Previous month:
November 2019
Next month:
January 2020

December 2019

Old Stuff

When we moved out of our Massachusetts house and into a Washington, DC apartment, we had to give my mother’s beautiful English Bone China to a charity because nobody in our family wanted it.  (Seth did take a plate or two for their sentimental value.)  

Our children and grandchildren don’t want any of our “stuff”.  Maybe they’ll take the three candlesticks holders (brought from Russia) turned into a lamp that my aunt says belonged to my grandmother.  It is one of my favorite possessions.  Tastes change.

When Seth was coming to help out while I was having my knee replaced, I stocked up on frozen mixed berries and yogurt for his breakfast smoothie.   I was not surprised when he looked at my 1968 Waring blender and remarked that I must be the last person on the planet who still had that model.

On that first morning, after he used it to make his smoothie, he admitted that it did a pretty good job.  The second morning, he was muttering under his breath about how great it was.  As he left after his visit, he asked me to give him the Waring blender in my will.

Oldies can be goodies.

Knee News

Twelve years ago, I had my right knee replaced.  It’s fine now, but the recovery was so painful that I decided I would never go through it again.  A dozen years later, the pain in my left knee changed my mind and on Friday, December 20th, a wonderful surgeon (about fourteen years old) replaced it. I know I will be glad—eventually.

Peter took care of me the last time, but now he has his own mobility challenges so Seth stepped in, and he was amazing.  He took me to the hospital at 5:00 a.m.  He brought Peter to visit me.  He brought me home.  He cooked and did the dishes.  In exchange. I did a couple of small sewing tasks for him. 

(I got the better deal.)

However, no child is perfect.  He did not know that our ice cream scoop should not go into the dishwasher, and it was unrecognizable when I got home.  My car has a couple of new scratches on it due to a minor encounter with a post in the hospital parking lot. 

But our household now has two walkers, a pair of crutches, lots of candy, one new knee and two lucky parents.


Only the Jeans are Blue

It’s been thirteen years since my husband Peter learned he had Parkinson’s Disease.  Because Parkinson’s presents itself in many different ways, we didn’t know then how it would proceed.  We did know that there was no cure.

Until the winter of 2018, our life stayed close to normal although we had to give up some things.  But that February, Peter tripped on a piece of irregular sidewalk and broke his femur. Although he made a good recovery, he became slightly more tentative in moving around.

After that, his condition remained quite stable until just two weeks ago when his mobility took a sudden drop.  Until he’s had some tests and his neurologist has figured out whether this drop is fixable or just a “new normal,” we are keeping our fingers crossed.

Throughout this illness’ long run, Peter has not complained. 

Last week when his order of two new pairs of badly-needed blue jeans arrived, Peter was so pleased with them that he asked me to keep a record of the style number so he could order the same style when these wore out.

He will wear these jeans until they look like what the kids buy new now—full of holes.  So, if he is planning to buy jeans that far in the future, I figure that his optimism remains intact.



Family Matters

When I was a sophomore in college, I became an aunt.  My brother had married his college sweetheart a year after they graduated.  I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to meet my beautiful niece.

That niece, Wendy, is now sixty-two, a successful author and consultant, married to a man I’ve never met.  She travels constantly for her work.   Wendy and her father are not in touch, and although she lives only a couple of hours away, we haven’t seen each other in years.  It’s sad.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, Peter and I chatted with her for an hour using a video conferencing service called Zoom.  We were delighted to see Wendy and “meet” her terrific husband of twenty years. 

Life is a little complicated for both of us now, but we are determined to get together in 2020.  You can’t hug a computer screen. 

When Terrorism Comes to Our Backyard

I took a class this fall in which we studied terrorism, focusing on Ireland, South Africa and New York.  We learned that terrorism is complex, and that we can expect to see more of it in the future.

At our last class, we heard from the Chief of Police of Watertown, MA and one of his deputies who played key roles in the apprehension of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev one of the Boston Marathon bombers.  They vividly described the search for and capture of Tsarnaev who was discovered hiding beneath a boat tarp in a Watertown back yard.  They recounted the confusion caused by social media and the influx of police from nearby towns who were trying to help. 

Much of what happened was captured in the 2016 movie, “Patriot’s Day,” but hearing about it from the people who lived it was quite different.  There have been three Boston Marathons without incident since that day and our memories of the bombing are fading. But they will remain strong in the minds of the Chief and his deputy.

Not long after he spoke with us, the chief was due to appear in court to testify in Tsarnaev’s appeal of his death sentence.

Smart Phone; Careless Owner

We were meeting friends for dinner before a concert last Thursday.  They were late so I decided to call them to see where they were, but I couldn't find my phone, probably left at home. 

Alas, when we got home after the concert, it wasn’t there.

I turned on my computer to look for the “find my phone app” and saw an email from a Jack Smith who said he had found my phone near the Harvard Business School (where we had attended the concert) and would I please email him so that he could get it back to me.  It was late, so my email remained unanswered until after he had got out of his Friday morning class.

(Here’s where I have to thank my son Jeremy for suggesting I tape my email address to the back of my phone.)

We arranged a time and place for me to pick it up, and when I got there, I called Jack (using Peter’s phone).  In moments, he appeared at my car, my phone in his hand.  I had intended to take a bottle of wine to him but I forgot, so I apologized for that and thanked him profusely for his kindness.

I loved his response. “My mother would have had it no other way.”


Kids Do the Strangest Things

I’d like to report two recent events directed by our son Jeremy.

1.  A black squirrel with only a half of a tail whom they called “Blackie Half-Tail lived for years in the yard of our kids’ friends. Then one day recently they discovered his run-over body on the street in front of their house.

This was no ordinary squirrel, perhaps best known for somehow getting down the chimney and running through the friends’ house.

So Jeremy master-minded a funeral.  The two families dressed up for the occasion. (Jeremy wore his lilac tuxedo.) They made a printed program. (below)  Several speeches were delivered followed by the burial.

It was a memorable occasion.

2.  Close neighbors of Jeremy and Katrina joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. Their two daughters, Tess and Emily have been role models for our grandsons. Tess, a sophomore at UT-Austin, was celebrating her birthday the next day, and Jeremy decided to make a special cake to celebrate the coming event and as one of our Thanksgiving desserts.  Its architecture:   A bottom layer of brownies, a layer of ice cream, a layer of chopped up Snicker’s candy bars, a layer of peanut butter, a layer of Kashi chocolate cereal, a half-layer of sliced bananas, a layer of Vanilla Wafers, and another layer of brownies, topped off with marshmallows and sprinkles..

I joined everyone in singing Happy Birthday to Tess, but I stuck with the gluten-free apple pie.




The Visit




Sixteen months ago, we returned to Cambridge, MA after living for nine months in a retirement community in Washington, DC.  We came home because we missed our close friends of more than fifty years and our superb doctors.  And we didn’t take to institutional living.

We had moved to Washington to be near our kids and grandkids and because we thought we’d enjoy being taken care of in a retirement community.  But our kids and grandkids  have their own lives and we didn’t enjoy living in a place where everybody was old.

But we did make some friends in our DC community and we arranged to drop in on them during our Thanksgiving visit to our kids in Maryland.

It felt odd to be back in the community I had rejected.  As I walked the long corridor near the apartment we had lived in, I remembered thinking when we moved in, “Am I going to walk down this corridor for the rest of my life?”  Not a good feeling then, and it wasn’t long before I realized that living there wouldn’t work for me.

But visiting there was terrific.  We had lunch with the five people we felt closest to when we lived there. A lot of people recognized us in the café and greeted us warmly.  Three lovely new buildings have been completed on the campus, giving it new apartments, a new gym, and a new auditorium. It’s a terrific place.

But not for us.


The Movable Feast

My reign as the “Queen of Thanksgiving” ended three years ago when the site of our annual ritual moved from our home in Massachusetts to the Maryland home of our son Jeremy and our daughter-in-law Katrina.

This was the third year that I was not in charge, and you know what?  That’s OK.  Much of the menu was the same because it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my French Silk Pie or our to-die-for brown and wild rice stuffing. But Katrina has added her own touches, and that’s exactly how it should be. 

The neighbors who joined us last year brought a friend and her two young children who were fun and fit right in.  Our older son Seth, just back from Brazil completed our group of fourteen. The “children” ranged in age from seven to forty-nine.   

The Thankful Jar was full of wonderful words of gratitude and appreciation that were read aloud by everybody at the table before dessert, a tradition that gets more amusing every year as our grandsons develop their own versions of their father’s and grandfather’s sense of humor. 

Each Thanksgiving that we are all together is a gift for which I am very grateful.

The Queen is dead.  Long live the Queen!

P.S. "Looking for a holiday gift?  Consider 70-Something--Life, Love and Limits in the Bonus Years, available from Amazon for $12.35 buy now or ask for it at your local bookstore."