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

Another Birthday

This week The 80-Something Blog is thirteen years old.  If the blog were our child, it would be a teenager!  This is its 1356th post since its birth in 2008 as The 70-Something Blog.  My seventieth birthday was a month away then, and I thought that writing about being a septuagenarian would help me process my transition from “almost old” to old.

People often ask me how I decide what to write about.  Do I have a list of topics?  No.  Do I worry that I might run out of ideas? No, at least not yet.  Often, I have something on my mind that I want to share with my readers, but not always.  All I know is that writing helps me process what’s happening in my life. 

To those who have been with me since the beginning, my thanks.  To those who might just be joining us, welcome. Next year at this time I will probably be telling you that I have just written my 1460th post.  I hope you’ll stay with me.


Lost and Found

Peter and I have been living with Parkinson’s Disease for a dozen years.  I say “Peter and I” because although he is the patient, I am the caregiver.  As the disease progresses, it’s harder for both of us.

Because the pandemic has restricted our social life, it’s a challenge to find new things that will get us out of our apartment. On Wednesday, I suggested we drive somewhere and walk in a different location for a change of scenery.  The day before, I had walked to our former neighborhood with a friend, and it was great fun to see what has changed in the three years since we left. I thought he would enjoy it. 

We parked and walked a part of our former regular “after dinner” neighborhood stroll.  I especially wanted to show Peter some changes on a nearby cul-de-sac. 

There was an attractive addition to one house that I wanted him to see, but all the houses are quite unusual including one that looked like it once belonged to Hansel and Gretel.

I didn’t mind going there twice in two days, especially because I caught a glimpse of one of those puffy skiing-type mittens perched on a fence post as we were leaving.  Obviously, some careless person dropped it and some nice person picked it up and put it in a visible place.  I don’t know who the nice person was, but the careless person was me.


Hello 2021

I always greet Peter on the morning of January 1st with this question:  “How’s your year going so far?”   I know, it shows a pretty pathetic sense of humor, but it seems to just come out automatically. 

We were luckier than so many people in 2020.  We lost no one close to us to Covid-19.  Although we missed our family and friends, we at least got to “see” them thanks to Facetime and Zoom.   But we know the worst may lie in front of us as the virus continues to spread. 

First, there will not be enough ICU beds to accommodate the victims of the fast-spreading virus. Once again, hospital tents are being set up for the overflow.  We will have to be even more careful until enough people have been vaccinated.  

Second, our healthcare workers are stressed to the point where hospitals are calling on student nurses, medical school students and retirees to fill in as their staffs continue to fall ill or burn out.

Third, many people continue to ignore social distancing or go mask-less.  I understand “Live Free or Die” but what if your “live free” causes others to die?

I am hoping our country can heal in 2021, that we can regain the respect of the world by respecting each other.

2021’s got to be a better year.


Six Words or Less

Shortly before Thanksgiving, The New York Times asked readers to submit in six words or less what they are grateful for in 2020.  More than ten thousand people responded, and the paper devoted a full page of the Thanksgiving Day paper to printing about a hundred of them.

Some of my favorites: “Saved a lot of lipstick money.” “I am bored, but not dead.” “Healthcare workers, healthcare workers, healthcare workers.” “Out of prison with great job.” “Postponed wedding, having baby instead.” “Zoom Thanksgiving beats ICU Christmas.”

I thought for a long time about the six words that expressed what I was most grateful for in 2020.  I came up with “Peter” “Seth” “Jeremy” “Katrina” “Leo” “Grady”.


Adios 2020

What a year!  So many lives lost to Covid-19.  So many people out of work, or even worse, losing their homes.  But also, so many heroes working under tremendous pressure, putting their lives at risk to help others.  So much creativity in dealing with once-in-a-century limits to our activities.  More chess, more knitting, hours of Zooming.  Families spending so much time together, relationships sometimes stronger, and sometimes not.

Lessons will be learned.  Books will be written about 2020, and courses will be taught.

I’m glad to see it go.

Happy 2021.


Celebration

Nine months ago, Peter and I gave a party to celebrate his 90th birthday.  We didn’t know then what “Covid-19” was all about, although one couple gave us a hint when they declined our invitation because of the just-beginning pandemic.  I remember we suggested, via signage, that people not hug, but we had no clue what was coming at us. Since then, many friends have told us that Peter’s 90th was the last party they attended this year.

 In the warmer weather, we often gathered in small groups at a distance in the garden behind our building.  But now it’s winter and it’s New England, a bad combination for anything outdoors not related to skiing.

So when we found out that a lovely young(er) woman on our hall had accepted a job in Florida, we needed to find a winter way to celebrate her.  The day we chose turned out to be cold and windy, but six of us carried folding chairs out into the parking area, set them up in a socially-distanced circle, and celebrated Amy.  After she explained her exciting new job, each person read a short poem written in her honor.  There was no food or drink, but we managed to last an hour before six freezing people picked up their folding chairs and the party was over.

We all had a great time.


Good Morning

It is our custom that Peter says a few end-of-the-year words on 80-something.  Here he is…

Seasons Greetings to all.

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When I woke up the other day it was still dark. I checked on Judy’s side of the bed.  And when I saw that she was still sleeping, I went downstairs to open the living room blinds. The streetlights were bright.   The traffic lights were working.

That meant that, all through the night, the generators had been generating.  The transformers had been transforming.  The batteries had been battering, or doing whatever it is that batteries do.

Which meant that there would be electricity around to make my breakfast coffee.  Toast my bagel.  Power my smartphone.  To operate my computer and allow me to write this piece.

The buses were running.   The food was being delivered to the grocery stores.

Things may be bad.  (The Economist is late this week!)   There are lots of things we’re going to have to fix when this catastrophe is over. But there are lots of good things going on that most of us don’t appreciate.    They may not seem like much, but think of what life is like in places were those things aren’t happening.

There are lots of things we’re going to have to fix when this catastrophe is over.

But not everything


Semester's End

On Wednesday, I attended my last learning-in-retirement class of the semester.  It was virtual and worked surprisingly well, even when in one session, the study group leader’s internet connection went down.  We just carried on without him for the five minutes or so it took to sort it all out.

In that class, we read five books by Philip Roth, all with subjects relevant to aging. Our discussions were lively and smart, and despite the dreary subject matter, we had our share of laughs.  The author of a forthcoming biography of Roth joined us for one delightful session. 

My other class was about demography.  Our text was The Human Tide. In addition, we looked at lots of United Nations graphs and statistics.  We pondered the future, noting that things like pandemics and global warming will have to be taken into consideration. But in general, it seems that in spite of all of the uncertainties, one can predict quite a bit about what our future world population will look like.

Once again, I was reminded that despite of how long I’ve been around, there’s still plenty for me to learn.


What's First?

It’s now OK to believe that 2021 will bring some relief from Covid-19. As first vaccines are making their way to our front-line healthcare workers, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Here’s what I plan to do when it is safe:

First, I will be grateful that my family is alright since an unfathomable number of people were not so lucky. After that, I will

  1. Hug my friends
  2. Eat inside a restaurant
  3. Cook for someone besides Peter
  4. Fly to Maryland to see our kids and grand-kids
  5. Stop buying everything from Amazon
  6. Go to plays, movies and concerts
  7. Resume pre-pandemic life to the fullest extent possible

What will you do first?


December

December is a time for reflection. And I have plenty of time to do that this year because there’s not much on our December calendar.  No Christmas parties. No First Night celebrations. Just virtual appointments with various doctors and a lot of Zooming around.  

December is also a good time for telling friends and family how grateful you are for having them in your lives, especially this year.  It’s been a long time since I’ve hugged a friend.  I miss that.

I hope that next year will be better, but we have a lot of work to do.  Healing our divided country will not be easy.  Distributing new vaccines efficiently and equitably and persuading people to take them will not be easy. Choosing priorities when there are so many things to be done will not be easy. 

We’re almost done with 2020. Thank goodness.  It’s been an interesting year.  Let’s hope that 2021 will be less so.