Off the Wall, Aug 21, 2009

How often have you heard the expression, “It’s easy? It’s no big deal.” Or, “I don’t know why you are getting bent out of shape about it. It’s a snap.” Finally, “Hey, if I can do it, you can, too.” Now that’s all well and good for those who have properly been instructed to perform what they’re supposed to carry out, but if you are like me, sometimes things just aren’t as simple to carry out as those who have had experience.

This brings me to the subject at hand – PMS. I want to assure you that those three letters do not stand for Patti and Mike Sherback, puffy midsection, or the common reference to Premenstrual Syndrome. Instead, the way I see it, the abbreviation stands for “Poor Me Syndrome.”

I first thought about writing this column when my doctor put me on oxygen back in February, but for some reason, I decided to hold off. Then recently two lovely ladies and I had a chat on the path in Legion Keener Park and one told me of a friend who would not leave her house because of being on oxygen. It wasn’t so much that she couldn’t, I was told. It is more that she wouldn’t. Of course the question arose, “Can you still do the things you used to do?” My response – “Not all of them, but I can still remain active and do quite a bit. I just can’t do them as long, maybe.”

I think the key to this one setback, minor right now, are two things in particular – always keep one’s sense of humor (if one has one), and don’t pity one’s self. There are others far worse, and by chance, if one were to visit them, he would quickly see that one’s new dilemma may be minimal compared to others.

I also believe we all can do something for others. When we were young or middle-aged, most had jobs, some very prestigious ones. But retirement came quickly and the adjustment to it as well. Some people found it just as hard to get used to it as friends who may have been stricken with a sudden illness or an accident leaving them disabled. But what some people fail to recognize is that from the age one started employment to when one called it quits, God created a job source for one to provide food for the table and pay monthly bills. Now that you are not working due to either of those reasons, God has passed on the message of sorts – “I helped you understand what you were to grasp in becoming gainfully employed, now that you have more time on your hands, I would like it if you could spend more time giving back to me.” How easy is it to say, “I could have done more when things were better, but I can’t do it now.” I sense a bit of PMS.

When I had the privilege to chat with a middle-aged woman on a treadmill next to mine while I was trying my hand at therapy at Excela Health Latrobe Area Hospital, she told me she was bored at home in as much as she was on oxygen now and could do nothing. She added, her husband stays home and watches television most the time and takes a short walks everyday. Believe me when I tell you this, that disturbed me. Right then and there, I wanted to start an organization to get people out of the house and doing something to help others and themselves even if it’s minor. Not only will they be doing God’s work, but they will get distracted from PMS.

Then I discovered that Westmoreland County Community College has just what the doctor ordered called RSVP – Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. It recruits volunteer and matches them with meaningful opportunities for service in nonprofit organizations. Those 55 years and older may participate. It continually seeks out new volunteer opportunities in the areas of education, health and human needs, the environment and public safety. The great thing is it has something for everyone.

Whatever one’s selection, RSVP volunteers provide more than just their skills and knowledge, they give their friendship – they give themselves. For more information and details, call 724-925-4213, or 1-800-262-2103, ext 4213. Serving God is serving others.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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