CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE — Three Hundred Sixty Five Days and Counting…

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By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

Where’s the 8-tier (chocolate) cake? The bunting and crepe paper? A flyover instead of the SC marching band will do. As Sinatra suggests, “Let’s break out the booze.” It’s time to celebrate. Paint the town red. Carouse. If standing, kick up your heels. Making (some sort of) whoopee and sowing one’s oats is maybe a stretch these days, so let’s just sing “Smile” a cappella.

And you ask, What for?

Well, people, today marks the one-year anniversary of my arrival at Keiro Retirement Home. You don’t think this isn’t some sort of accomplishment? (You should be used to double negatives by now.) Short of going to sleep and not waking up, there doesn’t appear to be a heck of a lot to get excited about these days. So, yeah, making anything last for a year does give one reason to pause and say thanks.

Other than being bedeviled by a couple of bleeding ulcers, the past year has been a comparatively healthy one. Other milestones that come to mind: Several ounces have been added to a Milquetoast physique; I don’t wear socks any more;  shaving every other day is the norm; and surprise of surprises, haven’t missed a breakfast yet. Not bad for a guy who never used to eat before noon.

Instead of worrying about buying a new car, I possess three dependable canes: two for everyday (brown and black) and a special fancy knob-headed one for Sunday-go-to-meeting use or as a weapon. Exercise treadmill is now out of the question, replaced by a pedal board in lieu of a stationary bicycle. This allows me to sit in my special chair, read a book or watch 4½ innings of a Dodger game (which translates into about 90 minutes of triumph and tragedy).

Hate to admit have yet to traverse the perimeter of the grounds but have visited the koi pond. My goal is to figure out how many there are. (Have you ever tried counting swimming fish? A challenge, for sure. I think there are 28, but I’m probably wrong; they all look alike.)

Of course, the most memorable experience to date is the ongoing mystery of the “Tap-Tap-Tapper.” Otherwise my 12-month stay here has been rather uneventful, discounting a wild ambulance ride to ER.

The biggest getting-used-to is having so many neighbors, 145 of them. While on North Hicks for 50 years, I could go for days on end without contact; and even then, a wave with a “hola” would suffice. Here it’s a reprise of Army days (or Poston), where you would chow down with the same people morn-noon-evening; not to imply that KRH dining is akin to a mess hall.

So the question persists: “How do you like living at the retirement home?”

For watashi/moi, all things considered there is no dispute: taking up residence here was a logical move. I’m safe, sane, sassy, sanguine and sober. Add to the list not being a burden to anyone; what more can you ask for?

As pointed out earlier, many move in with a family member or determined to see it out in the comfort of home. Whatever the decision, bravo and congrats, all I’ve ever suggested is to sit down and consider all of the ramifications before a decision has to be made. Unfortunately there will come a time when the body/mind/circumstances will dictate the end of your treasured independence; be as prepared as possible when that day comes. End of lecture.

As for me, the only (current) regret is not being a calligrapher/ukulele strummer/origami creator/karaoke crooner; challenges I might have conquered by now had I signed up as an interested neophyte early on.

These are amongst the dozens of interest options available to residents; as well as trips to Costco, Marukai, Montebello Mall, Walmart, Hollywood Bowl, Dodger games, Indian casinos; numerous exercise options, movies (both Japanese and English), thrice weekly medical appointment transportation. And this is only a partial listing, people. It’s no wonder some residents are such happy campers; they’ve never had it so good.

Unspoken pluses are neighboring Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) and Keiro Nursing Home (KNH) on the hill; separate levels of health accommodations available as needed. (Sequential progress: ambulatory to walker to wheelchair.) Leave it to us Japanese to be so thorough and prepared. There may not be many of us but damn! we’re good.

Nah, let’s not mistake pride as arrogance. Self-congratulatory, maybe. It’s just that opportunities to be proud are hard to find these days. We have too many embezzlers, perverts and bad apples in our midst these days. So let’s celebrate together, hey, for whatever reasons, real or imagined. Banzai and kampai, you all!

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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