Tag Archives: aging

An autumn love story

Standard

On a warm autumn day, in a town on the Mediterranean, I let my kid choose where she wanted to have lunch. Her choice led us to a place were locals go. Tables next to each other. Waiters saluting clients with a non-chalance of old friends. This kind of place.

We were given a table in the middle of the room and soon enough a couple was sat next to us.

She was beaming with elegance, her hair just out of a hairdresser. White blouse, dark skirt. Let’s call her Mathilde. He was dressed as if in a hurry. A hurry to see her, I thought. Let’s call him Henry. They both seemed to have been born in the middle of last century.

They ordered the plat du jour and wine. Henry immediately became chatty with the lady at the table next to him and told her the story of his life in 5 minutes: he is retired, daughter lives in another country, he and the lady having lunch with him is not his wife and they just “see each other”. He would be good on Twitter, I thought, with such a talent for conciseness.

The lady at the next table offered them her unfinished bottle of wine. I also wanted to offer something, in exchange for more stories. I offered them our untouched basket of bread. They accepted it with the joy of 5 year olds on Christmas eve.

As we switched our attention to our plates, their dialogue unfolded:

– Oh, darling, your back hurts you again?, Henry asked with a compassion level 100, as she tried to find a comfortable posture in her chair.

– Oh, it’s fine, Mathilde tried to reassure him.

– Well, you know the remedy. You come to my place. You undress. I give you a massage on your back, his hands demonstrating circular movements, as if around her delicate shoulders.

Mathilde blushed and directed his eyes with her green eyes to my daughter, as if saying: « Shsh, there are kids around ». Henry’s blue eyes responded: “Well, sooner or later, she will find out. What’s there to hide?!”

– Well, you felt good after our last time…, his sweet smile enveloping her.

We left the place with the feeling of having watched a good movie from the 50s. Their illuminated faces – a lovely memory of an autumn love story. Ageless. Priceless.

P.S. I remembered this story in the times of this pandemic… I truly hope they are well and their love continues to brighten their days.

Teleworking week 2: view from home, part 1

Standard

The closest pharmacy to my place is on the ground floor of my apartments bloc. The other day, as I was waiting outside for my turn to enter, a seniour citizen in his late 70s “approached” me:

– You are not wearing a mask…. Why?, he asked, a bandana in his hand.

– I do not need to. It serves those who are sneezing, coughing…, I answered summoning all my empathy.

– You know, he replied, I am terrified. I watch the TV and see all that….

– I have no TV for ten years now.

– You may be right, he said,…about the TV.

– Would you like to go inside the pharmacy? I can wait, I offered.

He gladly took my offer. I could hear their conversation. The pharmacist assumed he had hearing problems so he was yelling his answers. The gentleman was clearly scared. He did not buy anything. He needed human interaction and hypeless communication.

There is no right or wrong way to react to all around in these new circumstances. It’s one thing to watch a SF movie and another to be here and now. This is one of the reasons I never liked SF movies and apocalyptic views.

Back to the story of this gentleman. He is one of the millions, indoors, with a TV only as a company, probably, his loneliness brought at another level… . Psychologists already noticed it. Too many bad news and little information on recovery is dangerous for the human psyche. Psychologists around the world keep encouraging to try to look for positives and share them when you talk to others. It is demonstrated by research that a stressed mind diminishes the immune response.

Some countries and regions have installed services for people to call and talk to someone. Some of us are doing it at personal level – through baskets of solidarity or food ordered and delivered to those who need it. I see it in my country, enabled by charities joining forces with the business, like Diaconia and Kaufland.

Again, on a personal level one can read a book by skype/phone or start a virtual book club. Or put together a list of online entertainment: free opera streaming, concerts, movies, virtual museums visits etc. Little gestures which bring a human voice and touch to a lonely human heart … .

I loved Daniel Kaufmann’s article of this week “Caremongering – random acts of kindness” https://www-brookings-edu.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2020/03/19/caremongering-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-random-acts-of-kindness-and-online-enrichment/amp/

Here is to caremongering – random acts of kindness today and everyday.

Simple wisdom from Regina Brett

Standard

It is simpe and beautiful and worth sharing.

People often tell Regina Brett how great she looks for her age. Turns out, she is actually 54 years old — not 90. She wrote down these life lessons the night before her 45th birthday after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Over that past decade, these lessons have gone viral on the Internet amid claims that she is 90 years old. Luckily, she finds humor in this misrepresentation, knowing how many lives she has touched.

Whatever her age might be, these universal lessons are relatable to anyone who needs a little reminder of what’s important in life.

Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
When in doubt, just take the next small step.
Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
Pay off your credit cards every month.
You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
Save for retirement, starting with your first paycheck.
When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
Burn the candles; use the nice sheets; wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
Overprepare, then go with the flow.
Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
The most important sex organ is the brain.
No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
Forgive everyone everything.
What other people think of you is none of your business.
Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
Believe in miracles.
Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
The best is yet to come.
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Yield.
Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
If you want more inspiration from Regina Brett, check out her personal website!

Let’s talk about aging. Part 2

Standard

Age may wrinkle the face, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” – Danish Proverb.

I am surrounded by people of all age both in my working environment and my private life. Creative vibes among us are not about the birth year. The enthusiasm is that defining link which erases the difference between a 23 year old and a 90 year old. A lively interest in life is what differentiates us from others. That spark in the apple of the eye is what makes escalating mountains of life a piece of cake.  Have you noticed that some elderly complain about walking difficulties? It’s because they refuse to advance and forgot about that lively interest in life and all its gifts. Remember that next time you feel you feet hurting or legs aching.

This week-end I was looking for some presents for teenagers of my child’s God parents. Wanted something hand made in this era of gadgets. There is a pretty decent local artists’ square downtown in my current location. After half an hour of wondering about between walls of paintings and ceramics, I hear a voice of a lady eagerly suggesting to her customers what to choose from her offer. It’s the voice of a seventy something energetic lady. A proud owner of a splendid grey hair. Her face is wrinkled but her voice and soul is untouched. Obviously, it attracted me and couple of more customers. There were more customers with her than any other much younger vendors. I made my purchase there – a neatly made purse and a vintage bag – ok, ok, I admit … Betty White whispering to a giraffefor gadgets :).

This lady with eyes enthused with amazement for life told me she works for USD 1 commission per item sold and is happy about it, even if she has to carry all those tablecloths, carpets, paintings, purses and bags every day to and from the market, on a hot or rainy day. She shared how proud she is to have terrific grand children, one of whom is a sports’ champion with dozens of medals by age of eight. And that her daughter in law is expecting another baby ….

I carried on with a wide smile on my face and sparkling eyes….

Probably the author of that Danish proverb got inspired by a similar face and soul. Wisdom is eternal, isn’t it?

Let’s talk about aging. Part 1

Standard

In a recent interview, Woody Allen, 76 now, said old age does not automatically bestow sageness. He has not met my grandmother. And sageness comes in may ways.

I learned about aging beautifully from my grandmother who lived with great serenity through all kind of turmoil by age of 91. A mother of seven, a married women for 40 years with a husband in and out a war, seeing 3 of her children and her husband pass away long before her time, watching over 16 grand children and thirty something great grand children, a quiet belligerent to an authoritarian regime, a literate in an age of girls precluded from school, facing life with great dignity and faith for almost nine decades.

My biggest sorrow is missing her last moments on earth. But I know she knew I was there with and for her. As she was always there for me.

She was 58 when I was born. She came to visit me upon my birth. I have a feeling I chose my parents because I knew this way I’ll get to have one of most amazing people in my life.1557458_624206587650719_2093915408_n

One of my dearest memory of her is the smell her home baked bread and pies coming hot out of a brick oven she built herself. Her stories about fidelity and unconditional love for her husband – her parents were against her marriage to the guy as he was a poor orphan. Her stories of war time when she took care of her three young children born before her husband was enrolled into the army.

She was wisdom incarnated to me. Her support for all my endeavors was always there. One time she mentioned something about “need to learn to cook for your husband and kids”. My reaction – I was 14 – was something like “I’ll sure cook for my kids. For my husband – let him first deserve it!”. She made no comment whatsoever on the subject in years to come.  I am now a cook she is proud of and I cook with pleasure, not out of obligation.

She listened with passion about my achievements at school. Her quiet support made me want to achieve more. Before every single school competition she was in my dreams the night before – she would sit on a mountain and I would climb up to her. Needless to say, the second day I would take the first prize. I call it a ‘remote inspirational wisdom’.

Her wisdom would make her stay away from disputes or conflicts her grown-up kids were involved in their marriages. She will just be there, for them.

She knew nothing about  the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but she applied and preached nurturing children in a loved and protected environment all her life – she took her first borns through war.

She had basically no wrinkles. With no surgery and not a drop of beauty products on her face. It was her inner world reflected on the outside.  Only her hands would betray her age. She embraced her daily life with them and life left small prints on her hands, which stayed beautifully enchanting and calming till her last moments.

I learned from my grandmother that aging is part of life. It can be ‘golden years’. It can be ‘wasted years’. It can be a ‘great relief’. It can be ‘a great sorrow’. It can be anything we want to make out of it.

We have so many opportunities to learn about it before we get to that stage and choose how we want it to be. There are in my life now three dear friends. 55, 62 and 70 years old. Each with great stories and fantastic lessons about aging.  I’ll share them with you. Please do share yours.

To be continued…