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Breakfast club

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1 Breakfast club on 10/1/2017, 8:16 am

My wife grew up in a small farming town in Northwest Illinois. She attended a small catholic grade school and went to the public high school in that small town. She has kept in touch with a group of girls who went to Kindergarten through high school together. Most are Irish Catholic while she had a mix of Polish, Lithuanian, and Belgium Catholic. When she was growing up her dad who was this tall athletic blonde haired blue eyed drinker had been brought to America from Lithuania when he was four years old. He was a milk truck driver and later owned his own butcher shop in the town called St. Charles where Bob would come up to the flea market and sell his Juke boxes to wealthy folks who worked in Chicago. Her dad had a cottage on the fox river where at five years of age she would go unsupervised onto the river in a row boat. She became a river rat as a little girl and today at 64 is married to a river rat. Her father was friends with the original Tarzan, and he would come and visit him as the whole town would watch the two of them get drunk and jump off the huge train tressle at St. Charles which crossed the fox river.....insane. So about 1950 this butcher sold his shop and bought a tavern in the small town my wife was raised.

It was an old hotel which Abe Lincoln had stayed in and was across from the historic railroad station. They lived upstairs in the hotel section of the building which was no longer a hotel and operated the bar. Her mother would cook fried chicken on weekends and farmers from all around the area would eat and drink in their establishment. Her father was quite the magnetic personality, but his drinking continued to become more of a problem, and the nuns were disapproving of the bar business and told my wife she was going to hell. Well those little girls who grew up with her......about 12 of them show up when they have a full breakfast club, are coming over this Thursday. They are bonded for life and like her father my wife is the glue which seems to bond these people together. Her sense of humor and down to earth approach to life anchor this group, but they revert back to little girls when they get together.

There was not much diversity in rural NW Illinois. The Irish and Germans migrated in the 1850s and farmed the land. The most diverse member of their breakfast club was the town dentist's daughter who was Jewish and was loved by the entire town as there were no blacks or hispanics in her school. They all went on to careers from janitors, teachers, bank executives, librarians, and business women, but most stayed home on the family farm and farmed and raised their families. The farm families struggled when she was a little girl, but today with a global market they all enjoy multi six figure incomes. Yet, when these ladies get together for their breakfast club they are these sixth grade girls giggling and having fun as they deal with the loss of spouses. The sad reality is out of the 12 about four have already lost their spouses as the reality of men dying earlier than women sets in, they always have the companionship of their breakfast club. Now dollars to doughnuts you will find me nowhere near the house Thursday because they insist to come bother me in my lazy boy as they want to peak at the dying guy......and then whisper to my wife......he still looks so good. I am so happy for my wife. In this increasingly mobile society, these 12 girls have captured a time long passed when small town folks spent a life time together and did not need a therapist or anti depressants but found sanity in friendships.

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2 Re: Breakfast club on 10/1/2017, 2:21 pm

Your wife is a very lucky person, Seaoat, because when you do pass she will have support from all of those friends. I live in a neighborhood of mostly elderly people. Most of us have actually lived here for somewhere between 40 and 50 years, raising our kids on this street and being good neighbors. WE are friends as well, but not of the type you are talking about. We don't hop from house to house in the evenings visiting, but when one of us is outside and so is another, we will always have a good conversation and generally, keep up with each others lives. When my mother died in August, it was the neighbors who brought food and flowers to my home, not some civic organization or church. In fact, my mom's church didn't even visit any of her children, which surprised me a little but not much.She had given that church over 40,000 dollars in the last 3 years, but she left her other money to her kids and I think they resented it.
What I've noticed though, as we have all grown older, is that when company comes to any of our houses, the cars are always recognizable because it's pretty much always a child or a grandchild come to visit. Almost none of these folks seems to have very many "friends" from outside the neighborhood. It seems that as you grow older, if you are not in some church group or organization actively, your friendships tend to dwindle down to the point that it is only family you can rely on. I'm fortunate to have one very good friend who is not a neighbor, but she is someone that I met while working and we just refused to let retirement end our relationship. My husband has the guys at work, but when he retires, I doubt he will be seeing them much anymore. I guess life is just that way. Your wife is EXTREMELY fortunate, because having a large group of friends at our age is the exception rather than the norm. You seem to know to be happy for her-just keep it up. They will be there when you are gone and she will be much more able to handle it than most women are.

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3 Re: Breakfast club on 10/1/2017, 5:51 pm

I am convinced that as we age we need more social contact and not less. However, as we age we become impatient with our friends and their imperfections. I still play a poker game with my high school friends and our superbowl party is getting near 40 years of us getting together. I used one of my high school poker buddies condo in Cape Coral for a month two years ago, and I have helped him out of jams for 40 years. We met on an order of arrow boy scout camping event in fifth grade. I still see my college friends, and will be playing poker with my post college golf buddies which is a group of about 20 individuals. As I no longer play golf, my social interactions have dropped, but poker and pinnocle fill the void.

I find that older people who are isolated tend to mentally degrade at an accelerated rate. I have a friend who joined a senior bike club and they get together every weekend and work their aszes off on sixty mile trips which involve constant social events.

My grandmother died at 91. She had attended a church for thirty years, but when the minister did her service, I was furious....he did not know my grandmother and said all kinds of false and made up stuff about her which I wanted to throw something at him. They took her money and support for thirty years, but the truth is that her childhood church was taken out when Interstate 65 was built and this was simply a replacement church, and there was not that multi generational connection, but I am always happy when a church does connect with its older members and I have seen much more success in regard to the same than failure.

My wife will have male suitors, but she will never remarry. A woman who owns islands in a river with great fishing will not have a shortage of males who even now are giving her all kinds of attention and want to help her, but she has everybody in town talking about the retired school teacher who rebuilds bobcats and changes belts on commercial mowers.....men love that kind of stuff. She is the topic of discussion at the town gas station coffee clutch as she looks fifteen years younger than her 64 years, but as she tells me she has had one husband too many, and she will enjoy companionship, but NO MORE HUSBANDS, I totally understand her sentiment.

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4 Re: Breakfast club on 10/1/2017, 6:12 pm

LOL- I understand her completely. My husband and I have been married 46 years and they have been good ones, but if something were to happen to him, I would have control of the TV remote all on my own. That, in itself, would keep me from ever wanting another husband.
My mother passed away on August 4-just about 6 weeks or so ago. She was 95 and had been living in a nursing home for5 years, so most of the people who had come to see her from her church had stopped doing so long ago. There were a couple of ladies who came occasionally, but when she died no one from the churches she had attended offered a repast or any real help at all. We had her funeral at a local funeral home with no pastor preaching at all. My sister read a biography of her life that mom had written a few years back. Mom did have a sense of humor and the bio brought laughs from the people who were there. Then 2 people spoke about her and what she meant to their childhood. They were a brother and sister who lost their mom when they were kids to a car accident. They still consider themselves part of our family because my mother kind of took them in when we were kids. They stayed with us many, many weekends, especially when their dad had work to do. Finally, my daughter closed by playing my mother's violin that mom had owned since she was about 7 years old. There were some old friends from some of the churches she had attended, pretty much all of our family, so there was a good crowd. Several people told us it was the way they would want their own funerals to be-no hell fire and damnation preaching and just a very personal memory of a life well lived. Since no one had offered to do a repast, we took 38 members of our family and our closest friends out to eat at the Fish House. The food was good, the conversation was great about all things past, and it was a good day.
But with all that my mom had given to one church in particular over the last 3 years (I know how much it was because I wrote the checks for her), the pastor of that church should have AT LEAST offered to officiate. We might have turned him down, but he should have offered. I won't be forgetting that and neither will my siblings.

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5 Re: Breakfast club on 10/1/2017, 6:39 pm

The truth is living to 90 is not what it may seem. You simply outlive your contemporaries and rarely beyond family are there connections any longer with the community. I have a great deal of respect for those churches and community organizations which focus on the elderly. The fire chief of a volunteer department would spend his weekends going from house to house learning what the elderly in the community needed, and would bring a volunteer with him on each visit. They knew what medications and medical needs each elderly citizens required. When a community has a layered approach, seniors do not slip through the cracks. Our township picks up seniors and sets up card games which allow for socialization. It takes years and years of establishing trust, but once they start attending they love it. Good leaders in churches and the community can make places very comfortable for seniors.

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6 Re: Breakfast club on 10/1/2017, 6:59 pm

That is true. Mom had outlived many of her friends. She was still in her right mind when she died though, and she noticed when the ones she had left did not come to visit her any longer.
It's good your town provides those services to people that age. Boredom and loneliness are major concerns for them, especially when many of them have children who don't live in the same area of the country.

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