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Thoughts on Living Long and Lucky

Posted 1/26/2014

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  Today's entry is stimulated by an essay from The New York Times by Jane Gross. Called The Company I Keep, it is an elegant and thoughtful piece about life as a woman of a certain age, 66 in her case. Although I am not quite there, I am surely close, and my strongest reaction is absolute gratitude. First diagnosed in my early 40s, with a 12 year old daughter, caring for her as a single parent, I would have given anything to have a crystal ball to see myself today--yes, with salt and pepper hair and many wrinkles and sags, but alive and well.

  I often remark that, for most of us, cancer cures us of any issues we might have around aging. Birthdays look better and better, and we really celebrate the big ones. Hurray, I am 50! Thank heavens, I am 60! I suspect that most people begin to grapple with mortality at some later point in their lives, but we were walloped with it too young. If we have spent much time in Cancer World and been open to the relationships that can be made there, we also have lost friends to premature deaths. Most recently, I/we have loved and lost Liz and Marilyn, and their absence is a terrible sadness. Do I regret knowing them? Do I wish I could have been spared this grief? Absolutely not! Instead, I am down on my knees grateful for them and their lives. As we go on, our lives are more filled with ghosts, and, at least for me, each of those spirits is a blessing.

  It is stunning to be alive and well twenty one years after my first cancer diagnosis. I wish each of you the same and hope all of us can mark our days with wonder and grace and thankfulness.

  And here is this marvelous essay. Please read it

The Company I Keep

The very title of this blog suggests the continual shifting of ground underneath all of us of a certain age. Whatever we thought old age meant yesterday, it means something different today.

Sixty when the blog began, I’m now 66. That’s not a complaint but an indisputable fact, and with the years come my own idiosyncratic observations. Hard-wired for pessimism, one would think they would be gloomy. Mostly they aren’t.

I love Medicare, Social Security, a fixed-benefit pension, senior movie tickets and even the occasional person who offers me a seat on the bus. I love caring less about what other people think of me and more about what I think of myself. I’m hoping all that eventually balances the hard reality that goals and dreams from my 20s and 30s that haven’t happened yet aren’t going to (Pulitzer Prizes, children and grandchildren, running a marathon).

I particularly love (pleasure and pain not being mutually exclusive) how the rooms where I live, even my nightly dreams and the conversations in my head, are more and more populated by ghosts — loved ones now dead but blessedly not “gone.” They are always welcome here, and why would I want it otherwise?


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