10 things I learned after joining a Senior Citizens Choir


You're never too old to sing.

You’re never too old to sing.

1. Just because you’re older, you can still have fun. This choir puts on hats, cowboy scarves, Berets, necklaces, and whatever costume fits the songs. The choir director is a bubbling, optimistic person. The piano player finds joy in the music, and rarely makes a mistake.

2. Age is just a number. You can learn a new musical interest when you’re quite old. Look at Mick Jagger: he fills stadiums!

3. You will meet people with all kinds of life stories: retired army heroes, teachers, nurses, musicians, rich and poor people. Some really enjoy retirement, and other’s have a harder time living on a pension.

5. There are all kinds of old age diseases, but the secret is to just ignore them and keep going. It’s all in the attitude. Find joy in something, like singing and it won’t bother you as much.

6. Even if you’re old, you can sing for others and they will appreciate it. Giving to others never goes out of style.

7. Even if people are older, they are still concerned about the performance. How they sound, look, and stand. One choir woman in particular, always dresses beautifully, wears makeup, and cares about her appearance. If you’ve lived a good life, it shows on your face. This lady is 87!

8. You’re never too old to want a solo, duet, or quartet. There are no shortage of volunteers for this.

9. The repertoire is older songs, but I recognized every one of them. Enough said!

10. There is a chance I may someday sing at a current member’s memorial service. Just keep going!

A courageous girl, Anne Frank, would’ve been 84 today.


Cover of "The Story of Anne Frank"

Cover of The Story of Anne Frank

Today I found out that it would’ve been Anne Frank’s 84th birthday. Being Jewish, I was always haunted by the story of Anne Frank.  You can read her story in “The Story of Anne Frank.”

Anne was a young, Jewish girl who was forced to hide away with her family in Amsterdam,Holland. It happened during the Holocaust during World War II. The family found a hiding place above a factory, and successfully hid there for several years. Tragically, someone turned them in, and were ultimately captured by the Nazis.

Anne’s father survived, and went back and found her diary. It was later published and has been read by thousands. Why am I giving out these details? I’m thinking less and fewer people know about this diary. They used to teach it in high schools, but I”m wondering how true that is today. Can the young people of today relate to the words written by a young girl in the 1940’s?

It’s more real to me because I am going to be 63 years old. When I was born in 1950, the War had only been over for five years. It seemed very real to me. When I found out about this tragedy, it upset me. To think people would kill others because of their religion. Since that time, I’ve read hundreds of books about it, and heard survivor’s talk about it. I’ve accepted it, but it still makes me very sad.

In the early 70’s, I took a trip to Amsterdam and got a chance to walk through the hiding place that is now a museum. The space was so small. I wondered how 3 families could have survived there for so long. I looked out the window at the very same tree Anne longingly looked at from her hiding place. I was touched by the pictures of American movie stars of the 40’s that she had taped on the wall.

In her diary Anne stated that “I still believe people are really good at heart.” One wonders if she still believed this by the time she died, and directly experienced such cruelty. How did she feel when she got off the train at the concentration camp and realized people were starving and broken? What did she think when she saw the stacks of the gas chambers that killed her peers, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Jews? (It wasn’t only Jews that died.) This all happened in a civilized society too. It’s very frightening.

How tragic it was that someone with such insight and talent died so young. She was never to know that millions would read her words. If it was a fictional story, she would have survived. Sadly, it was a real story; perhaps, she went to a better place. Who knows?

The real tragedy is that people’s cruelty to each other hasn’t ended. It continues. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. Somehow, good does win over evil. It takes a while, but it seems to happen.

The best we can now do is think about Anne’s advice “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

How many have ever been to The Anne Frank House? How has her diary impacted you? Please share.

A Valentine’s letter to my mother


Dearest Mom,

Happy Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine’s Day… (Photo credit: Јerry)

I wish you were here. It’s almost Valentine’s day, and I still think about you. I thought you would live forever and you almost did. At ninety-one you finally gave in. I feel slightly guilty that I made you sign the paper giving the doctor permission to do that hip operation. I didn’t know you’d be signing your death certificate. I know you would never want me to blame myself. I do believe it was your “time to go.”

I figured you’d come through that like you did everything. You’d had a couple of  really bad breaks. You were a strong woman. You weren’t the type to feel sorry for yourself. Going blind at the end was very hard on you, but you “did the best you could.”

Things were starting to slip. Sometimes, you’d get things confused. One time, when we were listening to the radio, you asked me who was singing. It was Perry Como, your life-long crush.

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. O...

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1946] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

You didn’t remember much about my childhood. That you’d nursed me through a staff infection for two years, that when I broke my shoulder, you’d made slings out of Cleveland Indian scarves. You couldn’t remember our family trip to Washington D.C. when I was 12.  It was like that part of our lives together never happened.

You rarely talked about my father. Not unless I brought it up. Remembering him was just too painful. I know you were hoping to see him after you died. But being the practical person you were, you didn’t believe that was going to really happen. Even though I’m just as practical, I like to imagine that you are together.

When I came to visit, we stuck with the tasks at hand. Walking down to the dining hall, taking a walk outside, and listening to that old radio station where they played all your favorites: Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and all those singers from the 1940’s.

You still loved to go out to eat. It was almost like you were escaping from that independent living facility every time I came to visit. It was almost like we were partners in crime.

You loved to go to the beauty shop, and listen to the hair-stylists talk to their customers. It was the last place where you could feel like one of the girls.

In your old age you still cared more about me than you did yourself. You asked me if I wanted that extra dinner you’d ordered from the kitchen of the independent living facility where you lived. You asked me if I was comfortable sleeping on the couch overnight. You offered me sheets and a pillow. You tried your very best to be a good hostess.

You dearly loved all your grandchildren ( and great-grandchildren) and gave what you could to all of them. They were your hope for the future. Maybe your exterior seemed a little tough, but inside you were all mushy. You just didn’t let anyone know it.

When we went through your apartment, we found evidence of this secretive side: saved birthday cards, our old school report cards, photographs, engagement and wedding announcements and  programs from college graduations.

So, on Valentines Day I think of the one woman who loved me the most. When you died, you took my nickname with you. It isn’t the same if someone else calls me “Barbie.”  So, a part of me went with you. But, I’ll never forget you.

Happy Valentine’s Day mom.

A BalletMet Production of “The Nutcracker” Doesn’t Disappoint but today it makes me a little sad


Vzevolozhsky's costume sketch for The Nutcracker.

Vzevolozhsky’s costume sketch for The Nutcracker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the day after the shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Yesterday, I watched all the news shows. I can’t watch them today. It’s too disturbing.  These shootings are just beyond comprehension. What could drive a person to shoot 20 children? Who was he? Why did his mother keep guns in her home?

Why do we always end up focusing on the murderer? I’m guessing it’s because the thought of someone human doing these things is so incomprehensible.

Today, I dragged myself out of the house to watch Columbus BalletMet’s version of The Nutcracker. The last time I’d seen a production was twenty-six years ago.

I usher for the Ohio Theater in Columbus, Ohio. It’s one way to help the community and see different events for free. Columbus does have a lot to offer as far as culture goes: the symphony, Broadway on tour, guest artists, lectures  and my favorite, Columbus BalletMet. This dance company does a lot of contemporary dance as well as the classics. The dancers are young, energetic, beautiful, artistic and talented. i never walk away disappointed.

It took me by surprise
I had forgotten that little girls come with their mothers and fathers to these shows. The little girls were dressed up in frilly colorful holiday dresses.  I hardly saw anyone wearing jeans or T-shirts. It was sweet and so nostalgic.

I couldn’t help but think of the children who were murdered yesterday. They were about the ages of many of the little girls who were so thrilled to be seeing this famous ballet for the first time. I couldn’t stop thinking of the  grief -stricken parents who lost their precious children.

BalletMet didn’t disappoint

I  was enchanted with the production. It was beautifully staged, the music charmed me and the costumes were extraordinary. It was a memorable production and cheered me up a little.

But, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop remembering all those little girls who will never get to get dressed up and see
The Nutcracker with their parents.

It’s  really time to do something to stop the violence. Don’t you agree?

Sometimes, Knowing I’m Just an Animal Creeps Me Out! How about you?


The Shaggy Dog (2006 film)

The Shaggy Dog (2006 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I sat in a restaurant happily chowing down on my tuna melt, I looked around. Everyone else in the restaurant was also chomping down on their food. Some were doing it more politely than others.  When you think about it, it’s really disgusting. We’re all put together the same way, need food to eat and that’s how we get energy. It goes through our digestive system the same way; and you know how that ends up.  Just like the other animals. Of course, we have a more sophisticated way of doing away with our waste.

Women get pregnant and have babies just like elephants, dogs, cats, cows, horses, and other mammals. Horses seem farther ahead. When they have a foal, it stands right up. No waiting for a year to a year-and-a-half.

Human beings are born with bigger heads. Their body has to catch up with their heads. That’s really weird. It’s like we’re the space aliens, when you think about it.

Sometimes, when I realize we are all just animals, I get creeped out. I know some of you may say, we’re spiritual, and that’s how we’re different. I say, ” how do you know animals don’t have their own way of being spiritual?” Maybe we’re not smart enough to see it.

They have families, just like us

Animals even form family groups, just like us. When we had birds, it was interesting to notice that both the mother and father bird were very attentive to the babies until they pushed them out on the perch. After they did that, they acted like they didn’t know them at all.

When I went whale watching in New England, it was interesting to learn that they form very strong family groups. They follow each other across the ocean. There’s real loyalty in that group, just like human beings.

The chimp family at The Columbus  Ohio Zoo has an established family group: mother, father, kids, grandparents and great grandparents. When one of the babies was sick and taken away, the grandma and mother were obviously depressed. They just laid around until the baby returned to the family group.

Watching little kids is like watching puppies or little monkeys. They play just like other animals. They like to explore and touch each other and innocently destroy anything in their path. Any eighteen-month kid will stick about anything in their mouth. Once they learn to walk, they are like little puppies that need to go to Obedience school.  It’s a good thing our little kids smile disarmingly at us; otherwise, we might throw up our hands and walk away.

Go to the zoo and watch the chimps. Better yet, watch the human animals watching the chimps. And why do we like to watch other animals in the first place? I get creeped out when I think about our DNA being 99% like the great apes. When you look into those zoo ape’s eyes, from a distance, they do look almost human.

What’s really strange is that human beings keep other animals for pets. They like the love they get from the creature. It’s less complicated than a human relationship. (Unfortunately, this human being sneezes their brains out and breaks out in hives from cats, dogs, etc;, or I’m sure I’d have one too.)

In the Animal Kingdom they destroy each other, just like us

Just watch the animal kingdom on TV. They are always going after each other, and protecting their territories. They tear each other to ribbons, just like human beings.

How are human beings different? They’re smart enough to have discovered weapons that will destroy the whole human race. That, terrifies me. So, I try not to think about it. We also fade away, just like other animals. The older I get, the more I really try not to think about that.

Movies about people turning into animals still scares me

When I was a little kid, my family went to the movie theater to watch the original Disney movie, “The Shaggy Dog.” It’s about a kid turning into a giant shaggy dog. Everyone else was enjoying the film and laughing. I burst out in very loud sobs, and my parents had to take me home.

A classic 1941 werewolf movie, “The Wolf Man,” that  I caught on TV at age 8, scared me to death for at least 2 years. If I see that movie is playing on TV, I won’t put it on. Even though it’s only a movie, I don’t want to revisit it.

Am I the only one that gets creeped out at the idea that we’re only animals?

What creeps you out? Care to share?

Impressions of The Long Island Medium: another show on TLC


The Long Island Medium

I don’t know about you, but I have tried to contact my dead relatives. I’ve even said aloud, “visit me in a dream, rattle my lamps, please.”  But nothing happens. I figure, maybe they’re not happy with me, or have nothing left to say, or maybe they’ve really vanished.

I’m wondering if I should go see the Long Island Medium. She’s coming to my home town  in a couple of weeks. She stars on a show on TLC. You know the great shows they have, Honey Boo Boo,  the old  Kate plus 8 plus what’s his name before they got divorced.  I’m surprised Octomom doesn’t have a featured show.

I love this show. First of all, the long Island medium, Theresa Caputo, amuses  me up on several levels . I like her teased dyed blonde hair. Her clothes are all right, but sometimes she looks slightly trashy.  But, what I like most is her snappy patter and common sense. She is also an adoring wife and mother although she seems slightly overbearing at times.

Sometimes her family—husband, son, and daughter— roll their eyes when she starts another reading. Her husband and son couldn’t even go sky diving without her reuniting the owner of the sky diving company with his deceased parents.

People’s eyes fill up with tears when she gives messages from their deceased loved ones. Sometimes they feel guilty about how their loved ones passed. They didn’t get to say goodbye or they were inconsiderate. Theresa  gives them closure. Wouldn’t we all like to say one last thing to our friends, and family?

Theresa knows secrets nobody else would possibly know. How would anyone know somebody was carrying a picture in their wallet of their old dead boyfriend? How could they know the words they spoke to their loved ones when nobody was around. Tina seems to know it all. Plus, she’s so matter-of-fact about it. She has no doubt that spirits are talking to her.

The show airs on TLC on Sunday night. Watch it. Even if it isn’t true, it’s entertaining. And who knows? Maybe one day we’ll all be spirits floating around together. It’s a nice thought. Better than vanishing into thin air.

Would you really want to live forever?


Today I  went to an interesting discussion class. One of the questions asked was:  “If it was possible, would you want to live forever?”

My answer, “yes, of course!” Some of the people thought there’d be too much pain involved with living into eternity. Let’s face it, no matter who you are, you’re going to get your fair share of disappointment and pain. On the other hand, you’re going to experience happiness too.

One of my beliefs is that when you are gone, that’s it. Lights out.  I don’t really believe in souls floating or going to a “better place.” I just think you cease to exist. I don’t remember the world before I was born, so I figure I won’t know about it after I’m gone.

i do like to entertain the possibility that maybe I’m wrong. Now, that would be a pleasant surprise, and I’ll be happy if I’m wrong.

I’m not afraid of dying because I know it’s part of the cycle.

There is a pre-teen book, Tuck Everlasting, which address this very issue. It’s for older kids and is excellent. It shows kids that living forever would get tiresome. Maybe so?

So, my question is this? If you had the chance, would you want to live forever?

Why or why not?