Fearing Old Age plus The Alex and Ronni Show

Happy 95 Years, Darlene Costner

Today is Darlene Costner's 95th birthday. Imagine – she was born in 1925 when Calvin Coolidge was the U.S. president and she has seen 16 presidents.


Darlene and I have never met in person, but we have been internet friends since at least 2007. For a long time she ran her own blog, Darlene's Hodgepodge, where she held forth on whatever crossed her mind – always smart, frequently funny and where she never pulled any punches about how she felt regarding politicians and their behavior.

Darlene stopped writing her Hodgepodge blog in 2012, but it is still online if you would like to check it out.

Among her interests are music – she has played piano since she was three years old - reading, photography and travel. Oh, how she loved travel and often wrote about how much she misses it.

Back in 2008, I published a series of guest posts here that I called the Oldest Old Project – stories from readers who were at least 80 years old. Darlene was too busy elsewhere to contribute but I republished a story from her blog about her final trip abroad and how life was different at age 83 from 60.

In part, she wrote,

”I no longer care if my house is spotless. It used to be a matter of pride that my furniture was polished, the floors clean, the windows washed and all was in order. While I was never a Mrs. Felix Unger I did try to retain my image. No more.

“I think that might be a matter of self preservation because I am aware that I am unable to do the hard work necessary. I shove it onto my list of things that I won’t worry about. Now I am more like Phyllis Diller who joked, 'I clean my house twice a year whether it needs it or not.'

“My mental closet is full of things that I will think about tomorrow. I have become a regular Scarlett O’Hara.”

When I first read that in 2008, my life hadn't caught up with Darlene yet. Nowadays I know exactly how wise she was being. You can read that full essay here.

It is 12 years later now and the truth for all of us that if you live long enough you are likely to need more help day to day. A few months ago, Darlene moved into an elder care home and is not as active online.

Her daughter, Gail, said in an email recently that Darlene's physical health is good “but everything that's going on is taking a toll on her emotional health – like all of us,” and that the TGB community means the world to her.

Darlene is a remarkable woman – and not just for her many years. I've learned so much from her over the years about life, about enduring, about adapting. Oh, yes, about adapting. And we have also laughed and laughed together across the ether of the internet.

This is a story she sent for the Tuesday Reader Story feature that is posted here on Tuesdays. This one, from 2018, is titled, “The Elusive Monster.” It begins:

”There's a specter living in my house and his main purpose is to drive me insane. He is an evil prankster bent on making my life miserable.

“I first noticed his presence when he made all of my kitchen cabinets higher so that I can no longer reach the top shelf and even reaching the middle shelf forces me to stand on my toes.

“Then he must have howled with laughter as he knocked things from my hands, forcing me to clean up the ensuing mess. That wasn't enough fun for him so he lowered all the floors in my house.”

You can finish reading it here.

So let us celebrate the indomitable Darlene Costner on her 95th birthday. She is my friend, my old age mentor and I cannot imagine my life all these years without her friendship, her wisdom and her sense of humor.



Since my son lives in Tucson, I've had the pleasure of visiting with Darlene on a few occasions. We even went out to breakfast together with my husband once. I've enjoyed her intelligence, her curiosity, and her warmth. Wishing you a most happy birthday, Darlene!

I don't know you personally, Darlene...but am sending huge wishes for your happiness on this anniversary of your birth. You are indeed a treasure to the rest of us who honor the wisdom and humor that comes with each additional year. And may each day continue to bring you joy.

Thanks for the post ... a remarkable women, indeed.

Happy birthday, Darlene, and a virtual bunch of sunflowers to you.

I am now one year shy of the age you were when you wrote about your no longer worrying about keeping your home so clean, and I realize that we are actually of different generations - you, Greatest; me, Silent - as I would demonstrate by writing that I was never a Ms Felix Unger. *chuckling*

I think of you each time I struggle to open impossible packaging. Thank you for adding joy to my life. I miss your blogging and thank Ronni for keeping us updated.

Happy Birthday, Darlene! Thank you for sharing your humor and wisdom.

P.S. Ronnie--I know that you and Millie were friends as early as 2005, at latest, since you got me started reading Thoroughly Modern Millie in time that I embroidered a sunflower for Millie, that year, as her input to a friendship quilt that Cowtown Pattie was making.

P.P.S. Oops! My wires got crossed between Darlene and Millie. Please forgive my error. I'll have to think on the subject for a moment in order to reassemble a few of my marbles.

Happy Birthday Darlene. You are a true gem. I've always looked forward to your comments on this blog - always full of wisdom, honesty and humour. May this next year be a joyful one for you.

Happy, happy birthday, Darlene.

I've always appreciated your thoughtful wisdom that you shared with us, your juniors, and your insistence that something needed to be done to save our environment, NOW!

You never minced words in politics, either. In 2008 you wrote in a comment, "Give 'em Hell Harry was one of a kind. I wish we had more of his ilk in the Oval Office." a few months before the election of Barack Obama.

Ah, good times and good memories. Thank you, Darlene.

Happy birthday, Darlene, I enjoyed our phone chat and our FB exchanges. I wish you joy in all things, small and big. And I can smell the lilacs in your bouquet, how beautiful!

Happy birthday to Darlene. We did meet her twice in Tucson. She's as sweet in reality as she was in her blog

Happy Birthday, Darlene! And thanks to Ronni, we had the opportunity to send wishes to you via email. Hope you enjoy your day and feel the virtual hugs coming your way!

Celebrate the day you were born, Darlene, and all the love and value you put into your life.

What a lovely tribute! Happy Birthday Darlene!

Dear Darlene, as I wrote you on your 90th, I always looked for your posts when TGB arrived. I miss your
wit, your wisdom, and your wonderful politics.

I hope you relish the good wishes and greetings from all of us. ENJOY!!
(As my 105-year-old great-great aunt— with whom you share your lively politics — used to say. )

Take very good care of yourself.

Ruth-Ellen Joeres

Dear Darlene,
I wish you a Happy Birthday and thank you in advance for the wisdom you continue to bestow as I'm intending to go back and read your columns which Ronni says are archived. My husband's biggest mantra is "adapt", and I think I could use an infusion of this magical elixir right now.
Happy Birthday !

As we say in Hawaii, Hau'oli lā hānau, Darlene! I really miss your wisdom and humor. Wishing a great year and beyond!

Thank you Ronni for letting us know more about Darlene Costner, and sending her Birthday Wishes, love her thoughts and yours too, m

A joyous birthday to you, Darlene. I can't wait to enjoy more of your writing, observations, humor, and wisdom. The sample Ronni supplied was surely tantalizing.

Happy Birthday, Darlene! I've missed seeing your posts, but I'm happy to see you've just been on hiatus, Goodness knows I can't criticize anyone for doing that! Enjoy your day and best wishes for many more!

A very happy birthday to you Darlene.

Happy Birthday, Darlene! Thank you for showing it is possible to go through life — even the tough times — with a sense of humor. Raising a virtual glass of bubbly in your honor!

Congratulations, Darlene!

I love your sense of humour, your writing style and your wisdom.

Stay cool,

From your internet friend in Montreal.

Happy Birthday, Dear Darlene!

I hope you received Birthday Greetings sent
via Gail early this morning.

Thanks to Ronni we are all celebrating
You on Your Birthday and sharing the happiness you bring.

Love and virtual hugs, hugs, hugs from
your TGB Family!

Happy Birthday Darlene! As a relatively young 62 year old, I appreciate learning from you and Ronni and my mother (now 92) who show the way and let us down what the path to being old can look like. I hope you have a wonderful day with sunshine and some joy - whatever that is for you.

Cheers, Darlene! Have a wonderfully Happy Birthday!

Happy 95th birthday to the indomitable Darlene!

I feel I almost know you from your terrific posts here and your photography in Tucson. And now to find out you have played the piano since age 3. I would love to know what kind of piano music you like. I'm betting it's most everything.

Stay cool in Tucson and many happy returns.
From a former Tucsonian,

I'm so in awe...you are beautiful, Darlene, and obviously BFM (Best Friend Material) as my granddaughter would say! I am 91, and also in a retirement home. And played the piano for a thousand years (since 6) and love to read, and have always loved travel! Good for you!

Now I am going to pick up on your previous postings and blog, and so look forward to that!

Have a happy birthday, enjoy the many comments from friends old, and new, and smile in remembering the good times!

Happy Birthday Darlene!

Happy Birthday, Darlene! I wish you something wonderful in every day!

Happy Birthday Darlene!
I very much enjoyed reading your Hodgepodge posts “back in the day” as well as your comments on Ronni’s blog. 😊

Enjoy your day Darlene
Many happy returns

I began reading Darlene's blog so long ago!! I had no idea what age she was back then, and when I found out, I was mildly shocked. She was so "with it" and forward- thinking. And guess what: she still is!! Happiest of birthdays, Darlene and many more. The world can use your wisdom!!

Happy birthday Darlene. The picture of you is beautiful, but I can also see from Ronni's description of you that you are also a beautiful soul.

Wishing you many more.

What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful lady, inside and out. Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday Darlene !

I miss your comments...so many times I said to myself, “My thoughts ex- actly Darlene!”

May You be blessed with Love, comfort and joy for all your days ~

Belated Happy Birthday greetings are coming your way from here in So Cal! I’ve enjoyed following your comments here and your earlier blog all these years. Your sharing the hearing challenges you’ve experienced, then your experience adapting to the innovative cochlear implant has been most informative. I was especially interested in your describing how you experienced listening to music as you undertook to retrain your brain after the implant. I also recall one humorous tale you shared about being startled awake by men in black standing at the foot of your bed one night. Here’s wishing you many more happy birthdays!

I love Ali's comment wishing you 'something wonderful in every day' and I'll second that wish. I'm also hoping your move has provided a bit of comfort and ease to your days.

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