Today's special guest is Bernard “Bernie” Otis. He's chatting with me about his humorous look at life in his book, How to Prepare For Old Age (Without Taking the Fun Out of Life).
Bernie Otis is well-known for food service facility planning, marketing, and management and has been a sales consultant, speaker, writer, and community leader.
During his 65-year career, he has been instrumental in helping firms like ITT Corp, Hewlett Packard, Barkley’s Bank, and Tiffany’s of New York, as well as being involved in the design and construction of food service facilities for Disneyland, major hospitals, universities, and restaurants.
Bernie lived in Las Vegas for 21 years and has done most of the hotels in that city as well as the majority of the hotels and restaurants in Southern California, Santa Clarita, and San Diego areas to name a few.
He joined Rotary in 1954 and has been president of 2 clubs and charter member of 3. He is a Paul Harris fellow.
As a trained hospice care giver, he works with families of terminally ill patients and does other community service. He is also a consultant to Lifeline Companion Services, a leading home healthcare organization.
Bernie has been actively involved in the National Indian Gaming Association, is a major speaker at industry conferences. His talk on the history of Las Vegas is exciting, interesting, and popular as are his talks on business and relationship building.
When his internationally respected wife Anna was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Bernie put his career on hold and spent the next two and one half years at her side making certain that her final journey was as comfortable as possible.
Following the tragic passing Anna in October of 2012 he moved into Fairwinds-West Hills Assisted Living facility in West Hills, CA where he continues his work with persons with disabilities, along with his other activities. From the time Anna passed until March of 2015 Bernie has also spent his time writing a tribute to her.
The book How to Prepare for Old Age (Without Taking the Fun Out of Life), was published in May of 2015 and introduced at the New York Book Faire. It is a humorous and anecdotal book about the journey through life. He has also, as part of this book written a Book of Poems about Life, which is part of the publication.
His first book, Revenue Generation Through the Sale of Kumquats and Other Things has been most successful.
Welcome, Bernie. Please tell us about your current release.
In this touching, often humorous and very personal account, Bernie shares his 86 years of life, love, loss, and laughter as an inspirational guide to what it means to age without growing old. His advice on love after 60, how to talk with family members about illness, what you should be prepared for when confronting tragedy and loss, what it means to be a caregiver to a loved one and many other of life’s challenges are a must for family members young and old.
Mr. Otis’ book is a treasure trove of personal and professional life experiences that will help you prepare for old age and take control of the nature of aging. Be prepared to laugh out loud and quietly shed a tear as Bernie takes you through the voyage of life.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to do something to honor my beautiful late wife as well as leave a legacy to my family.
I believe that one should not die and not leave their knowledge behind.
Excerpt from How to Prepare For Old Age (Without Taking the Fun Out of Life):
MY NAME IS BERNARD OTIS. WHAT’S YOURS?
Let's get to know each other, shall we?
Every good relationship begins with a first step.
So, the first thing you need to know about me is that I was born into a large Orthodox Jewish family in Detroit.
The second thing—which may be a result of my upbringing, who knows?—is that I've been told I have a rather bizarre sense of humor for an eighty-five year old.
How's this for size?
When Jason was told that his ninety-five-year-old grandfather had passed away, he immediately went to see his ninety-year-old grandmother to comfort her. When he arrived, he asked her what had happened.
The grandmother explained that her husband died while they were having sex.
Jason was stunned, and told his grandmother that he was shocked to find out that they were having sex at their age, suggesting that it was a "very bad situation."
The grandmother responded by telling him that she and the grandfather had discovered, a few years earlier, that if aging persons had sex when the church bells rang, it was safe.
She said that it was all about the rhythm—that if you go in with the ding and out with the dong it was very relaxing and safe.
And then she added, “If that stupid ice cream truck hadn’t come by, Grandpa would still be alive today.”
We lived in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. We're talking an area that was about seventy-five percent Jewish, twenty percent Catholic, and the rest a mix of various religions.
My goal was to become an architect, an ambition I abandoned in my thirteenth year due to bad eyes. I did not attend the local high school (Central High), but instead chose to attend Cass Tech, a very well-known technical school that was located some seven miles from my home. I attended Cass Tech much to the chagrin of my parents who nonetheless allowed me freedom of choice. The streetcar and bus both got me back and forth except when there were transportation strikes, which was frequent.
In those dark times, I had to walk. I had no choice.
However, regardless of the occasional inconvenience, this decision—mine and mine alone—would prove to be a major turning point in my young life.
The student population of Cass Tech, a seven-story building in the downtown area of Detroit, was comprised of individuals seeking to become not only architects, but also artists, engineers, musicians, technicians, builders, chemical scientists...
They came from every race, creed, religion, ethnicity, financial level, and family status.
For the first time in my life, I was confronted with real options as to my future.
And a real mix of people that have enabled me in my lifetime to look upon everyone as an equal.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am writing a book about our two most valuable assets: awareness and relationships.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Many years ago when we were using stone tablets, I began to write business books and articles.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am 86 years of age and live in an assisted living center. I spend my time writing, advising clients on business development issues, and speaking at Rotary clubs and community organizations.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
The ability to sit down in front of a computer and just start to write—the words just flow.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An architect, but because of my poor eyesight, I was not able to pursue that.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Make every day a happy event and help others grow.
Thank you for being here today, Bernie!