The Oldest Old Project: Nancy Leitz
The Oldest Old Project: Naomi Royer

The Oldest Old Project: Millie Garfield

[EDITORIAL NOTE: I am out of town for several days this week. In my absence, are stories from five elders and/or bloggers who have contributed to what I am calling The Oldest Old Project. They had to be at least 80 to participate and I asked how their lives had changed in the 20 or more years since they were 60. Today, Millie Garfield, who blogs at My Mom’s Blog.]

In January 2007, I wrote a post titled, My Trip From 65 to 81. I'm 83 now and have reread what my thoughts were then and where I'm coming from today.

I'm still the same confident and independent person I was then. Being independent is even more important to me now. The few times that I've needed help, it was there for me but I realize that the more help I would get, the more dependent I would become. It's nice for someone else to drive you where you want to go, do your shopping for you and make your meals, BUT I would lose my independence. Better to work a little harder and be able to do for yourself.

Years ago when someone invited me to join them in some activity, I would be quick to accept. Now I seem to be more selective about who and how I spend my time. I'd rather stay home than be doing something that gives me no satisfaction. I thought we mellow with age and are not as critical of others but I have become more aware of how and who I spend my time with.

Recently I was with a group of ladies and the subject of age came up. One of the women asked me, "How come you put your age on your blog?”

I was surprised at the question! My answer was, “I'm comfortable and proud of my age." When I was in my late 20's and not married I would not advertise my age because at that time girls were getting married in their early 20s and I was considered "an old maid."

One lady said she wished she was 16 again, another said she's like to be 50 again. Forget that, I wouldn't want to go through all that again.

There is a lot to say about how health effects a person’s life. When I made the move from my home to a condo, I was 71. Looking back at it now, that was a good time to make the move. I could adjust to my new surroundings and start a whole new life.

For a while, I had been considering moving to a retirement community; as a matter of fact I have been on a wait list for the past year. As time goes, by my thoughts have changed. It would be too much for me to deal with now - new surroundings, new people and new adjustments.

Friendships are affected by health too. One friend is now in an assisted living facility - we talk on the phone. Another friend has many limitations - we talk on the phone. And so it goes.

I eat right, take my medications but the one thing I don't do is exercise - that has always been my downfall, BUT hopefully that will change: I just signed up for an exercise program at the local community center. I'm always interested in trying something new, so this should give me a new challenge.

The days, weeks, months and years fly by so fast.

When I first started taking medication, I had this small pill box. Then I needed a larger pill box. Before I turned around, I had to refill the pill box so often I bought another one - filled two weeks of pills at one time. Now I am going to buy a third pill box - fill three weeks of pills at one time!!

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Georgie Bright Kunkel writes about her remarkable cousin in Ninety-Seven and Counting.]


Millie -- I like your style as you well know! I want to be just like you when I grow up!!!! However, I know that that's impossible -- there's only one Thoroughly Modern Millie!!!!

As a fellow Octogenarian I can identify with much that you say, Millie.

I find that I am more selective of people I visit with. It's as if I am aware of how precious time is and can't be bothered to waste it on being bored. That also holds true for activities.

You have been my inspiration since I found you on the ageless project several years ago. I'm 62 and proud of it.

I remember watching as my mother became more selective about what she chose to do. She was very aware of what she wanted, so sloughed off non-essential social obligations quite easily. Some of her circle were distressed to watch this; they were more concerned with conventionality. Mother didn't care.

I think she might have called this withdrawal from the non-essential "a privilege of age."

I'm just 61 -- and a combination of over-burdened and a little anti-social. I mustn't claim that privilege just yet, but can foresee it in my future aging.

Hi Mom,

Great post.

You're reconsidering that new retirement community?


What a great idea-->I've been speeding through my one week pill box but I never thought of a two week pill box!! I guess I have now moved up to the two week pill box stage of life. I love your blog, especially your Can't Open Things videos.

Thank you for your insights! As a 61 year old looking forward to the future, I am heartened by your example.

I watched my mother become more selective of the things she did as she became older. I didn't understand at the time, but I do now. Time flies too fast to waste it!

millie, more "experts" on aging need to read what you say here about the changes within our aging years. now 75, have been aware of great changes in energy and interests from days in my mid-sixties.

intrigued by the question from your son--a question or a nudge?


Thanks Millie for your story. My 93-yr old friend two states away told me this AM on the phone she just had to stop driving, but she stays busy making jams and pies and goodies everyone enjoys. Nice to hear your story and I wish you many more! Cheers to you!


To answer your question - I think that was a question and a nudge.

When Steve and I went to visit that retirement community he was very impressed and thought it would be a great place for me.

At the time I thought so too - I have been on a preferred list for one year and never once have they called to show me a place that was available.

Time marches on and I don't march as fast as I used to! It's easier to stay put!

""The older you get, the higher the probability is that you're going to live even longer," said Olshansky, a professor of public health and a biodemography expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago"

Does that mean that in 25 years I could look forward to another 25?
(Just kidding) But, thanks for your column Millie. I have a buddy who's 88, we play tennis together, once or twice a week and he plays with other guys too. He's been my mentor for a few years now- I'm still a kid (just turned 74) and I've still got a lot to learn but thanks to my buddy Lon and now you I think I see some light (in the middle of the tunnel) One of the things I learned a while back and you pointed out as well, is about the need to be " more selective about who and how I spend my time. I'd rather stay home than be doing something that gives me no satisfaction. I thought we mellow with age and are not as critical of others but I have become more aware of how and who I spend my time with." I never "suffered fools wisely" in my youth and I'm sure not going to change at this point.

Thanks so much Millie for your post. Love your blog, too. I'd be interested to hear more from you & the others about your energy level or lack thereof!! That's what bothers me most...not have much energy no matter what! Dee


To finish your quote -Life is too short to be little."

Millie, you are such a role model for us.
I have to take one pill a day and keep forgetting it. I know I shouldn't as it's for high blood pressure, but somehow, at least once a week, I forget all about it. Maybe I should get one of those pillboxes although I hate the idea.
As for taking up exercise! Yeah!
If you ever feel like joining us at ElderExercise, please don't hesitate! We'd love to have you!


I was never a ball of fire and as time goes by there is a little spark left.

If I go out two days in a row I have to stay home the next day and recharge.

It takes me longer to do whatever has to be done. I don't make any appointments in the morning.

Thinking back, I think I started to slow down in my late 70's.

I take vitamins, eat right but I think it's just the nature of the person. ( my doctor says exercise
would help)

I'm starting an exercise program
soon. Maybe that will be a step in the right direction.

We're both in the same boat - we need our batteries charged - if only it was that easy! ;-)

I really enjoyed reading this post. As Kay says, it would be lovely to grow older and be like you. I can well imagine that the struggle for prolonged independence is important, but it is also important to know one's limit. In the cases of some of my older friends, the need for independence translates into a stubborn inability to accept the necessity for change.

I think you're the main inspiration I've had for posting my age on my blog, Millie. Since writing transcends age typing, I was afraid at first this could turn some younger readers off, but the younger readers I have don't seem to care. Thanks for sharing your life with all of us.

Your blog was the first of the "older old" blogs I read when I first came to the blogosphere. I surely did like your attitude and especially all the laughs you've shared. I'm racing along behind you, but haven't quite caught up to your age yet. Thanks for keeping me chuckling, Millie!

I posted the previous comment before I noticed my personal info wasn't present, so am adding this.

Millie - Life is short - eat dessert first....My Mother died at 83 - her heart just wore out and when I would say to her "Ma - how will I function without you" - she would reply - "Sheila - time marches on and you have to accept what you can't change..." I have been trying to do that for the last 11 years - but boy it sure is hard to make friends and interact with folks - when you can be reading George Elliot or watching great movies....just saw the Life of Benjamin Franklin - 100 dollar bill -WHAT A GENIOUS....never realized or forgot what I had learned about him. Millie, remember you have to make 120 years...but anything after 70 is a blessing.

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