The 70-Something Blog is now The 80-Something Blog. Stay tuned in ten years for The 90-Something Blog!
I’m OK with being eighty. But I wouldn’t have minded if I had been born five years later. Then I might have been a bra-burning-1960’s-feminist. I might not have been expected to be a teacher because I failed to get a husband in college.
So imagine how pleased I was to see “Older and in Power, Unwilling to Remain Unseen” on the front page of The New York Times a week ago.
Whatever you think of Nancy Pelosi, she is Speaker of the House at age seventy-eight. And Glen Close just beat out four younger nominees to win the Golden Globe for best actress at age seventy-one. There are 127 freshmen women in the new Congress and the oldest of them, Donna Shalala, is turning seventy-eight. Susan Zirinsky, at sixty-six, will take over CBS news in March.
Of course, we still have a long way to go. Movies have few roles for women over sixty. Corporate boards were only 17.3% female last year. But California has just passed a law that mandates at least one woman on every board.
Much to celebrate. Much to be done.
What is it about being eighty? Now that I have been eighty for almost a year, I feel qualified to comment on a few of the changes this decade brings.
1. Like every previous decade, I’ll be ten years older when it’s over. But when this one ends, I will be “old-old”. That’s a bit daunting.
2. Among our married friends, one of almost every couple has a serious health problem. Life seems more fragile these days.
3. My body suddenly bruises at the slightest bump. I’m discovering new black and blue marks almost every day. And I never seem to know what caused them
Peter reminds me that our bodies come with a life-time guarantee.
Unfortunately, the parts don’t.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts where we live, people put things on the curb that they don’t want, but think others might. Outgrown toys or bicycles. A not-needed chair or a bookshelf.
The other day I walked past a stroller and thought to myself, “Boy, I wouldn’t leave a stroller like that out—someone will take it.” But the next morning when it was still there, I thought it was probably meant to be taken. On my way home, it was gone…either the owner realized their mistake or someone had acquired a like-new stroller.
Which leads me to the trash room on our floor of our apartment building. It’s about the size of a closet with the expected chute for garbage, two recycling bins and lots of signs about what one can or cannot throw where. It also has a shelf with containers to recycle batteries and light bulbs.
But there are some things left that people think others might want. Like the time there was a very old aqua night table. And I have to admit that I took a badly off-kilter straw basket to “temporarily” hold a begonia that someone gave us that didn’t look great in its plastic pot. Of course I intended to buy a nice container for it, but so far I haven’t.
The other night when I went to throw away the trash the “give-away” shelf was fascinating. It contained five Christmas ornaments, an unopened package of three aluminum foil loaf-sized baking pans, and four cans of coconut milk.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
P.S. Today is the 11th anniversary of the first blog post on 70-something.com!
Peter wears Brooks Brothers shirts, but we only buy them when they are on sale. So we jumped on the computer the day after Christmas to place a 40%-off order. We ordered four with the understanding that Peter had to give away four very tired shirts wallowing in his closet.
The new shirts arrived the next day.
That got me thinking about all our Amazon purchases delivered in two days and about other ways we contribute to polluting the atmosphere.
And that got me to thinking about shopping with my mother when I was growing up in Pittsburgh. We’d dress up, complete with white gloves and take the bus downtown. We would have lunch in the tearoom at Kauffman’s Department store, probably creamed tuna on toast or some such delicacy.
Back then all the department stores had delivery trucks of their own that delivered purchases to your door within a day or two.
Was that really so different?
(Today’s entry is Peter’s annual contribution. )
When Judy invited me to write an entry for her blog, I wondered what I would write about. Then, on the first of January, I got an idea. I would try to explain why I thought 2019 would be a happy new year for me, even though I had a liar for President and Parkinson’s for a disease.
Two reasons. The first is that it could have been worse.
Lying Presidents are nothing new. Although I never saw him on television, I’ve read about Jefferson, who expected us to believe him when he wrote that he found it self-evident that all men were created equal, just because he only had a handful of them as his slaves.
And I don’t know exactly how old my grandparents were when they died, but I know they didn’t live long enough to get Parkinson’s. Like me, they couldn’t drive. But I can’t drive because my doctors think it would be a bad idea and they couldn’t drive because they didn’t know how.
If you know the regular author of this blog, you know the second reason why I think I’ll be happy in 2019.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, I walked to the gym. The weather report promised snow flurries but at 9:00 am, the sky was blue and the temperature almost balmy.
Going home, I decided to take a longer route along the Charles River. My thoughts drifted to the year about to end. It was a year filled with upheaval. I am not sorry to see it go.
On the other hand, I have so many things to be grateful for-- beautiful mornings, an amazing family, my wonderful friends and those of you who spend a bit of your time reading this blog.
Happy New Year!
The older we get, the more we fear falling. And with good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one in three adults 65+ falls each year, accounting for 30,00 deaths annually.
In my view, it’s all about balance, and there are lots of ways to work on that. Exercise in general is good. Tai chi, is very helpful if you have the patience to practice it. (I don’t.)
On balance, here’s my routine. Every morning, I brush my teeth standing on my left leg. Every evening, I brush my teeth standing on my right leg. I don’t even think about it. I just do it. And once a day I put an exercise band around my ankles and balance on one foot while I kick the other leg out to the front five times, to the side five times, and back five times. It helps to focus on an object while you do it, as if you were a prima ballerina.
And much as I like looking at trees and people, when I am walking on the brick sidewalks of Cambridge, I spend a lot of time looking down.
So far, so good.
My Uncle Milton was an obstetrician. I adored him. According to my mother, he put himself through medical school by selling hot dogs on a street corner. His wife, my Aunt Ruth, who died a couple of years ago at 104 was used to his leaving the house at all hours of the night. He delivered a significant percentage of the babies born in Buffalo, New York over the course of his long career. Back then, they didn’t have those medical partnerships that allow obstetricians to sleep through the night when it isn’t their night “on”.
I was thinking about that the other day when I met a new doctor and asked him how he felt about practicing medicine in these days of hurried appointments during much of which the doctor is typing on a computer. He said he didn’t know any other way. (He did look pretty young.) He added that the older physicians he knew didn’t have to do much typing because they saw far fewer patients and they could remember them. Today’s doctors take notes because they don’t have the luxury of getting to know people they see.
And it’s different for patients too. Although there are many modern medical miracles for which we are grateful, we have to be more aggressive in seeking care if we don’t want to get lost in the healthcare bureaucracy.
Something has been gained. But something has been lost.
After I agreed to be this month’s guest speaker at the Women’s Breakfast Club in Concord, MA, I asked myself how I could possibly get myself up at the crack of dawn on a December morning and drive fifteen miles to speak to a distinguished group of women over 65. Knowing my luck, I would face a blizzard or at least a serious traffic jam.
It turns out that when I got out of bed, the sun was shining, and I got to the Colonial Inn in Concord with time to spare. The Inn, built in 1716, was at its Christmas-best, including a gorgeous display of gingerbread houses.
The welcoming audience of interested and interesting women made me feel like Michelle Obama on a book tour.
They listened to me for about thirty minutes, and then we had a great discussion about the issues and opportunities that 70-somethings face—like how it feels to be invisible, relationships with our grown children, even how it feels to be offered a seat on the subway.
It was over far too soon.