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September 2019

August 2019

My New Friend

There is a garden near a corner that I walk by regularly.  Right now, it has a huge batch of beautiful black-eyed-Susans.  I often think that one or two might not be missed, but I have resisted helping myself.

The other day on my walk back from the library, I spied an older gentleman in shorts and a t-shirt picking up his empty trash barrels in front of “my” beloved flowers.  I asked him if he lived there.  “Yes”, he replied.

I told him that I walk by his flowers regularly and asked if I could pick one.  “No,” he replied, “but you may have two,” He then cut the two I pointed to and handed them to me.

What’s your name? I asked.  “Leonard,” he replied.

I have a new friend in the neighborhood.

Senior Moments

I can picture the scene from thirty-one years ago as if it were yesterday. I was in our kitchen when our eighteen-year-old son Seth walked in, opened the refrigerator door and declared, “I forgot what I came here for!”  That memory has comforted me many times.  If a teenager can forget what he came to the kitchen for, why should I worry when I can’t remember what I meant to do next?

Many of us who are over sixty-five call such lapses “senior moments”. When we do that, we reinforce what Robert Butler was the first to call "ageism".  Now that more of the world’s population is over sixty-five than is under five, we can win the fight against ageism rather than contribute to it.

As Ashton Applewhite points out in her wonderful new book, This Chair Rocks, when she lost her keys in her junior year in college, nobody called it a “senior moment”.



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





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.


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.