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

Coral Retires

I was delighted to be invited to the retirement party for my friend Coral who was the Harvard Business School’s Registrar for years.  We worked together on the development of a joint degree program between the Business School and the Kennedy School, and we became friends. 

I had walked between the two schools, across the Charles River from each other endless times for meetings.   But walking to her good-bye reception on that beautiful August morning, I felt a bit uneasy. I’d been retired for six years. Did I remember people’s names?  Would they remember me?  Would I be left in a corner with no one to talk to?  Would I yearn to be back at my old job?

The answers: Yes, I remembered the names of all the people I had worked with, and many greeted me like a celebrity. The tributes to Coral were lovely and very genuine.  She wasn’t the only one with tears in her eyes.

Do I want to be back at my old job?  No, I’ve moved on. 


Back to Becket

 

 

 

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In 1980, we dropped off our son Seth for his first summer at Camp Becket in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.  He was ten.

Who knew then that, thirty-nine years later, we would be back there to greet our fifteen-year-old-grandson Leo when he returned from his Becket “summer of service” in Vietnam?

Both Seth and his younger brother Jeremy had flourished at Camp Becket and we visited them there every summer for years. Now Jeremy lives in Maryland, so it took some persuading to convince our daughter-in-law Katrina to send their boys to Massachusetts when there were many fine camps closer to home. 

In the past few summers, we have visited our grandsons at Becket on the Sunday of Dad’s Weekend, but this year was different.

After we visited with our younger grandson Grady on Sunday, we stayed nearby for two extra days to wait for Leo and fourteen fellow campers to return from five weeks of service in Vietnam.

It was a bit nerve-racking because protestors forced the shutdown of Hong Kong airport, their first stop on the way home, but once we learned they had landed in Vancouver, Canada, we were OK.

I had butterflies in my stomach when we returned to camp with his parents to pick him up just as I had when Seth returned from his service trip to Kenya and Jeremy from his service trip to Russia and Sweden decades ago.

Suddenly Leo was there—looking taller, older, worldly and exhausted.  It was a short reunion because the Maryland family had a long drive home ahead and they had to be there in time for Leo’s soccer team tryouts first thing in the morning.

 

 


Eyeglass Strap

Have you ever seen anyone under age sixty with a pair of eyeglasses hanging from a strap around their neck?  Well, maybe on water skis or riding a buckin’ bronco.  But to most of us, eyeglass straps bring white-haired grandmothers in rocking chairs to mind.

Those of us who take our prescription sunglasses off whenever we go into a store and frequently have to run back to ask at the cash register if anyone has found them, eventually figure out that replacing glasses is expensive.  There comes a time when you should pay $2.00 plus tax for a plain strap with a loop at each end to fit over the earpieces regardless of the optics.

And I have done so.  One less thing to worry about.


Family Reunion

My mother and her five siblings were born in Buffalo, New York and she was the only one who didn’t spend her whole life there.  In the next generation only two first cousins stayed in Buffalo.  The rest are scattered around the country, but mostly on the East coast.  The generation after them went further—to the West Coast and Europe.

So making a family reunion is pretty complicated.  Nevertheless, when the Seattle cousins were coming East to pick up a child at a camp in the Adirondack mountains, cousins Joannie and Arnie invited everybody to gather at their summer home in Jamestown, Rhode Island.  Twenty-four family members were there— Peter was the oldest and one-year old Levi the youngest.  All attendees under 30 were male

I think eating and laughing are the two favorite activities of my family.  Huge amounts of wonderful food appeared at lunch and dinner.  And stories of all sorts, memories and more recent events had us laughing until the tears came.

Then, suddenly, it was very late and since we were driving back to Cambridge, we had to leave.  With good luck, we’ll do it again next year.


One Year Back Home

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we returned to Cambridge after our nine-month “adventure” in Washington, DC.  We’ve owned the places we’ve lived in for over fifty years, so getting used to imperfections in our rental apartment was a challenge.  Now, twelve months later, we no longer see its blemishes.

In these twelve months, we have seen all of our old friends and made some new ones.  We are well-located so that even doctor appointments are convenient (as long as we avoid rush hour).  We miss our kids and grandchildren who were near to us in DC.  But that makes our visits with them even more special.

As we gaze out over the Charles River through our floor-to-ceiling windows, we remark almost daily about the beauty we see as the seasons change.  In spite of some health challenges this year (not only ours but also those of our friends), we know that this very hard decision was the right one.


Marlboro

In the early sixties, my then-boyfriend introduced me to the Summer Music Festival in Marlboro, Vermont.  Marlboro is a teeny town, (population 978 at last count) about twenty minutes west of Brattleboro. Back then the Festival (held at Marlboro College) was run by the pianist, Rudolph Serkin. I remember how thrilled I was hearing Pablo Casals playing the cello there, his young wife sitting just behind me. 

Peter, my now-boyfriend, and I also love Marlboro, but we hadn’t been there for years until a couple of weeks ago. It was our first weekend away (not counting visiting family) in more than two years.  We booked a hotel in nearby Brattleboro and bought tickets for the Saturday night and Sunday afternoon concerts.

The astonishing thing was that nothing had changed in Brattleboro. It is still a 60’s hippy town.  Our hotel on Main Street has been there forever and has photos with ancient cars sitting outside to prove it.  It houses the town’s movie theater and if we weren’t going to concerts, we could have bought a dinner/movie combo that seemed like a bargain. We had dinner before the concert at a wonderful restaurant, the best people-watching I’ve encountered in years. 

When we got to Marlboro, nothing had changed there either.  Still random white houses, a couple of churches and a historical society.  The college campus, home to the Festival, looked as it had a half-century ago. We didn’t.

 

 


Walking Alone

My walking partner didn’t show up Wednesday morning.  Very unlike her.  I worried—needlessly, it turned out, because I had gotten the date wrong.

As long as I was out on the street, I decided to do our long “together” walk around the Charles River rather than my shorter “alone” neighborhood route.

It was a different experience.  First, it seemed to take longer.  When we walk, we talk, and we are always amazed by how quickly the time goes by.

Instead of being annoyed by the gaggle of Canadian geese I met Wednesday morning, I said “hello” to them.  On the bridge across the Charles River, I bumped into two former work colleagues, and we had a little chat about the old days.

I have to confess that I picked a few wildflowers along the way—they were so beautiful and there were so many that I didn’t think the wildflower police would miss them.

I wouldn’t want to walk alone all the time, but Wednesday's walk filled me with gratitude that I could walk and that I could do it in such a beautiful place.

 


Visit with Val

Valerie, my former across-the-street neighbor, moved from Massachusetts to New York City in 1989.  When her family arrived on Ridge Road more than forty years ago, her twin daughters fit into one carriage.  Once we traded one of our sons for one of her daughters for a school week because they had only girls and we had only boys and we wanted to see how the other half lived. Now she has five grandchildren. 

We still talk every Sunday.

Last week instead of running across the street to see her, I drove to Plymouth, MA. which is about halfway between Falmouth where Val is vacationing on Cape Cod and Cambridge where I am.  We arrived within minutes of each other at the random restaurant we had chosen with the help of Google and gabbed non-stop until we had stayed too long. Then we drove together to a beautiful nearby beach, sat on a big rock and gabbed some more.

The terrible traffic on my way home didn’t bother me. 

 

 


How Old We Feel

On June 30th I asked you to tell me how old you feel as compared to how old the calendar says you are.  Here are the unscientifically-gathered, anecdotally-reported, prove-nothing, but interesting, results.

Almost everyone said they feel younger than they are.  One or two respondents weren’t “sure”.  The rest of us felt anywhere from ten to twenty years younger. One who had just pushed a big rock up a hill in her garden reported feeling twenty at that moment. Many of you said that regular exercising, including Pilates, yoga, and walking kept you feeling young.  A few of us lift weights.  One reported that how old she felt depended on how much sleep she had gotten the night before.

Here’s what Peter who is 89 and my most loyal reader wrote:

    I'm not sure I know what it means to feel an age.  I know what age I don't feel I am: Young. I don't think about my age until something or someone points it out to me.  I feel old (maybe 60) when my back aches.  I felt old (maybe 21) when I was 16 and a kid who was in an elevator with me and referred to me as "that man".  I felt really old (61) when a pregnant woman offered me her seat on the subway.  I'm easily swayed.  I don't feel as old (or young) as I feel I am.  I feel as old as other people feel I am which, most of the time fortunately, is younger than what the calendar tells me at those rare times when I remember what year it is.

Thanks to all.


Knees News

I had my right knee replaced twelve years ago.  The surgery went smoothly.  The recovery did not.  Physical therapy hurt.  Working from my sofa was painful.  It took about a year for the swelling to go away.  To this day, people tell me I have a run in my stocking because I have a ten-inch vertical white scar through the center of my knee. 

I decided that one knee replacement was enough.  I vowed to keep my left knee unreplaced forever.

About a year ago, I began to have a little discomfort in that left knee. I ignored it until I couldn’t.  I decided to wait until summer was over before I sought help, but my friend/trainer Kathy said waiting was a bad idea because you have more options if you catch it before it is bone-on-bone. She mentioned something called Synvisc, a shot that puts a gel-like cushion between the bones. 

My X-ray showed severe osteoarthritis, but it wasn’t bone-on-bone yet.  My primary care doctor referred me to orthopedics.

I haven’t had much good medical news lately, so I was prepared for the worst.  But, not only did the doctor tell me that my replaced right knee still looked great,  she gave me a shot of Synvisc in my left knee that has already, just four days later, given me noticeable relief.

Good news for a change.