Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cheap Fantasy Club

When was the last time you participated in an activity even when you didn’t want to? I can talk myself out of doing just about anything, but when someone else encourages me, I may change my mind.

Matt told me a story about his friend, George, who had recently become a widower and was depressed. George repeatedly declined invitations to join others in activities so his friends created a cheap fantasy club.

The rules were that each of the six friends could choose what interest or hobby they wanted to participate in that week. It couldn’t cost more than $10 for each of them. And even if one of the friends didn’t like it, each person had to oblige the person’s “fantasy.” And then the following week it would be someone else’s choice. Over the next several months they bowled, pitched horseshoes, went to the movies and visited an art museum. What the friends discovered was that even activities they said they didn’t think they liked, they enjoyed. I experienced something similar this morning when it was time to exercise.

I regularly exercise—walking, bike riding or boating in our propeller driven Sea-Cycle. In Oregon, where I live, the summer weather is very pleasant with highs in the 70’s or low 80’s with low humidity. Currently, I am in South Carolina where the temperature is 91 degrees with 83% humidity. The air is so thick that it takes a huge breath to get it into my lungs. I walked with one of Mom’s friends yesterday and when she called me today, I declined because I thought it was too hot. Then, when I realized that she wasn’t going to take a morning walk unless I joined her, I decided to go but had a bailout clause if it was too hot.

We walked, talked and I didn’t even notice the heat and the humidity. When I returned to the air conditioning and a bottle of cold water, it was all that much more refreshing.

Today’s gift was offering companionship to one of my mother’s friends. And I enjoyed it, too.

In Giving,


Friday, August 30, 2013

Supporting Firefighters

When I was a child, I waved from the back of a big, red fire truck in almost every parade that wound through the streets of Beckley, West Virginia. I also spent a lot of time at the fire department watching the firemen slide down the shiny, brass pole—all because my dad was a fireman.

My friends liked dinner at my house because the conversation described the gory details about fires. One night I knew something was different. Mom had dinner on the table, but Dad was not home yet. It was unusual that Dad hadn’t called to tell Mom that he would be late. But then again, there had been a huge warehouse fire that day and he may still be busy with that.

The ring of the harvest gold, rotary-dial phone attached to the wall, startled my mother, brother and me. It was the hospital. My father had passed out in the fire and had been taken to the emergency room. The doctor said that he would be okay, but was suffering from smoke inhalation.

Later, when Dad told us the story, he described the new masks that firemen were required to wear. He had removed his during the fire because it wasn’t working and was overcome by smoke. Little did we know this would foreshadow his later medical condition.

Many years after this incident, a chest x-ray revealed spots on his lungs with a diagnosis of pneumoconiosis. Being from West Virginia, I was familiar with black lung disease for coal miners, but not firefighters. The doctor determined Dad could no longer work as a fireman. He retired from his much-loved career with 22 years of service.

Eight years ago he won a battle with lung cancer. However, it was to be short-lived because Dad’s death last week was caused by the return of lung cancer.

Before he passed away, Dad requested a small family service with no flowers. We hadn’t asked him where he wanted friends to send donations so I called the Beckley Fire Department to inquire about a donation fund.

The lieutenant explained that they did not have one established. He told me a story about a fireman who had cancer but was not eligible for retirement and that a fund such as this would have helped him and his family.

After discussing it with my mother, brother and sister we decided that Dad would have wanted a fund to help others since he often took firemen under-his-wing and showed them the ropes. I was pleasantly surprised when the Lieutenant said the firemen fondly remembered my father and still told stories about him. He said they decided to call it the Bob Perdue Firefighters Relief Fund in my dad’s honor.

My gift for the day was helping establish the fund and giving the first donation to it.

In Giving and Remembering,


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Telling Your Doctor What You Think

Don’t get me wrong, I love computers. But I do think they have a time and a place. Lately it seems that health care professionals, who may be required to enter my medical history into a computer, spend more time turned away from me than looking at me as they ask all of their questions and enter the data. But yesterday, my interaction at one doctor's office was different.

My mother had an appointment with a specialist as a follow-up to an MRI. She was very worried about it and concerned that she may need surgery. Neither of us could understand all of the medical jargon that was in her copy of the MRI report. We were hoping the doctor would put it in plain English.

The doctor entered the room without a laptop or anything. He introduced himself to us, pulled up a stool, looked her in the eyes and began to explain what he had seen on the scan. He described how blood vessels are supposed to be flexible and that arteriosclerosis makes them harder. The metaphor he used was that the arteries are like a garden hose and if left out in the sun – meaning as we age – it becomes less pliable and subject to cracking or swelling. He explained her medical condition in terms that we both understood. Then he said what was music to our ears . . . no surgery is required and to come back for another scan in six months.

After he left, I remarked to my mother that he seems very knowledgeable and truly cares about his patients. As I was leaving the office, I noticed a sign that said, “Please complete a survey on your experience in this office at”

Today's gift was giving the doctor a glowing report for his caring attitude and compassion for my mother and me. Before I go to a new physician, I look at reviews online and use it to help make my decision as to the doctor I choose. Hopefully my comments will help others choose this doctor and be as pleased as we are.

In Giving,


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy Dogs

You may have watched dogs fetch a stick, play with a ball or pull on a tug-of-war toy. You can see the dogs’ pure, unadulterated joy wagging his tail, bouncing around and infecting you with their boundless energy. Seeing a dog’s tail wag when he is playing or when we walk into the room is always uplifting.

Years ago we had a Chinese Shar Pei named Duke. He thought he was too sophisticated to chase balls or play with dog toys, but he loved going for a walk. He would tumble and roll around on the ground with other dogs until his tongue was hanging out. It would remind me of the character in the movie Rocky who was so tired he would have to lean on his opponent just to stand. 

When Duke would return home after these playtimes he would sprawl out on his side, snoring so loudly that it sounded like a freight train roaring down the track. Then when he woke up, he’d nudge our hand with his nose to let us know that he was ready to go for another walk. Even when he was older and had trouble moving around, we would say the word “walk” and he would spring toward the door.

Regardless of how much exercise that Duke had, he was still a picky eater. However, he was never finicky about steak. As soon as we turned on the grill, he was never far away; hoping we’d accidentally drop a morsel.

Last night, the steak scraps from my dinner were destined for the garbage can until I remembered my brother’s dog, Lucky. I wrapped the pieces in aluminum foil to take with me to his house.

For today’s gift, my mother carefully fed the scraps to Lucky. Her tail wagged excitedly, awaiting each and every next bite. I wonder if dogs know how much they enrich our lives with their joy and enthusiasm. I hope that we all can have more things in our lives that spread joy like a happy dog can.

In Giving,


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Crackers or Spaghetti O’s

Typically when I go to the grocery store I’m focused on buying what is on my list. Today, I had a different experience in the Food Lion in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I am visiting my mother and offered to join her on her shopping trip.

My mother picked up a box of crackers and started to place it in the shopping cart. Then she asked my sister if it was nutritious enough or if she should choose something else. I’m watching this interaction and thinking that my mother is actually more concerned with what we like to eat than how healthy it is for my sister and me.

Surprisingly, my sister said that she usually buys Spaghetti-O’s or canned ravioli. Mom said that was a better idea and they headed to the canned food aisle. I was curious as to what this conversation was about; comparing crackers to canned food seemed odd to me.

Then mom and sis said that they always buy something to give to the local food bank when they go to Food Lion. Six years ago Food Lion was the first grocer to donate perishable products to a charity. Their work helped grow similar programs involving many more retailers. Their willingness to not only donate food but to share their expertise in charitable giving resulted in 34.5 million meals in the United States in 2010.

The local food bank recommended canned meat for those who are hungry. I grabbed two cans of tuna and placed them in the cart. After the cashier rang up the items, I placed them in the food bank container which was beside the exit.

If all grocery stores had programs that were this convenient and easy to do, we all would be much more likely to donate. Maybe other stores do have it and I just haven’t noticed. I will keep my eyes open for similar giving opportunities and not be bashful about talking to the manager of the store to suggest that they start a similar program.

In Giving,