Tennis ain't just for kids!

First of all, let me introduce myself. I'm Jean aka JeaneBee, a 75 year old retiree who loves tennis and plays 2 times a week at the 3.5  (used to be 4.0) level. I live in Omaha, Nebraska, smack dab in the middle of the great Midwest where we spend half our tennis life playing in the heat and/or wind, and the other half playing on indoor courts to get out of the snow….indoors is a great place to play, no wind, no sun and no low flying birds!

Years ago, when I was young and foolish, I used to snicker at senior players, watching them put on their knee braces, elastic arm bands, sun visors and after having a swig of water went ditzing around on the court, talking, laughing and having a good ole time, then going out for coffee afterwards. Then, somehow, much to my dismay, I turned into one!

I realize that although we’re not as fast on the court and our ground strokes aren’t as hard as they used to be, we’re out there hitting the ball with the same love for the game that we always had. And yes, we do a little giggling and talking between games (SOME of us even like to sit down---bringing our own chairs if seating isn't available on the court!!)

I took up tennis as physical therapy after having a stroke at age 29…. it was termed a self-induced stroke but a stroke nevertheless. My husband I were “finishing” our basement and my job for the day was putting plaster on the ceiling and making swirls in it with a sponge. It looked pretty good and I was at it for most of the afternoon. My husband found me unconscious, blood streaming down my chin from a bitten lip and limp as a dish rag. He called the rescue squad and I spent two weeks in a stupor, getting punctured from stem to stern. The final diagnosis was stroke, but cerebral hemorrhage and epilepsy were running a close second and third.

I was a healthy 29 year old, preparing for my 10 year high school class reunion. I rode horseback, took gymnastics for years, played softball and was an all-around tomboy growing up and kept at it after marriage. I wasn’t a couch potato, overweight or a smoker, and neither my doctors nor myself could understand why I had a stoke…shouldn’t have happened. Years later, while reading the health section of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I found out why it did.

Having my head tilted backward and looking up for hours while putting plaster on the ceiling had caused pressure on the back of my neck…reducing the blood flow to my brain….wham, bam, thank you ma’m.... and.....hello stroke.

Physical therapy after my stroke was practically non-existent. This was 1968 and physical therapy wasn't as common as it is now. A friend suggested that I take tennis lessons to improve my eye-hand my physical therapy consisted of learning to hit the ball against the YWCA wall and playing on a hardwood floor. Gradually I got better and better. I had good reflexes thanks to years of gymnastics (helps a lot when you take a fall while running after a tennis ball…you learn to “tuck and roll” gracefully and not sprawl all over the court) and my tennis improved.

Fortunately the stroke caused very little residual damage to my body and general health. I occasionally have trouble with speech, sometimes the words just aren't there and I need to "search" for the word I want......I almost have to visualize it and can then say it (many people think that my sometimes halting conversation is because I want to emphasize a point.....WRONG) Also, my short term memory comes and goes….my doubles partners know that when I ask “what’s the score?” I'm serious, its gone, I’ve forgotten it. Even if I’m serving, the memory is gone and I have to rely on my partners. Guess that tells you why I seldom play really competitive singles!

Now onto our senior tennis. My teammates are great! We are all over 60, actually most of us are over 65, grandmothers many times over and play in a Super Seniors league…its not a “hit and giggle” league.. we are as intense and play as hard as we ever did.. We all play on other leagues with players who are younger than our own children. And we do our share of winning, I might add.
But you’re only as old as you feel – (well, that's not exactly true) and we are a pretty frisky bunch. Most of us have played with and against each other in tournaments for years. We're familiar with each other's families, children and grandchildren. We care when one of us is hurt, sick or has a family member who is hurt or sick. We keep them in our prayers.

In April, 2007, our team, the SOMOS SOMOS represented Missouri Valley at the Senior Nationals Championships in Charleston, South Carolina. WOW, is the Family Circle stadium a beautiful sports facility. We met some great ladies and hope to see
them next year.

We didn't win, but fought a good fight. And, we looked great in our bright pink and black tennis clothes. Did I mention that when our group travels, the first place we look for is the nearest grocery for snacks and various drinks (soda, bottled water and WINE....we have a couple of players who really "whine" if they don't have wine with their snacks!) and the second place is shopping malls or any place where the best bargains in tennis clothes will be. We left a LOT of money at the Family Circle pro shop!

Our Super Senior team played in Oklahoma City in September again we didn’t win our Division of the tournament , (hmmmmm, I'm really getting tired of saying that! ) but did win the talent contest! I wrote the song, and the team sang….luckily the judges liked the words since our singing was awful!

Halloween of Years Gone By

I borrowed parts of this writing from Mary Maxwell, a popular speaker at events throughout Nebraska and across the country.  It reminded me so much of my childhood that I wanted to share it with you.
For those of us who grew up in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, Halloween was a fun time for children and for adults who made cookies, popcorn balls and gumdrop people for the goblins and ghosts who would come to their doors.  When our kids were young we sent them on their way on Halloween night with older kids in charge of the younger ones.  The little ones carried little sacks or plastic pumpkins and "trick or treat" and "thank you" was the norm when they came to the door and received their treats.  

There was always at least one house where they would be asked to do a trick, sing or a little dance before getting anything in their sacks.  That was part of the fun even if the older kids grumbled about it.  And, one house which was avoided by the older kids who had been there the year before.... the owner would hand out Bartlet pears, green and as hard-as-a-rock as their treat.  Unfortunately many of them did not make it very far....the kids generally pitched them away to make room in their sacks for goodies.

It was so much fun...the older kids would bring the little ones back after a tour around the block, examine  their loot (the big kids used pillow cases as bags) then would travel three or four blocks away packing more and more candy into their bags till they finally reached the house where they knew that cans of soda pop were being given (in the early 70's and 80', a can of pop was considered a REAL TREAT! )  A few houses away was the little Granny sitting on her porch giving her homemade caramel popcorn balls carefully wrapped in wax paper.  The kids wouldn't ever consider not going there, even if it was snowy and the blowing winds made them shiver.

Their pillow cases would bulge with various kinds of our house, the bags were dumped out on the kitchen table or a clean sheet laid on the floor and the kids would go through one piece of candy for another.."I'll give you 3 pieces of gum for a Tootsie pop"...."I don't like gumdrops, anyone want to trade?".  Even Dad got into the act ..if he found a piece of candy he liked, usually chocolate, it was argument from the kids, they knew when they had a good thing going.
Then years later things changed.  On Halloween night vans and cars started to arrive on our street to drop-off 4 or 5 or more kids to go trick or treating in our neighborhood.  They would race from one house to another, ring the doorbell and hold out their sacks....once they got their loot, they'd turn around and race to the next.  Once in a while one would say "thank you" or "have a nice Halloween" ....that made up for the many who didn't.
Then the next thing we knew, people became very concerned about candy being laced with dangerous and harmful stuff.  Hospitals and medical emergency rooms volunteered to x-ray the candies in case someone had inserted a pin or other dangerous item in them.  The friendly folks who once treated with homemade cookies and popcorn balls were told "mama said to only take things that are bought at the grocery store".
The old tradition of trick-or-treating has nearly been abandoned in favor of home or school parties, malls and stores giving candies and gifts for the best costumes and for just being there.  Many children will never have the fun and thrill of dressing up and being in their neighborhood long after "the street lights came on" and being almost scared by a ghost, vampire, Darth Vader or even Frankenstein himself as they went from place to place was part of the fun.
How sad that is........

Our Descendents

My husband and I have 7 grandchildren.....aging from age 6 years to age 22. Four of them live in Omaha, NE and the other three live in Naperville, IL. 

Jennifer, Austin, Rebecca and Andrew are wonderful, active kids.......we all live within a mile or so of each other so I see them often. Mason, Connor and Hayden now live in Illinois. When the kids were younger, our daughters, would occasionally call us, usually early in the morning, saying "mom, what are you doing today?" That meant that I would be babysitting for one or the other. Luckily we are retired and have no or at least not too many commitments and am available.

Several years ago, we went on a family cruise.......What a fun time! On Aruba we stopped at a small zoo and the kids played with the baby monkeys.........of course, Jenny fell in love with them and would have liked to take one home.  Its a good thing we were 1,000's of miles from home and on a cruise ship, or she would have talked her Dad into getting one for her!