A day in the life of an octogenarian

Tony and Chita take a selfie!

By Tony Joaquin

Moving away from the Bay Area in 2008 to live in Sacramento was a very good decision.

First off, we are both retired and the cost of living in Daly City is high as in most Bay Area places for it is close to San Francisco, a major tourist destination, once the number one in the world!

After seven years living here in Sacramento, we have come to enjoy many unforeseen and unexpected good things that many retired people look forward to. So, today I have deiced to compile the good points which I term to be factors towards our “happiness and contentment.”

Waking up to a sunny and slightly cool morning even though it is still summer. I look up at the ceiling of our bedroom and see some slits of sunlight that come through the blinds and then I say a prayer of thanks for another day in my life. Getting up slowly, I remove my BiPAP machine to manage my from sleep apnea, and again thank the good Lord that I have no aches and pains on my legs and ankles and therefore I can walk a bit faster during that day.

Chita has also risen by now and is busy preparing our breakfast which consists of bread and some jams or depending on our mood, fried rice, egg and bacon. But sometimes we opt for a lighter fare for at lunch, we will enjoy a slightly heavy meal and dinner will definitely be very light.

If it is Monday, Wednesday, or Friday my schedule of meals would be a light breakfast, moderate lunch and a sandwich for dinner which usually comes after my three- hour session at the dialysis center. I must always watch my fluid intake for it is important I stick to about the equivalent of three plastic water bottles each day.

As we drive out of our rented but gated apartment complex I am often glad to see no vehicles on the road for aside from the rush hour hardly any road traffic exists for we are in a small town atmosphere. Imagine Sacramento, which is the capital of California, appearing like a small town! That is what we all love to hear: the roar of car engines; noise here is minimal or none at all.

Cruising at country speed — between 30-40 mph — we head for our parish St. Clare Catholic Church which is 15 minutes away. We do this on a daily basis and we love it. By now we have made lots of friends with the Caucasians and especially the Filipinos and Indians. We socialize often with the Filipinos during special occasions like baptisms, wedding anniversaries and birthdays. We consider St. Clare our second home.

I have a third home – the dialysis center where I go MWF. By now I am on dialysis for 16 months, and I know all of the technicians and nurses who are all very warm and friendly but professional in their behavior.

Two years ago, I suffered from internal hemorrhage and had to be rushed to the hospital. Luckily I got there in due time and after two days in ICU was back home but had to undergo rehab which included my indoor and walking exercises to bring back the strength of my limbs. My dialysis was a bit strict at first but is now more relaxed. Now I am enjoying the procedure. I have put on some weight and I feel great after treatment.

When we feel like taking in gourmet meal which Chita is expert in finding out in Sacramento, we go and make it a lunch with or without some friends. Living in America unlike in war-torn places in the world, we do not fear that while we are eating, our place would be bombed by terrorists. When we shop around we know that the shops will not just erupt into shootings, although we did have sporadic shootings in schools and stores but they came very rare.

Tony, a jazz artist, does a Sinatra at the Paradise Studios in Sacramento

And when we go back to our parked cars after a meal or shopping we are confident that no one has rigged the car with a bomb which would explode once I turn the ignition on!

First to move to Sacramento were our two children, Bobby and Gina; this was years before Chita retired. Once we arrived, a sister of hers also moved in to join what I call our “network.” And this has worked well whenever we need help from one or another. Chita is an excellent chef and she enjoys cooking favorite dishes of our children, she is able to share them with Bob and Gina who either come over to pick up their portions or just join us at mealtime. The same goes for Lita who works and has little time to cook. Chita shares a portion for Lita to take home to her apartment where her husband Cris lives. And they live just five minutes away from us.

It is heartwarming to always realize today that our five children are happily well situated with good-paying jobs which they love and houses of their own and doing well during their leisure.

Whenever we have a visiting “fireman or firemen” from Manila or just somewhere in California, we make sure they come and enjoy our company and of course our social moments. We usually find one who can pick them up from the San Francisco or Sacramento airport to ferry them here with us. A visiting relative usually stays in one of the houses like that of Bob’s or Gina’s where they always have an extra bedroom for guests. And since our place is strategically placed driving-wise to entertainment places our guests have a choice of Lake Tahoe, Reno, or three gambling places not far to drive to like Thunder Valley Casino, Cash Creek Casino, and Red Hawk Casino all owned and managed by American Indian tribes.

At sundown, having had a relaxing and happy day, we drive home, and park in our designated slot. Depending on how I feel, I take a jigger of brandy or two just before bedtime. That serves as my nightcap before I brush my teeth and perform my ablution before sleeping. I gulp my set of pills and then hit the hay.

If and when we like to watch a movie we go whenever there is a senior discount for tickets. Once inside we can decide to see more than one depending on our energy and eyesight. When we do not feel like a movie we watch good movies on Netflix on our huge TV monitor until we fall asleep!

Tony Joaquin is a man of many talents. He is an actor, a singer, a musician, a writer, and more. He is 84 and has been married to his wife Chita for 55 years.

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