What Makes Eve Duke Tick

Eve Duke - Jazzing and Jamming at 91

Eve Duke – Jazzing and Jamming at 91

Eve Duke ticks because, at 91 years old, she still dazzles a lot of people by doing what she passionately loves to do – jazz – and her personality.

But hold on! Who the heck is Eve Duke? How good was she at jazz that she still gathers adoring fans despite being an old hag with a failing memory and pushed around in a wheel chair?

Can’t blame you.

Most certainly your were still on the floor, either crawling or sitting on your butt, a toy rattle in one hand and a pacifier in your mouth – a crying distance away from your mom who was doing household work – when Eve was making the rounds of big time entertainment as the lead vocalist of the famous Duke Ellington band

Duke Ellington was big in those days, one of the most famous bands, and Eve was part of his show – no mean feat for a young Washington D.C. lass in the midst of a nascent civil rights movement and communist expansionism worldwide.

She attended segregated schools and, in fact, became active in the civil rights movement, participating in the March on Washington in 1963.

Politics aside, she can sing.

Her way to fame was carved out by his father who convinced a nightclub owner friend in Washington to give Eve a singing gig. From there a member of Ellington’s group heard her sing and told Duke about it. Ellington checked her out when he was in town. The rest was history.

As Yvonne Lanauze, she went on tour with Duke and, in 1950, helped in recording three of Duke Ellington’s famous jazz pieces.

Good music can always last a lifetime, even outliving the artist. And thanks to new technology, you can view these tracks, Mood Indigo, Sophisticated Lady and Love You Madly in You Tube.

For three years, Eve performed with, and learned from the Master and originator of American Music.

That was more than 60 years ago…


Still jazzing and jamming to a different audience:

Eventually age caught up on Eve. She got married, and when she bore a daughter she settled down in Vancouver, Canada.

No details were given of a divorce but in Vancouver, she met CBC producer and film director, Daryl Duke, and both got married.

“Settling” for Eve, however, is not the same as ours. Instead of sitting around in front of the TV set, with a bowl of popcorn on her lap, or doing knit work, she formed trios and quartets and performed around the Vancouver area for years.

Just a little over a year ago, she moved into the St. Vincent: Lanagara, a seniors’ care facility in South Vancouver, not to “retire” but to have better comfort and care.

Eve says of her move, “I hate calling it that, because you think of some fogey, bogus old lady who can barely walk and looks like she’ll croak in a day and I don’t feel that.”

Now a typical day for Eve is sitting behind the grand piano in the corner of the foyer playing some songs while the staff and several elderly residents obliviously go about their business.

When she finishes a song, applause fills the room.

Being on the entertainment circuit for so long, Eve cant’ help going around. She hates standing still. And playing for the elderly residents of St. Vincent:Lanagara made that possible.

It has also made Eve their inspiration.


A Ray of Sunshine:

Eve, with her music, is like a ray of sunshine piercing through dark clouds of hopeless resignation to the vagaries of old age.

Leah Rosling, the facility’s music therapist, is dazzled by Duke and her talent

“I love working with her. I find her – well, she’s an inspiration. She’s an extraordinary human being who’s been – she’s seen a lot of her life,” said Rosling.

“She’s had tremendous courage, a very intelligent woman, extraordinarily talented. I feel like it’s a gift to come into contact with her and hear her play and her stories.

“Her playing is like a canvas of all kinds of shimmering colors that you mightn’t think to put together in a certain way. But because she does it so masterfully, it’s an extraordinary thing to hear,” adds Rosling.

Eve’s mini-concerts in the center’s foyer are a regular thing and it is always appreciated.

“She has many followers here, as far as her music goes, people who just love to hear her play.”


Ain’t Over until It’s Over:

Though her memory is failing (unless the conversation is about her days with Duke Ellington), and she’s pushed around, Eve is not about to surrender to old age.

When interviewed by the CBCnews.com, Eve says, “I don’t work as much as I’d like to and I think it’s mainly because I don’t put myself out there. At this true in your life, when you’ve done it for years, unless you’re very highly publicized, you don’t work, you know.”

But she still loves to form another group. She yearns to have a drummer and a bass player. She yearns to form a trio.

Right now she’s happy with what she’s got – playing with music therapy interns and staff.


What makes Eve Tick:

Eve doesn’t tick because she was a big name in entertainment.

She doesn’t tick either for regularly playing to the senior residents of the center. Anybody could have done that.

Eve ticks because of her zest for life and never letting her age get in the way of showing it.

Like Eve, many of us have memory lapses and wheeled around, but at 91 years of age, she doesn’t let these handicaps stop her from reaching out to others, making herself felt and useful.

Most of us have stopped chasing dreams and have settled watching the sun set upon us, while Eve is still chasing hers.

She ticks because she brings sunshine, not rain on the lives of other seniors.

And that I guess, is purposely living for seniors like you and I.

We are on the last act. Some of us were lucky to have created a niche in the hearts and minds of people early on.

Most never had, or will ever be.

But that does not mean we cannot make one in the final act in our own stories. Remember that it is always the last act that is given the biggest applause. The encore always gives the more appreciation; to be remembered.

It need not be playing better jazz than Eve. It could be something else. Though not as huge and monumental as touring the entertainment circuit, but significant and important enough to others if you give it the passion Eve gives to her singing.


When Everything is Falling Apart, Do This

When things are falling apart - go online.

When things are falling apart – go online.

Have you ever had a day when things just didn’t’ fit, nothing went right, and everything seemed to be falling apart?

For example, you wake up late in the morning and famished. In your rush to make breakfast, you stubbed your toe on the bedroom door. Yelling with pain, you limped to the kitchen to fix something to eat.

Then you opened the ref and groaned with dismay – more bad news. You have run out of eggs, your loaf of bread is moldy, and your milk has turned into cheese.

Days like this can make you seethe with anger; makes you want to bash your head against the wall, but won’t, because your toe is still hurting. In desperation you roar with all your might, and with fists flailing heaven-ward, you cuss your Maker for giving you such a bad early morning.

I recently had a day like that.

The circumstances are different, but as a writer, it was nothing short of a disaster. For a blogger like me, it’s worse than having nothing in the ref.

It sent me into a depressive mood which must be stopped on time before I go into a tail spin I cannot get out from.

So I did something and saved my evening – I surfed. Well, not totally surf. It was more of chatting with my online lady friends…

The day was going well and promising. I had my to-do list that needs acting upon. Things got ominous when I got home from tennis to find out that we had a power shortage.

One entire morning gone.

To make up for time lost, I went to my favorite coffee shop earlier than usual, only to get another beating – the wife was too slow it took me almost two hours to get connected. Then came the clincher – my blog won’t open because of some glitch.

An entire afternoon gone.

My earlier setbacks made my dinner taste stale. I was frustrated and morose for not being able to work on my blog and not being able to watch the Eight Episode of NCIS – my favorite early evening TV series.

I wanted to take a drive, to have a breath of rejuvenating air, to talk to someone – anyone. It was a time when anywhere was better than home.


Seniors often fight loneliness and depression alone. And we have to win to survive. There is no other option.


The urge to drive away to never-never land was tugging at my shorts like a child wanting to have a walk. But I can’t think of any place to go. My thought processes went on shutdown, like my blog.

I texted my son on the chance that I can drop in on him and his wife for a short chat. He texted back that he just came home from work and was tired. Instead he suggested that I go to a favorite watering hole 20mins drive away.

It doesn’t take much to throw off kilter the life of live alone seniors. Though we want our lives simple and predictable a lot of things can happen in any given day to turn things upside down, stress us out and drive us into a depressive mood.

An unanswered call, a rough word, forgetting our birthday, or missing visiting days is enough to create a mental tantrum.

The bad part is that, most often we have no one to help us when we need help the most. We cannot easily have someone to comfort us, to sooth our nerves, to assure us that these are all temporary and shall soon pass.

Seniors often fight loneliness and depression alone. And we have to win to survive. There is no other option.

More than a decade ago, the odds of winning were very slim. Now with the Internet, the odds have greatly improved.

A few nights ago, it helped me when things seemed to be falling apart.


Going online is therapeutic for Seniors:

I saved the night, and my sanity, by going online a few evenings ago, Except for a sore butt from all that sitting, I went to bed with a smile of satisfaction on my face.

It can help you, too.

Recent studies have shown that going online is therapeutic for seniors.

For example, getting connected to the outside world has helped seniors battling with isolation; seniors who spend some time online experience elevated moods, and fewer instances of negative emotions. By joining social media sites, seniors with depression find internal healing.

Other than improving mental health, the Internet also makes it possible for the elderly to get in touch with family, friends, and former associates; allows them to learn something new each and share this knowledge with their network of friends.

It makes meeting new people and socializing with them easier; get updated in the latest in entertainment and world events, take advantage of special offers and bargains, and to increase awareness of the world around them.

Getting online has an equalizing effect for people who are limited in their movements and world views because of old age.

It has increased their horizon, removed barriers, and gives them a very wide array of choices and latitude to wiggle their lives in.

It worked for me. It should work for you.

Do you agree or disagree? Please let me know of your thoughts.

Health Secrets


How Tom Gives Comfort and Ease to Old Vets

Tom and one his "patients."

Tom and one his “patients.”

The Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia provides rehabilitation, hospice/palliative care and long-term skilled nursing to a community of elderly veterans.

They are frail, sick, alone, and badly in need of love and affection, which the hospital staff can hardly provide.

Thanks to Tom, the old veterans of the hospital are provided a low-stress, homelike environment.

Tom is a cat with a very special gift – empathy. According to hospital staff, Tom often has more empathy than the people around him.

He makes the sometimes-grim environment a little happier and homier with his purrs. He even comforts the staff who have to deal with death.

For example, after pronouncing a veteran dead, Tom stood by the hospital’s feet, Dr. Blake Lipscomb, and meowed knowingly – having spent time with the patient and his family before he passed.

And when someone he has been with for a long time die, Tom will seclude himself for a while to mourn. The hospital staff finds his “alone” moments tough because everyone would look for him.

“You can’t beat a good, purring, loving kitty cat,” says Army veteran James Gearhart, of Bassett, Virginia, in an interview with TODAY. “Tom knows when someone is having a hard time. He laid on my bed a lot and I rubbed and scratched him the way cats like,” he added.

Of course there are people who just don’t love cats, while some are allergic to cat hair. So the hospital staff provided a “No Cat Zone,” for non-cat lovers, where even Tom is not allowed entry.

Strangely, even rabid anti-cats are won over by Tom.

There are families who profess to be allergic to cat hair but are soon bringing a treat for Tom. And some the hospital’s staff of more than a thousand brings Tom some food and to pet him.

One time Tom gave the “cold shoulder” to an overnight supervisor who forgot to bring him some treats.

Tom’s contribution to the goals of the hospital is invaluable.

For example, a patient terminally ill with Parkinson’s disease was having speech difficulties. Tom sat on his lap and he started rubbing the cat. This relaxed his vocal chords allowing him to talk again.

In another situation, a veteran’s daughter did not like cats and shut Tom off from his room. One day, she went out for some errands, leaving the door open. Tom went in.

A few minutes later, Tom came out looking for the daughter meowing along the way. When he found her, he kept meowing in front of her until she went back to her Dad’s room. Minutes later her father died.

The daughter was convinced Tom wanted her to be with her father when he passed away.


Tom thinks he is Human:

When the staff holds a meeting shuts the conference room door, Tom would sit outside and meow until he is let in.

He even likes to ride the service vehicle when making its rounds.

He is very zealous with his turf, too. One day a large mastiff came into the hospital as part of its pet therapy program. Immediately Tom jumped into the canine’s back. After that the dog refused to go inside the hospital unless Tom is secured in his room.


Tom is no Accident to Salem VA Medical Center:

Tom is not one of those stray cats who accidentally found refuge in the hospital.

In 2012, Dottie Rizzo, chief nurse of the hospital’s extended care service, together with assistant physician, Laura Hart, read a book titled, Making Rounds with Oscar, by Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician. The book is about Oscar, a cat who comforts dementia patients and appear to anticipate when they are about to die.

“We knew we needed a cat just like that,” Rizzo told TODAY. “We enlisted the assistance of a local veterinarian’s office manager who went to a shelter and visited with the cats for a long time before deciding on Tom.”

Apparently they were right.

When Sharon Herndon’s father died at the center, Tom filled a special place in her family’s heart. The experience, motivated the Roanoke, Virginia woman to write, in 2014, a book titled, Tom the Angel Cat. In a footnote, she wrote, “Tom is the final salute to a job well done.”

In the twilight of their lives the elderly veterans of the Medical Center are given comfort and ease through Tom’s silent but lovable ways.

“One day I gave him some of my Ensure vanilla drink and he drank every bit of it. Then he rubbed on me and licked by hands.” These may be simple gestures of gratitude, but for Gearhart who is in the rehabilitation unit for lung cancer treatment, that is a lot.

Tom is a lot of things to the elderly patients of the hospital, but for the staff, he is the appointed counselor and caretaker of the Medical Center.


Why Pets are Important for Seniors:

Several studies have shown the importance of pets to elderly people, especially live alone seniors.

Pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction, provides physical activity and help them learn.

I have no quarrel with that. I am not a cat lover, but as a live alone senior I don’t think I can do without my two aging Labradors.

They provide me comfort when I feel tired and lonely. They see me off when I leave home every afternoon, and meet me with their wagging tails of joy when I get back.

They never complain, never hold a grudge and are always there to fondle, tickle, and play with to break the loneliness and boredom of an old craggy guy’s life.

Please join the discussion by adding your valuable inputs to this article. Thank you.

Health Secrets

~ oOo~

An Evening of Great Music and Good Company

An night of music and passion with the multi-awarded Philippine MeisterSingers

A night of music and passion with the multi-awarded Philippine MeisterSingers

They say big surprises come in small packages.

I got a big one last Friday when my daughter asked me if I was interested to go with them to a choral concert, Saturday evening. To make sure I got it right she emphasized, “Choral, not a pop concert.”

In a sense it was amusing my daughter still thinks that, at my age, I would go for pop, not a choral group.

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Tips for Seniors: How to Stay Healthy and Fit without Food Supplements

Me, not Michael Phelps, doing a few laps in the pool

Me, not Michael Phelps, doing a few laps in the pool

In a health and fitness scale of 1 to 10, where would you be?

Modesty side I would be between 8 and 9. Why not 10? Osteoarthritis have taken over both my knees which hurt if I make a sudden change in pace. I could easily turn on a dime in my younger days, but now moving around my bedroom requires extra care.

Otherwise I am healthy and fit – the old fashion way. You know, eat in moderation, lots of sleep, exercise, manage stress, and network with good people.

Except for Kirkland Multivitamins for seniors, which my daughter provides, I don’t take food supplements. I am very skeptical about them, for good reason.

For example, a study done by the Emory University showed that practically half of adults, 65 yrs old and above, take supplements daily, on top of their vitamins. But only a very tiny fraction actually needs them. The rest can stay healthy and fit by improving their diet.

According to Donald B. McCormick, PhD, an Emory professor emeritus of biochemistry and the graduate program in nutrition and health sciences, “A lot of money is wasted in providing unnecessary supplements to millions of people who don’t need them.”

Don’t be one of them. You can be healthy and fit, and save tons of money, by doing these easy-to-do tips:


1.  Eat healthy:
As we age our bodies undergo drastic changes that require a change in our habits and lifestyles to stay healthy and fit.

One of these is the slowing down of our metabolism. Simply put, it means your body could no longer digest the food you eat as fast and as well as it used to. Be sure, therefore, that whatever you eat are easily digested and transformed into nutritious energy, not lodged somewhere as fats.

To achieve that, be sure these foods are parts of your diet:

o  Fruits:
Fruits are heavy in sugars as well as vitamins and nutrients.

Citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, and limes are high in Vitamin C, while dark fruits like berries, pomegranates and cherries are high in anti-oxidants.
Bananas, plums, and prunes are high in potassium to make you strong, make your cells function properly.

Fruits help slow down aging by eliminating toxins from your body.

My diet is fruit-heavy. For example, I take daily servings of apple, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and occasional grapes. It is money well-spent.

o  Vegetables:
Vegetables are rich in essential vitamin B (folic acid), which is good in combating anemia and poor nerve function.

Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and arugula are delicious and nutritious sources of folate.

Vegetables should be a part of your diet, as they are or mine. I can’t let a week pass without having a vegetable dish for lunch or dinner.

o  Dairy:
Dairy, like milk, cheese and yogurt, are full of calcium, all necessary in building and maintaining strong bones; they prevent bone embrittlement.

If you are lactose intolerant, use milk from nuts. They are still high in calcium

Avoid unpasteurized dairy. They might contain harmful microbes.

o  Grains and Beans:
These foods are high in fibers which are very important for seniors whose digestive systems have slowed down.

They help prevent irregular bowel movements that could develop into unhealthy complications.

Beans, whole grains, vegetables and fruits promote colon health.

Eating healthy does not mean, however, that you deny your cravings.

For example, I have a liter of soda and a large pack of Oreos in my ref. The soda will last more than a week, while I eat a piece of Oreo a couple of hours before I sleep. Once every blue moon, I treat myself to a Big Mac.


2.  Stay hydrated:
Old age also brings a decrease in the water content of our bodies, making us prone to dehydration.

Seniors dehydration is very serious. It can precipitate a rush to emergency hospitalization and has been associated with high mortality rates among hospitalized elderly people.

Always stay hydrated. As a general rule, eight, 8-oz glasses of water daily (about 3 liters) are sufficient.

Don’t substitute water with soda, coffee, or tea. They all affect your body one way or the other. Even herbal tea is no substitute for water.

If you like fruit juice, make your own. Packed juices bought from grocery stores are full of sugar and preservatives.

Remember – stay hydrated, not inebriated. Alcohol doesn’t count (though I indulge on two bottles of beer Saturday evenings).


3.  Be active:
According to WebMD, only one in four seniors, aged between 65 and 74 exercise regularly. They think they are either too out-of-shape, or sick or tired, or just plain too old to exercise.

Exercise is always good to people, regardless of age. It can make you feel stronger, prevents bone loss, improves balance and coordination, lifts your mood, boosts your memory and eases symptoms of chronic conditions.

It does not have to be vigorous. For example, instead of riding, walk or bike; take the bus instead of drive, and use the stairs, not the elevator.

The point is to regularly flex your muscles, limber up your joints, and pump up your heart.

At the very least I spend a minimum of 30mins/day of brisk walking, or playing tennis.


4.  Get enough sleep:
I get six hours of sleep each night, with a 45min nap after lunch.

On the average, seven and half hours of sleep are necessary for seniors, while others say no less than 8hrs.

It depends on the person, actually. Our bodies adapt easily to different circumstances to a certain point.

I feel lightheaded if I lacked sleep. When that happens, I just take a short nap. It works all the time.

Unless you get enough sleep, it is impossible to be healthy and fit.


5.  Mind the body, mind and soul connection:
We are all made up of body, mind and soul. They are inseparable. They go where you go, and do what you do. And each must be given their fair share of care and attention if you want to be healthy and fit.

Spending hours in a gym, then splurging on food right after is not going to work.

Eating healthy yet dwelling on negative thoughts, of pessimism, of self-pity, is not going to work either.

So is feeling guilty for being dishonest, or taking undue advantage of others.

They will soon affect your body, your mind, and your soul. You may look cheerful and happy on the outside, but the conflict inside caused by your inconsistencies will ultimately ruin you as a person.

According to Leanne Beattie, 15 to 50% of seniors are suffering either from poor nutrition or malnutrition, while others are having sedentary lifestyles.

These two are the major contributors to the health and fitness problems among seniors. Health care costs comprise one of the major expense items in a senior’s budget. They can make you poor.

And it is sad that at a time where you are supposed to be enjoying life, a huge amount of your retirement income goes to doctors’ fees and medications, which could have been avoided by a simple change in habits and lifestyles.

By eating the right kinds of foods, exercising regularly, and having the right mindset you may live a little longer, and enjoy your retirement with much energy and vitality.

Health Secrets


Do You Find it Hard to Love Yourself

Life is beautiful if you love yourself enough.

Life is beautiful if you love yourself enough.

I love…ME!

That may sound funny, narcissistic, maybe. But I am serious. I love ME and so should you.

To prove the point, I take very care of my physical well-being. I get enough sleep at night, exercise every day and keep close watch of my weight. I don’t have a signature diet but exercise moderation instead. My diet is typically Asian, mixed with a variety of fruits every single day.

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Every Day a lot of Seniors are Robbed. Don’t be One of Them

Stanley Podolski, 88 with wife of 66 years, Eleanor, 85-yrs-old. - he foiled a fraud.

Stanley Podolski, 88 with wife of 66 years, Eleanor, 85-yrs-old. – he foiled a fraud.

Do you know that each year, hundreds of thousands of American seniors are robbed of their hard earned retirement funds

“Every year, hundreds of thousands of seniors are victims of fraud and theft,” says Ann Harkins, president and CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council. Then she adds, “Many Americans cannot ID the red flags of fraud, and they are not familiar with what to look for.”

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