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Senior Supper

Our roses are almost out. I planted several flats of pansies into a huge flower pot so the pansies wouldn’t dry out so easily. Our grapevine is finally starting to leaf out, much to our relief. By the way, if you are filling a large, empty flower pot or even a whiskey barrel, fill the container part-way with packing peanuts so that the container won’t be so heavy as it would be with all soil. It can then be moved around more easily.

Hubby and I were looking forward to the April 29th Senior Supper at Carney Hospital. Hubby’s primary care physician, Dr. Mark Ostrem, and my primary care physician, Dr. Deborah O’Keefe, were to be two of the three speakers. Dr. Sheldon Lockman rounded out the trio of speakers. That afternoon, as Hubby, pal Eileen Burke, and I made our way to our table, we had a chance to greet the Carney’s Diane Loupo. Sister Paula Tinlin said a prayer to begin the supper. The Carney’s Manager of Medical Staff Services, Nancy Lafoe, came to the microphone and stated that the Open Wound Center was now opened. There was now a second Dunkin’ Donuts stand, this one in the lobby of the Seton Building. She also told us that City Councilor Maureen Feeney, Rep. Marty Walsh, and Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry had donated the floral centerpieces. Nancy said that Sister Margaret Henry, Director of Mission and Patient Advocacy and originally from Ireland, had crocheted a beautiful afghan for the evening’s raffle. Our friends Eileen Collins and Margaret Buckley sat with us for the supper.

The first physician to speak was Dr. Ostrem, the hospital’s Medical Director of the Ambulatory Care Clinic. Dr. Ostrem explained the meaning of osteoporosis (the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density) and passed around two models of bones with the disease. He mentioned that osteoporosis is similar to lace work and even interwoven stalactites and stalagmites. It is very common as a person gets older to lose calcium and also to lose strength. The person then has brittle, fragile bones, which are subject to fractures. Women are three times more likely to get osteoporosis. Most affected bones are the hip, vertebrae, and the wrist. Carney is able to conduct bone density tests.

The second physician to speak was Dr. O’Keefe. Her topic was “How to Prevent Fractures.”

Dr. O’Keefe mentioned that, as a person gets older, they might have trouble with depth perception. She also mentioned that we seniors do not pick up our feet as high as we did when we were younger. She said that we should have a safety checklist and we should especially be sure to keep our pathways from room to room clear. She warned those with pets to watch so they do not trip over them. She told us that doctors sometimes check to see how strong a person’s leg muscles are by asking by asking an elderly person to get up from a chair without using his or her hands to push themselves out of the chair. She told us that Vitamin D is beneficial for muscle and bone strength. She also said that some people benefit from Tai Chi.

Dr. Sheldon Lockman was the final speaker for the evening. He stressed that our diet and exercise were very important for healthy bones. He hoped that none of us smoked. He said that calcium was also important for a person’s heart. He told us that we should have between 1,200 and 1,500 mg of calcium per day. The average person gets between 600 and 800 mg per day from his diet. He recommended that we supplement our diet with Tums. We could take two Tums, which contain 200 mg of calcium, in the morning and two in the afternoon, plus Vitamin D. (The Extra Strength Tums contains 300 mg of calcium.) He said that we should have between 400 an 800 mg. of Vitamin D per day. He urged seniors to walk one-half hour per day, five days per week.

I think that we seniors learned a lot from the three doctors. We were able to pose questions to them following the formal presentations. We also had a very nice thing happen to us at the Senior Supper. Our friend Eileen Burke was lucky enough to win Sister Margaret’s handmade afghan. She was able to see Sister Margaret after the supper was over and thanked her for making such a pretty afghan.

Nancy Lafoe kindly gave me the names of those who volunteered at the April Senior Supper. Those who helped to serve the seniors were: Marisol Ortiz Rivera, James Seide, Muriel Radden, Chuck Severens, Beth Pollara, Patty Keough, Maryanne Murphy, Chris Brooks, Sister Paula Tinlin, Sister Margaret Henry, Gerry Geary, Mike Stack, Bob Anglund, Charlene McCabe, Elaine Gallery, Louise Gant, Karen Lambert, Melissa Condry, and Joy Allen. Cathy Murray, Kathleen Killeen, and Bernice McNeil manned the registration table. Elaine Gallery, Barbara Breslin, Doris Hanlon, and Susan McGahan-Lentini helped to set up the tables in one section of the cafeteria for more than 100 seniors who attended the supper.

A few more thoughts on the first Taste of Dorchester event: Hubby and I were fortunate to be sitting with some very nice people at the event. John and Cathy Poles from Ashmont were there with Cathy’s sister Josephine. Also at our table were Charles, Cathy, and Robert Blicker, who were joined by their friend Patrick, who lives in Jamaica Plain. (What a great chat we had with him since Hubby and I are both from J.P.) Bob told me that he is assigned to District C-11 and is a classmate of our friend Officer Dennis Rorie.

In April daughter-in-law Alex e-mailed me and said that she and her mother Sara would be attending the May 7 performance of the Boston Pops. She asked if Hubby, daughter Sue, and I would like to join them. Of course, we said, “Yes!” We love going to the Pops. Barbara Cook was to be the featured artist that evening and also the previous evening, which was the Opening Night of the 124th season of the Boston Pops. Since formal attire was requested on Opening Night, we decided we would go the second evening. Alex gave us our tickets on Easter.

As we drove toward Symphony Hall, we noticed that there was quite a bit of traffic. We did not realize that we were competing with people going to the Sox game. Hubby dropped Sue and me close to Symphony Hall and went to park our car in our usual garage. When Hubby finally met us outside the hall, he said he had to go all the way to the roof of the garage to find an empty parking space. We entered the hall and found our seats on the floor easily. This was the first time we had ever sat on the floor in all the years we’ve been going to Pops. We were delighted to see our friend Peachie Fitzgerald, who came over to chat with us. She had seen us crossing the street to Symphony Hall. Peachie still works at Hubby’s former school so he asked how all his former co-workers were. In came Alex and her Mom Sara so we introduced them to Peachie.

We got ourselves settled at our tables and onto the stage came Conductor Keith Lockhart. Keith mentioned that there were some wonderful performers coming to the Pops this season. One evening there would be a tribute to Harry Ellis Dickson. For several evenings there would be “Baseball Night,” during which the orchestra would give the public a preview of their latest CD, The Boston Pops’ Red Sox Album. Former Pops conductor John Williams would take over the podium duties for four days near the end of May. Linda Eder would sing Judy Garland’s songs for two performances in June; Michael Feinstein would sing Sinatra’s songs later in June. On June 16 and 17, there would be a Richard Rodgers celebration. What a great line up the Pops has until June 21!

Daughter Sue had heard, from her friend Joanne, that Jack Williams, from WBZ-TV, would be performing at our concert. He recited some of Lincoln’s speeches while photos of Lincoln and the Lincoln Memorial were shown on a huge screen. In the background, the orchestra was playing a Lincoln Portrait by Aaron Copland. We also heard a wonderful young cellist, Anthony Rymer, from the Boston area, play music by Haydn.

Following the intermission, the Pops Orchestra played “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” the wonderful song made famous by the Dropkick Murphys, which became the music to which Jonathan Papelbon danced when the Sox won the World Series. I couldn’t keep my feet still as I watch the film shown while the music was playing. The film had scenes around Boston, ending up with quite a bit of footage of Fenway Park and the Red Sox and Papelbon dancing. It was wonderful.

The final performer was the reason why Alex’s Mom Sara wanted to be at the Pops, Barbara Cook. At age 82, Barbara still has a magnificent voice. She mentioned that she was the original Marian the Librarian in The Music Man. Her career has spanned more than 50 years. Son Paul mentioned that he bought Barbara Cook CDs as gifts for Sara over the years. By the way, Barbara had her own trio of musicians playing for her. (Her pianist and music director, Lee Musiker, was outstanding.) Although I didn’t know about Barbara Cook before the Pops concert, I certainly will watch for her music from now on. No evening would be complete without the Pops playing Stars and Stripes Forever, much to daughter Sue’s delight.

Because we haven’t been out in the yard to do some gardening, I thought this thought that was on a t-shirt: “Only God can make flowers and trees; I’m in charge of seeds and weeds.”