The 70-Something Blog is now The 80-Something Blog. Stay tuned in ten years for The 90-Something Blog!

Ten Years and Counting

When I post a blog entry, it often feels like I am sending it off into outer space.  I don’t know many of my readers personally, but I like to think that most of you are experiencing aging in ways that are not so different from the ways I describe.

When you got my blog post announcing 70-something’s tenth birthday, many of you responded with words of appreciation and encouragement. And you asked me to keep writing.  You understand the new challenges we anticipate facing in our eighties, and know that we are in this together. 

Thank you for your support. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.


The Best of Times

(Once again, Peter Kugel’s Annual Contribution to 70-something.com)

On Fridays at 4:00, the retirement community where we now live, offers us a weekly lecture.

We recently heard a retired neurologist talk about the history of Washington, DC during the second half of the twentieth century. It was, in the words of President Kennedy, “a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” It was also the capital of the richest and most powerful country on earth.  

For Americans who lived then (us) it was the best time in history to be alive and we were very lucky to live in it. Luckier than the people who lived before us and luckier than our grandchildren who will live after us.

Our ancestors lived without modern medicine or flush toilets. Our children, and their children, will have to live with climate change, the threat of nuclear war, a crumbling infrastructure that we have neglected, a huge national debt we have greatly increased, terrorism, income inequality and a dysfunctional government that will be unable to deal with the whole catastrophe.

The people we had dinner with that night agreed. We had been lucky and our grandchildren would not be.

When I went to bed, I remembered that things hadn’t looked so great when I was born (in 1930). It was the first year of a bad depression and that was followed by a terrible war. The future looked grim.

Before I went to sleep, I thought about something that Yogi Berra had once said: “It’s tough to make predictions. Particularly about the future.”


Duet

It’s not unusual for a resident of a retirement community to turn ninety. It's not unusual to have several generations of the family come from near and far. But last week’s birthday celebration for a resident of our community was special.

The new nonagenarian had been a piano teacher and composer. Her son, who came from Alaska for the occasion, is a world-class cellist. They gave a concert together for their family and invited all of our residents. Their program included several classics for piano and cello (by Saint-Saens, Bloch and Rachmaninoff), and her son played Bach’s Suite for Unaccompanied Cello in D-minor.

When they had finished, the world-class cellist thanked his world-class mother for accompanying him, as she has for all of his life.


Birthday Report

70-something.com is a decade old this week.

 

In 2008, I had no idea what going “public” with my life would bring. Now I can proudly claim that I have published twice-weekly (1,055 posts) since then because I grew to love sharing my seventies (and because I am compulsive).

 

Ten years ago I was a very different person.  I was constantly scurrying to keep up with work, home, friends and more.  At seventy-five, I retired, and losing my community of thirty-three years was hard for me. It took me six months to fill that void with the right balance of activities.

 

I am thrilled that the blog led to my book, published last June:  (70-Something:  Life, Love and Limits in the Bonus Years). And I am grateful to have so many new friends, blog readers who have written to me over the years.

 

Now, I will have a new phase of life to recount, because our recent move to a retirement community four hundred miles from home has considerably changed our lives.

 

At (almost) eighty, I can’t promise to blog for another decade. My concern is that the next ten years will bring losses, and I hope I can handle them with grace. 

 

Thanks to those who have joined me on this journey through my seventies.  Extra thanks to those who have stayed with me through all the ups and downs of the decade and to those who have written to tell me that my experience resonates with them.

 

Happy New Year.

 


When My Parents Were My Age

These days, I find myself thinking more about how my parents were feeling when they were the age I am now. (My father died at seventy-seven; my mother at eighty-six.) Now that I am approaching eighty, I realize that they may have felt more and more vulnerable as they grew older. I was too busy with my kids and my career to notice. They were my parents, and I took them for granted.

The move we’ve just made to an unfamiliar place has shown us our vulnerability. We don’t adjust to change as easily as we used to. I don’t know where to take my dry cleaning, where I can turn right on red or where to park my car. I have to find new doctors and in the spring, I will have to look for new farmers’ markets. (Fortunately, I don’t have to find a new husband.)

I am eager to feel settled, to feel more part of a community. People here are warm and welcoming, but they are not yet “our” people and we are not yet theirs.

Did my parents have an easy time when they retired to Florida? I wish I had asked.


Dinner for Six

Most evenings we eat dinner “out” in the dining room. We’ve shared tables with many of the hundred residents here, although occasionally we eat at a table for two or bring our meal upstairs to our apartment. Like everything else in this mega-changed life, it takes some getting used to.

The other night the head of the Hospitality Committee invited us to join her at a table for six. Everyone there except for Peter and me was at least ninety, and one woman was about to celebrate her hundredth birthday.

Only three of the six own a computer (and two of those were Peter and me). I think we were the only ones who had cell phones, which we found surprising, and our grandchildren would not have found believable.

Yet they all had interesting backgrounds. Two worked for the U.S government in Taiwan, Korea and other foreign countries. The almost- centenarian, who grew up in Wisconsin was a pianist whose son is a cellist living in Anchorage, Alaska. He will play for us when he visits her in January.

Everyone has a story.


It's a Small World

We had quite an international day last Wednesday.

In the morning, we met Peter’s new neurologist, a delightful young (to us) man who is half Cuban and half Jordanian. In the afternoon, we received two packages. One contained a jar of caramel sauce from France and a Murano glass heart from Italy, gifts from Seth’s recent vacation in Europe. The other package, from our former across-the-street-neighbors, contained a George Jensen wintertime window ornament from Copenhagen and some delicious chocolate candy from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Then at dinner, our companions talked about their son and daughter-in law who are living in Baghdad and about the other Berlin-born Peter living here who is currently visiting his child in Senegal. When we got back to our apartment we got a call from Peter’s niece who told us that her daughter had accepted a teaching job in Bhutan.

And have I ever mentioned that the Tunisian ambassador’s residence is across the street from us?

P.S. An apology to all Patriots fans for the senior moment when I referred to my team as the “Boston” Patriots. They have been the “New England Patriots” since 1971. What was I thinking!


Hanging Out with Family

Last Sunday, we showed up mid-afternoon at the kids’ house in Silver Spring bearing salty snacks. The agenda: The Boston Patriots vs. The Pittsburgh Steelers, accompanied by a huge pot of Jeremy’s signature chili.

Nine people (and two dogs) were watching, all but one rooting for the Pats. We were glad to be on the couch in a warm basement because it was pouring rain on the playing field in Pittsburgh.

I’m not a huge football fan, but there’s something about the Patriots and the way that Tom Brady, their amazing quarterback, can turn a game around in the last minute. The one Steelers fan among us was devastated while the rest of us were thrilled with the Patriots’ comeback.

Afternoons like that are why we’re here.


Your Questions, My Answers

70-Something readers are asking for details about our life in the nation’s capital.

They want to know:

  1. Do the buses and subways work for us?

Mostly they do. But there is some trial and error involved. Going home after a downtown lecture one afternoon, we waited for the bus on the wrong side of the street. When the bus arrived, the driver told us he wasn’t going our way. We crossed the street, and after a long wait, we made it home. We won’t make that mistake again.

  1. How far are we from the National Mall and all the wonderful museums?

That depends. By Metro—maybe thirty minutes. By car, it depends on traffic and how long it takes to find a place to park. The one time we drove, it didn’t take long. The jury is out on the best way for us to go.

  1. How do political discussions go?

It feels strange to be in a place where we will pay national taxes, but won’t be able to vote in national elections. But people do have strong opinions about national politics here. We talk with people whose opinions differ from ours, but not as often as we should.

  1. Do we get the local paper?

We intended to subscribe to The Washington Post, but somehow with all the settling in, we haven’t yet. However, wherever we go, we still get the print edition of The New York Times. And when I turn on my computer, it still opens to the front page of The Boston Globe.

Some things are easy to change. Others are not.