The Other Side of 50

As you age, life is what you make it

By From page OSF2 | April 10, 2014

Do you remember Cletus Nelson?

About a year ago, Cletus and I had an exchange of letters and conversations about continuing to learn and grow at any age. Cletus is now 92 (I think) and is still growing.

He lives at Paradise Valley Estates. He still takes a course in creative writing from the same teacher who has been teaching him for several years. Once a member of a barbershop quartet, nature has taken its toll on fellow members of the group so it is no longer active.

But Cletus still writes. One of his latest productions, “Keepsake, Family Prize, Connection,” appeared in a Paradise Valley publication.

Cletus sent me a copy. It’s a story about a “baby’s plate” that was passed from child to child as new children came along. It is an interesting and somewhat sentimental message; a kind of memoir.

He also sent a story from several years ago about the “Traveling Vietnam Wall” that was displayed at Travis in 2001. Cletus had volunteered to help visitors in their view of the wall, which is a duplicate of the original wall in Washington, D.C., at half scale.

His account of his time as a volunteer and the varied reaction of the visitors was well done. I have to say that Cletus communicates very well. He isn’t fancy, he’s “plain-spoken” and direct in simple, understandable language.

Ninety-two and still growing, Cletus is one of several folks I know who are in their 90s and still going strong. One other is Elma Pasttrick. Elma is a regular member of the senior coffee group that meets almost every morning at the McDonald’s on Sunset Avenue in Suisun City.

She calls herself the “Cookie Monster” because she brings sweets for the group. It’s what she does. Elma and her late husband operated a pawn shop. She tells me she is still trying to dispose of some of the inventory. Her husband collected “sets” of different kinds of items, some of them are mounted on boards. She was the fixer for the business, especially sewing machines. She laughed when she told me that recently someone brought their machine to her and she fixed it. She said she still has it.

She lives with her daughter in a home on 2½ acres that they bought from old friend and client Tina Taite, who is also in her 90s. They are next-door neighbors.

After a health scare last year (a combination misdiagnosis, heart attack and triple bypass), Elma is still active doing such things as trimming lemon trees after the frost. She is an avid crossword puzzle fan and still drives. She said that meeting with the coffee group is interesting because they all have different backgrounds and she learns something new every day.

The point of this column is to point out that as you age, life can be what you make it. You can sit down and let things happen to you or you can stay involved and be a part of living with others.

Cletus and Elma are two good examples of folks in their 90s who have elected to remain involved in living and life. I hope when (if) I get to be in my 90s, I am still as interested and involved as Cletus and Elma.

Reach Murray Bass at 427-0744 or [email protected]

Murray Bass


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