NOTE: I was thinking of sneaking this into Dadís Christmas cards assuming I would be the one stamping and sealing them but he did it himself so I am going to post it online.

Merry Christmas to all,

Instead of just sending a card this year  I thought I would include a letter to brighten your day as it is cold, dark and rainy as I write this.  I (Terry) am addressing the envelopes for Dad and my morning cup of coffee has invigorated me enough to add some highlights of 2009 and give you a glimpse into what the old man has been doing.  Yes, when you are ninety it is fair game to be called old man without fear of argument.

Dad celebrated his birthday in April with a big party and many in-laws coming to visit for a grand time and at Easter we had another celebration when his brothers and sisters attended.  We got together at the church building for fellowship and he really enjoyed visiting with everyone.  We are already planning for the 100
th birthday party but he may the only one left by then.

When you reach about eighty everyone inquires of the children how the elderly parent is doing so I will give a full report now.

Alton makes regular visits to his general physician, heart doctor and dermatologist where he receives passing marks.  A couple of years ago he was diagnosed  with blockage of arteries but has decided against any surgery due to risks of his age.  This does not appear to cause too much pain though occasionally he will use some nitro tablets for relief.  His feet bother him and have some swelling but he does not complain too much about it.  He does have hot flashes in his face which cause some minor discomfort and his sleeping could use some improvement as he has a back condition that prevents him from lying flat.  For many years now he has slept on his recliner in the den to get the best results.   His gait is naturally getting slower and every once in a while he will use a cane to assist going to the mailbox.  We visit the base commissary every couple of weeks and he will use the electric cart as we shop so he does take some liberties.  Occasionally some young person of seventy or so will offer to help Dad while we are shopping as he reaches for a can of something on a lower shelf and I smile because it is quite possible that later that day he will be swinging an axe into a giant oak tree that accidentally took root in his yard a century ago.

Dad lives on about two acres which he tends to mostly himself, mowing, mulching and keeping neat, better than I do my small yard.  This year he built a storage shed nearer to his house for his mower  and tools, doing most of the carpentry himself though I assisted on the larger aspects like the roof and stud walls.  He gets most of his exercise with an axe and though he goes slowly he can do quite a bit of damage to some huge trees.  Every once in a rare while Dad will drive to the barbershop or the bank so he still has his independence that way too.   So Dad is remarkably physically fit for his age, a blessing for everyone.

But as far as his mind goesÖÖ.just kidding.  He handles all his finances, paying bills, keeping up with the stock market, cd rates, and generally getting depressed watching the money markets on tv if he isnít watching Fox news, football or the weather channel.  He is involved with mission work in Africa where he donated the money to buy some land and helped with the purchase of materials for a building.  In appreciation one of the families named their newborn son after him, a very touching gesture.  His memory seems to be as good as it ever was and he still comes up with adventures from his youth that are new to us kids.  I guess when you arenít married until you are over thirty you can stretch out your play time in your bachelor years.

Just to briefly touch on his travels, Dad joined the Air Force during WWII interrupting his college education, came to North Little Rock for basic training, due to math skills became a weatherman where he was stationed in several western states and Alaska where he was inflicted with snow blindness,  and somewhere in there spent some time in Japan and Korea.  In his younger years he worked in timber and bought a small saw mill but heavy rain did not allow that to succeed.  He also spent about six months on the California coast working in a tuna cannery at various positions.  In his early married life his new family was  sent to England,  then to Texas, Okahoma and finally Arkansas. 

Well anyway, back to the present time.  Dadís brain is doing fine, though his ears on either side of it are weaking and you have to speak up to be heard as he has a harder time distinguishing words.  All in all if he was an antique car her would be in great original condition, except his teeth which are not original.  And his gall bladder and appendix are missing.  Other than that he has high mileage but still starts and runs pretty well.  I would be afraid to drive him to California though but Tennessee would be within safe range.  So there is a pretty full update on his health, probably  more than you wanted to know.

As far as Dadís social life goes, he gets quite a bit of company from his children.  I live nearby and Sherry (her son Kevin gave her her first grandbaby this year, Luke) and Ken visit from Tennessee several times a year and Don, though he has a growing family empire of his own, comes down about once a month.  Roger has a young family to keep up with but he still shows up 3-4 times a year.  Everyone was down over Thanksgiving except Ken who visited two weeks before.  He is working on his own now doing projects for the local paper and other light writing projects.  My son Adam has lived with Dad for several years so they have each other to annoy most days and the house keeps active with Adam coming and going.  Most days Dadís routine involves working the Sudoku while listening to news on tv and when the weather permits he will may go outside for some exercise.   The church has a telephone ministry so he can hear  the services on his speaker phone and keep in touch with what is going on there.    May we all age so gracefully as him,  and I know Dad is thankful for the Lordís blessings on him.  I count it all as a reward for good living and try to take a lesson from it.

Every year Dad says he is not going to send Christmas cards just before  he digs out his box of them and writes his greeting to you so here it is for 2009 and may there be many more.  I hope you have enjoyed the report on Alton and that you have a fun holiday season.  He would enjoy hearing from you so if you get the spirit write or call him, he sits right by the phone.  His number is 501-835-3286

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,