New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 12, 1991, New Braunfels, Texas
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Let’s remember Dear Old Dad
I never saw him when he wasn’t busy at something’
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Sunday is Father’s Day, as we’re reminded in the ads for father-type gifts: clothing and tools, sporting goods and outdoor cooking equipment. But not as much attention is given to Father’s Day as to Mother’s Day. Somehow, mothers are easier to get sentimental about. Have you noticed that? So let’s remember Dear Old Dad, whether he’s sleeping on the living room coch, cooking hamburgers in the back yard or working overtime at the office.
If my father were still living, he’d be 102 years old, and I have every confidence he could have handled it. He only lived 85 years, 7 months and 13 days, but he never wasted any of it. I never saw him when he wasn’t busy at something; even if he was resting, as in his latter years, he was busy looking at the work he’d tired himself out with and thinking about what he was going to do when he got rested. And even when he was sick or injured, he was busy getting well faster than anyone else ever had.
He never ambled in his life. He charged at everything, sometimes disastrously. Anything that couldn’t get
out of his way was in danger. We used to say that if Daddy couldn’t break it he’d bum a hole in it, for the pipe he was seldom without was a menace, spewing sparks like a miniature volcano.
But he lived, and made use of every resource. When he went fishing, he usually brought back fish; if he went hunting, he usually brought back game. And in addition, there was likely a bag or box of pecans, possum grapes, persimmons, wild benes or whatever was growing wild and ready for harvest. My grandmother used to say, “You could set David out on a flat rock and he’d find something to eat.”
He worked like a trouper to give us all he could, and if he sometimes hun
among older untreated
my little-girl feelings when he didn’t have time for me — why, now I understand. Still, at least once each fall he’d take Mother, my sister and me with any friends or cousins who wanted to go for a long, long Sunday afternoon walk. The sights and sounds of autumn were for enjoying and nature’s bounty for gathering. Both my sister and I are still addicted to scuffing through the crisply brown leaves when the weather turns nippy.
He slowed down some after Mother was gone and began to live more in the past, but he still kept busy taking care of himself, his house and yard and making forays to pecan groves and wild berry patches. The years began to take their toll, gradually cutting into his capabilities with hearing loss, near-blindness, arthritic joints and heart failure, yet he managed to do far more than one would think possible.
The last year of his life, I got him moved back to the small acreage we’d
left in the Thirties, and he was supremely happy working and reminiscing about his young years in that area: trapping animals and selling furs or walking to the next town to ride back on a horse he’d bought.
My favorite of the stories I heard for the first time during these last few months was about a day he was working on the bank building downtown when two girls walked by. As he watched them walk away, someone asked what he was doing. “I’m looking at my future wife,” he said. Whether he was serious or merely attracted to the young lady, she did become his wife and my mother.
SENIOR SAVVY: “Life's like a bicycle: you don't fall off until you stop pedaling " — Sen. Claude Pepper
Ida Sing it a freelance writer residing m New Braunfels.
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American Heart Association
By CAROL ANN RIHA A»»ociat*d Prats Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. — Depression often is misdiagnosed or not taken seriously among older Americans, and many of them never will receive proper treatment, a gerontology specialist says.
Vicki Schmall emphasizes in a brochure she helped write that depression is highly treatable. More than 80 percent of its victims can be treated effectively and their symptoms alleviated within weeks.
The 34-page brochure, “Depression in Later Life,’’ is available nationwide through county extension service offices. It’s published by the Oregon Slate University Extension Service in Corvallis.
Without treatment, depression can last for weeks, months, even years, and suicide is disturbingly common in the older population, Schmall said.
Men over 65 have the highest incidence of suicide in the population, three to four times that of the general population.
“Overall, they attempt fewer suicides, but are the most successful when they attempt it,’’ Schmall said. “For the older person in general, it is an actual intent to die, not a cry for help.”
The prevalence of depression among older Americans is about the same as among younger Americans, affecting about 25 percent of the population.
One problem in recognizing depression is that people often think its symptoms are normal signs of aging, Schmall said. Symptoms include stooped posture, physical inactivity, sleep problems and a loss of appetite.
“They simply assume it’s related to the fact that Mom is 82 or that she has a certain chronic disease,’’ Schmall said.
And some people figure Mom or Dad ought to be depressed: They’re old.
Older people are more likely to express emotional distress in physical terms: complaints of vague aches and pains or health problems for which
there is no medical basis, Schmall said.
“An older person is less likely to say yes, they’re depressed,’’ she said. “They grew up in a time when to be depressed is to be a weakness.”
And depressed people, regardless of age, “may appear to change in their personality. The person who is outgoing may become withdrawn,’’ she said. Depressed people may also be agitated, suspicious, irritable or anxious.
The critical first step is encouraging the person to get a medical examination, Schmall said.
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