June 23rd, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member, and printed with permission from the Renville County Register

We all have friends and acquaintances who have passed away. Some of them lived a long life, and others died way too young. Facing one’s mortality is very unsettling to many, including this scribe. Most of us have not made a priority out of thinking about our eventual end.

Friends who have suffered from strokes, heart attacks or cancer have been an alarm call for us. Friends who have lost the ability to walk or to be active have been a reason for us to think through our possible remaining years. Fishing and hunting buddies who can no longer participate in those sports are a warning of impending problems for us too.

O.K., we can’t ignore the fact that our “Clock” was wound only one time and we don’t know when it might come to a screeching halt. That reminds one of the poem by Robert H. Smith on this topic. Check it out.

We sit here on our favorite couch or chair watching the world coming apart with war, riots, genocide, poultry diseases, layoffs and such. It would be easy to become skeptical and to sit and wring our hands. It would be easy to say, “To heck with it,” and to become a hermit. We could easily drop out of our groups, clubs, obligations and our commitments.

But, would we, when confronted with our impending death, fear that we have lived a “Half-lived Life”? Would we, while lying on our death bed, have the awful feeling as we looked back on our lives, and say, “I can’t go yet, I have only lived half way?” Herman Melville wrote a poem on this topic about the “Half-lived Life”. Check that one out too, if interested.

So, what’s a Senior Citizen to do? Sitting around isn’t an option for most of us. We want to stay active and involved. Active senior citizens usually have more fun. They get more exercise. They enjoy people more. They try to be of service to others.

Active Seniors try to not worry so much. They learn to enjoy each day. They are involved in a cause, and it may be as simple as encouraging the survival of butterflies and bees in their gardens.

Active Seniors promote healthy living amenities in their towns. They want more parks and trails for others and themselves to enjoy. A town that caters to the need of its Senior Citizens as well as its youth, will encourage activity. A town can be more Senior-friendly by simply having safe streets for walking and riding bikes. Sidewalks that are well-maintained can help seniors and kids to walk, ride bikes and feel free.

We all know a Senior Citizen who builds and places bird houses or bird feeders out there for his favorite critters. They often make bird houses to give away to others to enjoy too. We all know Seniors who would appreciate a chance to go fishing with you. They might even enjoy golfing if invited. You may have to be a bit patient taking someone along on either venture.

A Senior Center can provide a place to gather for Senior Citizens. Playing cards, doing crafts, ping pong, walking for exercise, or just engaging in fun conversation is good for Seniors.

Active Seniors are usually healthier than those who don’t get enough activity and exercise. If they live near parks and trails, they have more physical activity. A place to go fishing close by or a place to watch wildlife will help the Senior Citizens and everyone else to be active.

Seniors who have a garden get exercise and a sense of being needed by the plants and the pollinators that attend to the flowers. A Senior who owns and walks a dog every day gets exercise and feels needed by his close four-legged companion.

No matter what town you live in, you can make sure your Seasoned Citizens have a chance to remain active. In this day of small towns shrinking in population, it is so important to make sure your Seniors have activities and places to go for their exercise and interests. Keeping Seniors in our towns rather than have them move to another town that caters to Seniors is a good idea. Maintaining our population is very important to the thrival of the town (combination of survival and thrive).

We have noticed that many small towns contribute to their own demise. They don’t seem to be tuned into the needs of people who might want to move in or to stay in their towns. Attracting young people to either come as newcomers or as boomerang people is very important to all communities in our area. Boomerangers were educated and grew up in our towns, and now might want to raise their own kids in the safe environment of their home towns.

One of my favorite sayings, and I do over-use it, is “IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING, MAKE IT MATTER. DO WHAT YOU CAN WITH WHAT YOU HAVE WHERE YOU ARE, AND DON’T CHASE YOUR PRODUCTIVE CITIZEN AWAY. That is certainly food for thought.

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