Achieving elderhood |

Achieving elderhood

by Ron Walker

This morning, Katie Williams came riding down the road on her new John Deere tractor. Katie is full of pep and as beautiful as a young deer. When she arrived, she started scooping and dumping landscape debris into a burn pit. As the flames flared, she watched every ash as it wafted skyward. Katie is deadly serious about the task at hand; a garden hose lay nearby. Orllyene and I have five acres of pure paradise here in Smith Valley, and we wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.

Because of the scope of the job, Katie dug another burn pit and scoops of dirt went flying everywhere. She rode that John Deere like she was riding a mustang.

Next day, back she came; she overnighted her tractor here. After six hours tromping between fires, pitchforking them to keep them alive and burning, she buried one of the pits; it was full of ashes. Next day was New Year’s Day and she planned to go fishing at Topaz Lake. “I sure hope I catch a big one,” she whispered as she was leaving.

The crux of the story is Katie is the one who made the big pile in the first place. Last summer, she chainsawed trees, trimmed bushes and turned this place into a showplace. A neighbor once asked me, “Ron, how do you feel about a girl doing all that work for you?” Taken by surprise, I didn’t have much to say, but now I have the answer. Katie is our guardian angel and we won’t have it any other way. Her caring makes her as close to being an angel as you can get without sprouting wings.

Karen and Jack live just across Highway 208. More angels. They have installed handrails on steps, drilled holes that took an hour to drill into tile and installed two grab bars in my shower. When our back door failed, who replaced it? Jack, of course. His wizardry has kept my “330,000-mile” 1991 Lincoln Town Car on the road until I find new “wheels.” To top all this off, Karen and Jack designed and installed a new patio cover for our patio. It’s tied down so well the fiercest storm can’t budge it.

There isn’t one thing wrong about becoming an elder that a sense of humor, a little dancing, good doctors and a slew of friends can’t fix. Especially the slew of friends.

For 15 years, I worked every New Year’s Eve at Resorts International Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The crowds were fun-loving, rambunctious and determined to have a good time. I costumed a pretty, young girl dancer as “Baby New Year’s” and a male dancer wrapped in a sheet wearing a long beard, carrying a scythe as “Father Time.” People loved it.

This year, Orllyene and I attended a gala neighborhood party. We chatted quietly with friends and people-watched contentedly. We were home by 9 p.m. and, next morning, watching the Rose Parade on television at 8 a.m. Life in Elderhood is just as miraculous as in yesteryear, just at a different pace.

Ron Walker can be reached at