Another birthday coming up this Friday: 93! Inconceivable for most of my life, especially when I was in my teens and twenties and couldn’t see myself “over 30”.
Now it seems no one is amazed except me. Wherever I go, people shrug — “Oh, I know someone 95”, or “There’s this lady just wrote a book and she’s 105.”
Anyway, I continue to be amazed! And no matter how many are as old or older than yours truly, I count the many, many more, especially my dear ones, no longer with us.
(maybe more than you want to know)
Lucky as I am to be in relatively good shape, Mother Nature rarely lets me forget that nonagenarians are really very old. Aches and pains, though tolerable, are always there. My eyes aren’t serviceable enough to read books or newsprint for more than a few straining minutes. Virtually all my reading is on a computer screen or a Kindle. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stay awake through the PBS NewsHour. Worse, I can’t avoid dozing repeatedly at concerts and plays. I won’t give up music, but only an occasional exceptional play is worth the challenge.
Still, I can bend down (slowly) to pick up the morning paper off the ground. With a little well-practiced contortionism, I can put on my socks. I walk the approximately 3 miles around Lake Merritt most Tuesday mornings. I do some cooking and baking. I still have a current events discussion group to facilitate every Friday at the Downtown Oakland Senior Center. And I still blog more or less often about what’s on my mind.
“But especially the people….” *
What makes it all worthwhile? It’s the people I love, many gone, some thankfully present. It’s the many struggles and hopes we’ve shared that shape my life from its beginnings through nearly a century. I’m very lucky in my family, my friends, my comrades. I won’t list my comrades here, but the older I get, the more deeply they’re embedded in my heart and memories. My family, from my parents to my grandchildren, has always been true to values that connect with people everywhere who commit to equality and social justice. I couldn’t be fonder or prouder of my children, David and Carla. The hardest thing I’ve had to bear was the loss of Carla, a rare and wonderful person, taken by breast cancer at the prime of life.
I’ve been very lucky in love. Roz and I were as together as any couple could be for 67 years, until she died in 2009. I was alone for one miserable year. Then Gail came along and life is rich and enjoyable again.
* From the song, "The House I Live In", written by Abel Meeropol and Earl Robinson in 1943