left on walnut

Category: Aging

Faces of India, part 2

here’s to the undecided

When undergraduates would go to Dr. Myers for advice, he’d tell them to find their passion. “Forget the practical,” he would say, “that will come. First, let’s find what makes your heart sing.”

Minor Myers, Jr. was president of Illinois Wesleyan University for fourteen years. I was fortunate enough to have met him on several occasions. I also knew his brilliant wife, Ellen.

So many students come to college and believe they must immediately declare a major, that it’s somehow wrong to write “undecided” on the line where their major should go. But how do you know what your major should be? How can you possibly know what you want to do in fifty years? or even five years?

Dr. Myers encouraged students to take their time before deciding a major. To an entering class of Freshmen Dr. Myers would lift his hand, as if in a toast, and say, “Here’s to the undecided.”

It’s graduation season. Time for our undergraduates to enter the work force or go to graduate school or return home to Mom and Dad and hope for the best.

It’s my graduation season, too. I began student teaching when I was 20 years old and I’ve been in education ever since. I retire in six weeks.

I’m undecided about what to do next. I know I’ll keep riding my bike–we’re bicycling through Vietnam next December. I know I’ll take photographs. I have a photography class in April and another one in May. But I may also take a class in architectural styles. Or sign up for guitar lessons. I may want to protest something that needs protesting. I may want to see Alaska and maybe Africa. It’s all out there for me. For now, I can be undecided.

the morning call to assisted living

“Hi, Mom. It’s me. Did I wake you? Did you sleep OK?”

“A little hard to get out of bed. I was thinking there was something. Something I needed.”

“What do you need?”

“Oh, I remember. I have lamps that are missing their filials. Or finials. Whatever that word is. The top thing on the lamp.”

“Mom, I already replaced the finial for your living room lamp. I bought one a few weeks ago. Remember?”

“I have lamps missing the filials. Or finial. Filial? What is that word?”

“I believe it’s ‘finial’ and how can you be missing them? What are you doing with them?”

“They are missing,” she chuckles, “and the shades can get knocked off now.”


Tom’s mom has been on the hospital floor of Treyton Oaks for a couple of weeks. She was discharged on Thursday to go back to her apartment. She’s delighted. We took her out to eat at Limestone to celebrate. On the way, we stopped in Cherokee Park and took photos.

Tom’s mom is 87 and is one of the most beautiful people I know.