Stories and Journeys

Reconnecting, streaming, thinking in pictures

From time to time I need to remind myself what I am tasked to do  when it comes to writing Stories and Journeys.I am tasked to write what I'm thinking, learning and experiencing in my life as an elder. Occasionally I run across readers who want to tell me what to write. Others ask me what this column is about and usually in the moment my beginner's mind says, "Damned if I know." The column takes shape as I write/sculpt it out of the word clay in my mind as I picture how different words fit togther to create a column.
The fact is there are at least two things no one can do for me. They are die and write Stories and Journeys. And now to assist me with the dying part I have an End of Life Doula. I have become very aware that we all have filters whereby we process incoming stimuli that includes Stories and Journeys. This means everything I write is subject to interpretation including by me. This doesn't mean I don't get ideas from readers that fit in with what I am tasked to write and picturing in my mind. These are appreciated. And if you have read this far you have taken the plunge into the river (flow) of life experiences that is Stories and Journeys. Buckle up as I celebrate my car trip to Des Moines.
In a previous column I wrote that one of my end of life aspirations was to make a return visit to my home town of Des Moines – specifically the north side of Des Moines where I "grew up." I wanted it to be time spent without the duress of it being a weekend visit for the committal service for my deceased brother in  2022. In other words, to stay longer and linger. I wanted to re-visit my paper route from back in the year I delivered the Des Moines Register and Tribune newspapers. Most importantly, I wanted to test out my idea that my cervical spine fusion and de-compression surgery last year stabilized my spine so I could tolerate the 4.5-hour car trip with minimal or no pain.
Well, dear reader, I can now write that the trip did take place May 24 to May 31, and I did tolerate the car trip to north Des Moines and back to south Minneapolis with no pain. Mission accomplished thanks to the driving of my niece, Crissy, and my sister-in-law, Carol. I did it!
Now the first thing I discovered upon arrival at my sister-in-law's house is that she doesn't watch television the same way I do. She uses a remote that I do not understand that causes what I call "streaming channels" to show up on a large screen in her living room. At any time day or night she can click on one of these channels that she has subscribed to and watch whatever.
Now I have written that  my life is like a free movie which I call "As Life Goes By" which I can watch any time and now it turns out anywhere. Since returning to south Minneapolis I have discovered I am now starting to remember  my Iowa trip as pictures on a screen that I can stream into my awareness. Part of my ongoing movie "As Life Goes By." .
Dear reader, do the words "thinking in pictures" apply to you or someone you know as to how they process the world? Tell yourself, tell others or tell me via It's a part of me that I am beginning to explore. There are times when I am writing Stories and Journeys I find my self mentally stepping back to see how the column is looking. I have other examples. Maybe you have some of your own.
What started out as a once-a-month reason for myself, DeWayne Townsend and Marcea Marianni to stay in touch evolved into what today is Elder Voices. Today things are different. DeWayne's Parkinson's disease plus other health issues has led him to be admitted to a facility where he can receive 24-hour care. This has presented his wife Marcea with a hard truth, a bitter pill to swallow as she moves forward with their life together.
There are those besides me that know that DeWayne and Marcea have devoted much of their life time and energy to making Greater Longfellow a better place to live, work and play through their work and service via the Longfellow Community Council. My impression: It will take a village/neighborhood to support them on this end of life journey.
Dorothy and Judith, Messenger readers from Nokomis and Greater Longfellow neighborhoods respectively showed up to tell their stories and share their journeys. Topics of conversation included history of Elder Voices and Medicare Advantage plans.
Dorothy wanted to talk about Medicare Advantage plans. We talked about the recent "die in" at United Health carried out by health justice advocates. 
Elder Voices (Telling Our Stories/Sharing Our Journeys) will meet July 26 and Aug. 23 (not the last Friday this month), 10-11 a.m. at Turtle Bread, 4205 E 34th Street. Look for the table with the All Elders sign. If you want to celebrate anything do show up.
In gratitude always.
Donald L. Hammen is a longtime south Minneapolis resident, and serves on the All Elders United for Justice Board of Directors.


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