97 posts categorized "Readers' Stories"

A TGB READER STORY: Love Thy Neighbor, Over the Fence

By Barrie Levine who blogs at Into the 70s – 72 is the New 72

When our children were grown and my husband Paul and I moved to our current home, our new neighbors welcomed us with a huge tray of homemade eggplant parmigiana.

Carmela and Tony (not their real names), a brother and sister in their early 80s, had never married. Tony, a retired engineer, loved Italian opera videos and made his own red wine. Carmela had formidable expertise in the traditional domestic arts of cooking, baking, and sewing. She knitted colorful afghan blankets for each of our four granddaughters.

Tony confided in us about the hardships he endured as a prisoner in World War II. They emigrated from Italy to the United States after the war and loved their new country with every fiber of their being.

Befriending neighbors was in my DNA. In my childhood, my mom Rose and her neighbor Madge waved through their kitchen windows while washing breakfast dishes. After sending the children to school, they met outside in their aprons and spent the morning chatting over the picket fence.

My husband tended a prolific garden and regularly took over baskets of vegetables and herbs for Carmela’s use. She returned the favor by sharing a platter of antipasto or a jar of homemade spaghetti sauce.

But one year we were plagued by woodchucks who invaded the garden and ruined it often. On an August afternoon, Paul went outside to survey the rows of corn, his pride of the growing season, to find them massacred, the cobs torn off the stalks and strewn on the ground, half-eaten.

He researched his options and bought a Have-a-Heart cage, with the intention of relocating the culprits to a distant wooded area. When Carmela spotted a woodchuck trapped in the cage, she called and screamed into the phone - branding us killers - and that she wanted nothing more to do with “people like us.”

After she slammed down the receiver, I stood there with the phone in my hand, speechless.

Early the next day, a crew appeared to measure the property lines. I knew what that meant - a spite fence would go up along the three hundred foot boundary between us. Whenever the panels blew down in snow or wind storms, Carmela sent for the fence company to repair the damage or replace the sections, keeping the wall intact.

When I heard that Tony passed away, I sent her a condolence card. But Carmela held her grudge and never looked our way to say hello.

Four or five years later, I received another surprise phone call from Carmela - she no longer wanted us to be enemies. I welcomed her kind words and the feeling of connection I had missed.

But by then, my husband was gravely ill. I was his caregiver, trying mightily to keep him out of a nursing home and simply did not have the energy to pursue a neighborly relationship. She may have thought that I didn’t care, but the truth is, my life was in shambles. I had no emotional reserves to welcome anything or anyone into my life - or even to explain.

And our garden suffered from neglect. My husband could no longer figure out how to handle his tools or equipment. We had to sell his tractor with the rototiller attachment. I remember that unbearably sad day when I wrote up a bill of sale and the buyer drove the Kubota onto his trailer and hauled it away.

Last year, I saw Carmela’s obituary in the local newspaper. I mused on both Tony and Carmela, brother and sister immigrants from Italy who lived their American dream together in a brick ranch house on two acres in Massachusetts after losing everything under the Mussolini regime.

I’m sad to lose my next door neighbors, and for my aborted friendship with these good people based upon a silly misunderstanding.

But not everything is possible in life and I had to let it go.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Too Close for Comfort

By Fritzy Dean

I don’t know why he scared me so much. He was not disheveled or dirty. He seemed friendly, giving me big smile as he approached, asking, “ Are you okay, sweetheart?”

I knew I did not know him so I objected to being called “sweetheart.” I was about to step off the sidewalk to walk to my car, when I realized my car was not there.

My face must have shown confusion because he then said, “Is your car lost?”

Spotting it in the other direction I said, “No, not lost. Just temporarily misplaced.”

At that point, he walked right up to me and placed his hand on my elbow! I felt a cold fist squeeze around my heart. Who is this guy? What is he doing? Is he a “Good Samaritan?” Or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

I kept my body stiff and rigid in the few steps it took to get to my car door. I stopped and stood still, waiting for him to step away before I opened the car door. Finally he did, with another twinkly smile, which somehow did not reach his eyes.

I stepped inside and immediately locked all the doors. As he walked into the store I had just exited, I noticed my breath was shaky and my heart was pounding. Clearly my body was reacting to something I could not identify. My body KNEW I had survived a perilous encounter.

A good number of years ago I read a book called, The Gift of Fear by a man named Gavin de Becker. Mr. de Becker (born October 26, 1954) is an American author and security specialist, primarily for governments, large corporations and public figures. He is the founder and chairman of Gavin de Becker and Associates. In the book, he describes many first hand accounts of folks who discounted their fear and came to regret it.

One story I remember very well was about a young woman who dropped her bag of groceries while trying to open the security door to her apartment house. A “nice guy” came along just then, picked up the onions and oranges and cans of food. He insisted he would escort her up to her apartment, since her hands were full.

He chatted in a friendly way as they climbed the stair. But when she tried to turn away at the door to her unit, he took her keys and pushed her inside. For many hours he tortured and assaulted her.

When he went to the kitchen to get a knife, she was able to slip out, naked and trembling. She tiptoed to her neighbor's door where her prayers were answered. Her elderly neighbors were home and admitted her seconds before her door opened and her assailant stormed out looking for her.

They watched through the peep hole as he pounded on all the doors on that floor. Finally he left. She was traumatized, but alive. She admitted to the police to having a “bad feeling” about the man, but didn’t want to seem unfriendly since he was being so helpful.

I cannot truly say I remembered any of this that day on the sidewalk where the “nice guy” wanted to help me. I just knew he did not have my best interests at heart.

That night on the local news I saw a video of a guy chasing down an 81-year-old lady, knocking her to the sidewalk and taking of with her purse. The woman could have been me.

I realize we live in a violent world but my default position has always been to trust. Trust, until I have reason to believed the person is untrustworthy. That day on the sidewalk, my instinct, my self preservation instinct was alert and paying attention.

When the stranger stepped up and invaded my personal space, something inside me knew. That primitive reptilian part of my brain, the part always on watch for predators - it knew.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: A Bad Day – May 2020

By Carole Leskin

I tried to find something to post today. Something sweet, gentle, funny or hopeful. But I could not.

Today all I could do was sit - and grieve. Overwhelmed. Where am I? What is happening to the imperfect, but basically kind country I knew?

Minneapolis and St. Paul are burning. George Floyd is murdered. A Central Park bird watcher is reported to the police. More than 100,000 people are dead from COVID=19 with more every day. The pandemic rages on.

The number of people unemployed is as great as during the depression. We can not get close to people. We wear masks. Our loved ones die alone and have no funerals. There is more but this is enough. And so, many of us spend our time inside and afraid.

I try to be optimistic.

Today I failed.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: A Perspective on Time

By Melissa Hart

I’m sitting on my patio on a cool Arizona morning drinking my tea and observing my yard. The birds are active, lizards are scurrying about and the occasional rabbit gets under the fence or perhaps there’s a nest under the shed.

Some mornings I’m thinking about the details of the day ahead but today my mind wanders to deeper things.

I’ve watched the seasons go by from my spot on the patio. Birds come and go. Plants grow, get big and need to be trimmed. Nature continues on and it makes no difference if we’re here or not. It moves forward with no regard to our situation, our desires or our fears.

Time goes on.

We are currently stuck at home. Time passes - sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Some of us have family and friends nearby, some at a distance. Some of us have none at all. Some welcome alone time, some dread it.

This event is a fraction, a speck of our lives. Our lives are but a speck in history. Who will remember us? Have we made a difference? Will we make a difference? Will future humans look at our remains and relics and speculate about us?

Time is measured in eons. In geologic time, the continents move imperceptibly. Glaciers come and go. Earthquakes happen. Floods, fire. The land changes in the present as it has in the past.

The dinosaurs wandered the earth for millions of years. Did they ponder their existence? Then the earth changed and they were gone. The earth was different, but life continued.

We have changed the face of the earth, too, for growth and survival and also by ignorance and greed. We have fought nature, but nature eventually adapts and continues.

Time goes on.

In reality, the future is always uncertain, except for this: We are here. We grow old. We pass on to whoever or whatever our next stop is. If we are lucky we have known joy, contentment, love. We have made a difference to someone. We found meaning in our lives.

My hope is that humans will eventually coexist with each other and with nature. But the world will exist with or without us. The future is always there, whatever part we play in it.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Just Pass Me By

BLOG HOUSEKEEPING REMINDER: As announced on Monday, beginning next Monday (20 July 2020) Time Goes By will no longer be published on Facebook. If you want to continue to read TGB, you can subscribe in the right sidebar of the website for email delivery.

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By Kathy Kaiser of AgingJournal.net

It’s tricky enough being an older person navigating a world that belongs to the young. But in this time of pandemic, it’s becomes even more problematic.

A few weeks ago, I was walking on a path near my home, when a group of children and their mothers were heading straight for me. When we saw each other, we all froze in place, unsure of what to do. Because the path had a ditch on either side, I couldn’t move off the path and keep our distance at the prescribed six feet or more.

Finally, I squeezed myself as close to the ditch as possible, and they silently walked by.

In normal times, they would have seen me smile, and I likely would have made some conversation like "How are you doing?" or "Beautiful day," but the mask prevented them from seeing that I was happy to encounter a bunch of children enjoying this spring day, and anything I said would have been muffled.

The situation felt awkward and after they passed me, I heard one little girl say: “Some people are just jerks.” Was she referring to me or someone else?

Since then, I’ve made it a point, when I encounter others on the path, of stepping off and loudly saying (through my mask) hello or waving. If they’ve stepped off the trail for me, I thank them loudly. Yet each encounter feels slightly tense, as if my presence requires some action on their part.

Or maybe they regard me, as an older person statistically more susceptible to the coronavirus, with some suspicion. Maybe I'm a reminder of the deadliness of this disease, as if they spotted the grim reaper coming down the trail.

Many writers on aging have noted that this pandemic is exacerbating ageism. As public health agencies warn that those most susceptible to COVID-19 are people over 60, we seniors are being lumped into a category of people who are helpless, weak and close to death (even as some 70-year-olds might be healthier than a sedentary 35-year-old).

More than ever before, I feel I'm the "other" — separate from the rest of humanity because of my age and vulnerability to disease.

I appreciate my fellow hikers and walkers who are considerate enough to give me a wide berth on the trail but I want nothing more than to go back to normal, to a time when an older woman hiking on a path was nothing to fear — or even notice.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Ladies of the Silent Generation

By Elizabeth A. Rogers

I was born in 1937--smack in the middle of the so-called “Silent Generation” that arrived before WWII and at the end of the Great Depression. I speak as a middle-class white female member of that group.

We are Ladies of the Silent Generation, who reached young adulthood in the 1950s. We were - with notable exceptions such as Nancy Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Sandra Day O’Connor and Eleanor Holmes Norton - silent. Ours is the era venerated by the current president at his MAGA rallies.

Yes, it was a great time if you were a white male! Women lived in the shadows of social constraints and the men in our lives, first our fathers and brothers, then our husbands.

If we were married and desired to open a bank account, our husband’s signature was required - even if we were employed full-time. If we voted, we probably voted in accordance with our husband (or said we did).

The primary goal for young women was to marry well, with the most popular college degree being an “Mrs.” Our life was expected to revolve around cooking and housekeeping, raising children and perhaps doing volunteer work through the PTA or a women’s charity group.

We Ladies of the Silent Generation rarely had dinner in a restaurant without a male companion. We were taught to defer to men and not raise our voices in opposition to the status quo.

For the most part we spoke our truth only in pleasantries regardless of what was actually happening in our lives (alcohol, Miltown and later Valium often helped to suppress those truths). Being submissive, taking a back seat and not rocking the boat were prized female traits, while laying waste to the potential of a generation of women.

These traits probably set the course for the so-called imposter syndrome which impacted me professionally and affects some women in the workforce even today.

I began to question the status quo around 1960 and rejected much of it entirely by the mid-1970s. I started learning to speak my truth. I was divorced twice and subsequently escaped an abusive relationship. Eventually, I met and married a man who has always valued me as a capable, autonomous adult equal. He is totally atypical of the Depression-era and Silent Generation men I grew up with.

My truth today: I have openly expressed my dislike of getting old. However, dislike does not equate with non-acceptance. Refusal to accept the fact of ageing is futile and ridiculous. At 83, I am old. Although I am fortunate to be basically functional so far, I can no longer do many of the things I once enjoyed and did easily. Physical pain is now a constant presence. The possibility of needing long-term care is worrisome.

While these facts are only part of who I am, they are nonetheless facts. They are not automatically offset by “wisdom”, the “joys of quiet contemplation”, the “rewards of grandchildren” and similar platitudes often used to applaud advancing age.

I understand that many - if not most - old people believe that life is worth sustaining at any cost despite the loss of health, independence and personal agency. That is their absolute right, although I am decidedly ambivalent.

Many also extol the upside of being old and dismiss or minimize the downside. Again, that is their absolute right and must be respected since the larger society does an excellent job of denigrating old age. Still, the prevailing view seems to be that, given the many exterior social negatives surrounding old age, we (old people) must always be uniformly upbeat and positive.

However, that is not my truth, and as a Lady of the Silent Generation, I claim the hard-earned right to articulate what is true for me. I wasn’t all in with Pollyanna as a child. I’m still not.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Seeking Safe Passage

By Barrie N. Levine who blogs at Into the 70s

Last Saturday morning, I attended religious services at my virtual synagogue. Setting up ZOOM was easy, a personal triumph. I loved the experience of sitting down with my mug of hot coffee in front of the computer, meeting my fellow congregants seeking comfort in troubled times.

The Rabbi read a modern translation of Psalm 92 that resonated with me. I can’t remember it word for word, something like, “Plant yourself exactly where you are...for six days, you are the gardener...but on this day (the Sabbath) you are the garden.”

In the afternoon, I left the isolation of my house for a walk in the fresh air. After a lengthy cold spell and then a week of soaking rain, New England sees the sun again. Pedestrians appeared in full force to savor the first mild day of spring.

Uh oh. Loud alarm bells go off in my head.

I live in a town of 3500 residents spread over eight square miles. The density of 632 persons per square mile is low compared to the adjacent city with density of 2804. Even so, the walk in my own neighborhood unsettled me from the outset.

At least every five minutes, I looked behind to see if walkers or joggers were gaining on me. I crossed the street even before awaiting their own courteous maneuver to let me pass.

If walkers came towards me, I made a split second decision of timing and direction. If I stepped off the curb, I had to avoid vehicles heading in my direction on the same side of the road.

The constant effort to keep from crossing paths kept me hopscotching all over the place. In my mind, my fellow outdoor adventurers emitted a radioactive glow. My fresh air walk turned out to be crazy-making.

I had planned to turn into the path to Long Hill, a small state property a mile up the street, and walk through the apple orchard to the gardens at the Great House. A locked gate and signboard in large red letters blocked my route: PROPERTY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

I returned home after a vigilant and exhausting hour that woke me up to the reality of the new order.

Walking around my yard, surrounded by woods and unbuildable wetlands, I saw that winter had done its usual damage leaving branches and twigs strewn about, boards hanging off the side of the woodshed.

Daffodils surprised me, as they always do—even the new bulbs I hadn’t managed to plant until mid-December pushed up their shoots through the wet ground. The garden shed barely survived another winter, with its peeling paint and busted up door, looking neglected but still functional.

All of it more beautiful than I ever remembered.

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In my childhood, the danger would come from the sky.

The threat of nuclear war was the major national fear. You too may have experienced air raid drills: when the siren sounded, we hid under our school desks or in the halls to avoid the explosion, flying objects and radiation that might be real next time.

The principal monitored the hallways as we crouched against the lockers, our faces resting on our folded arms, our eyes shut tight like good little citizens.

Some families built bomb shelters in their backyards or basements, according to reports in Life magazine. I wanted one too to keep my mom and dad and brother safe.

Ultimately, no bombs landed on us. My parents, my school, and our President Eisenhower (term 1953-1961) protected me from harm.

As I write this in early April of 2020 - the year like no other - the coronavirus looms merciless, strong and agile. We work daily to sort out the information, coming at us from so many sources, to determine our own parameters, the parameters that keep changing, shaping - and hopefully saving - our lives and those dear to us.

Stay healthy, my good friends, safe in the place you are planted for now.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Following Doctor’s Orders – Unexpectedly and Reluctantly

By David Astley of xyzAsia

My heart specialist has a wicked sense of humor. Every six months when I visit her for my checkup, I walk through the door of her consulting room and she says: “Wow, you are still here. I thought you’d be dead by now.”

I’m 71 and I have severe atherosclerosis caused by a combination of high cholesterol, stress and 25 years of cigarette smoking (commenced in the years when there were no health warnings about the dangers of smoking).

Atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries. Its severity is measured by the amount of calcium in the plaque deposited inside the arteries. This is determined by means of a CT scan and patients are given a “calcium score”. A score of 0-100 is good. Anything above 400 is bad. My calcium score is 1500 – or “off the scale” as my doctor calls it.

That puts me into the top five percent of candidates for a heart attack or stroke, but apart from one angina incident about 12 years ago, I’ve not felt like I have a serious health issue.

Sure, I can’t climb mountains like I used to, and anything more than about 50 steps uphill leaves me out of breath, but aside from that I still feel healthy.

My doctor keeps telling me that I need to slow down and take things easy but every time I’ve tried to do that, I get bored. So bored that I feel I’m going to die of boredom, not a heart attack.

So I’ve kept working because deep down I’m hoping my doctor has got it wrong about my risk of a heart attack. After all, my Dad is still alive and well at 97, and he smoked and had high cholesterol too.

I’m not working for anyone except myself now. The stress that contributed to my atherosclerosis came from 30 years of working in the television industry trying to manage on-air personalities with egos that often exceeded their talent, audiences that you could never satisfy and boards of directors and shareholders who wanted to squeeze more profits from the stations for which I worked.

So it was with some relief that I “retired” 10 years ago and left behind the world of endless meetings and office politics and set out on a new journey on my own. I had started my media career as a travel journalist and that was how I was going to end it.

I now travel, write and edit a blog for older travelers and contribute to travel magazines. And I enjoy every minute of it - that was, until three months ago when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Now with borders closed around the world, limited flights and quarantine lockdowns in many countries, my “new career” as a travel writer has come to an abrupt halt.

Like many others, I’m stuck in my home office nervous about venturing out for groceries, paranoid about getting a haircut, wondering about how long it will take to develop vaccines and most of all, missing the buzz of boarding a flight with my laptop and camera to visit a new destination.

There’s only so much that a travel writer can do from home. An article about virtual tours maybe, one about preparing for future trips perhaps and others about countries that have brought the pandemic under control and are planning to reopen their borders to socially distancing tourists.

After that, the boredom sets in. I tried venturing onto some Facebook travel groups the other day to relieve the boredom. I got involved in a debate about whether blocking middle seats on aircraft would help prevent the spread of the virus from asymptomatic carriers. I commented that any amount of social distancing would surely be a help.

The response was horrifying. A Facebook user from Indiana replied: “Crawl back into your cave old man” and suggested that the coronavirus was an ideal way to rid the world of old people who were a drain on social security systems.

We had to die to save the economy, he said. Many other forum members “liked” his comment.

Needless to say, my venturing onto the Facebook debating stage was short-lived. For the time being I will return to my cave and try to cope with boredom as best I can. My heart specialist will be pleased that I’ve slowed down, but this is not the way I had envisaged spending these precious years of my life.

DavidAstleyatTreasureMountain680B

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: I Am Guilty

By Fritzy Dean

I can’t remember when I didn’t love words. I can remember when I thought they were little dead ants on the paper. That was before I learned about the alphabet. That alphabet breakthrough was the magic day I broke the code and started my real love affair with words.

My love only grew stronger and deeper the more I dove into books. I was (and am) a voracious reader - from cereal boxes and medicine bottles to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens to Jane Austin and beyond. Too many to name or number.

For many years my love of words was expressed solely through reading. I was never without a book or two at hand. At some point, I started paying attention to the craft of writing. I noticed how the writer had developed characters and plot. I watched how she hooked the reader into turning page after page.

Then, when I was past 70 years old, I joined a writer’s group. It was a memoir writing class and it was sponsored by Inprint. I was scared, but passionately wanted to learn.

I was encouraged by the other writers and, eventually, by the instructor. This class kept the same schedule as the academic calendar with two semesters and a long summer break. I was like a starving person when we broke for summer.

I searched for a summer replacement and found a creative writes group at a local community center. This class was totally different. It was called creative writing and we were usually given a writing prompt and on the spot had to make up a story! Talk about scared!

I had gotten accustomed, sort of, to writing personal essays but I was sure I could NOT just grab a story out of the air. Turns out, I could. I was a happy, engaged productive writer. It felt good.

So for a good number of years I went to Creative Writing on Tuesday and Memoir writing on Wednesday. In addition, I had added volunteering at my local elementary school, helping shaky little readers improve. I thought my love for words had found its fullest expression.

Then I learned about a Store Telling Group. It meets once month to exchange stories. I get to work on my memory and hear excellent story tellers and I get good encouragement from the others, including insightful feedback.

I have had the thrill of seeing my byline in The Leader, a neighborhood newspaper, in magazines and numerous times online. I also entered and won a contest to have a story included in a humorous book about aging. It can be purchased on Amazon.

So you have now heard the confessions of a wanton word lover. You could even say a word harlot, a word-hussy, a promiscuous, indiscriminate lover of words. I am guilty. I regret nothing.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: OK Boomers, It’s Time to Step Up

By Kathy Kaiser who blogs at Aging Journal.net

There’s been a lot of discussion about “OK, Boomer,” which can be read as a cynical, condescending brush-off of older people and their views.

A younger generation would like to blame us for all the ills of the world. Why didn’t we do something about climate change when there was still time to alter its course? And while younger people are struggling to pay off college debts and find affordable housing, the older generation ostensibly lives in comfort, having paid off mortgages a long time ago and carrying no college debt.

The truth, of course, is more complicated, as many seniors go into retirement with little savings and big medical bills. Also, when we were younger, many baby boomers were active politically: demonstrating against the war, starting environmental groups and recycling programs, joining civil rights protests and agitating for equal pay.

It’s true that in the olden days we lived in a world of apparent abundance (cheap housing and fuel, for example) that we took for granted. We could have - and should have - done more to make this world a better place, but who knew things would turn out so badly?

I can understand young people’s resentments, yet I think the world, which grows more polarized each day, needs us elders. Not because we’re wiser than other generations, but because by the time we reach old age, most of us have gotten rid of our egos.

Those of us who are no longer in the work world don’t have to prove ourselves anymore or defend our reputations. At our age, when we’ve lost so much - friends, spouses, good health and/or careers - we know that human relationships are what’s left, what gives meaning to our lives. If we’ve gained any wisdom at all through our long lives, it’s how to be a decent human being.

One of the advantages of being an older person is that we’re not perceived as threatening; in fact, we’re more likely seen as irrelevant. More than younger generations, we have the opportunity (time, for one thing) and capability of making this world a better place - in whatever way we can.

It can be something as simple as starting conversations with those we perceive as different or hostile; at the very least, we can soften harsh conversations by bringing gentleness or humor into the situation. At our age, we don’t have to worry that we’re making fools of ourselves, because the world already sees us that way. As elders, the worst that could happen is that we’re ignored.

Maybe we didn’t create this world - the worst we did was sit back and ignore situations that needed fixing - but we have some responsibility for making it a better place - if only for the generations to follow or to see the world we loved - and that nurtured us – survive.

If not us, who? If not now, when? Because we’re running out of time - both for ourselves and the planet.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Attachments

By Ann Burack-Weiss

Remember the Kubler-Ross stages of grief? Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance? We first heard of them in 1969. Did you know that the original five stages were later added to by Kubler-Ross herself? (shock before denial, testing after depression).

Since Kubler-Ross felt free to add to her model, I’m pretty sure that if she had lived 'til Covid-19, she might have added one more - attachments.

My inbox runneth over - sender’s names preceded by paper clips.

Clicking on the links, I find music, dance, theatre videos, solos and groups. Rooms at home, empty sidewalks, parks, rooftops. School children, amateurs, professionals playing, singing, dancing and acting their hearts out.

Cartoons, singly or in long threads. My favorite: a Seder plate (Passover on April 8th). In place of ceremonial objects to remind us of past sufferings are those that in years to come will remind us of today - rolls of toilet paper on one section, masks on another, gloves on another

Poems, stories, essays and quotes by published authors. Or written by the senders themselves.

Yoga and meditation mantras.

Netflix or Prime Time or Hulu programs I must watch, books and articles I must read.

Pleas for social action from academic, health care, social service, political and religious organizations.

HD and online offerings from arts organization (museums, operas, concert calls, theatre companies, lecture sites).

I am a serial offender, BCC my favorite address line.

Attachments reflect my life. The senders are members of my tribe. I imagine that if I were a bridge or chess player, I’d be receiving games to play. Gamblers surely receive lineup of odds in every race and lottery, as those interested in team sports must trade statistics and review potential trades.

Email attachments are virtual life lines reminding us of who we were before and may one day be again. They pull us up as we are about to drown in the swirling waters of fear and grief. Gripping tightly to our ends, we feel the answering pull that says “Just hang on. I’m still here. I won’t let you go.”

Attachments. Definitely an Eighth Stage. Projecting us into a future when we step out of our caves and into the arms of those emerging from theirs.

Our hugs will be tight and long. Then we’ll walk off together. For coffee or lunch at our favorite place, the one where the tables are so close that you can overhear every conversation.

Or to a concert where we turn our heads to shush the whisperers behind us.

Maybe walking and talking as we stroll through the park or along the river, find that bench under a tree where we can hear the music from the jazz trio, watch the parade of babies, lovers, old people, everyone in between.

“What a time that was!” we will say.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Not Here

By Carol Nadell

We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.
And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.
That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.
O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.
        - Encounter by Czeslaw Milosz

“Wonder” indeed. That is the feeling I experience more and more often now that I have reached the three-quarter century mark and find myself grappling with the inevitability of my own mortality.

It’s not a morbid thought – not, as this poet says, “sorrow.” It’s more like a childlike curiosity. What does it really mean to die, to end this life, to - in Shakespeare’s words - “shuffle off this mortal coil?”

I cannot seem to get my mind around this eventuality which will, of course, come to us all. After my husband died following years of ill health, I remember saying to my friends, “I was prepared for him to die. I wasn’t prepared for him to be dead.”

It was what I called the “non-hereness” that was the hardest reality to understand and accept. How was he not just in the next room, watching TV? How was it that we wouldn’t be sitting down to dinner together? How was it possible that after almost 40 years of sharing a bed, his side was now empty? Forever.

That was almost five years ago and still today something in me balks at the permanency of the loss. I’ll never see him again? How is that possible

These days, I am often brought up short by the recognition that someday I, too, will be gone. In those moments, I frequently envision my grandchildren – all young adults now – around a table regaling each other with stories about me.

“Remember the time Savta took us to the theater for the first time? Remember how she always made us linguini because we didn’t like the angel hair pasta we got at home? Remember how she always corrected our grammar?”

Because I have been blessed to share many sublime memories with my grandchildren, these imaginary conversations go on and on. They include the fun times together in New York City, the special 10th birthday trips out of town, the advice sought (and often heeded), the special secrets shared between grandchild and grandmother, the tears and the laughter.

I eavesdrop on these conversations and they make me smile. But what is most striking about these imagined family scenes is that I am not in them. Just as they have recounted memories of their grandfather, my husband, so lovingly and longingly since his death, so it will be with their thoughts of me.

There will be a time when I’ll be only a memory to those people in whose lives I am today a powerful and dependable source of love and strength. Perhaps my grandchildren will someday share their memories of me with their children, to whom I may well be no more than a name.

Will they roll their eyes as their parents try to tell them of their beloved Savta? Or will they yearn for more information about the woman they’ve heard so much about and have, perhaps, seen in photos their parents have managed to save on whatever futuristic digital devices their heads are buried in? Will they feel my presence and wonder at my “non-hereness?”

I read an essay recently by a newly-widowed woman who, in listing all the “facts” of her new existence, cited buying a car, donating to non-profit radio, and paying property taxes. “These are now the facts of my life, a few among many,” she continued, concluding with a simple, declarative statement: “Alan is not among those facts anymore.”

What will it look like when I am no longer “among the facts?” I wonder.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Word Puzzles

By Fritzy Dean

Why is the opposite of disheveled, “neat or orderly”? Shouldn’t it be “sheveled”?

How is it that one can be often overwhelmed, seldom underwhelmed, but never, ever “whelmed?” According to Merriam and Webster, they had to do an exhaustive search to find a record of “whelmed” in print. It had to do with a city whose bay had so much rain that the inlets were all ”whelmed.” Obviously the opposite of overwhelmed is unimpressed, not “whelmed.”

I bet everyone of us know someone who is utterly “ruthless.” Do you know anybody who is utterly “ruth”? Of course, you don’t. If we want to describe the opposite of ruthless, we would say that person is humane, warm-hearted or charitable. Isn’t English a strange language?

For example English has over a million words, but only ONE for love. Only ONE! The Inuit people have over 14 words for snow - to describe the various forms of snow they may encounter. But in English, we have only ONE for love.

We must use the same word to declare “I love you” and “I just love horror movies”. Even the ancient Greeks had three words for love. There was eros for romantic love, phileo for brotherly love and agape for Godly love. English? Nope, just one.

And how about a plural for the pronoun “you”. Oh, I know the linguists will tell us the “you” is both singular and plural. So is sheep, but in real speech we KNOW that we should have a word to determine more than one person. That is why in the South we say “Y’all” and the New Jersey natives will say “youse guys” and in Appalachia, we might hear “you’ens”.

With over a million words available, shouldn’t we have a plural for “YOU”?

In 1976 I worked in downtown Houston with a young man whose first language was Arabic. I believe he was from Lebanon. We became friends I think because he knew he could ask me questions without being laughed at.

There were a number of young guys in the same department, but Kumail learned not to ask them questions because he would NOT get a straight answer, ever. When one of them mentioned that our boss was on his “high horse”, Kumail thought the boss owned a very tall pony. They let him think so.

One day Kumail asked me to explain the word “make-up”. I explained first that it is a compound word. ”Make” is a word, ”up” is a word and together they make a new word. That it is a term used for cosmetics, such as lipstick, face powder and mascara, collectively known as “make-up”. He looked even more puzzled and said he didn’t understand.

Oh, maybe the person meant to “kiss and make-up.” That means to resolve any differences between you and get back on positive footing. It could actually be taken literally if the speaker had a tiff with his girlfriend and wanted to make amends.

Kumail is looking more and more confused. Oh, maybe it was used to say, “We need to make up for lost time“. That just means we must hurry, we were too slow at the task.

He shakes his head wearily. No, no. Then I thought of one more way Americans use “make up.” Maybe the person said something like we need to make up a story and stick with it.

He brightened. “That’s it! What does this mean?” It means one or more people fabricate a story - “make it up.” And “stick with it” means don’t ever admit it was a made-up story.

Kumail thanked me profusely and exclaimed over again what a weird language English is and how difficult to learn. He said the whole conversation had given him a hang-around.

Now, it’s my turn to look puzzled. He said, “You know, when you go out drinking with your friends and the next day your head hurts so bad? A big “hang-around”.

Are you talking about a “hang-over”? Yeah, your language gives me a bad hang-around.

Me, too, Kumail. Me, too.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Structure in a Time of Pandemic

By Adele Frances

After three weeks in self-quarantine, I have learned, along with billions of others, that adding structure to your day is a necessary bulwark against inertia leading to boredom leading to depression leading to insanity. So I have created a schedule that I generally follow each day, unless some new exciting thing comes barging into my life (like picking up cheap toilet paper at a neighbor’s porch.)

First, I make my tea, write in my journal and check the morning news on my iPad. This usually makes me want to call everyone I’ve ever known and loved and say good-bye, but I wisely restrain the impulse.

Next I call my friend trapped in her small room in an assisted living home and check to see that she: a) is still alive; b) remembers who and where she is; and c) still laughs at my jokes.

So far, so good. If I am clever, I do my leg exercises while talking to her from my bed. If I forget, (four out of five calls), I have to add this later, but before I dress or my exercise routine is lost for the day.

Next I try to remember if it is shower day (every other day—I live in dry New Mexico) and then act accordingly. Unless I can’t remember and I shower anyhow. (Remind me to buy stock in Nivea lotion.)

Then I eat my breakfast between 10 and 11. I’ve been cutting down the amount of food consumed and am eating three meals between 10 and 5, leaving my body to digest and outsmart my GRD (acid reflux) for roughly 15 hours. Works most of the time. (If not, I stay awake from 2AM to 5AM and watch movies.)

Now comes the big decisions: what do with my day? Today I will finish the simple cloth masks I started yesterday and give them to friends. Then I will Zoom with my siblings (which I taught to them - Zoom, that is. I am 75 and they are in their 80’s, a clear example of how the younger generation needs to lead the old. Don't tell them I said that.)

I will also spend time in my small garden, admiring the plants I’ve recently potted (the only reason for going food-shopping) and talking to the goldfinches, sparrows and white-winged doves that are feeding a few feet from my patio table. I’m assigning them names now, but that’s only normal, right?

After lunch, I may sit and read awhile or even watch the latest on Netflix. Having devoured Tiger King, Unorthodox and Caliphate, I’m now searching for the Next Best Thing. I think I dated Joe Exotic once, but perhaps that was a dream.

Then the neighbor across the fence plays his car music way too loud, the bass reverberating throughout my home, and I call his apartment manager while my neighbor calls the police. Again. This takes up a good half-hour that is well-spent. Do we need noise in this pandemic of silence?

At dinner I turn on TV to catch the evening catastrophic news and then quickly go onto lighter fare, like Jeopardy, where they are showing earlier shows and Alex Trebeck doesn’t know pancreatic cancer is in his future. Happier times.

As I watch, I am sewing a million running stitches of embroidery thread onto a red Eileen Fisher jacket that a friend recently gave me. I don’t wear red, so I decorated it with various colored circles around which I am sewing stitches into infinity. Or until I run out of embroidery thread. Again, I consider this a normal activity, but you may disagree.

Sounds fairly orderly. Right? But remember, all throughout the day I am sending and answering phone calls, emails and texts. A constant but necessary interruption for staying in touch. At this point I have no idea what I’ve told whom. “Did I send you the pix of the 2000-piece puzzle on my table? Or my stitched red jacket? Oh well, enjoy and don’t ask why I sent it. Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Okay, it’s almost time for my shower. Or is it? What day is it? How dry is my skin? Perhaps I should write my schedule on the shower curtain.

How are you coping with your structure-setting?

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Dinner for an 82nd Birthday

By Diane Darrow of Another Year in Recipes

My very dear husband of 50 years was about to reach his 82nd birthday. How to celebrate it? We’re in blessedly good health for our ages (I’m 77), but we can hardly bear to go to New York City restaurants any more, no matter how fine. Can’t stand the cramped spaces, the noisy crowds, the loud music and especially the cost of the wines.

We both love wine and Tom has been stashing away special bottles for many years in a closet at home: now-well-aged French and Italian wines that – in any restaurant that would carry such older bottles – would cost more than a month’s grocery bill.

The solution was clear, and the choice was easy: We’d dine at home. I’d make him a really lovely dinner and he’d open a bottle of...what? After much agonizing, he chose his prized 1977 Barbi Brunello di Montalcino.

Wine

He’d been saving this single bottle of the esteemed Tuscan wine for more than 30 years and it was time to be practical about it. How much longer are we going to live? How long are our taste buds going to be functioning? Do we really want this wine to be left to our heirs who may not even drink wine, or sold off to strangers in an estate sale? No! We’ll have it now.

We did, and it was wonderful. I made us a dish from Italy’s rich regional cuisine: duck legs braised with porcini mushrooms, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, white wine and tomato paste.

Alongside we had plain green beans and a big baked potato – and the Brunello. Once opened, the wine (like ourselves) was quite fragile because of its age but it simply blossomed with that good food – as did we.

Dinner was long and leisurely. We finished the bottle while nibbling on pieces of Grayson, a flavorful farmstead cheese from Virginia. It and the Brunello appreciated each other just as Tom and I do, even after all these years.

It was a fine birthday celebration, both down-home and elegant, with all participants properly mature.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Not Giving Up

By Steven J. Rubin

I am 76 years old, soon to be 77. I have had two hip replacements, two back surgeries, a recent broken shoulder, two arthroscopic knee surgeries, numerous spinal injections, the usual broken bones, pulled muscles, sprained ankles, etc.

In the trunk of my car you will presently find the following: a tennis racket, tennis shoes, hiking poles, hiking shoes, biking shoes, biking helmet, biking gloves, a gym bag containing necessary workout apparel (shorts, tee-shirt, sneakers) and swimming gear (a towel, swim suit, goggles, etc.), golf clubs, golf shoes.

In the winter you will find skis (both downhill and cross-country), two sets of ski poles, two pair of ski boots, skiing helmet, winter hiking boots and poles, the aforementioned workout and swim apparel, and the detritus left over from summer.

I am, to put it mildly, in total denial.

And there is more! I pay monthly dues to - not one - but two fitness centers. I have a personal trainer. I joined a hiking club called “The Monday Mountain Boys.”

Truth be told, the mountain boys have yet to see my face. And I haven’t seen my personal trainer in months. Most cruelly, I have been unceremonious kicked out of my tennis group. This, the result of a broken shoulder incurred while attempting to run down a drop shot, deviously and deftly placed sent by my opponent.

“Stay home,” I was told, once I had recovered. “Don’t try to do something you can’t.” Or more depressingly, something you can no longer do.

I have a season’s pass (a “senior” season’s pass!) to the local ski mountain. I am among the first to renew that pass every year. Oh, I manage to drag myself up there every once in awhile and make my way down the bunny slope.

Riding up the chairlift, I have visions of past ski runs. Was I that young man who competed in NASTAR races in places such as Aspen, Snowmass, and Breckenridge? Alas, no longer. Now, it’s two hours on the slope and home in time for my afternoon nap.

I still bike, but at such a pace that I struggle to keep vertical. I avoid hills or walk when I can no longer pedal. I understand e-bikes are now the fashion for the senior set and I intend to check that.

I have my skis tuned every fall. I have my tennis racket re-strung every spring in the hope I will be welcomed back into the tennis fold. I take the occasional spinning class, work out as best I can, lifting a few weights, staggering through a slow trot on the treadmill. But these days, the class I regularly attend is my senior exercise class - alternately dubbed the “lift and lunch bunch” or the “crunch and brunch gang,” depending on the time of day we meet.

Do I decry this fast evolving decrepitude? Of course I do! But what is to be done? “An old man is a paltry thing,” W. B. Yeats intoned. And I fear he was correct.

You would think I would give up this foolishness, this self-delusion. I tune my skis for what? The half-dozen runs a season down the bunny slope? I let my former tennis partners know I’m ready. I wait in vain.

My wife tells me it’s time to take up a life of the mind. Friends urge me to join their book clubs. They worry about me. “Nobody ever got hurt,” they remind me, “sitting on the couch reading a book!” But I demur.

Is this really what I want? I know I’m deceiving myself, thinking I’m the athlete I once was, or even close to that. But so what? I’m here. I’m playing on this side of the grass, as one of my golf buddies intoned one day after he managed (as I often do) to take 10 shots to reach the green.

The poet Dylan Thomas tells us to “not go gentle into that good night.” And I won’t. At least as long as my knees hold out - and my shoulder and my back and my hips. I’m good for another season. Or so I tell myself. So what if I’m living in a fantasy. Given today’s headlines, it beats the real world!

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Marilyn of My Young Dreams

By Barrie N. Levine who blogs at Into the 70s – 72 is the New 72

When I was a preteen in the 1950s, my cousin and I were fervent Marilyn Monroe fans. We subscribed to movie magazine - Photoplay and Modern Screen - with a feature on our favorite movie star in most every issue.

We made up scrapbooks and pasted in every possible picture and article we could find. When I visited my cousin in Philly, I always brought my updated scrapbook. We reviewed our new insertions immediately, and most seriously.

I also loved Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, the beautiful celebrity power couple of the time. In the spirit of today’s media name couplings, maybe they would have been known as “CurtLeigh.”

But Marilyn was my idol, bar none. I followed her life story and career faithfully. I can’t tell you how many times I saw her on the silver screen in the 1950s, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Jane Russell, How to Marry a Millionaire with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, The Seven Year Itch where she stood over a subway grate with her white skirt blowing, and with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in the perpetually hysterical Some Like it Hot.

The vibrant Technicolor productions brought the Hollywood experience to the Plaza Theater in my small New Jersey downtown. My allowance covered both the 50 cents admission and a box of Raisinets, the movie treat in those days along with Good & Plenty and Bonomo Turkish Taffy.

I decided to write to Marilyn Monroe herself at the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio to let her know I was a loyal fan and request an autographed picture.

On a day I will always remember, I arrived home from school to open a large envelope with a matte finish 8x10 black and white photo of Marilyn wearing a sparkling diamond necklace and leaning against a beautifully draped satin background. The personalized inscription in bright red ink read, “To Barrie, Warmest Regards, Marilyn Monroe.”

MarilynofmyYoungDreamsBarrieLevine

My mom gave me permission to place a long-distance telephone call to my cousin to share this amazing news. She could not wait for my next visit.

Fast forward to my adult life and an episode on Antiques Roadshow in 1999. A woman brought in the same exact photo of MM with the handwriting in red ink. The ephemera expert flipped out and said that Marilyn herself had used red ink, whereas the secretaries had used blue or black ink.

The appraiser estimated the value of the signed photo at $5,000!

I screeched, and then danced around the living room. I had saved the photo for more than 40 years, protected in a brushed gold wood frame worthy of the famous star.

Several years later, my internet research turned up information that the appraiser was mistaken. It was determined through archival research and handwriting analysis that the studio secretaries also signed for Marilyn in red.

Comparing my sample to verified signatures, I saw that the autograph on my photo came up short (it does have some value as a studio-signed fan photo, but only at a small fraction of an original).

My hopes to sell it to help pay a substantial portion of my daughter’s first year college tuition were dashed. But now I get to keep and treasure the photo - and the memory - of the sweet, sad and talented movie star I adored.

Rest in peace, Marilyn of my young dreams (1926—1962).

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: The Morning Has Past

By Nancy Rubuliak

A number and a name were written on the backside of a receipt for lumber bought over 30 years ago to build the deck at the rear of my house. Seeing the writing in his hand, I felt a stab and realized I had little in my possession written by him.

Words left as evidence that he once was, once had existed. Words given time. It was 12 years since I had returned from the last trip to Paris. Two weeks after my return my father would die in a hospital bed with my mother sleeping beside him on a cot.

I remember the phone ringing that morning early and going there before dawn. I had long since laid to rest the notion that the man from Paris would bring true love but at that time I had not yet come to that fact.

My father’s death created an empty space which now remained as the permanent artifact of loss. The sensation of vacancy in a place where once was felt warmth, security and unconditional acceptance. He had helped build the deck that still stood, although some parts were now in need of repair.

He had departed slowly, over time, incrementally like eroding rock outcrops. Weather and time slowly chiseling away at the weakest points. At first one does not notice such an invisible assault but over time forces play like in the great canyons of the Southwest to etch away massive stretches of land leaving open space.

I kept thinking about this landscape since my return. How the past was layered, dense and buried or pouring out, dissipated, transformed and dispersed. Some of it scattered to the four directions, some flowing away with torrential rains or running out like from a broken hourglass spilling from great standing stones and spires.

He eroded over time until he was uncertain of where he was and what had been his life. I was never forgotten but in the last months he lived in a dream state, an endless stream of scenarios rose to plague him, onerous tasks to be done with too few hands, calamities great and small besetting him alone, always the perpetual themes of trouble and responsibility.

His handwriting was unmistakable. Even now the memory of seeing it makes me sad. How much more I would have asked him, wanted to do with him. It had never been easy. My mother had claimed him and only when he was dying and she was exhausted was there space for me.

There had been times, too, I had also been mortified by him like in my teens seeing him in the shopping mall in his rubber boots looking like the farmer he was. His honesty had been an embarrassment to me. I had been ashamed of him. All this now under layers of living, sedimentary, compacted with time and passing years.

What becomes of us? Do we, too, scatter into the four directions? Flow away to join the great oceans?

The sun was low and I noticed the shadows falling through the day on the west and later the east walls of the living room. Shadows that only came at this time of the year, forgotten once the sun turned around and began to grow again. Turning, churning, time was always rearranging the world around us, and in the end we too would reenter those same sands.

I wondered if that was why the dawn and the setting sun so moved us? Perhaps at these times we see transmuted what is both incomprehensible and unrefutable. I am remembering the sun setting at Church Wells and the light the next morning at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the two of us.

[Note: Written after travel with Susan to the Colorado Plateau Sept 2018.]

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Doggerel About COVID-19

By Henry Lowenstein

Love Letter
I'm fond of you with all my heart,
but need to keep six feet apart,
for the duration
of the corona situation.
We can keep in touch, just as before,
but rather than by hugging,
by internet or semaphore.

Prophylaxis
The hundreds of hands I have not shaken,
the thousands of hand washings I have taken,
the embraces I've eschewed
the social distancing I've pursued
should make the corona virus aware
that I'm not ever to go there.

Help Needed
Our great technologies astound,
our rockets fly the moon around.
But, now we need,
with urgent speed,
technologies to inspire us
to subdue the corona virus
that threatens strife
to our way of life.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB READER STORY: Sometimes I Forget

By Ann Burack-Weiss

Sometimes I forget. Especially when the weather takes a turn toward chill and the store windows are filled with fall fashions. I see a well-cut plaid skirt in beige and black, note it would look smashing with a turtleneck in either color, and think, “Just what I need.”

I imagine that I will leave the shop with both the skirt and a beautiful beaded sweater that caught my eye. That although there is no gala occasion to wear the sweater coming up, there is sure to be one before long. And won’t I be pleased with myself for having thought ahead.

Sometimes I forget. Especially on a crisp October day like today. I imagine that I will get up tomorrow morning and decide what clothes best suit where I’m headed. A teaching day? A library day? Field visits to social agencies? Lunch with colleagues? Department meetings? A play or concert in the evening? That I’ll ponder the chance of rain before tugging on suede boots – taking my chances because they go so well with what I have on.

That I will brush out my long hair - pulled back straight from my forehead – before settling on chignon, French braid, or round bun. That V-neck sweaters worn with large hoop earrings (silver one day, gold the next) still look good on me.

So easy it is to forget – on this day that shouts “back to work ” - that the life I once had, the body I once dressed for that life, is no longer mine.

So hard to remember that a changed hairline dictates a curly, no- nonsense bob. That a shorter shape and diminishing waistline precludes many clothing choices and a reduced round of outside activities takes care of the rest. That yoga outfits, black pants, black skirt, and a few tops, are all the clothes I will need for the rest of my life.

Sometimes, I just forget.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]