Category Archives: Happiness

Living in the Moment

Ray and I have been greatly occupied by our transition to a new home and the sale of our current one. We have sold a condo, bought a townhouse, and listed the house on the Bluff. If you have been following us for a while  you know that all this has required getting rid of, or at least making discerning decisions regarding, the Stuff.

Three months ago we were brought to our senses with the early arrival of a new grandson. We got the word just as we were packing the car to return north. We did an abrupt 180 and headed south to be with our daughter, son-in-law and his family as we focused all our hopes and prayers on the well-being of this little guy. Happy to say that he is doing well.

Still, it was a lesson in what matters. In this case, we are reassured that our decision to move closer to family sooner rather than later has been the right one. We will be able to enjoy more of our grandchildren’s milestones and accomplishments firsthand. Our older grandson is graduating from high school and will be off to college. Happily for us, he will be near our younger daughter and not a continent away. His younger sister is two years behind him and active in Ultimate Frisbee, basketball and theater. Both were involved in their high school play, either in a starring role or technical lighting support. How fortunate that we could be there to witness their amazing achievements.

Which brings me back to the little guy. He and his parents stayed at our house a couple weeks ago so the family could all see the play together, all except for me and the little guy. (I saw the play earlier — twice.)  I got my first chance to babysit for him.  Just the two of us for an evening that ran over-long. His parents’ apologies were laughable. Little guy and I had a very good night.

Now, I have just returned from five days with him and his parents. His mom is easing back into the workaday professional world. While she worked from home, I was on-duty for the six hours she worked remotely each day. Such a week I had.

I am embarrassed by their gratitude. I did them small favors in return for a very selfish week of soaking up this wonderful creature. As I drove home I realized that I had been given the gift of being in the moment the greater part of each day with him. News reports, email and Facebook were relegated to the very beginnings and ends of the days. I got enough information to know what was going on but could focus mainly on family relationships and his development.

For all my reading over the years about living in the moment, this was the real thing. Nothing else had a claim on me. Happiness.

 

Living Life to the Full

florence_foster_jenkinsWe enjoyed seeing Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins at the Smith Opera House recently. Florence lived life to the full. Yes — she deceived herself in thinking she could sing well enough to perform in Carnegie Hall; but she went ahead anyway and died happy. Simon Helberg, whom you’ll recognize from the Big Bang Theory, put in an excellent and empathetic performance as the pianist. Nina Arianda, playing the floozie, sure can dance! Here’s the video.

Harry Belafonte is another senior living life to the full. Belafonte will turn 90 on March 1, and has just been profiled in the New York Times. He has shaped our times, and many of us seniors carry his songs in our heads.

harry_belafonte_2011_shankbone-1

Harry Belafonte. Photo by David Shankbone.

Belafonte shares our fears and concerns, telling the Times, “I’ve never known this country to be so” — he paused before saying the word — “racist as it is at this moment,” he said. “It’s amazing, after all that we have been through.”

And like may of us, he feels he’s not quite done.

“It’s my last chance to say whatever I feel the need to say. And I think I’m formulating what that utterance should be. What have I not said that needs to be said more forcefully and more precisely?”

Here at Common Sense for Seniors, we’ll be listening.

 

The Long Good-bye

When we moved to the Finger Lakes nearly nine years ago we were taken by the beauty of the area. It has never disappointed. As a dear friend here and I have agreed, we will never take the views and the countryside for granted. We haven’t.

Now, as we begin the process of leaving, I am even more acutely aware of our surroundings.  We saw the super moon the other night, and it was super.  But, as it starts to wane, Ray and I are still enthralled by the daily pageant of the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets. Early this evening, we stood on the front porch and admired Venus in the western sky. A short while later, we stood on the deck and waited for the moon to rise in the east. Again, it did not disappoint. While slightly reduced in size from the full super moon, it rose red-orange and beautifully clear. The  stars were clearly visible, and when I wake in the middle of the night I can expect to see the Pleiades.

These are spectacles that we can not expect to see back in the great conurbation of Boston to Washington and beyond. Sure, we’ll see Venus, Ray tells me. It is just that bright. The light that has crept into the Western hemisphere, on the other hand, has obliterated so much of our  connection with the natural world. Hence, I shall never take for granted the experience that has been ours here.

Kind readers: when I first posted this entry, it was titled “Separating.”  I woke this morning to desperate messages from both daughters, saying they were stunned to hear that Ray and I were separating. One issued a mild expletive; the other said her heart skipped a beat.  Thought it best to change the title.

The Times They are A-changing

Dear Readers,

We are back from a week in Virginia and an even longer absence from this site. We have, however, not been idle. Much happens in these voids.  I want to share with you the most recent happening and decision.

As you have probably sensed from our earlier posts, we believe that decisions should be made throughout our lifetimes, but most especially at times of significant change or in anticipation of same. We have written about some of them, including becoming aware of when we are no longer able to maintain a large house and grounds; when we are not able to assure our personal safety; when we are not able to account for and control our personal affairs; when we become an inconvenience to our family members who love us and want to be present for us; and, when life gives us another reason to review our situation.

Ray and I love every minute of our lives in our truly privileged place. I and a dear friend have for years shared our thrill that we wake up every morning to the most incredible views and will never take them for granted. Whenever I return from places far or near, this feeling is reinforced. I love where we are. It is a place to be cherished forever.

In recent visits to family we have come to recognize that our older grandchild will be off to college next year and the younger is so engaged in activities that it will be difficult for them to visit us here. Add to that the fact that their parents have full-time jobs and other commitments that can take them away for periods of time. Younger daughter and son-in-law are no longer in the immediate area of our condo, so we have to travel farther to be with them. Our condo is not adequate to host the entire clan.

Our grandchildren were born in Washington, DC (which is where our second daughter was born, by the way) and we lived in suburban Virginia for 30 years. Despite a brief hiatus to Africa, the older child was in daily reach of us and the younger one was until we abandoned them both at ages 9 and 7. (That’s a story for another day.) It was a mile  down the road. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Well, the short story is that we want to experience as much time as possible with these children and their children.  We are now six and a half to seven hours away from the first two. From here, we are eight to ten hours from the younger ones. We are certain that we need to be closer.

So, (the word usage that the grammar/language mavens voted to remove from the language this past year) we are selling our small apartment in Virginia and will be looking for a larger place that can accommodate all the family. We want to be able to gather in the family again, as we did for twenty plus years, and to be close enough to enjoy and visit them all, as we did for so many years past.

The condo is on the market; we have a contract; and, we are working toward finalizing it. Next step will be to find that next gathering place. We live in anticipation.

 

 

 

 

Being Here

It has been eight years plus since we moved to the Finger Lakes area. Friends could not fathom how we would move from the Washington DC area to what various ones described as frigid, remote, isolated, even desolate.

Well, it has been anything but that, except for the distance from our children and grandchildren. Still, that distance has not been insurmountable, and we have had the luxury of going to see them when we wish. Friends here travel even greater distances and many directions compared to ours to see loved ones and old acquaintances. I find it interesting to reflect on our cultural concept of where we should be/retire.

Demographers tell us that we are an increasingly urbanized society. Adding to this, environmentalists tell us that this is for the good: the higher the concentration of population, the lower the carbon footprint from automobiles will be. I don’t take issue with these observations. Still, some members of our society have to produce the foods that the rest of us consume. I am privileged to live in a place where those foods are produced in abundance and at great personal and financial peril to those who engage in agriculture. The current drought has tested our farmers and vineyardists to a degree not seen in many years.

I am  so grateful to all of them. I hope that the year works out well. Despite the ravages of low rainfall, everyone I meet from the agricultural community maintains an optimistic -notably not fatalistic – outlook. And, recent rains have given us all hope for a better ending to the season. Remarkably, the corn that we have eaten these last few weeks from a favorite Mennonite farm has been sweet and tender. There were optimum times in past places and eras when I couldn’t say that for the local produce. As I said, I am grateful. And I won’t go into the other vegetables. All is well.

Hope you are enjoying the local fruits of your home town.

 

Question for “The Ethicist.” Is it Ethical to Ignore Potential Elder Abuse?

I was really bothered by “The Ethicist” column in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Entitled “Can You Keep a Woman From Courting Your Elderly Dad,” the column opened with a long letter from an adult child, name withheld by request, of a man nearing ninety and living in a senior residential facility.

The man is being courted by a staff member at the facility, a woman in her sixties, in violation of the facility’s rules. They’ve gone on surreptitious dates, and he’s shared some oxycontin pills he has been prescribed with the woman, at her request. Name Withheld suspects he has given her money.

The advice of Anthony Appiah, The Ethicist? In essence, “Butt out.” In Appiah’s view, the father is within his legal and moral rights, and reporting the matter to the facility’s management would be “disrespectful.”

This response has provoked a flurry of comment, which you can read by clicking on the little cartoon balloon at the upper right of the online page. Many of the comments mention “elder abuse,” which is certainly on my mind.

But the matter isn’t quite so simple. Name Withheld’s letter makes clear that he or she and the siblings are worried about their inheritance. This is pointed out by commentators who agree with the ethicist.  On the other hand, wouldn’t anyone be concerned about their inheritance in such a situation?  Does that concern disqualify them from reporting possible elder abuse?

If only this man had assembled a “protective tribe” of friends and trusted family members before going into the facility, instead of keeping his financial affairs secret as he continues to do. Of course, if the man was worried that a particular family member was only after his money and not concerned about his happiness and well-being, then that person should have been excluded from the tribe.

Anyway, the column and the discussion give much to think about. What’s your opinion?