ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 2
A TGB READER STORY: Unusual Learning Experience

A Book, a Podcast and Goodbye to the Donations Drive

This is it – the last day of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

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Two years ago
I was “the one”
who ran to hold the bus
for a slow-walking older friend...

and now I don't.

Two years ago I could spend all Saturday
on a flea market, department store shop,
no need for a break or a sit down
because I was tired...

and now I can't.

Two years ago
I didn't have periods of fatigue, didn't
need moments to pause in the day,
didn't contemplate the idea of a nap...

But now I do.

That poem comes to us from Jane Seskin, working psychotherapist and writer and having now read her latest collection, I feel like I've found a soulmate in regard to elder issues.

SeskinBooknoborder Seskin is saying many of the same things about growing old that I've written about here for 15 years – she just does it more eloquently than I do. Here's another from her book, Older Wiser Shorter:

Talk To Me

Hey, is there someone who's
supposed to warn you of the
health stuff as you age?
Doctor? Friends? The internet?

No one sounded the bell for me on
belching, dehydration, constipation
or flatulence. No talk of elongated
earlobes, receding gums, facial hair

or that I would get winded and need
to pause in the middle of the sidewalk
to catch my breath. Were body
malfunctions too private to share?

Did I not make the time to ask the
questions? Did you not want to
tell me about my physical future?
I want to know what's normal and

what's not. Maybe...maybe we
could just be a little more honest
and vulnerable with each other.
Perhaps we could connect on a

deeper level through sharing our
stories, even the scary ones, of
our health fantasies and fears and
what makes each of us feel better.

There aren't very many people – actually, there is hardly anyone at all – talking about these real, day-to-day surprises that afflict our old age. Which is what makes me excited to have found a soulmate on “what it's really like to get old.”

In fact, I'm pretty sure the medical community knows more about cancer and diabetes than about Jane's list of belching, flatulence, facial hair and rest. And no one ever talked about this stuff when we were younger, so surprises – mostly unpleasant ones – become key elements of growing old.

Not that everything is a complaint. Here are a couple more poems from Jane's book that resonated oh so strongly with me:


Most of the time
I'm in love
with my single life
which is not to say
I don't have room
to be in love
with a good man,
but this time around
I think I'd just like
say Wednesday
and every other

Ha! I cannot count how often I've had exactly that thought. Here's another, more whimsical than some others:


I look behind, in front,
around. No one
on the street.

And then I do
what I've been
yearning to do

since last week
when I saw and

and then grinned
while I watched
the two little girls.

I skip!

Jane Seskin's book of poetry, Older Wiser Shorter: An Emotional Road Trip to Membership in the Senior Class, is available at Amazon. I highly recommend it.

Back in January, Jodie Jackson of Primaris, a healthcare consulting company, interviewed me about my blog, about ageing and about my cancer diagnosis for the company's blog.

I particularly like the title on the podcast page: The Space Between Life and Death which nicely captures this indeterminate period I'm in now.

We had a fine ol' time talking this over and in addition to publishing the podcast, Jackson excerpted parts that you can read at the website. What struck me is how closely what Jackson and I spoke about meshes with Jane Seskin's poetry. One example:

”What the aging 'experts' didn’t explain or even talk about were daily details about aging,” writes Jackson. For instance, 'I had dropped a knife that came perilously close to my toes.' She wrote about dropping things and the response was resonating.

“'It turns out that old people do drop more things' because their fingers lose sensitivity to touch. 'Yes, me too, me too, me too,” was the cacophony of responses. 'There are all kinds of things like that. Your doctor won’t tell you…the little things you’re going to have to accommodate as you get older.'”

You can read Jodie Jackson's article and/or listen to the podcast at the Primaris website.


From a foggy cold Portland, Good Morning !
In 1965 Roger Miller released another of his many corny songs that my kids loved. Adults usually had to retreat to the garden out of sound range. This one came to mind when I read Jane Seskin's poem about skipping. These are the opening lines and repeating chorus.

"Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
But you can be happy if you've a mind to​"​

The final line speaks to me at 81 simply because I cannot "skip" with Jane and my cane, yet am still grateful to "have a mind to".

Then too, remembering with a smile doesn't make muscles ache or break anything. I NEVER chance falling now; tried it once, didn't like it !!

My first chuckle of the day was that book title. I didn't see "shorter" coming. But it's true. I've always been 5'8". As I recall, it was actually 8 1/4" at one time. Now it's 5'7" and change. At least now I can find pants that are long enough. Some even too long.

I'd not thought about skipping in many, many years. I wonder if I still can. Carefully, down a carpeted hallway, of course. My doctors have made me paranoid about falling. I used to think a broken hip was the main concern. But I've seen enough stories now to think hitting my head might be the biggest danger. Regardless, I'm always careful. I've an extreme allergy to pain. I describe it to the doctors as "I take aspirin for a hangnail."

I have downloaded the podcast and will listen today while walking. Podcasts are a nice development in the current media environment. May they, like blogging, stay freely available for at least as long as I'm around!

So that’s why getting dressed to go out (not so much anymore, which is fine with me) has been taking so much longer!

First I drop my eyebrow pencil (I need that because I have no eyebrows now), then I drop the screw tops of my liquid foundation, hopefully into the bathroom sink and not on the floor where I have to squint to find them and then stoop to pick them up. This after having dropped the soap in the shower and then having the whole tube of toothpaste fly out of my hand, just missing the toilet.

You’re right , Ronnie - nobody tells you this stuff. Thank you. I can’t wait to get my hands on these books you’ve mentioned. Holding on to them will be a whole ‘nother story!

Laughed out loud at the poems, but have laughing tears running down my face from Regina's comments. Haven't we all been there?

I plan to purchase several copies of Jane's book and give it as birthday gifts to all my best "elder" friends.

Thanks Ronni for today's post! After a weekend of hearing about the manufactured "national emergency", we all needed a good laugh.

FABULOUS points about aging symptoms. Nobody tells us this stuff! And if you don't know, you're likely to think you're the only one, or that something's SERIOUSLY WRONG. I have the dry papery skin, the loss in finger coordination (I'm a pianist, so I really don't like that), the earlobes, lots of arthritis, lower energy, AND I get winded very easily. Jane Seskin's the FIRST place I've read anybody else describe that as a function of aging. I've been assuming that I've brought this terrible thing on myself from not being athletic, and spending too much time in front of my computer. The docs tell me it is deconditioning--as opposed to heart disease. Is that right? Is that common? Are there a lot of you folks who get winded unnervingly easily?? I'd love to know I have company!

As usual, great column, Ronni! Thanks!

Thanks for sharing that wonderful podcast! What I liked best was that you were invited to be a guest speaker and the host allowed you to speak. Your years in commercial media certainly must have prepared you for this. You are so on-topic and seem to say precisely what you are thinking....in the clearness of mind that resonates in your writing.

Mostly, I heard what I can only describe as a voice resonating with joy.

You are a jewel!

Love it all today, especially the poem "Arrangement". I can see I'll have to order her book of poems.

I'm glad to know that my increased dropping of things, and breaking them, is shared by others as part of ageing. Having problems now of hitting the right keys on the keyboard - every other word needs correcting.

Talk about aging fumble fingers. I just accidentally eliminated my post while editing so here goes again.
Do you remember when poet Judith Viorst would come out with a book of poems for each decade?
Jane Seskin's book sounds like just what we need.
I'm grateful that when I mention some recent failing that the other person responds, 'me too.'
I drop things often, crumbs very often, and since I take food into the living room or over to the computer, I leave
crumbs all over and wonder if it would be worthwhile to have a bird and let it fly all over foraging for its dinner.
Of course then it would wind up 'dropping' things all over. I'll have to rethink that idea.

Susan R., I don't much like pain either, but unfortunately it seems to come with age, at least if one is 80+. It's a big-time nuisance, limits activity level and reduces quality of life--sometimes significantly. A lot of the other c***py symptoms involved in getting old do, too, but it is what it is.

Good to know so many others drop stuff. I always was a bit clumsy but nothing like I am now. I'm known to myself as "Old Clums".

Susan, I'm still giggling at your comment that you "...take an aspirin for a hangnail."

My parents were in their mid-forties when I was born and I saw them through heart disease, emphysema, arthritis, severe osteoporosis, neuromuscular disease, dementia and eventually death.

The 'mysteries' of old age were revealed to me in my 30s. Knowing about them hasn't stopped them from knocking on my door damn it all, despite a healthy diet and a 'positive' attitude (I'm not positive it worked, I'm falling apart). I can't function in the morning until my pain meds kick in. I drop more things than not and I can't bend over to pick anything up.

Remember Laugh-In's Ruth Buzzi, on the park bench with her saggy support hose and her hair net with the knot in the middle of her forehead, smacking the dirty old man with her handbag? My anaconda-strangling compression stockings *do not sag*. They are thigh high and require a team of sturdy and dedicated nurses to put on first thing in the morning, and take off again before bedtime. That's where the 'tears before bedtime' saying came from.

And I type so slowly this thing always times out. I've learned to save what I've written, log back in post my saved post. I used to type 65 words a minute. Now I don't even think that fast. But I've finally learned patience. What choice do I have? Except I'm calling it Zen so I'm more with the times. Namaste fellow travellers.

Wonderful poems, Ronni, thank you for sharing. And a great interview on the Premaris site, bravo!

I finally came to the conclusion recently that since my first major foot surgery twenty-one years ago this month I am at long last feeling okay with the permanent effect it has had on my life. I've felt so limited for all these years that now, at 79, I feel damned good. I guess I felt pretty old way back then due to my gait. My age has caught up with my disability. Hope that makes sense. I laughed at a lot at the above reflections. Seems I have lots of company. How many have problems holding up a juice pitcher or coffee pot? That's my most recent affliction. Each morning you wake up wondering "what's next?" Hugs to you, Ronni.
Regina (in Maine) - not the west coast.

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