About a year ago a friend recommended a book whose title I jotted into my phone. My short term memory is waning and if I don’t write something down it gets forgotten immediately. Last week I finished a book titled The Jolly Roger Social Club, and immediately began searching for my next read. The usual trip to the library failed to produce a current title that struck my fancy so I opened my notebook on the i-phone. I found a title called Recessional recommended by my friend Tom an avid reader. The author, James Michener is one of my favorites.
The story revolves around a Senior living complex in Florida, and the characters are all my age. The complex has three levels. The first is apartments for totally independent residents. The second is for people who need some form of assistance with care, and the third is long-term care. Thankfully the story begins with characters that are full of life and amazingly active. I learned a new word, tertulia meaning a group of people gathered to discuss the arts, or any other current topic of interest.
One of the benefits of this type of living is that the residents can prepare their own meals in their apartment or order from the kitchen to eat in, or they can assemble in the dining room to eat any or all three daily meals. A group of four men eat at the only round table standing in a corner of the room. Comprised of a Senator, Ambassador, Editor, and a business President. They were considered the brains of the home. I took a liking to this group because it resembles the group I belong to made up of widowers who meet regularly to discuss anything and everything. These characters took their friendship one step further by convincing the management to allow them a workshop in which the planned to build an airplane. That is my kind of retirement living.
Michener always teaches the reader something. In this story he covered retirement village living and management, AIDS treatment, living wills, and hospice care. It didn’t surprise me that he wrote the book just three years before he died at age ninety. He was most likely one of the characters in the story. Michener began writing when he was forty years old and his very first book Tales of the South Pacific won a Pulitzer Prize. Over the next fifty years he wrote forty-one books. Most of them are epic one thousand page stories. The man never let up either he was writing or researching. His most popular book is Hawaii with 45 editions. Can you imagine running out of a title and having to print more forty-five times, I can’t.
This story was a can’t put it down read, but because it was about my life, or rather my future life, it saddened me whenever one of the characters died. Most died of natural causes, but one man committed suicide after his wife died so he could be with her. The bulk of the characters and the plots they appeared in were for the most part uplifting, and the book is well worth the time to absorb, and there is much food for discussion in a tertulia setting.