Election Day

I Am Back and Ready

Seven years, three months, one week, and one day ago, I lost my Dad, Neil, to a Glioblastoma (GBM). My father was a “man’s man” and, although he was able to scare many of our suitors away, if you made it into his inner circle- a place of unconditional love and support- you would find that the only thing bigger than his brawn was his heart. Ronni found this out in the mid-80’s when a fluke run in with this small town man changed both of their lives forever.

My dad was born in the tiny hamlet of Shickshinny, PA. He spent his childhood there and married the love of his life, Donna, who grew-up across the Susquehanna River in Mocanaqua. He raced cars, chewed tobacco, and he loved walking in the woods. He taught seventh grade science at the high school from where he graduated, and raised his children to be able to identify deciduous trees in February. He lived 2 ½ hours away from New York City, or as we called it, The Big Jabłko, but he lived a life as if it were a world away.

When my Dad met Ronni, or Vern as he called her, our family had just entered a time of enlightenment. We had heard of Vern- a jet setting producer for the likes of Barbara Walters and such, who resided in The West Village- and on Thanksgiving Eve, my Dad drove thirty minutes to the nearest bus station to fetch our holiday guest. Our family Thanksgivings consisted of 30-35 people, all who were close family. The fact that Ronni did not run out the door never to be heard from again still amazes me, and from that weekend on, we were family.

I met Ronni as a child, annoyed her through my teen years, dumbfounded her with my absolute stupidity in my twenties, and became her best friend in my thirties. My forties brought an unconditional, omnipresent love that bonded us deep within our souls. We shared lobster in Maine when times were good, and peanut butter and cucumber sandwiches when they were a bit tighter. We paired $400 bottles of wine with Dominos while watching Netflix in her bed. She taught me how to ride the subway and helped me navigate some of the hardest times of my life.

When my Dad was diagnosed with a GBM, my world was rocked. He was my hero, my rock, my sounding board, and the best Dad a kid could ever have imagined. I watched our Mighty Oak slowly lose his strength, and often not be able to recall the words in his everyday life. I began to grieve before he died. I mourned for small losses everyday throughout his fight and really thought I was going to be ready when he died. In the days that followed his death, I was relieved because my Dad was free. Guilt overwhelmed me. How could I feel more at peace with my Dad gone than I did with him here? In talking to Ronni, she helped me see that I had been caring for the emotions of those around me better than I had been taking care of my own. She urged me to treat myself as I would someone who came to our home to pay their respects. Taking care of myself and being selfish was not only alright, but critical for self-preservation.

Fast forward five years from that day… I was teaching, and during a break, I checked my phone. Two missed calls from Veronica Bennett. It was not Sunday- Sunday morning was our standing phone date- yes we called throughout the week to chat, but TWO missed calls. I called and Ronni told me she had pancreatic cancer. A death sentence. There is much that I can share about the time between that phone call and now, and I will on a much more regular basis now… but for the past month and a half, I needed to be selfish. I needed to process a loss that I knew was going to happen. I thought I was ready, but in the end, I was not. I was not done with our relationship in this life. I miss my Friend so very much. I am so sad.


Welcome back, Autumn. You have been a part of this community since you held the fort here while Ronni went through her initial cancer surgery. It is lovely to hear about your long friendship with her. We understand you won’t be spending your time researching and writing the blog as Ronni did. But as you can see from the comments, regular readers value this TGB community, and even without Ronni will help to ‘keep the conversation going’ with some small prompts.
Season’s greetings to everyone and in spite of Ronni’s ban on links in comments, I will sneak this in

Autumn, Ronni would be proud of you.

Thank you for sharing with us ways to grieve.

Grieve gently, dear Autumn.

Thank you Autumn for bringing the gift of memories about our friend Ronni. And, no small thing, the dear memories of your Dad.

Greetings from Montreal!

Autumn, thank you for being Ronni’s friend, and sharing some of your good times with her.

Ronni had that perfect sense of humour.

She was on top of everything relating to seniors.

Ronni’s chats with her ex - I loved those.

Crabby Lady- no holds barred.

Ronni made a big deal about my books.

I appreciated her support.

We had a plan - to meet at Washington Square Park, NYC.

At the dog run.

Next time GPS and I are there.

A fantasy I will make happen, even if it’s just Mister GPS and me at the dog run. I’ll say hello to her, out loud.

My other fantasy is Ronni’s Cafe- the story telling coffee house in NYC. Ronni liked that fantasy.

Maybe it will happen.

I believe in magic.

My mom died four months ago.

Friends used to tell me how tough it is to lose your mom or dad.

They said it’s like losing your anchor, you feel adrift. You can’t believe someone who was here a day ago, is gone forever.

My mom died four months ago.

And my brother died two months ago.

We couldn’t visit either one in the hospital to say goodbye.

Distant safe hugs to everyone on this blog.

Take care,
Stay safe,

Welcome back TGB.
Looking forward to hearing your voice Autumn, and hopefully Peter and Norma's too.
Bye Bye 2020, we don't hate to see you go.
Bring on the Roaring 20's!

Will there be an email address for TGB readers including those who are not subscribers?

Happy New Year's Eve Day to all. Next year will be much better. It can't not be.

Joared, I assume Autumn will monitor the 'Contact' messages (top of the webpage on PC, don't know about on a phone), although probably not as often as Ronni did. Is that what you meant?
And a very Happy New Year to all of you, hoping it will be kinder to us than 20-bloody-20!

Thank you Autumn for your beautiful story. Like so many, I miss Ronni very much. I just read her last post again, Fancy Pants. Even though the was in a lot pain, she shared her wit and humor with us one last time. She was someone truly special.

Thank you Autumn for sharing your personal loss and your long friendship with Ronnie. You certainly were a special person in her life and it's interesting how relationships come together.

She gave you the best advice after your father's passing. Self-care is not selfishness. Women are taught out of the womb to be nurturers and it's a wonderful gift to be able to give to others but we must learn to to the same for ourselves as Ronnie explained to you. as you cannot give from an empty cup. It's all about balance and boundaries.

It was so good to see your beautiful post. Ronni will live on and a new era of this very special blog begin. Thank you!

Autumn, I think it's better for you to just go live your life as a younger woman and not try to keep up the blog. Ronni would understand and so would all the followers. It's not healthy for you psychologically to be steeped in the problems of people decades older than yourself, especially if you're in any way on the empathetic side, which you seem to be. If you feel some sort of obligation that you can't let go, maybe just post the reader stories and not focus on the content yourself.

"To every thing there is a season."

Although I miss TGB a lot, I think Vera-D. may have a point. You're in your 40s. In my early 40s I hit "restart" big time and put my misspent youth behind. By my mid-40s I was deeply committed to my new marriage and career. Old age was NOT anywhere on my radar screen.

Most of us at TGB are at least 60 and many are much older (speaking for my just-turned-84 self). I know you may want to continue Ronni's legacy, but maybe it would make more sense to start your own TGB, if that's your choice, when you're closer to 60.

On the other hand, if you elect to continue TGB from time to time--perhaps monthly ?-- that would be terrific! We elders aren't all 100% consumed by "old age" stuff. For example, I'm personally SO glad that President-elect Biden will take office soon and that the two Democrat senators from Georgia will be seated. With luck and appropriate preventive action, Agent Orange can be stopped from doing any more damage to democracy on his way out the door. Honestly, I never thought I would live to see American citizens storming our Capitol at the behest of the President of the U.S.! No script writer could make this stuff up.

Autumn, given you are in the early stage of the 50-100 aging range, I think your thoughts on what life looks like to you right now would be your truth to share here. When I was in my forties and fifties I wasn't giving much thought to aging though I knew I was getting older. When did I stop being young?

Probably when I hit fifty, I recall thinking, "Gee, I've lived half my life", adopting an attitude that if I was lucky I had fifty more years to go. As I became older, read science saying people could live into 120-130's, I began to think perhaps I'd last that long -- but, I thought, only if I could keep my mind and my good health.

What's your aging view right now? I'm sure you've been prompted to think more about aging than I ever was at your age, because of your conversations with RB and this blog, if for no other reason.

Actually, in those early aging years I probably wouldn't have had much time or interest in thinking or writing about aging -- of course, we didn't have digital, blogs, etc. then as we do now. I probably wouldn't even have wanted to spend time writing a blog then. I was too busy coping with everyday life, "sandwiched" with an older mother, a young family and returning to college to enter into a new-to-me profession.

I probably was stimulated to begin thinking about aging issues more extensively as my Mother aged with her needs changing. Issues developed for my 7 years older husband. I evolved into considering what life might be like for me as I became older.

So, wherever you are relative to thinking about the aging process, if it's your intent to address that, then we all (and maybe new younger readers) might well find that to be of interest and a good place to start. Do you think you're "old" yet? Who knows what kind of dialogue all this might trigger, maybe even bring back more of our regulars to comment here.

Even if you don't choose to write about that topic, I'd be interested to know when other readers here began to seriously think about, recognize and accept they were getting older. Maybe, just maybe, there was a point when they discovered they might need to give more thought to what they could need and want those older years to be like.

FWIW it's getting kinda hard to have to keep commenting on old posts to which only a new comment or two have been added, then having to scroll down through several pages -- it's becoming a hodge podge IMHO that might discourage, even confuse some, especially any new readers.

Thanks, Norma, I did know about the blog email address but it doesn't matter now.

At 66 I realized my husband and I were aging. Oh, sure, I knew we were getting older, but the real gist of aging hit me that particular year because my husband had open heart surgery to repair a valve. The surgeon said he was doing the procedure open heart because my husband was still young and healthy (69) and would have the best outcome for a long life if done open heart.

Recuperation took time, much more time than we thought it would. Both of us were exhausted with the extra work to care for a recuperating spouse. It was then that my hands and neck started acting up, making the work even harder. Then it clicked, we have gotten old. We don't bounce back like we did when young. That is why I have taken all the precautions to keep us healthy and away from COVID contaminants. I do not want to be that sick. I really want to remain healthy and well so I can do all the things that I love to do.

Hi Autumn,

A bit late, but so pleased you shared with us. I'm so sorry for the loss of your father. My own dad passed in 1985 and is as alive and vibrant in my memory as if he were still here. That's the power of bonding. <3

Hugs from Canada

wow i'm late to this party. i was checking daily for a long while, then weekly, then started giving up hope. happy to find that TGB lives on. i have a ronni story or two to tell one of these days. but not yet. thanks for keeping the flame lit, autumn.

Bless you, Autumn. So glad you're back. I hope you will tell more Ronni stories. It's a way of keeping her among us.

As for Ronni not sharing her decision to die or why she made it when she did—as much as she told us, she alluded once to all that she did NOT tell us.

TGB Readers -- be aware of comments that appear to be seeking free advertising/promotion violating what has always been this blog's policy against such links embedded in comments. RB would have never allowed such comments to be published and expressed her contempt for such submissions.

Joared, I saw your comment and then checked out the new comments made by shelly smith. I hope Autumn sees those and removes them, to honor Ronni's rules. But, it's not my blog, so I cannot tell people what to do.

Watching the inauguration and following ceremonies, thinking of Ronni....

Patty, I stopped by here this morning, the day after the inauguration, with hopes of seeing other comments, knowing that Ronni would have had so much to say about that glorious day, a new day, a new beginning...wishing, too, that she could have been here to see this moment.

I read where Dr. Fauci had a 4 a.m. meeting today to get America back in the World Health Organization and then a full day of work ahead of him, with a reminder that he is 80 years of age. Makes me feel pretty lazy, but also very glad to know that the adults are again in charge.

Dkzody, yes, I felt compelled to check in here because I know that Ronni would have thought the inauguration, limited as it may have been by Covid restrictions, to be glorious. I am with you re Fauci -- I am early 60s and pretty exhausted most of the time, I am amazed by the energy he must have. (To say nothing of Nancy P, rocking those stylish blue pumps with her white ensemble -- I gave up heels long ago, lol.)

I too miss Ronni every day. Be well all.

Long time readers here may recognize the name Millie Garfield who RB often wrote about and whose birthday was frequently celebrated. Millie was 95 on her last birthday, on her way laughing and smiling now toward 96. I think RB would have been referring us to Millie’s blog or maybe even featuring Millie’s current videos where she answers some interesting questions.

If I knew how to readily access some of Ronni’s posts here about Millie I would have written this comment on one of them, but this will have to do. i can refer you to the list of Elderbloggers on the TGB sidebar. If you scroll down to “My Mom’s Blog” you can click on that link to Millie’s blog to see her current videos that have prompted some memories for me and might for you, too.

I miss Ronnie everyday - she was wonderful - so brave - sharing most of her life, her feelings. her thoughts, her fears with us. Still check in here hoping she will be here - just wishful thinking. Lord, can you imagine what she would have to say about the last few months - I can only just imagine. She will always be missed by many.

I would love to hear Ronni's thoughts on the vaccine and the debacle we are seeing in this. I am totally flummoxed over this and how terrible it has turned out.

Back in the fall, before the election, we were hearing the vaccines were ready, it was just the matter of FDA and CDC giving the approvals. Every night, on the news, we saw file footage of the vials rolling off the packing line in the thousands. Then, once approval came, we saw all of the equipment working around the clock to get the vaccines delivered. I remember one state that was even doing practice runs so they would know exactly what to do. Hah! It seems to have been a charade.

No one was ready. No one had made the plans to get the vaccine to the people who needed it most--the people who work in health, the frontline workers, those in senior living centers, the agriculture workers who keep our food coming.

I'm hearing from people I know who have jumped the line and gotten their vaccines because they are older, and they are privileged, and they want to travel. So, what would Ronni have to say about all of that?

There was no Federal, overall direction pre-inauguration. Whatever happened in each state, with however much vaccine they got, was up to the state. I have a friend in Florida who just got her second dose this past week, because there they prioritize over-65 over healthcare workers. Here in New York, I think we have pretty good distribution ready-to-go, but nowhere near the vaccine supply needed. In NYC, the Javits convention center and Yankee stadium are set to do mass vaccinations, but, again, we don't have the product. Now that the grown-ups are in charge down in DC (and having discovered that there was no Federal stockpile --- where did some 20 million missing doses go? Ask Jared) things should get better once the pharmaceutical companies can deliver more supply. So, yes, it's been a mess, and will continue to be so until supply catches up to demand. Stay in, stay safe, mask up, keep your distance. Even after you are vaccinated, you should continue to mask up to keep those around you safe, as you can still be infected (even without getting sick or having any symptoms -- what the vaccine does for you is prevent YOU from getting severely ill) and thus transmit the virus to someone who has not been vaccinated. Once enough people have been vaccinated we should see all the numbers (infections, positive tests, hospitalizations, etc etc) start to drop, maybe dramatically, and then we will be able to approach the new normal. Will it be time to rejoice then? I dunno, I am starting to think this is all a test run for the devastation that climate change will bring about. (What are the chances that folks who refuse to wear masks because Freedom! are going to agree to shrink their carbon footprint? Nil, imho.) Most of us old timers won't here for the worst of it, but our kids? and grandkids? Let's hope they are smart enough to figure out some new technologies to save the planet, and sane enough to find a way to live with one another, despite external differences.... Okay, rant over.

Patty-i-N-Y, I SO agree with you! We (or at least I) won't be here to experience the longer-term effects of climate change but hope to see humanity, such as it is, prevail to some degree over the coronavirus. At 84 I figure I may end my life still distanced from others, masked and hoping the vaccine is effective at preventing critical illness. (My husband and I were fortunate to have received our first shot of the Pfizer vaccine last week.) I realize that I'm gonna die of something, but I'd much prefer to have a bit more control over my final weeks/months of life, if possible. Gasping for my last breath, alone, in an understaffed ICU overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients holds little appeal.

I had hoped that TGB would continue in some form after RB's demise, but it looks like that may not happen. Autumn may have reconsidered such a commitment for her own reasons. Perhaps, too, she has taken to heart a couple of earlier comments that one's 40s are too young to start identifying with the circumstances of older age!

>>Gasping for my last breath, alone, in an understaffed ICU overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients holds little appeal.<<

My same feeling, Elizabeth. A friend called yesterday to tell me of two of her relatives who did die in this manner and how it has broken her heart.

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