It’s hard to believe that a quarter of a century has passed since my retirement in 1982. Shirley and I learned to take things a little easier, although our lives remained rich and full. The highlights below give a little taste of the retirement years.
Moving to Vero Beach, Florida
In 1982, after 33 years as football coach and athletic director at the University of Maine in Orono, I retired and moved to Vero Beach, Florida to enjoy the year-round mild climate. My close friend Bill Wells had suggested that we visit the town, as his brother Bob had told him it was a great place to retire.
Forrest Evashevski, a close friend from my Michigan days, lived just around the corner from us and was the one to recommend that we join the golf club. We soon made many friends and had more than twenty happy years there. We played golf two or three times each week and enjoyed our friends who lived near by. My golfing friends, Charlie Fenn, Al Lammert and Paul Hartz, helped keep me on track. I also got involved with real estate, feeling that I needed something productive to do along with golf, and that supplemented our retirement income.
My health has been pretty good through retirement, although while in Florida I had bypass surgery and a few other minor repairs to an “aging” old man. Each summer we travelled to Maine and Vermont to visit Dave and Elga and Gary and Karen. For the first ten years we visited Pam and Arnaud in Switzerland, however, since then they came to visit and enjoy the warm weather and golf. Sandy lives on the west coast in Oregon but comes east every few years.
Vero Beach is a beautiful place where we enjoyed the sunsets, the bald eagles and great horned owls. We drove to the beach and viewed the Atlantic Ocean whenever we wanted since is only ten miles from Bent Pine.
In 1990, I was honored to be inducted into the University of Maine Hall of Fame. Shirley and I, Gary and Karen, and David attended the ceremonies, where I gave the following remarks in acceptance of that honor.
Thanks for the Memories to Football Men of Maine
University of Maine Hall of Fame Inductees
Acceptance remarks of Harold Westerman
Al , Tom, Lew, Honored Guests and Friends,
This is truly a special occasion for me – especially at my age, as it’s been over 40 years since first being invited to join the University of Maine coaching staff.
I realize that we are on a tight schedule so I’ll try to be brief. As the years go by it’s easy to be forgetful of many things including time. I don’t want to be like the old retired Texas coach who always thought that he would enjoy riding a camel. He had been told that they could run faster than a horse. After a couple of years into his retirement he was over in the Egyptian desert country where he rented a camel. He asked the owner how to get the animal started. The owner said to just say “WOW, or WOW, WOW” and if you are really brave enough and want to go even faster you say “WOW- WOW- WOW” three times in a loud voice. The coach said, “that’s great,” and the owner said, “and by the way coach if you want him to stop you just say Amen.” The coach replied “Ok – Ok!” as he was anxious to get started. “WOW” — and off they go in a gentle trot. This is a piece of cake the coach thought so he said “WOW, WOW, WOW” and the camel really took off at a blistering speed. The coach is now hanging on for dear life and as he looked ahead he could see that he was approaching a huge, mile wide canyon just in the offing. Having completely forgotten what to say to stop the camel he began to say his prayers, knowing he was about ready to go over the cliff. As he quickly finished he closed his eyes and ended his prayer with his usual “Amen.” To his surprise, the camel abruptly stiffened all four legs, coming to a sudden stop. As the coach regained his balance and gathered himself together he realized that at his age, with a failing memory, perhaps he should limit his activities to something a bit less demanding physically and mentally. As he turned the camel back, you could barely hear the soft little sound of just one “WOW.”
Yes, you see I’ve already forgotten, as I’ve used my first minute on a crazy story.
I do want to pay tribute to you men, Mark, Wayne, and Bob for your special and outstanding achievements and contributions to University of Maine Athletics. Each of you performed in a different time period, in a different sport, and with different skills, but all with the same integrity and personal dedication to excellence.
You each brought pride and honor to the University of Maine. I was privileged to witness your achievements and saw first hand that they were accomplished with a high level of courage. It was also apparent that you displayed great determination to be winners, and our hats go off to each of you, along with Bob Bennett, as heroes in Maine’s athletic history.”
For myself, I wish to thank the selection committee for feeling that in some way I measured up to your standards. I am indeed honored and moved by this recognition.
As I have so often said in all sincerity, it was a privilege for me to be a part of the University of Maine family. Although those thirty-three years are long gone, the memories will always remain with me. Any achievements that I may have been a part of were the result of the support and assistance of those with whom I was privileged to work. In acceptance of this recognition I share this time with those who made it all possible.
If I were to attempt to name all those who personally assisted me and our staff through all the years, I would surely forget someone. They would, however, include players, coaches, Department staff, Presidents, trustees, faculty, students, alumni and friends. Above all it would include my lovely wife and our four children. To you, Gary and Karen and David, you know how much it means to us that you could be here this evening to share in this occasion.
As we all know the University of Maine isn’t just another educational institution. It is and always has been special. I always felt that it had human characteristics; a personality with some sort of Magical Quality. For it to stay alive and to grow it had to have a high degree of integrity – high standards and strong leadership to accomplish its mission and goals.
My admiration for the University came as a result of those characteristics combined with an element of sensitivity for all of the members of its family. The one difference between the University and a human personality is its immortality. In order to preserve and protect its life, the University’s leaders at every level have to demonstrate vision, along with a firm dedication to education, service and research.
It has been those sound principles that have been followed in sustaining its life for over 125 years. If the University were to falter and lose its character it would be the result of a lack of vision, discipline and attention to the family concept. There can be no jealously among members, no ego trips or greed, as these are factors of failure to those that are human. This will not and cannot happen to the University of Maine.
The vital role of athletics in an educational institution is very clear as it offers a special dimension in the growth of our young people. The intercollegiate program provides a personal experience for the athlete that takes on a desire to achieve excellence and to be the best. However, in the process of winning, we must all recognize the importance of fair play, and then play within the spirit of every rule. I feel that Maine should be congratulated for keeping the athletic programs in proper perspective, in balance, and in harmony with the total educational process. This continues to make everyone proud to be a member of the U of M family.
The football game tomorrow will be played between two outstanding Universities with great athletic traditions. Whatever the outcome may be, the players and coaches involved will be better men as a result of their experience. There will be thrills and disappointments while testing their mettle, but we know one thing for sure, that because of proper leadership, all will be “winners”….
Thanks again for this special evening.
Harold S. Westerman
October 26, 1990,
This next piece consists of reflections written in 1996.
Wondering Thoughts at 78
Over the years, there are always times when one reflects back on events and experiences, as well as one’s acquaintances, friends, loved ones, family, and others who influenced your life. On this, like so many other evenings, I find myself at 78 years old reliving days of the past. Perhaps it is not good for one’s state of health to let the past be too much on one’s mind, but since my heart attack, it’s been difficult to look too far in the future. Even though all seems to be going pretty well, I find it to be almost unexplainable how I feel these days. It may be some form of depression, although after talking to friends and doctors that I trust, from what I can tell, this isn’t my problem.
As I sit here tonight, I can look across the room and see years pass before my eyes. There are many objects on the shelves, and a few on the walls of this small sitting room we call our den.
The baseball autographed by Bennie Oosterbaan sends my thoughts back to college days in Ann Arbor. Bennie, my basketball coach at the University of Michigan, was a hero of mine in many ways. When I arrived as a freshman in Ann Arbor, Bennie encouraged me to work hard and play hard, win if I could, but always within the spirit of the rules. So as I sit here and see the baseball that he signed, so many, many thoughts and memories come back. Even those that weren’t happy ones, are still just as vivid as those that made life so interesting and enjoyable. He was a great athlete and coach, whom I became very fond of, and he strongly influenced my life.
Bennie wasn’t the first to have impacted my life. As a boy growing up in Adrian, where I graduated from high school and spent many active years at the YMCA, there were quite a few special individuals. Coach Earl Kelly at the high school, Mr. Long at the Y, Uncle Ken my music teacher, and Mr. Sweet my tennis coach and chemistry teacher were all special people.
Then I see several footballs here in the den, all autographed by players from my coaching days at the University of Maine. Each one is from a game that meant quite a lot at the time, and they symbolize all those ideals and beliefs that were part of my life then and now. As a coach and athletic director, I had the good fortune to associate with young people who were at that energetic stage of life. Oh, so full of life itself, with all the good and sometimes not controllable characteristics that young folk experience. As their coach, I shared the ups and downs, the elations and, yes, the defeats that brought dejection, agony, and sorrow. But we all learned that life is full of these events, and we know the importance of being able to handle them and keep them in a proper perspective.
There is a small plaque on one shelf that says, “The highest culture is to speak no ill.” How true, and what a world it would be if everyone could practice just that. To forgive and hold no malice is a virtue that would make our heavenly Father very proud. Oh how difficult it is to forgive someone who has intentionally hurt you or a loved one, and seems to have no remorse. If a man can find within his soul to truly forgive, I’m sure he will find much peace in his life.
There are trophies and special plaques of recognition that were awarded to me in years gone by. It’s nice to feel that some of your energies were worthwhile, but as Dave Nelson always said, “You’re never as good as they say you are — nor as bad.” Any of my accomplishments were the result of what opportunities others gave to me, although Papa always said, “Make full use of your chances, as they are often few and far between, and you will probably create most of your own.” Each object of recognition recalls very special memories that perhaps only the recipient will thoroughly understand.
Each item that I see also carries a personal message, and most from an individual. Friends are the most important aspect of one’s life. In the items on the shelf, I see Wes Jordan, Chief Andrews, Bennie O., Red Murphy my original tennis coach in Adrian, and my very dear friend Dave Nelson. Also I see Scotty Whitelaw the ECAC Commissioner, and Forrest Evashevski the great Michigan athlete and Iowa’s most successful football coach whom I admired as a classmate at Michigan and have been able to enjoy as a neighbor here at Bent Pine. Another who the items bring to my mind is Zeke Jewell, our head counselor at Wavus, known to some of us as “the good shepherd of Wavus.”
Then there’s the set of antlers from the first deer I shot after going to Maine. They represent what later became a very important event in my life. I was out hunting by myself and it wasn’t long before I ran across a set of fresh tracks. It was about seven am and a bright sunny crisp day. Shirley had fixed me a nice big peanut butter sandwich and put an apple in my hunting jacket. I was all set for a successful day. For hours I tracked that deer through bogs and over hills, only to finally come face to face with the most beautiful doe I’d ever seen. All I thought of at the time was venison meat for the family and friends as she stood there fat and tall. Before I knew it, I had pulled the trigger and down she went. It was quite a job to even reach the spot, as she had tried to hide deep in a thicket of small pines. I even had to crawl through low branches to finally reach her. At that moment, as I thought, “How in the world will I ever drag this beast back to the road miles away,” I saw two beautiful fawns standing by their mother. Tears streamed down my face and I really felt sad, as well as ashamed. After I had recovered, it took several hours to drag the deer out to an old road. I walked back to get my jeep knowing that this had to be my last hunt.
If any event in my life is measured for lasting impact, it has to be that moment. No, I couldn’t bring her back to life. No, I couldn’t help the young ones. And no, I would never be able to hunt again. It was a very sad experience, but one that I feel may help to persuade others not to just hunt for one’s own pleasure. Even though at the time I thought we needed the extra money saved on our grocery bills, I’m sure it wasn’t anything but a rationalization to get out in the woods to enjoy the beauty, only to destroy it. Friends that I’ve told of this experience say, “Westy, she could have died, as hundreds do for lack of food during the bitter winter months.” Even this doesn’t ease the pain of the memory of seeing what I had destroyed. The antlers on the top shelf from my first deer are beautiful, yet they remind me of a great lesson learned.
In 2000, my grand-daughter Kearah asked me to write some thoughts about how I’d seen the world change, and what follows is the result of that question.
80 Years of Change
When you mentioned the idea to write about changes we have seen during our lifetime, I thought well that’s easy, I’ll just jot down a few obvious things and that will be that. Well, when I started to look back over the years, I began to realize that there are just too many. Changes used to come slowly, but it seems now that we can hardly keep up with them.
I’ve tried to sort of classify the changes by particular areas but haven’t organized them very well. We witnessed the splitting of the atom and that seemed to lead to an endless era of advanced technology. In turn, every aspect of our lives has changed. Oh there were changes prior to that event, but not quite as dramatic. It’s hard to imagine what else is in store for your generation, but I’m sure that change is inevitable. The age of the internet with its global connections as well as cyberspace, etc. will surely introduce continued change in the future.
Cultural and Social
1. An agricultural age.
2. The industrial age.
3. Technology age.
1. In general, a balanced diet has produced bigger, stronger and healthier people.
2. The civil rights movement has improved the rights of women and minorities.
3. Society has moved from conservative thinking to a more liberal style of thought.
4. The majority of people are better educated.
5. The moral fiber of our society seems to be breaking down.
6. Violence, crime and drugs have penetrated the lives of many of our youth.
7. Our society is threatened by the illegal use of drugs.
8. We have seen changes in the material used to make our clothes that include nylon and other synthetics.
Government and Politics
1. The role of Federal and State government has become extensive in our lives.
2. We witnessed the repeal of Prohibition in the thirties that legalized the use of alcohol, changing the public’s approach to the subject.
3. We have witnessed the introduction of Federal and State income taxes into our lives. Now they are trying to find another way to tax.
4. We have seen the dismantling of the League of Nations and the creation of the United Nations after World War II.
1. We went to a one-room schoolhouse with one teacher.
2. Schools today may have many teachers and hundreds of students.
3. Our subjects were Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Now it’s science, humanities, chemistry, physics and who knows what all.
4. We’ve gone from the blackboard and chalk to the calculator and computer, along with video and TV.
5. Environmental issues or the theories of philosophers were never heard of in our early years of school.
6. High school students of yesteryears couldn’t pass the fifth grade today.
1. Medical diagnosis.
2. Advanced surgery.
3. Discovery of antibiotics.
4. A balanced diet.
5. Organ transplants.
6. Overall available health care.
7. Prenatal education for all families.
1. Advancement of the telephone industry.
2. Invention of the fax machine.
3. Invention of television.
4. Invention of the computer.
5. Invention of wireless communication.
6. Invention of sound movies.
1. Improvement in building materials.
2. Public housing developments.
3. Home heating systems. From wood and coal to oil, electric and solar heat.
4. Indoor plumbing with showers.
5. Home appliances such as electric stoves, automatic washers and driers, refrigerators etc.
6. The use of plastics.
7. The invention of the chain saw and power tools.
8. National programs of water control and purification systems.
9. Massive artificial lakes and dam construction such as the Hoover Dam.
1 Extensive use and modification of the automobile industry.
2 From propeller driven airplanes to the jet engine.
3 A national network of interstate highway systems.
4 The change to a tubeless tire and the invention of the V-eight engine.
5 Present space travel and outer space exploration.
1 Daily wages from 25 cents per hour to a minimum wage of over 5 dollars.
2 Increased standard of living.
3 Laws governing working conditions.
4 The invention of automatic teller machines.
5 The invention of the Credit Card.
1 Movies, Television, videos and i-pods etc.
2 The development of sports programs. Professional, varsity and intramural sports.
3 Vast changes in sports equipment such as aluminum bats, graphite and fiberglass golf clubs and tennis rackets.
These changes are only a sample of what has been going on over these past eighty-plus years. If one were to think extensively about it, I’m sure the list would be endless. As we know it’s an ever-changing world.
I’m sure we are grateful for many of the changes that have been for the betterment of mankind, but there have been no changes in our privilege to worship and to communicate with our Lord. Our prayers during all of these years from childhood to the present haven’t changed. We give our thanks to Him for our many blessings and for the continuing love of our family and friends.
With LOVE- From your Grandpa
Travels in the New Millennium
On June 26, 2001 at 5:30 pm, we started our trip north on our way to Adrian, Michigan to attend my 65th high school reunion, and then to visit our sons Dave in Vermont and Gary in Maine. Our first stop was Orlando, where we spent the night at the Universal Inn. After a brief walk and good supper, we were in bed by 9:30 pm.
We were up at 6 am and on our way. The traffic was extremely heavy, with trucks driving eighty or so, making the passenger cars stay out of their way. We stopped for the night at a Holiday Inn just outside of Atlanta.
After an early breakfast, we were back on the road at 7:00, again fighting the traffic. I-75 going north was not much fun, but it was the most direct route available toward Michigan. We had a nice supper and fell into bed, as we were both pretty tired.
It was up early the next day and back in traffic on a great four-lane highway. It didn’t take long before we crossed from Ohio into Michigan and things began to look familiar. This was the area where I grew up. We went through Blissfield and Palmyra, two small towns, before arriving in Adrian.
After checking in at the Carleton Hotel, we called Herb Rink, an old friend and basketball team mate who came over to take us around town before supper. We went by Crystal Spring Avenue and stopped to see the house where I lived from 1931 through 1936. It was the Westerman homestead where my father was born in 1887 and lived with his six brothers and two sisters until he graduated from high school in 1905.
The next day we attended the reunion. There were only a few from my class of 1936. I knew many of the others at the reunion, however, even though they were in class years before or after mine. We sat for dinner with John and Betty Darnton, and Bill and Roberta Perkins. One of my old coaches, Bob Hayden, then 92, was there – erect and handsome as I remembered him. It was a memorable occasion.
The next day, my brother Clifford came over from his home in Brighton and we drove to Sand Creek to visit the gravesite of my father and stepmother. From there, we went to the Ridgeway Cemetery in Tecumseh, where Dorothy, my older sister, is buried. We took flowers and placed them by the grave markers.
The next day, we decided to drive to Riga, Michigan, a small town in the area, where I thought we might find other Westerman gravesites. We hadn’t been there very long before Shirley called me to see a six-foot monument with the name James Westerman, my great-great-grandfather, and next to it a small one with the name Edward, son of James. It sort of made the long trip worthwhile. It was then back to the motel for our last night before heading for Vermont.
The next day on July 3rd we drove over to Detroit where we crossed into Canada to start our long trip east. We stayed overnight in Toronto and Montreal, then went on to Dave’s in Vermont, arriving at 11 pm. Dave and I played golf the next day while Elga and Shirley went up to Burlington to shop.
I enjoyed being with Dave on his birthday, July 12th. We left the next morning and drove 6.5 hours over to Bangor, where Shirley visited her old choir buddies, Virginia Gardner, Ina and Earland Sleight, and Elaine Carpenter. Then it was back to Poland Spring to visit Gary and his family for the next few days. As usual, we saw the wild turkeys and a deer or two each day. We had a wonderful time at Red Camp and really enjoyed Ian and Kearah as they sailed and water-skied.
The next venture took us downeast to visit Lew and Shirley Clark who took us sailing. We ate lots of lobster and enjoyed the Maine pink granite shoreline. We left Steuben on the 26th of July, and stopped to see the Rands in Jefferson before heading back over to Red Camp. It wasn’t long before Hannah and Stefano showed up with a friend who couldn’t speak English. We had picked up a couple of pies and sweet corn, and Karen brought lobsters that really made for a feast. After a great time, we set out for Dave’s again for a few rounds of golf and then drove home through some beautiful country, arriving in Vero on the 10th of August.
Later in the fall we decided to fly up to Orono for a short visit because my 1951 and 1961 undefeated football teams were to be honored. Maine played Villanova in a real thriller, ending with Maine winning 44 to 41. It was great to see so many former players whom I had not seen for forty to fifty years. They were not the college kids that I had coached, but were now men in their sixties and seventies, and we all enjoyed reminiscing about those wonderful years. Lew Clark came up from Steuben, and Gary, Stefano and Ian came to the game. Shirley and I flew back to Florida, tired but happy to have made the trip.
On August 9, 2002 Shirley and I left Vero Beach and drove north all the way to Vermont to visit Dave and Elga. The driving proved to be a serious mistake, as we had one problem after another. The traffic was very heavy with hundreds of trucks that raced at extreme speed, requiring passenger cars to constantly slow and then speed up to avoid collisions.
At one point we stopped in a small town for lunch. I pulled up to a gas station and Shirley got out of the car to get directions to a restaurant while I stayed in the car to wait for her to return. After several minutes I started to back up so she wouldn’t have so far to go. I looked out the passenger side mirror and saw Shirley lying on the ground directly in my path. I stopped just in time.
She had stumbled and fallen off the curb, breaking her glasses and cutting her forehead, chin and knee. She was covered with blood and was unable to get up. After a session of first aid treatment in a restroom, we were finally able to get some lunch and continue on our way. It took several weeks for her cuts to completely heal, but they left no scars. We had a great visit at Dave’s, played some golf, and saw Caro and Jordan, as well as Tyler.
Then we all drove over to see Gary and Karen and attend Hannah’s wedding. It was a beautiful affair. Gary had gone all out to make sure everything was first class. We were all in tears as Gary and Hannah danced together. During the evening Stefano’s friends danced a special break dance to some great music. From Gary’s we drove downeast and had a few days visiting Lew and Shirley Clark at Steuben. On our way home we stopped to have lunch with Dave and Julie Rand in Jefferson, Maine.
We had a long trip driving back to Florida, arriving tired and vowing never to drive north again. It was 4,261 miles in total.
In keeping with our vow not to drive north again, the next summer Shirley and I flew from Florida to Portland where we rented a car and visited Gary for ten days. We had the house to ourselves as they were staying at Red Camp on Little Sebago Lake. We fed and watered their horse, mowed the lawns, and played a few rounds of golf with Gary and Ian.
From Gary’s we went to a cottage that we had rented on Notched Pond. It was a beautiful lake setting and the place was neat and clean. Gary and Karen came over to visit several times which made it a real treat.
For the next two weeks we moved to another cottage that we had rented on Thompson Lake. It had two stories with lots of space, including four bedrooms and a recreation room in the basement. We invited Gary and Karen, Dave and Elga, Matthew and his girl friend Adi, along with Hannah and kids, Kearah and Ian.
While we were there, we also had a great visit with Jack Small and his wife at a nearby lake. Jack was a former football player of mine, and Jack and I played a round of golf before Shirley and I drove over to Gray to visit another ballplayer by the name of Dick Kinney and his wife. While we were there, Ron Caseldon drove over from Portland to see his old Coach. It was a super time as we recalled our years with Maine football.
We drove downeast as the Maine folks would say, to Steuben to see Lew and Shirley Clark. After a great visit, we headed up to Orono to see Maine play the University of Montana. There were about fifty of my former football players there, and that made it a very special time.
After the game we drove back down to Portland where we turned in the rented car and flew home to Vero Beach, Florida.
A great trip to say the least.
In 2003 I contacted my former UMO football players, sending them a letter titled “Thanks for the Memories.” Many of their responses are included in Appendix IV.
The year 2004 turned out to be full of ups and downs, from minor surgery on my wrist and ankle, to pleasant cruise trips, one to the western Caribbean from March 13th to the 20th, and one from November 27th to December 4th to the eastern Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and St. Martin. At 87 years old, we were managing, but not without some discomfort, as old bones become a bit more arthritic and muscles stiffen with age.
On July 4th we flew up north to Maine to visit Gary and Karen and then drove up to Vermont to see Dave and Elga. We shipped our car up ahead of time so as to have our own transportation once we arrived. It proved to be a good idea. We had a great visit with many of my former ball players at the Maine-Montana game. While we were in Maine, I also had my carpal tunnel operation by Dr. Hottentot in Waterville.
We didn’t get to see Lew and Shirley Clark that year as I began to have back problems. We decided to drive back down to Florida sooner than expected. 2004 was a year to remember, as two hurricanes came ashore right at Vero Beach, badly damaging our house. It took a long time and cost about $20,000 to make all of the repairs. We were lucky that our homeowners insurance covered most of it. The year was capped off by a special visit from Pam and Arnaud at Christmas time. They always bring love and joy that is very good medicine for us old cronies.
This was another year of terrible Florida hurricanes, and they made us seriously consider selling our home and moving back to Maine. Yes, it would be back to ice and snow country, but we always enjoyed the changing seasons. Time would tell.
At 88 years old, we decided it was time to give up the responsibility of a 3,100 square foot house and move to a Retirement Village by the name of Dirigo Pines, just outside of Orono where we had lived for 33 years.
The decision to move back to Maine was made after many days of weighing the pros and cons. On the side of “why should we stay” were the following reasons. Foremost was that we lived in a lovely home with all the conveniences we needed. The weather was normally mild allowing us the freedom to be out in the fresh air year round. We had good doctors who had cared for us for 24 years, and to attempt a move at age 88 would be quite difficult. We could play golf and enjoy our friends, although many had either moved or passed away. Also the children were still young enough to come to Florida to visit us.
On the side of “why go back up north to live out our lives” were different reasons. First of all, the last two years had brought terrible hurricanes to Vero Beach. They are a nightmare to live through as one thinks the whole house will disappear. The last one caused $40,000 of damage (thank goodness again for homeowners insurance). Although, we lived through them, they did (and still do) create a constant state of apprehension. Also there was a constant need to keep the house in good repair, and it’s hard to find people you can trust to do the work. Topping things off, it was ten miles round trip to the grocery. Shirley had to prepare our meals. Living in Bent Pine was very expensive, as were our taxes, community and condo fees.
All in all after comparing the pluses and minuses, we decided that it made sense to live in a retirement home. Another reason to be in Maine was to be near the boys and their families, as well as many old friends. We also saw the University as a place where we could enjoy attending sports and cultural events.
Once the decision was made, I wrote the following piece that reflects our thinking at that time.
… Heading for Maine
Now comes the hard part. In order to move we must first sell our house here in Florida. It has been on the market for eight weeks and it may be for many more, as the real estate market is very soft right now. We have packed over seventy small to medium boxes of our belongings, and from the look of things, we haven’t made a dent, a bit discouraging to say the least. Actually, we are reconciled to possibly having a very long wait before we are in a position to hire a moving company to actually come and professionally pack all furnishings and deliver them to Orono, Maine.
It is one thing to plan such a venture at our age and another to actually prepare to downsize one’s belongings to fit in a small apartment. We are learning how to give away, discard, or sell so many things that one collects over a lifetime. The logistics of the move are mind-boggling and really out of our hands. We feel like little pawns being moved around in a chess game.
If the move ever happens it will be great to be near to Dave and Elga in Vermont, and Gary and Karen in Maine. If six months or a year from now we are still here, then the move is off, and we’ll just adjust and hope life goes on a bit longer. As they say “old age isn’t for sissies.”
Harold and Shirley Westerman – February 18th 2006
We moved to Maine in May, 2006, with the house still on the market.
… And Back Again
After five months in Maine and our Florida home still unsold, we returned to 5825 Magnolia Lane at Bent Pine. It just wasn’t practical to pay for two places, so we gave up our rented apartment at Dirigo Pines in Orono. It is a wonderful retirement village, and it’s possible that we will return if we find a buyer for our home here. Only time will tell.
Reflections on My General Health
Not until 1951, when I had a kidney stone attack, was I even hospitalized. In 1991, I developed a nerve condition in my left knee and thigh, as did four other golfers who played at Bent Pine. After many examinations, the doctors finally said that I must have a virus of some kind that affected the nerves and destroyed the sheath that covers the nerve endings near the skin. To this day, my left leg is a combination of numbness and a sensitive stinging sensation, especially when it rubs on my trousers.
I also have had another nerve condition called Morton’s neuroma in my right ankle. Some thirty years ago, after a day of hunting in bitter cold weather, my leather boot damaged a nerve in my ankle. It can be operated on but the doctor can’t guarantee that it will cure the problem, so I limp a bit until I get it loosened up.
On the morning of February 13, 1994, I felt terrible, enough so that I asked Shirley to take me to see the doctor. He gave me an EKG and said, “Westy — you are having a heart attack.” They loaded me in an ambulance and drove over to the Orlando Clinic for surgery. The doctors performed a quadruple bypass. After a week I was home to recuperate with my special nurse Shirley.
After the heart attack, the nerve problem took a back seat, and I started a rehabilitation program. My blood pressure has been very good. I feel pretty good these days, except for the chest area that has never been quite right since my bypass surgery. It is just sore on the surface muscle area, not deep inside. I guess when they tear away the skin tissue and open up the rib cage to operate, things never go back together in quite the same way they were before. Also they use a long vein from your leg in the bypass operation, and there is some reduction in blood supply to the inner wall of the chest. One needs to develop new circulation to take the place of the original. It’s complicated, but Doc says, “Don’t worry about it, just keep going.”
During the next few years I would have my gall bladder removed and would be put on thyroid medication. This was followed by a freak accident. While playing golf I somehow tore my Achilles tendon. The doctor put me in a cast for eight weeks that resulted in a very weak right leg that will never be quite right. I was able to play golf again but not as well. My latest problem now is a torn groin muscle, a result of falling off of my bicycle. Oh, how fragile life can be at 89.
Probably the most difficult thing after any health set back, like cancer, heart problems or whatever, is to deal with the future. I’ve observed and listened to many people at the rehabilitation center, and they all agree it’s the mental outlook that gives them problems. Depression is a silent disease. Doctor Saver in Vero Beach told me that whether or not someone is depressed is sometimes difficult to determine, but at least it can be corrected, according to current thinking. After a serious ailment, life takes on a whole different meaning with lots of changes. One just has to look to the future and not the past. What the future holds, you don’t know, but I believe if one has enough faith in God and his teachings, the future will take care of itself.