ELDERMUSIC: A Soupçon of Ellington
A TGB READER STORY: Dancing with the Monkey

Guidance For My Near Future

I'm not certain this is of much of a useful blog post or of interest to anyone but myself but what the hell, I'll write it down anyway so I have something to compare next week, next month, next...

Daily now I realize that what I was feeling yesterday, how much energy I had then, whether I slept well or not last night, how strong or weak I feel this morning, whatever I think I want to get done today – it is all under control of my body. I - that is, my personal self or intention - have almost nothing to do with it.

My body chooses what it will do now and it has taken me to an updated version of “man plans, god laughs.” In this case, “old woman plans, body laughs.” A different joke every time although they generally relate to waning.

In a head-slapping moment a few days ago, I realized resistance is futile. The body knows what the body knows and striving even for the smallest things has morphed into acceptance. If I can't get the trash out, it can go in the morning. That attitude fairly new for me – I've always been a get-it-done-now kind of girl.

Most of my life has been striving for something – a bigger, better, more successful TV show to produce, a script to write, a website to build, an award to win. Always a goal. I haven't dug that deep into it yet, but I suspect I will find I didn't need to do all that. That life would have gone on well enough, satisfactorily, without pushing so hard.

It feels good now to be just easing on down the road – or working on getting to that point.

Those of you who have been on this cancer/COPD trip with me from the start might recall that three-and-a-half years ago, as I was wheeled in the surgery for the massive Whipple procedure, I said I just wanted to live long enough to read the Mueller Report.

That, as we know, turned out to be a dud and my new goal for many months was to vote in the 2020 election.

AND I DID IT. We vote by mail in Oregon. I filled out my ballot on Saturday, my wonderful neighbor Judy dropped it at collection point at City Hall and for sure, I have never in my near-80 years voted in a more important election.

Having now performed this crucial act of public responsibility, I'm going to continue to slow down. I want to use the gift of time the universe has bestowed on me to consider and contemplate life, living, loving and then - finding a way to let go, when the time comes, in peace and maybe even joy.

But not quite yet – heh. I need just a little more time.


Not quite yet, Ronni.

Cheering you on from Montréal.

Like you, I've always been a get-it-done person. Push, push, push regardless of how I felt.
Reading your feelings is very helpful to me. I can ease off a bit with less "guilt" -- where does that come from anyway?
The world won't end if I don't keep to a self-imposed schedule and I may actually be better off.
Thanks Ronni

Is it okay to be angry at one's body for not allowing you to do the things you had hoped to do now that you have the time to do it.? It all just seems so unfair.

We are all happy that you need/want more time.

I LOVE your writing. Thank you for taking us on your journey. When my mom was failing, I was surprised that she didn't want me to read the mail to her. She'd always been interested in the mail. She said, "That's all just earthly stuff." And shook her head. She was right. So much that we worry about and strive for is just "earthly stuff." I think of that when I get stressed.

Peace be to you as you cope with an uncooperative body!

On a scaled down level, I so know what you mean, that the body, the amazing, willing force of nature for many years, just can't. It's not that it won't, rather that it can't. It would if it could. Sometimes I feel my body get excited about doing something.........get the ladder, get that last, highest pear up there! Well..........not a good idea today. Maybe tomorrow. And it really might work tomorrow. I call it my first temple, my body.
And I love what you said about letting go........"but not quite yet." I laughed out loud, as somewhere I read that St. Augustine prayed to God to make him pure..........but not just yet.

This column really touched me, wise words.

When the time comes... may peace and joy surround you, in the knowledge that your life on earth continues to be so well spent. We, the beneficiaries of your wisdom, are grateful dear Ronni. Thanks.

This touched me as well, Nora. I've been reading posts since before Whipple, and have been grateful to be allowed along on your journey of honesty, dignity, humor and acceptance. I have also been a push push girl, until one day in my 50's, while leading a large national company, my body just stopped in it's tracks (frozen shoulder, big cervical issues, tmj, panic attacks and depression as I realized my body had turned against me.) It hadn't tho, it was there for me all along, I had left it. This changed the direction of my career and life, However, I still appreciate the reminder that on some level, I'm still pushing. Why not attune to the rhythm of the natural world a bit now? Thank you thank you, Ronnie. Much love.

I find it very hard to describe Old Age let alone Ill Health. It is so ugly but also incredibly beautiful. I think we become necessarily alone, like a dog goes under the table to die- he or she has to be alone - my friend was like that too. In palliative care she said "I hope I never see you again Betty" as she caressed my face. She told me she wanted "to go" as the nurse said she couldn't drink cold water because it made her breathing harder and we had a laugh. I told her to tell her doc she "wanted to go" and she did. She was gone the next day. I hope I can be as good and as brave as she was. She had them paint her toenails bright bright red for the journey!
I think it will be easy for you too Ronnie - you will know when the time is right - don't rush it - you are still needed and I think this time is so special - so much better than the mac truck ending. I wish you very little pain for as long as possible.

Wishing you the best, Ronni. Our love is with you.

Having lost my father when he was 37, I was haunted for years but there feeling ii would always want "a little more time," actually a lot more time. When my grandfather, with whom I was very close, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, his response was that he had been able to do many of the things he had wanted to do in his life and still had a few left and that he thought that was a good place to leave it. I find that an even wiser position now that I am 77!

You got to vote!!! Yay! I'm so glad. I am in the process of completing my ballot, since we in Washington vote by mail too, and I'm thinking a lot about taking that responsibility very seriously.

Now I hope you live to see President Joe Biden, or at least President-elect Joe Biden. But if that is not to be, at least you'll know you did your part to make it happen.

At almost 73 and so far healthy, my body failures are minor compared to yours, but I still see little losses all the time. As you expressed so well, we can fight them just so long before the only answer is acceptance. I wish for you much peace and joy in the remaining days.

Thanks, Ronni.

I'm so glad for you that you got to vote. I wish you peace and tranquillity in the coming days and months.

I was struck by two lines in what you wrote. ‘My body chooses what it will do now...’ and ‘The body knows what the body knows...’ Profound truths about the process you are experiencing. I sometimes consider how amazing it is that we have this embodied experience, with all is joys and sorrows. Maybe like with childbirth in dying the body does take over and it does set the course which is inevitable. What a time you describe, on one hand readying for departure and on the other fully, even more fully than at times past, being here, living each moment. Thank you very much for your sharing. You are breaking trail in a way for some of us by being so honest along each step. I think your body does tenderly hold you, has given you so very much and still does but this waning must be such a difference from how it previously was, with so much energy and drive. I know I will be reflecting on this post for some time. Sending love to you. Nancy R.

Not boring at all, Ronni - this is, after all, a journey we'll all be going on. I was startled recently when I realized there won't be a post from you, post-death, telling us all what it was like! That's how much I've come to expect you planting a milestone to guide my own way forward.

And I do second the wish that you live to see President-elect Joe Biden!

I am grateful that you have made us a part of your life journey. "But what the hell..." enables us to travel beside you. You have helped us be aware and fed our desire for connection. Thank you.

Yep, exactly what I tell the younger race. I can only do what my body allows me to do. Sometimes I have to pay somebody to do now what I may have done easily 50 years ago.
You're doing fine, Ronnie, and your blog is always enlightening. B

At least hang in for a few more weeks...to know whether humanity is more good than bad, as evidenced by who they voted for. Or that the country is already dying and gone.
Even if it drags out in courts and lawsuits by trump and co. , it will tell you the nature of the citizens who live here and if the results show a sad state of affairs, you may then be ready and if decency wins, you can rest in peace.

I saw the most wonderful, amazing netflix doc this weekend about "..connecting/attuning to the rhythm of the natural world now", as Susan Penn wrote above. After all, we are part of nature too. Living, connecting, and dying.
"My Octopus Teacher".

Great way to begin the week, VOTE in, and wise words from Ronni, so we wait and see, no pain, no hurry, and like Mary just said, a few more weeks and we should know the balance of the election, and hopefully will look brighter, a better place, for your son, grandchild to grow, and the rest of us as well. Love and Peace for us all!

I am so glad you had your say every which way-Keep up your spirits Lots of love.

I'm so grateful for your blog. I join the rest of this community in appreciating that you are sharing this ending time with us. I, too, have voted, and it was such a relief! (I recently moved to a new state, and it was complicated to figure everything out, although very easy once I knew where to go to register.) I'm so glad that you were able to cast your vote in this important election. Like others who have commented, I hope you are able to continue until we know that Biden, as well as many, many down-ballot Democrats, has won and that the US is in good hands and safe again.

Has it really been 3 1/2 years since your surgery? It feels like yesterday. That just shows you that nothing you write or share has been boring, Ronni. It’s a shared journey we are all on—you are a few steps ahead of us like Diogenes holding the lamp. We are grateful for the light of your clear descriptions of what’s ahead! And hoping for a little more time...

Haha!! Big smile here! You got your vote in. That's great. Your post today really got a grin going for me. ❤️❤️

Yay. Your vote is in.

Ronni, I'm learning from you every day. So grateful to you for sharing so much.
with love and respect

I was so happy that you were able TO VOTE, I admit I was moved to tears by this beautiful victory. I hope, intensely, that you will see the end of this election in the manner that you wish. May January 2021 bring you joy.

As we say out here in Newfoundland Ronni - Long may your big jib draw.


Our bodies have served us well, and now they are tired and worn. We were lucky to have them hold up so long. Be as kind to yourself as you can. So happy you got to vote, I'm dropping off my ballot today in the ballot box behind our little courthouse. Hand delivered. May you and all of us see the finish of the buffoon in the WH. Sending you love and hugs Ronni.

Wow! I don’t often read the comments, but this morning I noted that you have an international following. And we’re all so pleased to hear you’ve voted. Go Joe!

Hi Ronni, Sali in Israel here. Beautiful post.
I have been meaning to either email or call you for a long time but was afraid of getting you at a bad time, or else it was a bad time for me. But I think of you often and with admiration and love.The time difference from here is about 10 hours and these days I am sleeping a lot. I love you and miss you, but am able to stay connected through your blog posts. Both Yaakov and I have been really not well for about 2 years. He is able to walk a few steps but not more from some sort of genetic nerve damage in the extremities problem, and now has a full time, live in Filipino caregiver. He also has COPD but not as seriously as you. I have been so sick and weak and depressed and stressed that I could not keep taking care of him. I am just coming to terms with having someone do almost everything for me. I was always so high energy and go getter, but not anymore. I used to be one of those people that believed that age is just a number, but not anymore. It is just a number that is different for everyone, but eventually catches up. I expected to die young and never gave a thought to being old. Suddenly the last 50 years past in a blink. I am really enjoying having the caretaker but it is a big lifestyle change. Just wanted you to know that we both love you and think of you often.
I am still painting some, but my hands are very shaky. Y is still doing the cartoons, almost daily, but sometimes posting them is hard, and either I or the caregiver help a bit. Crazy, me giving Yaakov computer advise! Huh?
I will not get into detailing my health problems, it just goes on and on, but I feel like I am finally starting to just relax, slow down and let things be and the future will happen whether I will it or not. I hope you still find many moments of joy.
love Sali and love from Yaakov too.

Sending love from the UK. Really hope that your body allows you to see President elect Biden become President - your vote makes a difference as I'm sure you've told many people! You give to much to us all, Ronni. Thank you.

As a child I was an extreme daydreamer, much more of a ponder-er than a do-er. In young adulthood, out of necessity, I was quite driven and achieved something I wanted, but doubted I would be able, to achieve. And then, since I was nonetheless miserable with my supposed success, I quit it all. Ever since I stopped working, to become a parent and then a caregiver for my parent, I have felt that I live a rather small life. I think it suits me. A return to form, more or less. Your post has me wondering if facing my end might be easier for someone like me, a non-striver who lives more in my own head than in the world. Once again you have given me lots to ponder. You have my gratitude.

Congratulations on hitting that voting goal, Ronni! I wish you great ease....

You voted, hot damn! Was so wishing that for you. A powerful act despite what the body is dictating now. (Reminds me of my aunt, who asked my uncle, when it was unclear whether she'd be able to vote a last time, How 'absentee' can that ballot be?")

Like so many others I relate to the frustration followed by resignation, then acceptance. Almost. In my case it’s not just the body that taken it’s own turn. My memory can no longer hold the long list of things I need to do/worry about. I’m finding a decided upside in this situation. Ronni, your writing is helping so many of us sort out old age.

I'm in California and voted last week by dropping my ballot off at my local library who will deliver it to the Registrar of Voters.

I signed up to be a poll worker and then was actually hired because I'm bilingual and that may be a skill needed this year with record turnouts expected. I've never done this before so it will be an experience in the middle of a pandemic, but I felt the need to contribute in some small manner in a historic election.

The County will be providing us with masks, shields, and what ever else needed to protect us. I'll find out more details when my training session begins tomorrow.

I am beyond over the moon that you, Ronni, are still with us for this election and dare I say optimistic that you'll be around for the results. You can't leave us yet!
Lots more posts after the election, good or bad.

Thank you for a very moving post, Ronni. Yes, our bodies are in charge, just as our unconscious minds are in charge, and so much of what we do in life is a kind of striving against those "orders" - uselessly. And so much of what we do is basically unimportant, sort of "made up" by our conscious minds.

I'm very glad you have come to a place of acceptance, and I hope your wish to live to see the outcome of the election is realized. You are a woman of accomplishment. Now you are approaching your very last hurdle, and I fully expect you to leap over it just as you have all the others!

Congratulations on your vote!

I can't believe I get to say "You did it Ronni, you voted against Trump!"
Me too.
We voted against Trump!!!!!!

I’m echoing you ronni
Copd and heart failure have me at their will

Am so grateful to you for your writing these past 12 years

You’re in my prayers along with my own hope for a gentle exit

So glad you got to vote to bring sanity back to our country. It may not be realistic but it is certainly possible that you see the inauguration of President Biden. It is my fervent wish.

Totally agree about the body thing--as far as being very useful, for most intents and purposes mine left the building about 4 years ago when it turned 80. But I'm still here. So much for the me I once was. She's long gone.

Oh, and my hard drive crashed Sunday night so I'm using my husband's computer for this not-very-coherent comment. Frustrating. As with so much in life these days of COVID, it is what it is. I looked around at the crowd of potentially-infectious people in the store yesterday (at least they were all wearing masks) when I took my computer in to be fixed and wanted to run screaming out of there! But I NEED my computer. It's the first time I've been anywhere but the grocery and pet food stores since March.

SO glad you lived to vote against the would-be Emperor of tRumpystan, Ronni. The "Blues" need every vote we can get. That aside, I'm just happy that you beat the pre-Whipple odds.

My perception, too, is that our bodies really do dictate, whether or not we listen. When we’re younger we have residual strengths that we can sometimes marshal to push ahead, then recover, that have waned by the time we’ve entered into those aging golden years as they’re sometimes called. Illness and what you’re dealing with can make “doing” much more challenging leaving little or no choice but to acquiesce to the limitations as you describe.

Wise for your mental health that you are adapting, accommodating and accepting your situation, I think. I’ve had to do a-bit of that myself in recent years but for much simpler reasons than you, necessarily leaving some matters undone to maybe be able to undertake later. Glad you have help for many things.

An especially pleased you were able to vote. I’ll be completing and submitting my ballot later this week. We have so many provisions to understand that seems to me our state legislators should have been addressing if they’d been doing their job, but that’s a topic with which grouchy old lady would commiserate — expect she has plenty other to grouch about.

What the hay, maybe you might just stick around for the outcome of the election — getting the WH clear of virus, and occupying vermin — ballot counting, electoral college validation, January inauguration, welcoming a new resident to the WH, then seeing the beginning of restoring America’s true soul just for starters. Guess its up to the bod as time goes by.

I voted too. The important thing was "WHAT I voted for" NOT "WHO I voted for." In my opinion, both choices for president are duds. Biden having had two surgeries for brain aneurysms, and other difficulties, my belief is that a vote for him is a vote for Kamala Harris for president. Trump is a bully narcissist, a most unlikeable person. I am thinking back on two former presidents who I greatly admired, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, one a republican and one a democrat. They both had decisions to make on crisis situations. Their successes were due to their thought processes (analytical and critical thinking and deductive reasoning). It was what they knew to be true, NOT what they thought they knew. There was no group think involved.

Such an intimate and honest message, I felt so close to you as I read the words. Thank you.
And you got to vote, such a sweet moment.

Hey Ronni, You Voted! Yes! Never have so many held their breath for so long as we are doing now. Maybe that isn't quite true as worse regimes have existed since humanity began. But sheesh!

Thank you for keeping us grounded through it all and remembering what really matters. And for bringing us along on this incredible journey.

I didn’t know about Biden’s surgeries, and I read M. Brown’s comment with alarm. So I googled it—his surgeries were in 1988! Pronouncing him unfit for something that happened in 1988 doesn’t seem quite fair. Commenting about often putting his foot in his mouth is fair game (and pretty well documented), but that doesn’t mean he will not make it for his full term. It’s ok to bash him for his policies if you don’t agree, but judging him for a physical condition that was fixed years ago feels like discrimination to me. I don’t know if this is out of bounds are not, but I just couldn’t let that go by, sorry, M.

Thank you so much for this and all your posts. I don't usually comment, but they mean so much to me and countless others.

I felt the same as you this year. Dropping my ballot in the mailbox yesterday, I said to myself that this was the most important vote I have ever cast. It took me this long to actually believe that my vote was important, mandatory. And that's probably the problem - and why we've ended up with such a horror. Every vote in every election is important, mandatory.

Hi Sali...

So good to get a long catchup letter from you. I wish I could respond in time but I'm exhausted today, even with a good night's sleep. Sometimes I feel like I'll just melt, sitting here in the desk chair.

Other days are better - yesterday and the day before. I am so bloody tired of Trump, polititics, lies, repetetive news, death and dying, arguments over masks - the whole thing. No one has any answers and those who purport to do are just stupid.

I try to get by day to day - maybe something like you and Yak. But this is about all I can write today. I just too tired.

Much love Sali to both of you.


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