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Suzy Smith
Dr. Margaret's audience was all women. The title of the lecture was about aging. It didn't specifically say aging for women, Looking around the room, you would assume men don't age. Why would they have need for information about it? When we asked her if she would give the same talk for men, she said she'd tried that. She'd even kept the words PSA and HEART out of the title. They wouldn't come.

A basket was passed during the lecture with index cards and a pencil. We could submit questions. "How am I going to get my husband to the Doctor?" read one. According to Margaret, this is a common question. Hmm, men don't get sick either? A firm believer in everyone taking responsibility for themselves, Margaret answered by saying what was important here, what you did have control over, was what YOU were going to do when your husband collapsed. No hospital was going to admit him without a Doctor to get him admitted. Handle that one before you're faced with an emergency she counseled. Wise words, get busy.

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Suzy Smith
Last week I went to an incredible lecture on aging given by a retired doctor who also happens to be my friend. It was all about those things we can expect to happen as we grow older, both physically and psychologically. This wasn't grim. Our lecturing doc has an incredible sense of humor, so we were laughing most of the way, even when she said. "You will die, you know." It was said so matter of factly and with a twinkle that challenged us to stop thinking that was something that happened to other people. Hey face it, sox up was the message, living is process with a beginning. middle and end. The great American novel if you will.

When she had finished with our bodies, she turned to our minds, assuring us that just because we couldn't find the car keys or remember the name of who was walking toward us, we weren't losing it. When we forget the automatic things, like how to scramble eggs, then it's time to worry.

She ended with thoughts on how to live those days that are left to us. Having done much of the work that life intended us to accomplish, take this opportunity to restructure our lives in a way that suits us, she said. Some of her suggestions: Have something to get up for every day, exercise, let go of your shoulds, set aside some time for yourself every day, maybe time to read or nap. Sound great? You bet. DO IT!

And what about that something you've always wanted to do, but thought you couldn't afford? Check those funds you've been accumulating over your lifetime. Think about how much you're going to need for the rest of the journey. Is there something extra in the kitty? Yes? Forget your heirs, go do that something. The last check you write should be to the mortuary and it should bounce!

      Suzy, just read your blog on Margaret and names for the "Parade" article, I particularly liked the stage we're in - the Metal Stage: Silver in our hair, Gold in our teeth, Tin on our ears, Platinum in our credit card, Titanium in our hips and knees AND lead in our butt!

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Suzy Smith
The Morrises and The Smiths donít live here anymore I thought as I stood in the street and looked at the new houses being built where once the two families had lived as neighbors. Not that we had lived there recently, but somehow while the houses stood, they were tangible evidence that the memories we carried had actually happened and unlikely though it may seem, perhaps, in part, still resided there. Now only some of the trees we planted bear evidence of our past presence. I felt a lump rising in my throat. A part of my history had been obliterated when our old house came down.

Things change, I know that, and I know things are changing ever faster in todayís world, but please donít play with MY memories. Let me drive by that house and say, we raised our son here, or let me knock on the door, introduce myself and tell the new owner, my husband designed that wonderful fireplace and we laid that tile floor ourselves oh so many years ago. Iíd like to point out the window as I drive by and say to my Grandchildren ďThis is where your dad grew up.Ē

Well, thatís not going to happen and after I thought about it, thatís okay. Time now for a new generation to build their own memories, their own history in brand new, upscale houses. Weíll take our memories with us in our hearts and minds, they donít need place.

I drive by now and watch the building with interest. I think about those families who will be living there and wish them well. The Morrises and The Smiths made happiness in that place, perhaps that will be a legacy.

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Suzy Smith
Not so long ago, I was feeling rebellious about the general attitude toward the older population. This was brought on by seeing a cartoon depicting us in funny, but unflattering terms. Beyond the immediate laugh was the suggestion that we grandparents didn't have much of a life beyond our grandchildren. How we looked in the drawing was a stereotype that made me shudder. Oh dear, am I one of those? A resounding NO!

You can imagine how happy I was to see in the PARADE section of last Sundayās paper, an article entitled "Don't Call Them Old, Call Them ...... Parade had asked readers to supply a new name for the older generation feeling that "senior citizen" and "elderly" were outdated. They received almost 4,000 responses. It seems we are becoming an energetic force since the first wave of baby boomers will be turning 60 this year.

 All of the names were so positive. Rather than intimating decline, despair, uselessness or old fool, which names like "elderly" and "senior citizen" have a tendency to do, they were upbeat. What they said to the rest of the population was, "Hey, don't knock it, this is a great place to be. What's in a name? A whole new image!

We are, in our own eyes, "seasoned citizens," "prime timers," in the "age of dignity," the "re-invented,"OWLS"- (older, wiser, livelier souls), in the age of "rewirement," the "better than evers" and the "givers". Hey, a pretty impressive group!

      How about calling it "The Age of Enlightenment?
Granny B.

Hey, there are two sides to this aging experience. The downside is poor health, loss, and monetary worries. All problems at any age, but older, there is less energy to deal with them and less hope for solution.

When I was young, I looked at those "senior citizens" and thought, I don't want to grow old, its an awful thing. Maybe our "Seasoned Citizens" are changing that view and youth can see life beyond sixty in a different light. Those milestone birthdays won't be so daunting.

I'd like to add "venerable"and vital!

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Suzy Smith
Last week I was the elderly Grandmother who has a hard time standing up straight, moves slowly with one hand on her back and can't tie her shoes because her feet are farther away and lower than she can reach. Oh my aching back. Oh those scary premonitions of growing old. Indeed, not for sissies.

I can't tell you what I did to bring this on. Could it have been those hours weeding or that strenuous yoga class with all that twisting? There was no snap, crackle or pop, no moment of truth, it just quietly arrived, infirmity.

To date, I have not minded growing older. There have been so many good things about it. They say you become more yourself as you age. I've found this to be true. After spending a lifetime trying on various personae, I've settled comfortably into ME. I know who I am now. I've given up trying to be something I'm not. So many things I thought were important, aren't really. But it took the passing years to teach me that. Amazing, it's the small things which nurture me now. Things I tended to overlook on my way elsewhere. I like this long view, the passing years to look back on. As I stand on my pinnacle of age and look out at the view, I see every step of the way made me a little wiser. I even like being invisible, it is so freeing. Standing in front of the mirror the other day, I wasn't happy with how I was put together, but I was in a hurry. Did it matter? Not really, no one was going to notice and what was important was where I was going - to do something wonderful.

This week, the back is better, I'm walking my trails and thinking I might just be able to play tennis again soon. But, I've had a wake up call. Great, good health can't continue forever. Maybe, however, if I try hard enough, and draw on that wisdom I claim to have acquired, great, good spirit can.

      Glad to read you're getting better. We missed you on the court. From one of your tennis buddies!

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Suzy Smith
By the time I was born, only my father's mother was still alive. She lived in a suburb outside of Chicago, we lived in Columbia., Missouri. There wasn't much visiting back and forth. I don't remember her ever being in our house. This doesn't mean the relations were strained, people didn't travel as they do now and with the arrival of World War II, we didn't travel at all. We also didn't talk on the telephone. The world was just recovering from the depression, a phone call was considered an unnecessary frivolity. Instead, we wrote letters. Every week my father sat down at his typewriter and wrote his Mother, and every week he read this letter to our assembled family. There was a paragraph devoted to each of us, covering our activities for the week past. I looked forward to what he had to say about me, it gave me a feeling of celebrity. Did Grandmother write back? I don't remember.

I look at her pictures now and try to remember her. She was old, with white hair, probably in her late seventies when I was born. By the time I was six, she was gone, my only memory, the scent of lavender that filled her house.

What I know of her is what I've been told. She was a partner in the family business, the sole proprietor when her husband became ill and died. She raised four boys, one of whom died around the age of ten. She sent a son to the battlefields of World War II. When she was dying, she waited for my father to come for those last good-byes. It took him four frustrating days to get space on the troop filled trains of the time. Shortly after he arrived, she died, having held off death until she was ready. A strong woman. There are no memories for me, like I hope my Grandchildren will have of their "Suse." It never occured to me that I might have missed something until I became a grandparent. That extra love might have been nice. I do, however, have my genes to keep me company. When the going gets tough, I remember my Grandmother was a strong woman and though those genes have been diluted along the way by a lot of other stuff, I draw on them to meet my challenges. Not a bad legacy.

      Suzy, I wish youíd take one of your informal polls. How many of us didnít have grandparents and if we did, what were they like? I didnít have grandparents. Well, not exactly true, I had a Grandfather but I only met him once. He was formidable, a military man. Maybe nobody wanted him around. We didnít even talk about him. SC

 I had two Grandmothers, both seeming very old in my memory. This wasn't just a youthful perspective, they were in their late seventies. They both were very much present in my childhood, yet I have no memory of playing with them, they were just there. Both women were born in the 1880s. Perhaps having fun with your grandkids wasn't as important to them as it is to us, or maybe having fun wasnít something that generation of Grandparents thought much about. How will our grandchildren remember us? Is that important? Or is it the magic of today that counts? Whatever, Iím having fun with my grandkids and Kabubble is part of that.
Thanks. KS

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Suzy Smith
Busy, we're so Busy. BUSY, todayís lifestyle goal.. We carry our calendars with us so we can find a place for yet another activity in an already over loaded schedule. Even Grandparents are busy. Among ourselves, we wonder how we ever found time to raise children and do the things we did in our youth. We can barely hold on to the life we are leading now even without those additional responsibilities. Maybe weíre slowing down, we think. We donít do things as quickly so weíre having trouble keeping up.

On the tennis court, Margo tells me how stressed she is feeling. After tennis she is going to read for recording for the blind where she will spend several hours. She loves doing this, itís so peaceful in her booth reading into the machine. Tomorrow she is playing in a golf tournament and the day after a bridge tournament. Houseguests are coming and when they leave she and her husband are off to Arizona. I laugh. She is stressed by too much fun.

Hers is not an unusual story in my world. The activities are different, but the fast pace is the same. What is this all about? Sometimes I think we grandparents are in a race against death. We see the end on an ever closer horizon and we want to cram as much into our remaining years as possible. Sometimes I think itís like being in a candy store. Jobs over, children raised, we can, circumstances allowing, do pretty much what we want. Weíll take it all, thank you. Or maybe, we just canít say NO.

Weíre rather myopic about this, we Grandparents. In one breath we talk about how programmed our grandchildren are, scheduled to overflowing, what a difficult way to live a life and in the next breath, try to find a date where weíre all available to go to lunch and canít find one. Busyness is in the air, weíre all doing it arenít we?

Not long ago, I opened my Email to the following, maybe you got it too. It was one of those things that got passed around. Supposedly it was written by a young girl dying of cancer and we were to send it on in a good cause. Evidently all a hoax, but does that matter, it says something worth thinking about.

      Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night? You'd better slow down. Don't dance so fast.
Time is short. The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask "How are you?" do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores running through your head?
You'd better slow down, Don't dance so fast.
Time is short. The music won't last.
Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow? And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch, Let a good friendship die Cause you never had time to call and say "Hi"?
You'd better slow down. Don't dance so fast.
Time is short, the music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere You miss half the fun of getting there. When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....Thrown away. Life is not a race. do take it slower
Hear the music before the song is over.

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