Fred Bauer with his dog Sasha

Curiosity Never Grows Old

Fred Bauer’s curiosity and lust for life is a palpable energy force. At the age of eighty-six, the Marblehead resident still considers himself a “Sage Intern: a perpetual student of wisdom”. This is a much preferable label to Fred than senior citizen.

When Fred was sixty-five, he developed a theory of aging for himself. He entitled it, “The Sage Intern’s Manifesto” One of his eight credos reads as such: “Act on my choice to maintain intellectual curiosity and spiritual energy at least equal to those who have spent fewer years on earth.”

To that end, Fred sets out to learn something every day. “Life is a learning experience.  If I’m not learning something every day, I’m not living.”

Fred has been a writer all his life. It began in Junior High when a teacher assigned a writing project on the topic of National Dog Week.  Fred wrote his essay from the perspective of his three cats.  National Scholastic published his story.  That was the moment he knew he would be a writer.

Fred studied advertising and journalism. He worked for many years as a copywriter.  There were sales training courses and healthy lifestyle courses that he wrote.  He liked to help people through his writing.

Fred tries to write on a daily basis. “I try to write about things that involve me emotionally.”  He likes to be involved in various projects.  Recently he decided to do hand-written letters to friends.  To make the project more authentic, he purchased a fountain pen and ink.

Life was altered last April when Fred fell and suffered a concussion and broken ribs. He still experiences repercussions of the concussion.  Due to that fall, Fred is restricted in his ability to get outside the house.  He is also restricted to the first floor of his house since his mobility makes stairs very difficult.

Fred receives home care services daily through a long-term care insurance policy. He also is a North Shore Elder Services’ home delivered meals recipient.  He happily reports that is working out great and that he really enjoys the food.

The house in Marblehead is his salvation as he thinks of it. It sits with a view of the ocean, which he considers his friend.  He takes great pleasure in interpreting the moods of the ocean.

“I can sit here and look at the ocean and enjoy my thoughts and read my New Yorker. I am blessed.  Older people do not usually have the advantages I do.”

Fred has been alone since losing his wife Jane in 2004. Moral support comes from his Cairn terrier, Sasha.  She has been his loyal companion for over ten years.  She has his same happy exuberance for life.  “Pets are therapy to me.”

Remaining social is more challenging now that Fred’s mobility is restricted. He was an active church member and recently participated in a dinner held at the church.  Fred’s dear friend Terri now lives in Yarmouth.  Although they are not able to get together, they do speak by phone every day.

Savvy with the internet, Fred keeps abreast of current events and can make purchases without having to leave his house – like the fountain pen he just acquired!

Fred has been health conscious most of his life. His own father died at age fifty, when Fred was nineteen.  That early death spurred his keen interest in healthy living.

After his fall, Fred took a serious hard-working approach to recuperation. He believes as you age you have to take healing in stages and set a careful pace.  He is also someone who wants to understand his health – the good and the bad.

The Vanishing Line is what Fred refers to as his life and everyone’s life in general. “I’m walking along this line till it vanishes and I’m not here anymore.”

“I play a mind game with myself. Suppose the ocean isn’t there, suppose you are in an apartment without windows overlooking the ocean, suppose you don’t have Sasha anymore…..It’s hard to imagine.  Do you want to continue living?  If my line continues without all ‘this’, it is going to be much harder.”

In the meantime, Fred plans on living out the rest of his days in his oasis by the ocean with his trusted companion Sasha. Fred is proud of his accomplishments and his mind.  He has fond memories of his days as a member and drummer of General Glover’s regiment in Marblehead.  Fred has also published two books.

“Marblehead’s Pygmalian: Finding the Real Agnes Surriage” was published in 2010. “The author has researched, examined and turned the story inside out searching for historical context and understanding.”  It was Fred’s fascination and curiosity of the main character that led Fred to this extensive research and reflection.

Fred’s sense of curiosity serves him well. It pushes him forward each day and motivates him to continue learning.  He truly lives as he proclaims in his Manifesto, “Greet each day as a gift, each hour as a bonus, and each second as an opportunity.”

“Age may wrinkle the face but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” – Danish Proverb

Author Info

Jayne Girodat

Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at North Shore Elder Services. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne's background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. "I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you'll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services' audience."

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