Monthly Archives: September 2012

Age is Just A Number

Getting older. It’s not something baby boomers do gracefully. We, after all, were the generation who wouldn’t trust anyone over 30—let alone 60. As we come up to that magical Medicare age, it’s not only been a shock to many people’s system, but I have seen an attitude of fear—fear that’s it’s all over and that Death, with a CAPITAL D, is lurking on their doorstep.

Last year on his birthday, my husband seriously said that if he’d known he was going to live this long, he’d have taken better care of himself. He had no idea he was quoting Mickey Mantle—in his family, all the men die of heart attacks in their fifties so he figured he would too. But because of modern medicine and living close to Eisenhower Hospital’s ER, he had his heart attack and survived. So he could live to be a hundred.

The Birthday Boy.

A lot of people are doing that—living to a hundred and living quite nicely. I am playing Words With Friends with Marvin who turned 100 last May. Being a former English teacher and a writer, I am good at this game. Marvin is not only a worthy opponent, he’s giving me a run for my money. And he writes me witty messages, too.

Words With Friends game.

His wife, Rose, will be 100 soon. I’m not saying that they don’t have health issues—they do. But they also have all their marbles and still know how to play. Here they are with their daughter, Barbara.

 

My friend Earl’s dad just turned 99. He pays his own bills and balances his checkbook. When asked what the secret was to his longevity, he said, “It’s all about family. And if need anything, I call my wonderful son.” He paused, “And then there are my nine different doctors and about 6000 pills.”

He obviously has a great sense of humor and a great sense of center, as well. I think that’s a clue to living long. My dad was that way too. I remember once admonishing him about eating pastrami when he was 91. He looked up at me from his sandwich and asked, “What, if I eat this, I won’t live to an old age?”

 

A colleague and I taught a memoir writing class to a group of assisted living folks in Seattle last winter. We had no idea who would take the class, but the youngest to show up was 94. You would never have guessed their ages—they looked to be in their eighties, but most were 96 to 98—and excellent writers, too. Getting to share their memories was like history coming to life, and we didn’t need to do much editing.

David’s birth date is February 7, 1916. Does he look 96?

I have a lot of friends bumping up to the end of the sixties and hitting the big 70. They are in a panic. Many feel that a respirator and walker can’t be far off in their future. Their five-year plan is to cross their fingers and hope they’re still alive. Not good. Studies have shown that you are as old as you think you are. If you think that 80 is old—then that’s when you’ll get old. I’m thinking middle 90’s, myself. As I told my kids, count me in when it’s 2050.

 

 

Americans Need to Stand Together

Are you a Republican? Are you a Democrat? A tea partier or a liberal? Are you so fired up about the transgressions of those in your opposite party that you can’t stand to look at one of them? Well, it’s time to get a life. We, Americans, better start standing up for each other, and we need to do it fast.

Ambassador Chris Stevens

Four Americans no longer have a life to do so. Ambassador Christopher  Stevens and three others: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods gave their lives in the pursuit of the ideals that have guided the American Dream. At the ceremony for the returned victims of the Libyan attacks, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, said, “Today we bring home four Americans who gave their lives for our country and our values. To the families of our fallen colleagues, I offer our most heartfelt condolences and deepest gratitude.”

The ceremony was marked with a dignity that I find lacking in our customary American attitude today. In our informality, we have become sloppy. Our standard of what is correct has been lowered too far. People feel it’s all right to disrespect our officials. I believe we have the unalienable right to disagree, yes, but we also need some rules of civility. Civility—that’s definitely lacking in this election campaign.

“Four Americans, four patriots. They loved this country. They chose to serve it, and served it well,” President Obama said during the ceremony in Maryland where the flag covered coffins were loaded into hearses. “They had a mission they believed in. They knew the danger, and they accepted it. They didn’t simply embrace the American ideal, they lived it; they embodied it.”

Let’s not forget these men.

And let’s not take this as an isolated event. We have enemies and they mean to do us harm. An American Embassy is under the sovereignty of America. And that’s where the attack was aimed—at you and at me, no matter where our politics lie.

AQAP Fighter.

The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is taking credit for the attack, saying it was revenge for the killing of Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi. ARAP (which I had never heard of until I started reading about the attack) is reported to have used the demonstrations against an infamous anti-Islam film as a pretext for actual terrorist attack that it was. It worked.

Usually I write about the issues in my little corner of the planet—things that occupy my days but aren’t earth shatteringly important. Today I couldn’t summon the enthusiasm to talk with you about any of it. They’re just too insignificant. I am thinking, however, about how I get so caught up in my “To Do” lists that I barely register events like the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 or the 1998 U.S. embassy attacks in Tanzania and Kenya or the USS Cole attack in 2000. And they were the preludes to the 911 Twin Tower attacks. We need to pay attention.

USS COLE

Remember all those “United We Stand” posters that sprang up after 911? After the attack, people forgot their partisanship and remembered they were all Americans. But it didn’t last long, did it? We need to remember the second part of the quote: “divided we fall.” We need to start working together to make our country strong, if not bullet proof. We are on the same team, after all.