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October 2020

September 2020

Such is Life

The 80-something blog is about my experience of growing older.  Its purpose has been to help me (and I hope others) process the hopes, joys, and fears of our bonus years. 

But I can no longer ignore the scary state of our country. The pandemic, the fires, and the floods of the past seven months, have caused way too much suffering.  Even worse, our country is so badly divided on the issues we face, that people have lost any interest they might have had in listening to the “other” side.  It’s very sad.

Our generation was lucky to have lived in good times, and I am confident things will get better.  I only hope it doesn’t take too long.

Lullaby and Good Night

The coronavirus was just our latest excuse for putting off buying a new mattress.  There are so many more interesting things to do, like going to doctors or washing masks.

But I was waking up ­with aches and pains and thought a new mattress might help.  That’s why we found ourselves in a COVID-careful store talking to a nice salesperson named Darren about whether we were side-sleepers, stomach-sleepers or back-sleepers.  After that we were measured by a machine of some sort.  I worried that Darren would tell us we couldn’t both sleep on the same mattress anymore.  But that didn’t happen.

Our new mattress was delivered a week ago.   When it was unwrapped and put into place, we discovered that it came with an App that tells us how we have slept and a massage function that actually turns itself off once it thinks that we are asleep.

The next generation of mattresses will probably make breakfast. 

The Pill Counter

When I promised to love Peter in sickness and in health fifty-two years ago, nobody said anything about counting pills.

But about about six months ago we decided that Peter’s dexterity was no longer up to the job of laying out his daily doses of the eighteen different kinds of pills he takes. Some are pretty small.  Some have to be cut in half. Others have to be doubled. Most he takes in the morning.  A few he takes at night and some he takes at both times.  It’s fairly daunting.

But now that I am used to it, I try to have fun.  I challenge myself to pour the right number of pills from each bottle before I put the daily doses in each of their compartments. Often, I do pour one too many or one too few. I’m still trying for a perfect score.

I haven’t quite mastered the art of pill cutting either so I’m afraid that sometimes he gets a little more than half a pill, others a little bit less.

And I used to think my paid job was challenging!

Back-to-School,Part II

One of the joys of our life is that we can still be students either as auditors in undergraduate classes or as regular students of all ages in online courses or in learning in retirement classes with our fellow retirees.

Now we are back in classes, not actually, but virtually. 

My learning-in-retirement course on Philip Roth held its first meeting last Friday.  When I logged in, I saw my classmates faces all lined up on my computer screen like the class pictures of my grammar school days. I knew the study group leader who lives on my floor in our apartment building, and there he was along with a friend from my high school days in Pittsburgh and my much-loved internist from a half-century ago in Massachusetts.

September and back-to-school will always be my New Year.

Doctors, Doctors, Doctors

It’s September, the start of the new school year, the first falling leaves, and the noticeably shorter days.  I looked at our calendar for the next month, and it seems we have only two activities—classes, which we love and appointments with doctors which we’d prefer not to have. 

We each have dentist appointments and annual “wellness” appointments.  Ophthalmologist appointments, physical therapy appointments, and visits to the endocrinologist, the neurologist, the cardiologist and the dermatologist are all scheduled.  

Wasn’t it just yesterday when it was only a bunch of visits to the pediatrician?


For more than a dozen years now, our son Jeremy and his family have lined up in the same position on their front porch for a photograph on  the first day of school. This year, the first day of school wasn’t at school.  But a tradition is a tradition, so they lined up for the picture anyway and texted it to their grandparents.

When we saw it, we were surprised that, Grady, our younger grandson, who was a regular-sized kid in last year’s photo now towers over his mother. We haven’t seen him since last Thanksgiving.

At the start of the pandemic, I was sure it would be over by summer and we could go to see them in person.   Then I was sure it would be over by the start of school.  Now, I worry that there is no safe way for us to be together for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.

In the meantime, September in New England will be gorgeous.  We will take it one day at a time.  Or for Peter and me, one step at a time.

A Hard Lesson to Learn

One of the things that people with Parkinson’s Disease lose is the ability to remember what they were thinking when someone interrupts them.  Even before he had Parkinson’s, Peter didn’t like to be interrupted, particularly when he was grading exams.  I recall a sign on his office door that said something like “Please don’t interrupt me unless the building is burning down.”

Although I have been an almost perfect wife all these years, I have failed at not interrupting.  When I have something “important” to say, I tend to interrupt him even though I know it annoys him.  You see, in this pandemic, there are not a lot of people around to listen to me. And when I ask Peter, “Are you interruptible?” I have already done so.

Peter thinks before he speaks, and self-censors, whereas I speak and sometimes regret it.

Knowing when to keep quiet is not one of my greatest strengths. 

I’m  working on it.

The Yellow Dinner

Long, long ago Peter and I had dinner at the home of a friend (whom we’ll call Jane). She was a great cook, who had started her own cooking school.  We expected a beautiful meal. 

But the meal she served was all of one color—a white fish, rice and cauliflower followed by a dessert of poached pears.  Ever since, we’ve called one-color meals “Jane dinners”.

Recently, I made a butternut squash soup for dinner that I served with some local corn.  And, just because it was in the refrigerator, I added a side dish of left-over macaroni and cheese.

The “Janishness” of the meal didn’t seem to bother Peter who had lemon sorbet for dessert. 

I had a big scoop of coffee ice cream.