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February 2012

January 2012

Jealous No More

I was always a year younger than any of my classmates. I hadn’t skipped a grade, but I had started school at age four in Buffalo, New York because that school system had a grade between kindergarten and first grade.   A month after school began, my family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and my mother asked the school department to let me join the kindergarten class at the local elementary school.  She pleaded with them, saying that since I had started school in Buffalo four weeks earlier, I should be able to go to school in Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Board of Education said I could be tested to see if I was kindergarten-ready, and I passed.  I’d like to say that I passed with flying colors, but the only thing I remember is the picture of two baby shoes and the question was “What’s missing from one of them?”  Answer “a shoelace.”  I got that and probably some others right and became the youngest person in my class.

 I had no problem academically, but when I turned fifteen and all my friends started to drive, I was pretty miserable.  What seemed like eons later, when I turned sixteen, I passed my driver’s test in three weeks—probably the most motivated studying I’ve ever done. 

Age-wise, all went well until all my friends turned twenty-one.  Pretty obvious why that was a problem for me.

My attitude toward being too young has changed of late. In February, one of my friends whom I have known since I was four is turning seventy-five. 

I can wait for that, thank you very much.

It Used To Be Easier

At almost eighty-two, Peter is still (by all objective measures) a handsome man.  And he is a little mellower than he used to be, which is a good thing because I am not.  So, he keeps me centered.

But although he’s doing amazingly well more than three years since his Parkinson’s disease was diagnosed, some things have become more difficult.  For example, the other night as we were getting ready to go out for a dinner at friends, I noticed for the first time that he was having some trouble buttoning the cuff of his shirt. 

I was about to offer to help him when he succeeded.  Still, I could feel his frustration.  He told me that his difficulty is typical of people with Parkinson’s and that at his recent appointment with the neurologist, she had asked about it.

I hated watching him struggle, but he prevailed.  And that’s Peter.

Sock Drawer

Peter’s socks fit into one tiny drawer.  With the exception of the black pair that goes with his tuxedo, they are all a very neutral dark charcoal gray.  That makes life easy when it comes to sorting laundry or deciding what to wear.

My “sock” drawer, on the other hand, is twice as big and overflowing. 

It contains sheer stockings and knee-highs in multiple shades, tights in black, brown, cream, and burgundy, and a mixed salad of trouser socks.  It has pink socks with red circles (bought in Spain) and black socks with huge colored flowers (bought on the Internet).  It has low-cut white socks from bicycling and high cut white socks from the olden days.  Similar items are sorted in freezer bags.

In my next life, I want to be a man.

Business Trip

I have lost count of how many times I have flown to Washington, DC for work. It’s an easy trip.

Yet I still have a tinge of pre-travel anxiety.  What have I forgotten?  Nothing I couldn’t buy.  Will Peter be OK without me?  I’m afraid so.  All will be fine as long as to quote him, “the blondes are out of the house before you come home.”

Once I am in a cab on my way to the airport, it’s like being in a whole new zone.  My thoughts are exclusively on my destination. 

Sleeping in my hotel room after a full day of meetings earlier this week, I woke in the middle of the night. I was sure I heard Peter’s even breathing beside me and started to reach out for him, forgetting momentarily that he was a plane ride away.

I know he misses me, despite his warning about the blondes.  After all these years, I still can’t wait until the cab pulls up to our house and I see that all is well.

No sign of blondes.


OK, this one gets filed in the “I can’t believe I’ve revealed this” department of the 70-Something blog.

As a young teenager my best friends and I were very concerned about our development, as in breasts.  Someone shared an exercise that we all took to heart, so-to-speak.  You clasp your hands with your elbows shoulder-high and push your palms together and apart, while repeating rhythmically, “I must, I must, I must develop my bust.”  To the best of my knowledge (and I would love to poll my high school friends on this one), this exercise had no effect whatsoever. 

This came to mind as I forced myself to do push- ups the other morning, something that also probably has no effects, at least not on my breasts.

Years after the breast development challenge, I saw a new book touting exercises to prevent facial droop.  My older friend and colleague Muriel and I set about trying to defer or prevent the ravages of aging by making faces.  It was a complete failure, and I have the wrinkles to prove it.  (By the way, if you search “facial exercises” on Amazon’s book site, you get 719 results, which means that some folks are still willing to try.)

The lesson, accept who we are. Warts and all, we still have plenty to work with.

How Do We Want To Be Remembered?

I always thought that legacies were people who got into college because a parent or older sibling was a graduate.  Until lately.

Since I became a grandparent, I’ve been thinking about my own legacy, how I want to be remembered.  For eight years, I have been writing letters to our grandchildren.  They don’t live near us, so I generally write them when we come home from a visit.  I tell them about us and about them and how they have changed. 

They won’t see the letters until they (and we) are much older, but there will be a record of those magic moments of getting to know them, a legacy of sorts. 

A few years ago, our son Jeremy videotaped Peter and me separately on his front porch, each talking about our life and our times to be shown to the grandkids in twenty years. So, thanks to their father, they will have our faces as well as our words.

How I wish I had something like that from my parents!  What I would give to have their reflections on their lives when they were the age I am now.

On Monday, thanks to a newspaper article by Jane Brody,, I read a review of a new book about legacy called Thirty Lessons for Living:  Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.  The book summarizes the views of more than 1,000 Americans as compiled by the Cornell Legacy Project.  Topics include Aging, Marriage, Parenting, Careers and more as viewed by more than 1,000 older Americans.

A legacy that can benefit us right now.

Fourth Birthday

The 70-Something blog will be four years old on Tuesday and that means that I will be seventy-four soon.  I’m not sure which is more shocking—that I’m still writing what’s on my mind twice weekly or that I am about to be seventy-four.

For the record, this is my 420th posting.  Maybe 85,000 words.  Two-inches of single-sided printed pages (printed out because one can never be sure that the files on the Internet won’t disappear.)

Over the holidays, I looked back at those four years.  There were themes I returned to often—my kids and their kids, my parents, Peter, my friends, current events that move me, and most important for my purposes, processing the fact that I am getting older.

I write for myself and for you.  Thanks for reading.


We get the week between Christmas and New Year’s off from work so I didn’t set an alarm for eleven days.  For eleven mornings, it was full daylight when I woke up.

Then on Tuesday morning, it was dark outside when my alarm went off at 6:05, and I had to drag myself out of bed.

Even worse, after a balmy holiday week, it had turned bitter cold with a wind chill down in the teens, so riding my bike was not an option.  

I got to work, turned off the “out of office” message on my email, changed my vacation voice mail message and watered my drooping plants. 

Then I opened the cellophane-sealed package containing my favorite calendar. Each month is an eleven by fourteen painting by Maine artist, Dana Heacock. January, 2012 is a calico cat against a rich red background.

My New Year is underway.






New Year's Resolutions

I will never correct all my imperfections.  But this is the time I determine which imperfections I will focus on for the New Year.

In 2012, I will…

  1. Not sweat the small stuff.
  2. Worry less (a perennial on this list, but I keep trying).
  3. Be more accepting of the shortcomings of others in the hope that they will be more accepting of mine.
  4. Not beat myself up if I fail at one or all of the above.

Happy New Year.