My Father: Starting Yoga at 87.

Via on Dec 29, 2009

bob joe yoga

Published a few years back. Thought we’d re-feature this in honor of good dads everywhere. ~ ed.

I thought long and hard before publishing this article.

My 90-year old father recently entered hospice care and only has a few months to live.

I hesitated because everyone has sad family situations like this, and I knew I wanted to write about it partly just to deal with the painful anticipation of losing the father I love so much.

Ultimately, I was able to justify it by reminding myself of the Yoga connection, and by reprinting an article about my father that appeared on the Sunday front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel two years ago.  I figured if Milwaukee’s daily newspaper thought it was interesting enough for its front page, I shouldn’t hesitate to think it might be interesting to Elephant Journal readers, too.

The photo above shows the Yoga connection. My Dad took up Yoga for the first time when he was 87.  He saw me doing it, and wanted to do it himself. So I showed him few things, gave him a copy of “Yoga Made Easy” by Howard Kent…and soon enough it became part of his regular routine (along with his weight-lifting and exercise machines.)

Below is the article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which captures this wonderful man who is my father pretty perfectly, I would say.  (Gee, I wonder whom I owe my joie de vivre to.)

I hope you enjoy reading it.

Scooter helps senior stay in the driver’s seat

88-year-old finds that giving up his car doesn’t mean giving up his independence

by Bill Glauber

Dad on Scooter

Joe Weisenberg needed a new set of wheels.

He was 88, and his grown kids wouldn’t let him buy another car — his reaction time had slowed, they said.

But the former Navy pilot wanted to be mobile, to have fun, to cruise Milwaukee’s byways like a teen in a ragtop.

So, he and his son started a search for another vehicle. A motorized three-wheel bicycle was too complicated. A moped was out of the question. But one day in August, father and son walked into a store and saw the perfect set of wheels — an electric, four-wheel mobility vehicle with comfy swivel seat, rearview mirror, turn signals and horn.

They bought it used for $1,200, and Weisenberg climbed aboard.

Now, it’s hard to get him off the vehicle or off the sidewalks. Weisenberg doesn’t just go for spins in the neighborhood from his home at St. John’s on the Lake retirement community on Milwaukee’s east side.

He takes full-fledged daytrips, at 5.75 mph, up to his son’s house in Fox Point or down to the Basilica of St. Josaphat on the south side, extended treks by the lakefront or long days of window-shopping downtown.

“I wouldn’t trade my scooter for a car,” Weisenberg said.

The story of Weisenberg and his mobility vehicle is a small tale of modern life in aging America. Just because a senior gives up his car keys doesn’t mean he has to give up his independence.

But it takes a lot of work and planning.

Some seniors who decide it’s no longer safe to get behind the wheel of a car might take a seat on a bus. Others might get rides from friends and family or take cabs.

But for Weisenberg, the mobility vehicle works just fine, the best of both worlds.

He still enjoys a good walk around the neighborhood, but the man can really drive. He can artfully turn the vehicle in his apartment, zip down hallways and roar down the sidewalks.

“He’s going to create his own senior Hells Angels group,” said his son, Bob Weisenberg, 58.

How father and son negotiated the switch from a car to a scooter is the stuff of family drama. They hashed it out over nearly two years.

“I loved cars, I always had cars,” Joe Weisenberg said. “And I loved driving.”

But after Joe Weisenberg’s second wife died in January 2006, his son had that talk that most every grown child secretly dreads — the one where they try to convince a parent that it’s time to give up the car keys.

“No one told me I couldn’t drive . . . just Bob,” Joe Weisenberg said.

But the father listened to the son. He sold his Chrysler convertible before moving from a retirement home in Pennsylvania to spend a year living with his daughter in San Diego. Living in the suburbs, he felt isolated without a car. But he did his best to keep his independence, walking, getting rides. But he couldn’t bring himself to take a cab, it felt so extravagant.

In March, Joe Weisenberg moved to Milwaukee. And he started lobbying for wheels.

“Dad was talking about buying a motor scooter,” Bob Weisenberg said. “Every time he saw a Vespa he’d say, ‘I’m getting one of those.’ After a while I thought he might be serious, so I started some research.”

Father and son made the rounds and found the perfect vehicle.

What advice does Bob Weisenberg have for other grown children faced with the dilemma of coaxing their parents into giving up driving because their skills have diminished?

“You have to make the decision and stick with it,” he said. “If I were doing it again, I would try a lot harder earlier to find an alternative.”

It might be getting colder, but Joe Weisenberg still makes his daily treks, exploring a city he has come to love. He has places to go and people to see.

“The question is: What do I do when it starts snowing?” Joe Weisenberg said.

Copyright 2007, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.

4,190 views

Like this article? Leave a tip!

(We use PayPal but you don't need an account with PayPal.)

Elephriends - Mindful Affiliates

46 Responses to “My Father: Starting Yoga at 87.”

  1. Amy Putkonen says:

    That was a great article, Bob. It can't have been an easy conversation to have but sometimes those are the ones who really define who is on our team. Happy holidays to you and your unstoppable family.

  2. Farnoosh says:

    Starting yoga at 87. Love it. Tell your father BRAVO! I am so glad you posted that top photo. It embodies the spirit of yoga. There is no age limit. I am thinking about you during the difficult time nonetheless. All the best Bob! Thanks for a great write-up!

  3. LindaSama says:

    that's awesome! that is what yoga is truly about.

  4. CinnamonZen says:

    Awesome article, Bob! :)
    ~ Suzi

  5. (Comment from gdr23 at Yoga Journal Community)

    Any age is a great age for starting yoga! I have a 90 year old man in my class who has been doing yoga now for @ 4-5 years! He is my most faithful student, rarely misses a class! It is all about the attitude!

  6. Hi Bob – I am a photographer in Denver and have devoted the past year to a project called "My Life", taking the last portrait of people in hospice care, terminally ill or advanced in age. The project is designed to bring social awareness to the issue of end of life care, and a first cut slideshow of the images can be viewed at http://lucia.zenfolio.com/mylife/slideshow – and was also featured as my story on http://www.photoinduced.com/4159/lucia-de-giovann
    I would love to include your father if he would like to, he is lively and lovely…
    Please let me know, lucia@luciadegiovanni.com
    In Peace and Light.
    Lucia De Giovanni

  7. YogaDawg says:

    Bob, pull your torso straight up over your hips in warrior II. You are leaning over your forward knee too much…Only messing with you. Beautiful post!

  8. YOGI_WRITER says:

    Kudos to you Bob! We need to get your dad on national TV and let everyone know that it is never too late to start yoga.

  9. Karin Bartimole says:

    A wonderful story Bob, Your dad has been an inspiration to the human spirit – persevere and have fun!

    My thoughts are with you as you take the final class together, here in earth school. May your time together be one of serene presence and grace. blessings to you both, Karin

  10. Megan Vescovi says:

    Mom sent me this article when it was first published and I reread it today. I love the story and I know grandpa was blessed to have the children he did!! I am thinking about you and everyone on this day!! Love to all, Uncle Bob!!
    Love, Megan

  11. Bob – thank you so much for sharing your story about your dad – as you know, Uncle Joe was an extraordinary man – he always had such an intense sense of curiousity about everything. He appreciated and was open to all that life had to offer. I love that he shared many magical moments with anyone he met. We will miss him. Much love to all of you – Suzie, Brent and Mom

  12. Joe passed away peacefully last Sunday morning, Jan 3rd.

    Thank you all for your thoughts and good wishes.

    Bob Weisenberg

  13. roseanne says:

    I'm so sorry to hear about your father, Bob… it looks like you posted this article just in time. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story…

  14. Lisa says:

    what a fantastic story. I LOVE seeing you and your dad practicing yoga. I also understand about the scooter- my grandpere had one and was SO PROUD of his scooter. he never had a drivers license in his life, but that scooter gave him such independence. He passed away two years ago.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Much Light and Love to you and yours.

  15. Thanks, Lisa. It always surprised me that there weren't more senior scooter excusionists out there. My Dad hardly ever ran into anyone else. It made me realize how unusual his sense of adventure was. He was happiest when he was lost and had to find his way back, which, happily, he always did.

  16. Karin says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss Bob. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May your heart and mind be filled with your most favorite memories of your times together…

  17. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, though it sounds like you had some quality time with him in his final years. My thoughts are with you.

    By the way, is that you in the Hard Rock t-shirt?
    For some reason I've always pictured you with a beard…

  18. YogaSpy says:

    I am grateful that I belatedly found this, Bob. It resonates on many levels, from senior mobility (an issue that will affect us all), to yoga's benefits at any age, to your father's admirable zest for life. That photos is priceless, seriously. While I am sorry to hear that your father is gone, I am heartened to know that you bonded in his last three years. Thank you for sharing your story.

  19. Shirley says:

    Dear Bob, thank you for posting that aritcle and the lovely photos, my heart goes out to you. My Dad turned 90 this year as well and I feel isnt long for this world either, only wish he had started Yoga at 87 !! His brother, my Uncle Mohr, on the other hand is still living life full throttle at 96 – he celebrated his 96th birthday by doing the highest bungee jump in the world !! When asked the secret of his longevity he replied " Life is just too damn interesting to die " , amazing folk
    Blessings

    • Love that quote, Shirley. 96. Wow. I actually was not well prepared for my Dad's passing because his father lived to 101 and I always assumed he would, too.

      Thanks for writing.

      Bob

  20. Alvin Suniga says:

    Yoga is not only intended for young individual because old people need it more. This will be a very healthy exercise for them.

  21. YesuDas says:

    What an inspiration! It's funny; my wife and I had only an shadowy idea of what sort of married people we were going to be, and no clue at all what sort of parents we were going to be, but surrounded as we have been by remarkable seniors, we have always had definite ideas about the sort of old people we want to be. Your Dad seems like a great role model. Thanks for posting, and blessings and you and him and your family as you savor the wonderful memories.

  22. Bob, I did not know that your father passed away, so did mine, about 7 months ago. Your dad looks amazing here, going for yoga, what a spirit! beautiful. May he be in bliss surrounded by angels and forever happy :-)

  23. Don says:

    Thank you for a great article! My parents are both in their 80's and I am reminded of their spirit to live and be independent through reading about your father.

  24. I was seeking this kind of the other day. i don’t usually post in forums but i want to to say thank you!

  25. Silk Fiber says:

    I have to thank you for this sort of beneficial post. I’ve been struggling with adware for nearly as long as I’ve used a personal computer, thus this can be wonderful info to know!

  26. I loved this, Bob. What you did to give him that kind of independence is lovely, and inspiring. He was lucky to have you for a son!

  27. tanya lee markul says:

    Complete love.

  28. Nadine says:

    I experienced something similar but quite different recently. My partner’s father who had one leg amputated from the knee a few years ago, also gets around NYC on of these sexy rides. Towering at 6 foot and plenty like his son, to see a man of such stature ‘confined’ to a chair was incredibly tough for me. We had our first ‘meet the parent’ date in Times Square one Friday evening at rush hour. You can imagine the scene of me and him ‘leisurely’ strolling along 42nd St, and driving all of these high energy New Yorkers crazy! It was kinda comical. By the time I got home, all I could do was lie flat on the couch. Kudos to you and your Dad and especially to you for sharing your story. My mother has PD, and the first time I invited her to the mat was just awesome. To see her surrender total and utter trust to me was beyond anything I’d ever experienced. She is my ultimate teacher and student. Blessed Love, Nadine!

  29. Faith says:

    Bob, this is so sweet. Must have been a hard conversation for you, but wonderful that your Dad was willing to listen. Sounds like a good relationship.

  30. Can I just say what a relief to uncover somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about on the

    internet. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important.

    A lot more people ought to read this and understand this side of the story.

    It’s surprising you’re not more popular given that you certainly possess the gift.

  31. Thanks, ndsmith. I really appreciate your thoughts.

  32. Thanks, Donna. Yes, he is a pistol, Curious Joe.

    He has a 15 month old great grandson (my grandson) who is already exhibiting the same traits!

  33. Thanks for writing, jprayne. Beautiful story.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor

Leave a Reply