ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Summary of my life's lucky path

I am not writing this from death's dark door -- not there yet. The severity and decreased physical condition alerts me that my day will come in the foreseeable future.

I am not writing this from death's dark door - not there yet. The severity and decreased physical condition alerts me that my day will come in the foreseeable future.
My doctor for the last 25 years, Gene Karwoski, seemed more than a little impressed with a book he has read, "Being Mortal" by Atul Guwande. The book impressed me as well and caused me to begin this life summary as I deal with my final years. In retrospect, I think Dr. Karwoski may have been nudging me to read it.
With my life experience, in retrospect, I need to say that my first good luck was being a white male. Both people of color and women have had to deal with being in a second-class status. Both women and dark-skinned people have gained ground toward equality, but it is slow, and unbelievable treatment by many folks who claim to be religious.
I was raised primarily by an older farm couple gaining an existence out of a small dairy farm in west central Wisconsin. They needed my help, even as a little tyke, with the farm animals - cows, horses, pigs and chickens and the care they needed. Those days preceded electricity so night lighting was lamps, lanterns and candles. My mother had a third grade education and my father a sixth. There was not a newspaper, dictionary, books, for help in my preschool education.
Good luck for me was having a country, grades 1-8, school teacher named Marian Lynch. Libraries in those country grade schools, at that time, were meager, but Marian was a Seventh-day Adventist who drove to Menomonie on Saturdays and had a library card there. She brought me several books to read in those years, and as for one example, Kenneth Roberts who wrote many books like "Rabble in Arms for the Colonist Side of the Revolution," and Oliver Wiswell, the English side. So I learned very young that history differs when written by those on opposite sides. Lynch got her Adventist teacher training at a school where the Middle River Hospital is today.
Good luck again for me was attending a high school built for farm kids who had to be home for chores, so extracurricular activities were held in afternoons. I discovered that I had some athletic skill, softball, basketball and boxing, plus class plays, and writing for the school paper were good opportunities.
Good luck again for college, Stout Institute in Menomonie for one year before enlisting in World War II. Who filled in for me on our family farm? A cousin from a very large family was seeking such a work opportunity, even just board and room.
After my Army discharge and with the GI Bill, I did a six-year stint as a junior and senior high teacher. Then I spend 13 years as superintendent of schools in growing districts. Then, with a doctorate, I began teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, teaching for my final 19 years in education. Education has been my life.
In retirement, I primarily served as a doer - a driver for seniors needing transportation, writing newspaper columns and serving on boards of community organizations.
Now, in a physically limited condition, I'm attempting to find some niche for my final few years.
I have willed my body to the University of Wisconsin Medical School. I don't want CPR, or other heroic attempts to make the heart or breathing restart. I am a member of Compassion & Choices promoting doctor-assisted suicide, which six states now offer.
My very best luck of all was marrying a neighbor girl back in Wisconsin with whom we brought three top-notch kids who are still highly successful in their chosen life's work and who helped us along life's busy path. I have four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren to date. I am no longer able to travel for visits, but see my kids on Skype each Sunday morning.
I've had some bad luck along life's path. I lost my first wife and the mother of our children after 54 years of marriage.
But I was lucky again and met a lady who had similar circumstances, and we have been happily married for 13 years.
Could you suggest other ways that would be appropriate for this 92-year-old lucky duffer?
Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at bernie3024@gmail.com .

What To Read Next