Jun 18, 2007

Fiercely Independent, Fighting Against Time

Left: Chuck Maples on his back porch of his lower Michigan home

He has lived in the same house since the early 1940s - even on the same street since 1937 - and he is loathe to move into an assisted living facility. Yet the proverbial clock keeps ticking, calendar pages continue flipping, and Chuck Maples will not live forever.

This Second World War veteran - who served in the Seabees in the South Pacific - is still able to operate his car, although he finds difficulty with night driving. Maples, however, finds the idea of living anywhere but his house to be unsettling.

"It would be like living in a prison," he says.

Recently his wife June suffered congestive heart failure, and she had to be hospitalized for five days. Though she is much improved, perhaps this latest health struggle opened both of their eyes to the realization that time waits for no one.

Maples still has a sharp mind for a man in his early 90s, and is quick to recognize contradictions in American society.

"They say we have the best health care in the world, but hardly anyone can afford it," he noted, adding that he pays over $600 a month for health insurance but lacks prescription coverage. "Who cares if Canada has 'socialized medicine' - at least everyone is covered."

Until he can no longer drive - which will probably occur some time in the next five years - my grandfather refuses to move.

"We have everything we need right here, and our neighbors check in on us every day," he said. "Besides - why would I want to live with all those old people?"



Anonymous said...

Chuck Maples for President!

SensorG said...

My Dad is the same way. Wants to be at home till the end.

My Mom would be happy to go some place where someone does the cooking, cleaning and drives her to doctor appointments.

She figures it will give her more time to read.

historymike said...


I would certainly vote for him, although he told me yesterday the following:

"I would have gone to Washington and tell them how to run this country ten or twenty years ago, but now my knees hurt. Besides, they wouldn't listen, anyhow."

historymike said...

Same with my grandparents: my grandmother would get along just fine in an assisted living setting, as she makes friends easily and is quite sociable.

My grandfather, though, still likes to tinker in the garage and work around the house. This is the first year someone cuts his grass for him, and that's only because his neighbor (a very kind soul) just rolls right in with the riding mower and cuts it free of charge.

Stephanie said...

I wish Mr. Maples well. I'd say more, but after attempts I've reconciled myself to the fact that I cannot do so without ranting and my indignation cannot help Mr. Maples.


All I can say is, as I would not abandon my children...

microdot said...

I live in a fairly isolated rural enclave at the end of a road in the middle of nowhere.
I have a neighbor who is in her early 80's and though reasonably sharp, she has episodes.
We all check in on her from time to time and she goes out walking and comes over for tea a few times a week with her dog.
She lives alone in the farmhouse she has lived in for the last 64 years.
You might think she'd be better off in a nursing home...but her independance has given her a sense of vitality, and probably kept her in much better shape.
She recieves excellecnt care and assisstance from the French government. A nurse stops by 3 times a week to check on her. She has a worker come by a few times a week and to help out with chores.

This is all free and ultimately, the minimal intervention and care she recieves saves hundreds of thousands of Euros...These "socializd" medical programs with a humanist focus keep old people in the communities and make it possible for them to lead their lives as normally as possible without putting crippling demands on the families.

Mr. Maples still has to pay $600 a month for health insurance. Now that alone is scandalous and obscene!

historymike said...


Understood, Steph!


historymike said...

Agreed, Microdot, about the connection between remaining physically and mentally active and living a long life. I am sure that this is a key to the longevity of Chuck Maples.

Agreed also that it is a travesty that our elderly citizens - who have worked and sacrificed for so many decades - are forced to continue sacrificing in their golden years.

Bowrag said...

Well done Mike. Classy and shows respect.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Independence is what keeps people like Chuck vital and alive.

That that away from them and they just sit down and waste away. . .