5 Ways you know your days are Numbered: An analysis of old TV shows, and deceased guests who are more relatable than the current generation of “stars”.  



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1. You are watching Me TV. You feel young when watching these shows. You are the exact same age as Jerry Mathers who played “The Beaver.” Your father reminded you of Beavers father, and your mother had the same values. (Except she didn’t wear heels and pearls. She also had a job  outside the house, and wasn’t excited about cooking.

2.. Although you can appreciate Jimmy Fallon’s talent, you  prefer the guests on old Dick Cavett shows like: the late Marlon Brando, and Charles Heston (before he was president of the NRA, but maybe that’s when his Alzheimers had already started. You hope so because you loved him as Moses.)

3.   It does still hurt to watch old Johnny Carson shows because he was a big part of your life for so many years. Even before he was on the Tonight show you remember him on “Who do you Trust.” You remember the very first ” Tonight Show”. He kept you company from the time you were a teenager until you were solidly middle-aged.

4.  You go to a concert featuring Paul Anka. He shows old videos of Sammy Davis Jr. smoking a cigarette and singing. It’s hard to imagine a time when it was cool and sexy to smoke a cigarette. Paul Anka was “the kid” amongst the Rat Pack. People like Frank Sinatra,  Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. The good thing is he puts on a dynamic show and sings with a strong, good, familiar voice. So, what happened to music? Really?

5. It bothers you when you realize you’ve spent more time with people on TV than you did with real live people. You wish you had videos of your mom and dad you could play, but you don’t because they weren’t famous. You remember a time when you thought they were really “old” and couldn’t appreciate my good music. Just like my kids think about me.

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Remembering my father (and mother) on Father’s day


My parents before they were married.

My parents before they were married.

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I close my eyes in my bedroom, and pretend, only for a minute, that I’m back home in my old bedroom. I visualize where the bed was, my dresser, and the closet.  I think about where the other rooms of the house were situated and what they looked like.

Sometimes, when I’m remembering, I hug the pillow and remember how it felt to hug my parents. How comforting it was, and how safe and loved I used to feel with them.

I had a special relationship with both of them. I was the baby of the family and lived alone with them from the age of 13. I did miss having my two newly married sisters living with us, but I enjoyed hanging out with my old parents. We went out to eat a lot, saw movies, and attended the theater. (My old parents were somewhere in their late 40’s and early 50’s.)

Sometimes, I try to remember them talking in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. I can see my mother sitting at the table, newspaper not too far from her. (She loved to read that newspaper cover to cover.) My father is standing up, probably doing some chore. They’re talking about his job, or what they’re going to do in the future.

I can almost hear the comfortable din of their voices. She saying, “Hank, why don’t you get some blintzes from Solomon’s?” (We used to get blintzes from the local delicatessen every Sunday.) Before he ever left the house he would always give her a quick kiss. Before too long he’d come back with the scrumptious Solomon blintzes. All my mother had to do was heat them on the stove.

After we eat our blintzes, my father is going to go out and do outside chores like mowing the lawn or shoveling the snow. He might run some errands.

Sometimes, I’d tag along with him. I was crazy about my father. He’d talk to me like an equal, and was a good listener. He always made me feel loved and important.

He had a friend who owned a car wash, so about every weekend I’d go with him to watch the car get cleaned. I’d carefully watch the car go through the stages, while he kidded around with his friend. I could see that Dad could get along with everyone.

I had an acquaintance whose parents were divorced, and the father would take the kids somewhere special every Sunday. I didn’t know it was because they were divorced. (In those days people kept divorces quiet.) So, I kept pleading with my dad take me out on Sunday without my mother. He did it once. We went to the planetarium at the Cleveland Science museum. We looked up at the pretend stars in the planetarium and listened to the lecture. I loved having my daddy all to myself. (I only hope my mother wasn’t too hurt.)

My parents sometimes took me to a local amusement park, Euclid Beach. My mother would park herself on a bench and my dad would go on rides with me in the park. This was a big feat for him because he was really not too crazy about amusement park rides.

One time we got on a ferris wheel and before it started, he asked the ride attendant to let us off. Another time we were on an Over the Falls” ride and the power went out. We were stuck on the ride for about 20 minutes. I wasn’t worried cause I was with my dad. (Years later, he told me he was nervous about my mother being alone, and us getting stuck on the ride.)

My dad  always took time to get dressed for work as a Cleveland Policeman. After he shined his shoes, and put on his uniform with the golden badge, and completed it with his hat, he didn’t look like Daddy anymore; he looked liked a king. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world to have such a good-looking, important father.

My parents were so close, that I can’t remember my father on this Father’s Day without including both my parents.

Happy Father’s Day to them both, wherever their souls ended up. If there is such a place, I have no doubt that they are together.

My New Experience: Tent Camping (A humorous look)


My husband was not having the best day,  so I figured why not humor him and go camping. He’s been talking about wanting to do this ever since we met, and that was about 40 years ago. (We did go once with the kids, and I haven’t been back. That was around 25 or 30  years ago.)    I do like to walk and bike, but I’m not fond of bugs, or an uncomfortable bed. I am basically an old girly girl.
Anyway, I say, ” I want to try something different.  let’s go camping today.” Not wanting  to miss a golden opportunity  he quickly loads the car. He takes the tent he optimistically bought last year, and never used. He also packs some food, peanut butter, bread, ice, water, towels and a blanket.  He also takes Kodak —the defunct photo company—  rafts we used 40 years ago, and a blow-up mattress he bought who knows when.
He forgets the air compressor. I guess he was in a big hurry to go before I changed my mind. He doesn’t usually forget anything.
We get to the camping site, about an hour away. The first thing I notice is there are hardly any stand alone tents. There’s all these fancy motor homes, and cute pop-up tents. I’m thinking, “Maybe tent camping isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

I  already know this, but I figure I can try it every 30  years or so.
After 20 minutes he puts up the tent. (He’s good at that kind of stuff). I’m reading the directions which he pays absolutely no attention to because he can see how everything fits together without them.
Everything is going along beautifully until he figures out he forgot the air compressor. Meanwhile, we’ve pulled next to a family about 5 little girls. We know we’re old because we think the mother is a teenager at first.
One of the  little girls (about 3)  hurries up and draws me a picture, and tells me her name. She seems to have a speech impediment, so I have to guess, Olive, Ella?  Finally her mother tells me it’s Alice.
Anyway, they are staring at us. They can’t believe it when we both start blowing up the Kodak rafts and the air mattress. Finally I ask,”Do you have an air compressor?” I figure they do because they have a fancy trailer thing.
The mother asks,”Are you guys new to camping?” Then she makes a remark about how adorable we are. I guess it’s cause we look as old as we feel compared to her.
She gives us a compressor, but it doesn’t work, so my poor husband resorts to blowing up the air mattresses using his breath. I’ve already expended all of mine.
Finally, night comes. I don’t know what to do. No computer, no television, and no light to read the book I brought.

My husband lights a lantern that he expertly pumps up. But that goes up in flames. So, he blows until that goes out.”Guess that had too much gas,” he says.
He finally sets up the tent. He doesn’t want me to be uncomfortable because if I wait another 30 years we’ll both be in our 90′s or dead.
I get in the tent. Not easy to get in that small zippered passageway.  It’s not bad, very cozy. After a couple of hours both ancient mattresses and Kodak floats have deflated. He thinks they had a leak, but I think they have aged just like us.
I am trying to suppress my usual inclination to complain. I only utter, “this is ridiculous once or twice. When I go to the bathroom, a huge ant climbs up my foot. I hurry up and get out of there!

I’ll give it another chance. But we’ll have some new mattress things, and an air compressor.

Right now the lodge sounds pretty good to me.

Tents

Tents (Photo credit: avlxyz)

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Saying goodbye to a friend, Barbara Perrin


I got the news of my friend’s death through an email. That is now life in the 21st century. In case you may have known her, her name was Barbara Perrin. Maybe you ran across her in the writing community.

My friend wasn’t my closest friend. We didn’t call each other on a regular basis, or go many places together. But, the relationship was getting warmer. She had a subtle sense of humor.

We attended a 3 day writers group together several months ago. We talked and talked in the hotel room. She was really proud of her son.  I felt like I could tell her anything. How many people can you trust like that?

I met her at a  casual writer’s group several years ago. She’d come every week, all the way from Westerville, Ohio to Reynoldsburg, Ohio. I could depend on her walking in every Thursday, getting some coffee, and sitting down at the table in the back of the room.

She was an editor by trade, and edited some things I wrote. It was something you’d expect someone to charge for, but she generously did it for free. I learned more than a few things from her.

She was a kind and gentle person, one who knew how to be tactful and get along with others. She seemed to have all the patience in the world.

Her stories were really different, and she had a wonderful way with words.  Her stories were about different types of things from an angle you wouldn’t expect. They were quite artistic. One of her stories was published in the last Columbus Creative Cooperative, and she was so excited about it. The editors were looking forward to the one she was writing for the Bicentennial edition.

When they didn’t receive it, they kept trying to contact her. Her only son called them, and gave them the news. That’s why I found out about it through email. The editor sent out the news to everyone who belongs to the group.

There was no obituary in the newspaper. She died like she lived, quietly.

Today, I went to the writer’s group where I met her.  Only one other person who knew her was there.  I missed her so much, especially her kind blue eyes. The group, like all things, changes with time. Both of us felt so  sad about her death.

She was missing. And the fact is she’s not coming back. We both kept hoping maybe she’d show up, although we knew it wasn’t logical or possible.

That is what happens when someone dies  They are missing.

Barbara Perrin is in the top row on the right. She’s wearing denim and a scarf.

Rest in peace.

The top 20 reasons why it’s fun to be retired and 60+ years old.


Someone asked me if I really thought there was joy at 60, and I started to think about it. Do I really appreciate being older? In my case, the answer is a resounding yes!

1. You don’t have to worry so much about your looks. (I’ve always prided myself on wysiwyg) Okay, I have invested in makeup, but I don’t always use it.

2. You dont have to worry about finding a career. If you haven’t gotten a career by this time, you’re not going to find one. It’s free choice. If you want to change what you’re doing you can. (You can see old rock stars and feel 25 again for a few hours.)

Nothing to Worry About

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3. . You don’t have to spend a lot of money on clothes because  you are not out working, and people don’t care what you’re wearing anyway.

4. You don’t care what people think about you as much as you did when you were younger.

5. It doesn’t matter how you look in a bathing suit, because who really looks at 60+ women instead of other 60+ women, and most available men your age go for younger women anyway.

6. If you want to take a college course, you can take whatever you want for free at most universities. Not only that, you can audit it, and not do all the homework. You can study whatever you interested in studying about.

7. You can volunteer anywhere you want. No supervisor is going to harangue you because you’re doing it for free in the first place.

8. You can exercise whenever you want. It’s a great way to meet people.

9. You can pick a time to go shopping, and you don’t have to put up with crowds.

10. If it’s a nice day, you can go outside to take a walk without asking anybody’s permission

11. If you have a loved one, you can spend time with them without worrying about taking the children to all their activities. You don’t have to help anyone with homework either, or put up with the public school system.

12. If you’re lucky enough to have grandchildren, you can send them home whenever they are getting on your last nerve. You can play rent-a-kid with them.

13. You can attend a restaurant in peace. You don’t have to worry about what mood your children are in.

14. You don’t have to get up at 6 AM to go to work, and can sleep as late as you want!

15. You can take off on the spur of the moment. This leads to more spontaneity in your life.

16. You can take senior trips, and some of them are very cool.

17.When you pick a movie, it can be one that you’re interested in. It doesn’t have to have car chases, violence, ninja turtle-type characters.

18.You don’t have to put up with over-night pajama parties.

19.You can socialize with your kids who are now old enough to turn into real friends.

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20. After you do all these things you are less stressed so go buy a new outfit, put on makeup, and still look young and sexy!

Good friends can bring you joy


The older you get, the more you realize material possessions don’t mean much. You get a new car, it smells new, it’s pretty and in 20 minutes you’re used to it. You get some new clothes, you wear them once and you’re used to them.

You buy a new pair of earrings or necklace. People are  really complimenting them, not you. You’re not shining any more naturally, so you need a little help.

There is nothing like good friends. If you find good people to surround yourself with it’s worth more than material possessions can ever mean. They will listen to you when you’re in pain, they will keep you going through tough times. Laughing is a good thing to do with a friend.

Sometimes, if they’re friends you’ve had for a long time, you share a history. Treasure those friends because they’re few and far between.

Instead of looking for possessions to make you happy, look for friends. If you choose carefully, you will not get tired of them. They can keep you happy for decades.

When you’re older, sometimes you have to push yourself to meet people. There are places to go where you can meet people. There are  tons of meetups online, http//www.meetup.com.,  where people go to meet people.  I’ve joined several, and the people are great. If you share an interest, age doesn’t really matter.

Most universities have programs for senior citizens. If your 60, you can audit classes for free. What’s better then learning something new, and not having to worry about the grades your getting? Learning for the sake of learning. It’s a great way to meet people too!

I went to a writer’s conference at a community college. I was worried about being the oldest one there. I fit right in! Everyone was about my age. I felt comfortable, and  I made some great contacts.

There are Senior Centers where you can do activities: exercise, painting, dance, and all kinds of activities. You might think that’s just for old people, but take a look in the mirror.  Sometimes the people there might be the same age as you. You never know unless you try!

Columbus, Ohio, has a cultural arts center. They have great facilities for making jewelry, taking painting classes, pottery, and every mode of art that you can imagine. I’m sure there’s places like that nation-wide.

Not to mention exercise. That can do so much for you. It makes you feel terrific.   Join a health club. If you can’t lift weights, or play tennis anymore, you can go into the pool. There’s water aerobics, and even water bikes. Attend a cycling class ―in the water! After you work off all those calories, go to lunch together.

Why is it so difficult to admit you’re older? Baby boomers are such a large part of the population. We’ve made so many things cool and great. Why not make getting older the thing to do, and making and keeping friends a cool great thing to do!

Volunteering can bring you joy!


Retirement wasn’t sitting too well with me. I was bored stiff. I decided to answer a volunteer advertisement I found in a community newspaper. It didn’t specify what it was, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.

When I got there, I found out it was a Hospice organization. I decided to attend the training sessions. After completing the training, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to volunteer directly with the clients.

My role would be to visit people, and comfort them. Although I felt confident in that role, my mother had recently died, and I didn’t know if it was too soon after her death. I was afraid it would make me miss her even more than I already did.

I didn’t know if I wanted to confront dying people. Would it be too much of an intrusion on their privacy to be a witness to their last days on earth? How would I feel about a complete stranger visiting me when I was at my worst? I thought about it for a couple of weeks.

One day I called up the person in charge of volunteers, and told her I was ready to give it a try. She gave me the address of a nursing home close to my house that had Hospice patients.

In less than ten minutes, I found myself in front of the nursing home for my first assignment. I nervously opened the door, and entered the bright, clean facility.  “How can I help you?” asked the young welcoming receptionist. She made me feel comfortable, and directed me to the rooms of several Hospice patients.

The first person I met was Betty. She was a heavy set African American woman who appeared to be sleeping.  “Oh, she’s not really sleeping. Betty, open your eyes!” shouted the aide. I felt like running out the door.  Betty opened one eye, and smiled.  “Hi, I’m glad to meet you. I keep my eyes closed ‘cause I can’t see out of them anyway,” said Betty.

We started talking, and became fast friends. We were different races, religions, and ages. But somehow we clicked.  I usually find Betty sitting in the TV room in the nursing home where she lives.  She’s blind, and is confined to a wheelchair.  She has a fondness for baseball caps, and I can usually spot her with her eyes closed, and leaning to one side of her chair.    It makes me happy when she says to me, “You always make me laugh.”

She tells about her travels around the world. She’d lived an exciting life. She never expected to end her life in a nursing home. She makes the best of it, and doesn’t complain. “I was at a worse one before this. There were rats running around,” she said

She outlived three husbands. She misses her last husband most of all. “Oh, I loved that man.” she says “He used to hold me so tight.” Thats a cue for me to give her a big hug, and I do.

Last December 15th was a special day for Betty. We were watching an amateur country band perform at the nursing home. They were playing happy holiday music.   Betty turned to me and said, “I want to sing the Lord’s Prayer.”  I knew Betty had been the soloist at her church for many years.

I approached the leader of the group “One of the clients wants to sing “The Lord’s Prayer”. What do you think?” I asked.   “Just wait a few minutes,”he said.

He finally called us over, and I wheeled her toward the band. He handed me a microphone and I placed it under her mouth. She sat up as straight as she could. and began to sing. Her voice started out soft, but soon gained strength. Suddenly, she wasn’t an ailing woman unable to sit up straight in her wheelchair. Once again, she was the soloist of a church choir talking to her God. The others sitting in the audience weren’t nursing home patients— they were the congregation.

Astounded aides were starring at her with big smiles on their faces.   “That’s it, Betty,” said one. “That’s it.”

That moment will always be frozen in my memory.

“I was kinda loud wasn’t I?” she asked.  She hadn’t realized I’d been holding a microphone for her.

Like a typical musician she said, “I have to practice; did I sound all right?”

Now, it seems like that moment took place in another lifetime, although it was only a year ago.

Betty isn’t getting any better, and I realize the end is coming. So, I go over there more often than I did before. I read her stories, or play her songs on a CD player.

Even if a life is diminishing, people still need to know that they matter. Some people want no part of visiting ill people, especially ones who are not going to be with us much longer. But those are the ones who need us the most.  The truth is that when you give of yourself—you receive so much more

Postscript:   I found out that sometimes people can qualify for Hospice for several years. They can reapply after six months. My friendship with Betty lasted  for two years, long enough for me to get to really know her. She passed away several years ago, but at least I think I brightened up her life a little at the end.