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Aging brings memories, hard decisions

We were in his new digs and the topic came up about Yogi Berra’s recent death at age 90. It was like a light bulb went off as Lee rattled off statistic after statistic about the great Hall of Fame Yankee catcher, his teammates and sports in general.
Yogi’s death seems to be the end of an era of post-World War II baseball. Berra was a veteran along with the likes of Ted Williams, Bob Feller and many other ballplayers. They missed years of the sport due to the war, but picked up where they left off once the war was over.
It was the golden age of baseball in the 1950s with the likes of Berra, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and my personal favorite, Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub.”
Lee Ostrom, my longtime friend and former sports editor at The Chronicle, has a head packed full of trivia, especially about sports. I thought I had a lot of useless information stored away in my noggin, but Lee has me beat, hands down.
When Lee was my co-worker at the newspaper, he and I exchanged a lot of sports trivia and stories ranging from professional to high school sports. Between us, we had covered sports at the high school level throughout the Upper Midwest. The storytelling was great fun.
I miss that newsroom exchange.
Now, we get together about once a month to talk about anything and everything. His wife Jean tolerates our ramblings. I tell them I didn’t actually come to see Lee, I came to see Jean because she served banana bread that is to die for.
Jean is Lee’s primary caregiver as they battle the ravages of his Parkinson’s disease, and as any caregiver will relate … it takes a physical and emotional toll.
They had a decision to make, and I hope my wife never has to make this decision about me. Jean and Lee have decided it is best he receive constant care at Harmony River in Hutchinson.
My wife and I have talked briefly about getting older, but we do not dwell on the topic. Nursing home insurance, funeral expenses, life insurance have all been touched upon, debated, some acted on and some left for another day.
But with the recent sudden death of our brother-in-law at age 63, we have begun to focus again on end-of-life issues. It is not really something we want to discuss, but we must.
Perhaps my late Uncle Al had a simple solution for when he died: “Just roll me up in an old carpet and leave along side the road. You can’t even afford to die anymore!” He was a tight Scotsman to the end.
While Uncle Al’s simple solution might solve his immediate issue, it presents a whole new “can of worms” for his survivors.