Judy Rose's Saturday Page

Facing our own mortality

October 18, 2008

I turned 65 on October 7, and this is one of life's milestones where I truly am pinching myself to make sure of it's reality. Although I've long since stopped counting every new gray hair and wrinkle and know that one's birth certificate and camera don't lie, when I say the number 65, it's hard to believe, much less admit that I'm talking about myself. On most days, I feel two decades younger than my "true" age. I do my own yard work, housework and can physically keep up with people half my age when it comes to general fitness, and a fast paced six-mile walk on the Ghost Town Trail hardly breaks a sweat. Health-wise, I am a very lucky person. I'm not cursed with any of the serious ailments like diabetes, and heart disease that plague some of my senior and not-so-senior friends and acquaintances.

I've never had a heart attack, open-heart surgery, a stroke, or cancer of any type. I take only two daily prescription medications, of which the most important is a hormone replacement therapy tablet that prevents me from growing a beard and turning into the village shrew when the full moon rolls around. Actually, I've taken estrogen made from the urine of pregnant horses for so long; when someone asks my age, occasionally, I answer by stomping my foot on the ground the necessary number of times. It usually gets a laugh and laughter is good medicine. Just ask anyone who laughs often, and they'll agree.

Though not an overly religious person, I do attend church on a fairly regular basis...finding solace and peace in not only the Roman Church when I'm "homesick," on rare occasions the Eastern Orthodox church, but most often these days in Nanty Glo's First Baptist, to appease my Protestant hubby. Life is good and I've no reason to gripe, right? Wrong. I gripe because as my hubby says, soon, I'll be living on borrowed time. I'm griping because my God-given clock is running out and life is just too interesting and too darn much fun to think about dying and leaving it all behind.

However, sooner or later we all must come face to face with our own mortality, a fact that once again hit home when last weekend the hubby and I made the sad journey to Ohio to attend the funeral of a dear friend whose earthly clock had run out. My fun-loving, easy-to-laugh friend, and Nanty Glo native Jean (Fontana) Cronauer, who at the last minute graciously said, "I'd be delighted," when I asked her to be the matron of honor at my wedding in 1985. The feisty little Italian had a dislike for spaghetti, but always made sure spaghetti and meatballs were on the menu when a weekend at the Cronauer home was in order. In declining health for the past several years, Jean passed away last week, leaving behind her hubby and sweetheart of many years, four children, their spouses, eight grandchildren; seven sisters, and a multitude of nieces, nephews, friends, neighbors, and former co-workers.

So loved was this gentle, dark-haired, 80-lb. woman, the nurses at the care facility where she spent the last three years of her life stayed without pay hours after their regular shift was over...and on several days to attend to the needs of her and her family as she lingered near death.

At her funeral mass at St. Columbkille Roman Catholic Church in Parma, Ohio, her youngest son Joe gave a beautiful eulogy that only a son could give. A eulogy where we laughed as well as cried. A eulogy where one of the most heartwarming...and truthful things was at the end of his talk when he said, "Heaven just got better."

Reap the Harvest

Oh the splendor of it all.
To see them grow so straight and tall!
Like plants that thrive in the richest soil,
Our children—God gave us to love and spoil.

Our love brought them into being...
To shelter, care for, and enjoy;
To mold their minds and teach them honor,
To respect and build, but not destroy.

These little children that grew so tall,
have taught me so much after all...
That fame and fortune are not for me,
but the love they share so generously,
Fills my heart with the greatest of pride
That I gave them birth; their chance to strive.

So let them go forth, and they too will learn
of what accomplishments they can earn,
By having children of their own,
and reap the harvest of the seeds they've sown.

—Jean Fontana Cronauer

Several years ago, I did a "Where Are They Now" profile of my friend Jean Cronauer, I would like to share it with you again.

Her grandsons and son did a piano tribute to their gradmother/mother. Please go to GloTube to watch excerpts of it.


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Latest NTAMHS report

Complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonal articles

Today's chuckle

I'd like to grow very old as slowly as possible.

— Irene Selznick (1907-1990)

Thought for today

You grow up the day have your first real laugh at yourself.

— Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959)

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