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August 2022

September 2022

Losing Friends

A feisty little-old-lady lived across the hall when Peter and I moved into our apartment in Cambridge four years ago.  Although a bit frail, she walked into Harvard Square every day for coffee. She did not endear herself to me when she asked me if Peter was my father, but I forgave her.  And she didn’t hesitate to ask him to help her deal with her 20,000 unread emails.

She often spoke about all her friends being gone and her hope to join them soon.  Although she no longer lives here, I think about her losing friends because it’s starting to happen to me.

I lost my best friend, Peter, almost a year ago.  My closest childhood friend’s husband died a month later.  And last Saturday there was a celebration of our biking companion and dear friend Gordon’s long life which ended last month.  

Although I have many friends who are fine, we are all concerned about those we love. We remind ourselves that no one gets to live forever.

Each day is a gift.  We are grateful for the present.


Pierced!

Long, long ago, I had my ears pierced.  It was no big deal.  The piercer gave me “gold” studs to wear until my ears healed and that was it.

Until recently.

It occurred to me that I never wear the diamond studs that Peter gave me. I contemplated getting a second hole pierced in one ear so that I could wear one all the time.  It would be a way to keep Peter close to me. 

First, I walked into a local jewelry store to ask where they sent customers to get their ears pierced. 

That’s how I found my piercing place.  It was nearby so I went to have a look.  They wouldn’t let me in without an appointment because they are very careful about Covid.  And they didn’t have any appointments left for that day.

I called and made an appointment for a few days later.  They said I had to submit some electronic forms before the appointment could be confirmed.  Well, it was like filling out a college application.  But I did it. And they accepted it electronically. 

I walked in for my appointment with some trepidation, but a nice man with a long ponytail helped me buy an earring that I would have to leave in my ear for 4-6 months.  (I wasn’t permitted to use my own earring.) 

My appointment was with Grey, a young woman who appeared in shorts and a T-shirt.  There was no visible spot on her body that was not either pierced or tattooed.  But she got the job done.

Nobody has noticed my extra earring yet, but I love it.


Jeremy's Wall

When I visit my Maryland family, I sleep in my son Jeremy’s office, aka the guest room.  While there this past weekend, I took a closer look at one wall (pictured below) and realized that Jeremy’s memories are mine as well as his. Let's look.

IMG_0407

  1. A Boston Breakers football team towel from 1982.
  2. A Camp Becket pennant, a reminder of what an amazing experience he had there as a camper and later as a leader of a group of 15-year-old campers for a summer in China.
  3. A poster of two hands from a non-profit in Santiago, Chile where Jeremy worked for a year and where we had an amazing time visiting him.
  4. An Amherst College (Class of '94) pennant.
  5. A license plate from Minnesota—where Jeremy worked at General Mills, married and became the father of our first grandson.
  6. Caribou Coffee, The Landon School and the University of Maryland School of Business, all lucky enough to employ him.

Of course, these are just part of his story.  But they are a reminder of how fast the years have gone.


CD Decisions

Peter and I were, to quote our son Seth, “classical-music-loving parents.”  It’s true. My wedding ring has the opening notes to Haydn’s 88th symphony engraved on the inside. We merged our LP collections when we got married, and we added dozens of CD’s over the years.

When we sold our home five years ago, we gave away our 5-CD-player and two big speakers. That left us with a one-slot CD player on a Bose radio.

So, what to do with about 100 CD’s and no Peter?

First, I listened to every single one. It was a big project.  I decided that I can live without about fifty of them.

The rest are back on their shelf.


"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Gets Going"

My husband Peter was a computer science professor.  So naturally, every time I had a printer problem, I called on his expertise.  So, it was only a matter of time until I got into trouble.  And that happened on Tuesday when I needed to print something right away.

First, I opened the printer and looked inside.  That didn’t help. Then I emailed a neighbor to see if he could help.  No answer.  My next thought was to call my son Jeremy.  Then I realized that he would tell me to look online.  So I did.

Thanks to YouTube, I unplugged the printer and plugged it back in again. 

Success!!!!!


Generations

In lieu of attending my mother’s family’s reunion last month, my cousin Richard sent a package of framed pictures of my mother’s family for all cousins.   IMG_0404

My mother was one of six children, all pictured with her parents in front of their home in Buffalo, NY, circa 1935. The handsome couple in the front are Mom and Dad, my mother being the first to marry.

Although my grandmother died when I was two, I visited their flat many times over the years.  It was a rented, third-floor apartment occupied by eight people and a German shepherd named Sarge. I remember its musty smell. 

I know that my grandfather, an immigrant, started several unsuccessful corner grocery stores and loved to play pinochle.  I can remember his scratchy, badly-shaven face when I climbed into his lap to bestow a kiss.  He looks stern in the picture, but he had a great sense of humor.

I am wondering what my great, great grandchildren might say about our 2022 reunion group picture of over thirty relatives seated on the steps of a yacht club in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

My guess…Who the heck ARE those people?


Ageism (Continued)

Six hundred forty-six million references show up on a Google search for university departments of ageing.  Thirty years ago, there was no Google, but my guess is the number of references would be incomparably smaller.  If any one person should have credit for putting ageing on the map, it would be Dr. Robert Butler who coined the word “ageism”

In 1982, Butler founded the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, the first department of geriatrics in a United States medical school. He was a revered pioneer in the field of discrimination against older adults.

Today there is some evidence that ageism can affect longevity.  Professor Becca Levy, a psychologist at the Yale School of Public Health, in her recent book, Breaking the Aging Code, contends that ageism can affect physical and cognitive health and take years off one’s life.

In her Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, people followed for forty years were twice as high at risk, if at young ages they had developed negative stereotypes about ageing. For more on this and other studies, see https://nyti.ms/3RkQg1R.

Ageing is getting a lot of attention.  It should.


Am I An Ageist?

I just finished reading Ageism Unmasked—Exploring Age Bias and How to End It, a recent book by Tracy Gendron, chair of the Department of Gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University. It was insightful and instructive. 

And it made me wonder if I am an ageist. 

Have I bought birthday cards that reinforce negative stereotypes of ageing? (Are there any that don’t?)  Have I contributed to the anti-ageing market (whatever that is)?  Yes, I have bought skin creams and toners, yet years ago, my young grandson said, “Grammy, why is your neck wrinkled like a skeleton?”  Still, I use them.

The other day I was chatting with a contemporary while waiting for an elevator.  A workman in the building walked by. “How are you doing girls?” he said.  I didn’t respond but maybe next time I’ll try “Just fine sonny”.

Gendron reminds us that from the moment of our birth, we are old-people-in-training.   

We have a lot to learn.


Quiet Quitting

Covid pandemic fallout marches on.  Attitudes toward work are changing. Those fortunate enough to work from home seem to like it.  At least most of the time. 

They like the commute from the kitchen to their computers.  They can work the hours that suit them, except for electronic meetings.  I don’t hear about people regretting the lack of conversations around the water cooler.

But, according to the August 28th New York Times, social media is awash with talk of quiet quitting, meaning people mentally checking out from work or refusing to do extra work without extra pay.

On the other hand, some employers are said to be checking on employees productivity, using software that tracks their keystrokes or website visits during working hours.

The more things change, the more they change.