Gene Autry would say San Antonio Prime Timers is the best social value in town. He calculated our scheduled annual events divided by our $26 annual dues, resulting in a seven cent cost per event and pitched that number in recruiting. He was an enthusiastic Prime Timers salesman.
As I sit before my computer on Valentine's Day Eve, I've been thinking about couples that will celebrate another Valentine's Day together tomorrow. When Woody Baldwin thought of that idea of inviting older gay men to that first event in Boston, he was probably thinking of those who might not have a special person in their lives to be the recipient of a Valentine's Day card. His life was blessed by his beloved Sean O'Neill. However, like the surprisingly large turnout at the first event, it included couples who were not involved in social activities.
As our population ages, more and more of us are touched by an incurable robber of mind and memory called Alzheimer's. A mental blank might foretell the onset of this devastating erasure of the record of life's experiences that loved ones must cope with alongside the affected while they slowly drift away. Often an unspoken topic in years past, Alzheimer's disease is now a frequent subject in conversations outside the medical circle. And it is found in family homes, elder care and memory facilities, and Prime Timers chapters everywhere.
One of the classic movies I frequently watch again at Christmastime is the original "Home Alone" starring eight-year-old Macaulay Culkin who played Kevin MacCallister. The movie script follows the comic misadventures of Kevin has after he is accidently left behind when his family departed for a Christmas vacation in France.
Each November, a group from the Prime Timers meet at the outskirts of San Antonio where thousands of people flock to walk through the stalls of one of the area's largest flea markets. The object of this trek is a treasure hunt where the members scour the booths and stalls for the most interesting object they can find for $10 or under within a one-hour treasure hunt. At the appointed time, the treasure hunters meet at the judging tables for the unveiling and judging of the hunter's find.
It's about that time! Renewal and "how much is it??" Whatever it costs is worth the dues, but, they are so inexpensive. Because we offer so many options on dues structure, it merits an explanation to the Independents. Chapter dues are set by individual chapters so this is for the Independent Chapter where a Prime Timer does not have a nearby chapter and wants to be a Prime Timer.
There it was among the junk that arrives each delivery day, a simple, white envelope with my name neatly printed in the lower right quadrant. In this day of email and "tweet" communication received on an iPad or a smart phone that chirps an arrival to the virtual mailbox, finding a real letter in a real mailbox is something special.
When we are blessed with a long life, it has mixed blessings. On the positive side, we are able to witness and experience the technological changes that make life more informative and tasks easier to accomplish. However, with age also comes decreased vision and/or hearing loss that make that technology more difficult to use. The coming of the computer adds challenges to learn a new method of communicating and a new vocabulary. There is also an additional personal challenge as physical changes make it difficult to climb those mountains, travel to distant places, and other things we did when we were young.
The Prime Timers Worldwide website includes a page-long application and answer to the question, "Who is an Independent Member?" I prefer to think of "Independents" in more personal terms. They are a band of men linked by common elements of life. The application for membership populates our database with the demographic information of an individual member and his interests. We know there are currently 106 members of the Independent Chapter that range in age from 38 to 90, have an average age of 71.1, live in four countries and 26 states or provinces, share dining out as their most common interest, and have the least interest in skiing out of 33 categories. However, it is when you look at each man as an individual "link" with his own life story that you see the potential of our Independent Chapter.
As Bob Marcus, a Prime Timer and former Chapter Vice President, was peacefully passing away in a hospital room, four Prime Timers maintained a bedside vigil while another Prime Timer was rushing Guy Brainard, Bob's partner and spouse of 42 years, back to the hospital. When Guy arrived, Bob was gone but his Prime Timer friends were there to support at this moment of sadness.