Members of the Oakhurst Wild Goose Qigong Practice Group were delighted to celebrate John Masterson’s 86th birthday with cards and balloons at their Tuesday practice before his weekend family celebrations began.
Barbara Leath and Jennie Flaherty, facilitators of the Caregiver Respite Group, brought birthday cake to share with the rest of the practice group as well as with the staff and members of the Sierra Senior Center who were present during the lunchtime Senior Nutrition Program.
When asked about his life, John said, “I was born in Oklahoma. At the age of 2, I left the tornadoes for Madera County and never went back.”
After completing eighth grade in Nipinnawasee, “I went to work, any kind of work. At age 19, I started working in the woods for Albie, Leonard, and Raymond Gaylord as a knot-bumper, doing the final limbing of the trees before they were loaded for the mill. They put me in, saw I could do it, and they kept me. I logged locally, over to Lake Arrowhead, Shaver Lake, and Beasore Meadows. It was good work, it kept me out of trouble.”
John was well-liked as a worker. He did everything else to earn a living including picking cotton and grapes in the Madera area. At age 22, he met his wife Katherine with whom he shared the next 60 years until she passed away more than three ago.
“I miss her as much now as the day she died,” continued John, who eventually started coming to the Senior Center because of encouragement from a friend. He joined the Qigong Practice Group because “it was something different. I stayed, and here I am.”
John has come to almost every practice. He has the distinction of attending the most practices of any member of the Flock, including the practice coordinator.
“It’s something different for me to do. I feel better, there’s not as many aches and pains, and it’s good for my bad back,” John said. The other members of the Wild Goose Qigong Practice Group agree, observing that like themselves, John has made significant improvement in coordination, balance, and flexibility.
Everyone is happy to practice when John is there to help “greet the sun,” and John and the other members look forward to having new people join the Practice Group.
“No experience is necessary. All that is needed is a desire to have fun and to move within one’s range of motion,” group coordinator Marcia Kamiya-Cross said.
For information on the Caregiver Respite Group, contact Leath at (559) 683-6474 or Flaherty at (559) 658-8227. The group meets 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Tuesdays, and provides care and activities (including qigong practice) and socialization for family members with Alzheimer’s/Dementia or who are elderly/disabled, providing a needed break for their caregivers.