am I am still here? I slowly turned around to face him, and smilingly said, "Lon, BE PATIENT -- BE PATIENT"
Now after many years, I am happy to report that Lon is still being patient; and yes, we still remember that wonderful day of fishing, and laugh about that 'Be Patient', conversation.
Excerpted from Poor Lofdoc's Almanac by Lofdoc. Copyright © 2016 Andrew Opritza. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
A HELPING HAND, 1,
A LETTER, 4,
A PICTURE, 6,
A TERRIFYING EVENING, 8,
BE PATIENT, BE PATIENT!, 11,
BIRDS, BIRDS, BIRDS, 13,
BRAIN, BRAWN OR, SKILL, 15,
CRYING OUT IN THE WILDERNESS, 22,
GIVING THANKS, 33,
GOING HOME, 35,
GREETINGS AND SALUTATIONS, 38,
HANGIN IN THERE, 41,
HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, 44,
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS, 47,
LIFE'S TIMELINES, 61,
MEMORIAL DAY, 67,
MEMORIES LOST, 70,
MEMORIES OF YEASTERYEARS, 72,
MOURNING DOVES, 77,
MY BROTHER'S KEEPER, 79,
OLT TOO SOON SCHMART TOO LATE, 82,
"OUT OF THE BLUE", 85,
REINCARNATION OF A SINGER, 97,
RELUCTANTLY, HE HANDED OVER THE KEY, 102,
SO YOU WANT TO BE AN AUTHOR, 105,
SOUPS ON!, 108,
THANK - YOU, 110,
THE CLOCK -- A CONTINUUM, 113,
THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS (DAY), 117,
THE EASTER BASKET HUNT, 119,
THE FOUR PICTURE STORY, 122,
THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER, 129,
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IMPORTANT, 132,
THE LIFE AND LOVES OF JAZZY, 135,
THE LOVE STORY, 137,
THE PASSAGE OF TIME, 140,
THE REDEYED DRUMMER, 143,
THE RELUCTANT HEALER, 146,
THE RHODODENDRON AFFAIR, 149,
THE ROSE OF SHARON, 153,
THE SAND DOLLAR, 155,
THE SINGER, 159,
THE SWAN, 162,
THE TEN ARMED SWIMMER, 164,
THE WORLD OF YESTERYEAR, 167,
THINGS HAPPEN, 170,
THINKING MAKES IT SO, 172,
TREASURES OF A NURSING HOME, 174,
WE ALL HAVE DREAMS, 177,
WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND, 182,
WHEN DID IT ALL START?, 185,
WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN, 189,
WHY, AND WHEN, TO WRITE A BOOK, 193,
SO, WHY CAN'T WE DREAM?, 196,
WINNERS AND LOSERS OF THE WORLD, 198,
YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE, 200,
YOU NEVER KNOW, 203,