SO FAR. . .SO GOOD!!!

60-year-old-swimsuit-model

A girlfriend of mine just sent this picture to me with the caption: “When I see her, I think of you!” Whoa there. Me? Okay, I do, in fact, wear a bathing suit everyday. I do have long hair, (although it’s not quite that white yet) but I look at it and see a woman whom I might like to look like someday, you know, when I am HER age. Here’s the problem: I am already older than the Italian model pictured above!! Isn’t perception a funny thing? Psychologists say that we have a good sense of who we are by the age of six. Apparently, for some of us that view never really shifts!

 Einstein taught us that if you remain still, time moves rapidly forward. However, if you travel at the speed of light, time, in fact, does not move at all. Thus, if you stay fixed and unmoving, the minutes just tick on. Today, The New York Times published the results of a study, which correlated movement with happiness. Researchers found that people who moved more frequently–even simple walking–reported greater satisfaction and joy than those who spent most of their time in a chair.

 That’s why it’s important to keep yourself, ‘out there’ meeting new people, trying new things and avoiding stolid routines. If you’re just counting out your pills while sitting in your easy chair, you’ll get stale. Worse, your optimism may morph into depression. Recently, I saw a great cartoon that depicts a guy falling from a 20-story building. At each floor, he yells out, “So far, so good!” Now that’s a great way to live until we’re on that one-way train to infinity with no return ticket.

When I see friends that I knew 10 or even 50 years ago, they really do seem the same. Delusional? Maybe, but if you look at others from the inside out they don’t really change much. They are who they were. Mostly they are who you remember them as.  So if my girlfriend, whom I haven’t seen in 10 years sees this picture and thinks of me…I say RIGHT ON!! Perhaps I’ve been travelling the speed of light and didn’t even know it!

 

      

TURN HEADS…CHANGE HEARTS

helen-tennis-t-shirt

About 15 years ago, an older fellow that I played tennis with gave me this T-shirt for Christmas with my picture on it. At the time, I thought the gesture was sweet but was too embarrassed to actually wear a shirt with my own face on it. Seemed downright silly.

 Fast-forward all those years and I’ve changed my mind. I love looking at that shirt now. I even remember the day the photo was taken: I had just emerged victorious from an arduous match of mixed doubles! In fact, that younger picture of me makes me so happy, that I want ALL of our elderly, particularly those in homes, to have one of themselves!

 I think that all of us should give the older folks in our lives a T-shirt with their favorite photo from ‘back in the day’ on it. If they can’t choose their own photo, do it for them. Plaster their younger self on it to remind all who come into contact with them that they were young once—that they had a life—and that they are not just the wrinkled, bent over creatures they may have become since then.

 Can’t you just see the changed look on the faces of all those caretakers in the nursing home when they see a picture of cranky, old, arthritic Doris in pigtails astride a galloping horse? Or hear the amazement in a kid’s voice when he says, “Gosh, I didn’t know Granddad could ride a surfboard!”

 If my Granny were still alive, I’d put that photo of her the afternoon she waltzed out into the backyard, tied on a pair of her old, tap shoes and started demonstrating the ‘time step’ for me. I wish all those who had only known her as an old woman could have seen that!!

 This is MY resolution for 2017: get a T-shirt for everyone over 60 with a picture of their younger self on the back! Add a slogan that says: “This is who I WAS and still AM!” It won’t just turn heads. It will change hearts. I promise you. Help me make it happen. SHARE this and send me your photos!!!!

P. S.  Personally, I would put a photo of me riding my motorcycle up Highway 101, wearing a red halter-top and shorts, with my long hair flying in the wind. Unfortunately, no one took that picture. It exists only in my mind.

TIME FLIES SO WALK THE MINUTES WISELY

alz-clock

Amazon is now selling a special clock just for those with Alzheimer’s. Apparently, the big selling point is that it spells out the day since those with dementia struggle with abbreviations. But here’s the thing. Just because you can say what time it is doesn’t mean that you’re ‘all there.’ It simply means that you can mimic a clock. It’s the minutes that really count in life, particularly the ones you spend making friends.

 A few days ago, I reunited with three women whom I first met when I was only 13. Our re-connection was seamless, as if little time had passed at all. However, having lived 50 more years since then, we now have much more to share with each other. Yes, time has changed, re-arranged, shrunk, expanded, puffed and wrinkled us in ways that we never dreamed possible at 13! That’s probably a good thing. One should feel fresh, fearless and free in youth but we tend to lose those qualities as both time and experience wear us down.

 That’s where friends come in. If you choose them wisely when you are young they will help keep you young as you age. They will remind you of your earlier self while encouraging your present one. They will forgive your youthful missteps and help you up the steps now that you are older. Most of all? If you choose friends with attributes that you wished you had yourself, you will receive the benefit of those very qualities albeit indirectly.

 My ‘old’ girlfriends still have the gifts that I once envied as a child, but now deeply admire. One was gregarious and accepted others just as they were even all those years ago. She still does. Another was an artist who could fill a blank page with beauty so breathtaking that you simply stared in awe. Today, she is a talented interior designer. The last had a rebellious, adventurous spirit that even now keeps her freshly on the edge of things au courante. So, dear readers, should I ever lose my mind, kindly put the faces of my friends in front of me, not a clock!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE STORY

love-story

Forget Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal.  Randall and Joan have a love story far more poignant.  They have been married exactly as long as I have been alive:  63 years.  When Joan’s mom first laid eyes on Randall back in 1952 at church, she whispered in her daughter’s ear, “That is the boy you are going to marry.”  She was right.

 Three children, several grand and great-grand children later, they are still together.  They still hold hands.  Despite the fact that Randall uses a walker, he still holds the car door open for Joan when she gets in, then shuffles to the back, folds his walker into the trunk and eases into the driver’s seat.  Every afternoon, he drives Joan to Starbucks and they each get a simple coffee and sit together at a table in the center.  They love people watching and being, “out in the world.”

 A few months ago, their three daughters decided that they needed to sell their home of 40 years and move into an assisted-living facility.  That was probably a good decision.  However, Randall, having once studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, absolutely HATES the food there pronouncing it, “tasteless as cardboard.”  As a result, he has demanded the food portion of his bill back from the facility and instead, takes Joan out for most of their meals. 

Clearly, Joan is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and each time we meet, asks me the same, exact questions as if she were a 33 1/3 LP going around in circles.  When I ask Randall how he is coping, he confesses that he is, “worried I will outlive my retirement savings.”  Then he adds, “Look, I know I’m not going to get any better than I am right now.  So, every night when I go to bed, I pray, ‘Lord I am ready whenever you are.’  But at the same time, I also pray that I will be able to care for Joan as long as she lives.”

 There is no greater love I’ve witnessed than his for her but here is what distresses me most.  Their daughters have told him “several times” that they, “don’t like” his going to Starbucks every day.  They complain that, “It is too expensive.”  If I ever meet them, I will give them more than a piece of my mind.  I might just turn them over my knee and give them a good spanking.      

 

 

 

 

 

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HOME ALONE

scrabble

 Much ado has been made about all the things we are supposed to do to help us as we age: daily exercise, take Omega-3’s, create lots of social networks and eat our leafy greens. We know we’re supposed to train our brains by doing puzzles or learning new languages. But here’s the thing: no one talks about the solitude of old age and many of the elderly are now solo.

 Most are not alone by choice. Some have lost their spouses and others their friends. Add to that the fact that younger people simply don’t ‘see’ or interact with them. As a result, they ‘feel’ alone even when they’re not. Now many retired folks will tell you that they value their ‘alone time.’ There’s good reason: they’ve spent the majority of their lives working with or caring for others. Having to “do nothing” is a relief. However, they quickly lose their footing in the bustling world of others. Gone are the carpools, business lunches, golf outings and European vacations. In their place? Not much.

 This year, more than 20% of people over 55 are living alone. That percentage has doubled since 1999. So what does science have to say about that? Who’s going to know if you slip and fall or go off your meds? Pretty much no one and there’s the rub. What’s the remedy for that? While 75% of men over 65 are married, 25% are still alone.  Only 45% of women are married so more than half of them are solo, too!

 Millions of elderly people are now finding themselves, ‘home alone,’ but unlike Macaulay Culkin, no one is going to rescue them if they get into trouble. They are literally ON THEIR OWN. Now some do this with a breeze. Others? Not so much. They curl up in front of the TV, don’t eat well and wither away.  If a tree falls in the forest and you don’t hear it, does it make a sound?  You bet.

 Recently, my husband was out of town for several weeks. I noticed that our Scrabble board was still set up in the den. So, I decided to play against myself. It was quite fun. Not only did I get to use all the letters, there was no scorekeeping, which meant that I won no matter how poorly I played! All along, I kept up a lively conversation with my imaginary partner. Good thing no one else was there or I might just not be home alone but in a loony bin instead.  Well, at least I’d have company.

 

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL

mirror mirror

 There was an article in the NY Times this week entitled, “Do your friends actually like you?” Research shows that only about half of perceived friendships are mutual. The study was done on 21-34 year-olds. Turns out that while those young people were 95% certain that their besties really were their besties that was only true about 50% of the time. Whoops.

 If this research were done on older people, my guess is that the results would be vastly different. We are not so easily deluded. Time has made us infinitely wiser and more humble in spite of ourselves. Once you hit 50, you likely know the difference between the friend who will visit you in jail and the one who will actually bail you out. (Don’t ask me why this particular analogy is right at my fingertips).

 When I was 5, there was a TV show called, “Romper Room,” which I loved. “Miss Sherri,”** was the hostess on our local station and I was pretty sure that she was my friend. She was sweet, loved kids and always taught us to be, “Do Bee’s.” The best part of the show was at the end. She held up her ‘Magic Mirror,’ “So that I can see all of you at home.” I knew that she could see us because she even said our names like, ‘I see Mary and Jenny and Johnny and Tommy and.” But in all the times I watched, she never once said, “Helen.” Not once, although I often yelled at her, “Miss Sherri, it’s Helen! I’m here. Right here. I’m watching, too!”

 Somewhere between then and now I found my very, best friend. She knows everything about me and still loves me. She brings me up short if I stray and praises me when I follow the straight and narrow. We have no secrets and no hidden agendas. She’s not perfect but some parts of her are just awesome!  We understand and accept each other as we are.  No matter where we are, we are there for each other, always and forever.   I don’t even need to call or text her. I just have to look in the mirror. As Granny used to say, “You can’t ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ if you don’t love yourself first.”

**Sherri Finkbine made headlines in the 1960’s when she accidentally took a common sleeping pill containing Thalidomide early in her 5th pregnancy.  Her doctor suggested a therapeutic abortion, but it was illegal at the time.  She and her husband were forced to go to Sweden instead.  It was determined that her fetus was so badly deformed and damaged from the drug that it would not have survived.  Now in her 80’s, Sherri is the mother of 6 children.   

 

  

 

 

 

TOP TEN CLUES YOU’RE NOT A KID ANYMORE

smiley face2

 

  1. Everything hurts and if it doesn’t you’re just waiting for it to.
  2. “Your Body is a Wonderland,” in every sense of the word. Skin has gone south from your forehead to your ankles leaving a series of tiny, folded wrinkles that you can move around willy-nilly.
  3. Instead of tanning, you become covered with a splash of brown spots right out of a Jackson Pollock painting.
  4. Your teeth get bigger but your mouth gets smaller. (This is likely purposeful so that you will chew better and eat less).
  5. Everyone you see driving is entirely too young to be behind the wheel.
  6. You ask people on the phone to “speak up,” often more than once, and you still don’t know what they said.
  7. Complete strangers routinely ask if you have grandkids.
  8. Your mailbox is filled with ads for retirement homes, nursing facilities and funeral companies.
  9. You’re always looking for ramps.
  10. You can actually make a smiley face with the extra skin around your knees! (Test this by lying on your back and raising your leg in the air.)