Dropping Things in Old Age (Again)

EDITORIAL NOTE: One of those things they don't tell you is how everything you do when you get old takes longer and/or tires you more than when you were younger. It's been a busy week and I find myself sitting here without a story for today and no time to write one.

But that gives me a chance to repeat the all-time most popular blog post on TGB. When it was first published, it was titled
Have You Been Dropping More Things as You Get Older?

People have been leaving new comments all through the three years since it was first posted and it comes up sometimes in comments on other blog posts. So, here is the original. See what you think.

* * *

It is hard to be sure but it seems to be so for me. And it is really annoying.

For example, one day last week, I dropped a spoon on the kitchen floor. I picked it up, rinsed it off and as I reached for the towel, I dropped in again. Damn.

A day or two before that, I had dropped the shampoo bottle in the shower – a new, full one that barely missed my toes. Later that day, I dropped the two-quart, plastic box where I store the cat's dry food, scattering it all over the kitchen. Damn again.

Not long ago, I dropped a nine-inch butcher knife – that one could have been disastrous – but on another day I was lucky to be standing on a carpet when I dropped my mobile phone so it didn't break.

None of these occurrences is important individually and probably not even in their proximity to one another. But they made me wonder if dropping stuff is a “thing” with old people. So I took to the internet.

There is a lot of unsourced and untrustworthy health information online and that is always dangerous for “low information viewers,” as it were. The first I found was a large number of forums where people with no expertise were freely offering their uninformed opinions.

In answer to inquiries about dropping things, many instantly went to fear-mongering: Based on nothing at all, they advised people to see a doctor right away because it could be an early symptom of MS, ALS, Huntington's disease and more.

That's nuts. Those were anonymous forums, for god's sake. I hope no one takes them seriously.

Digging deeper at more reputable websites, I found that sometimes dropping things can be among the symptoms of serious disease but only one symptom, a minor one among dozens of others anyone would notice long before worrying about dropping something.

Checking further, I found that dropping things is not a big enough issue with growing old to warrant much notice.

In fact, a webpage of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for training elder home staff is the only direct mention of elders dropping things I found.

”The sense of touch changes,” they report. “In older adults the sense of touch may decrease as skin loses sensitivity. Pressure, pain, cold and heat do not feel the same as they used to feel. Decreases in touch sensitivity may cause residents to drop things.”

That reference to skin losing sensitivity reminded me that a few years ago, I discovered through personal experience that old people often cannot be fingerprinted, particulalry with electronic scanners, because their fingerprints are worn off.

When I wrote about that here three years ago, I quoted Scientific American magazine:

”...the elasticity of skin decreases with age, so a lot of senior citizens have prints that are difficult to capture. The ridges get thicker; the height between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the furrow gets narrow, so there's less prominence. So if there's any pressure at all [on the scanner], the print just tends to smear.”

That would certainly affect sense of touch and the ability to know if you are holding things tightly enough. A report from Oregon State University [pdf] concurs with Pennsylvania report supplying a bit more medical information:

”With aging, sensations may be reduced or changed. These changes can occur because of decreased blood flow to the nerve endings or to the spinal cord or brain. The spinal cord transmits nerve signals and the brain interprets these signals.

“Health problems, such as a lack of certain nutrients, can also cause sensation changes. Brain surgery, problems in the brain, confusion, and nerve damage from injury or chronic diseases such as diabetes can also result in sensation changes.”

I finally found the most pertinent answer to my question at The New York Times. Noting that fine touch may decrease in old age,

“Many studies have shown that with aging, you may have reduced or changed sensations of pain, vibration, cold, heat, pressure, and touch. It is hard to tell whether these changes are related to aging itself or to the disorders that occur more often in the elderly...”

This Times information is quoted from A.D.A.M., a private source of medical information for health professionals and other paid subscribers.

So what I have deduced from two or three hours on the internet is that barring injury or disease or, perhaps, waning strength that affects one's ability to grip strongly, maybe elders do drop things more frequently.

Maybe a diminishing sense of touch in general means that we cannot effortlessly perceive the appropriate strength of our grasp as automatically as when we were younger. At least, that's what I choose to believe for myself until someone enlightens me further.

Following on that, for the past few days I have been making a conscious effort to be sure I am holding whatever is in my hand tightly enough that it will not slip.

I want that to become second nature because the knife I mentioned was a close call and I certainly don't want to drop a cup of hot coffee on my foot or the cat.

Does any of this ring a bell for you?




On Living With Health and Ill Health

Thank You: You guys are amazing. This year's donation drive ended on Monday and your generosity is stunning. There will be no problem in securing the services necessary to keep TimeGoesBy open online and available for at least five years after I've died.

You are a terrific group of readers that any blogger would envy. Thank you so much.

* * *

As most of you know, my most recent cancer test reported remarkably good news. The radiologist's review of the CT scan stated in part that

”Since 11/28/2018, markedly improved appearance of the lungs with decrease/absence of multiple new and enlarging nodules from the most recent study. Appearance is similar to 10/5/2018 staging CT. No definite new nodules.

Wow. We all rejoiced. It doesn't mean the cancer is being cured. This chemo can't do that. But it is doing what it is meant to do – slow the growth of the cancer so that I will have a longer healthy period of time than I would have without the chemo.

One of the strangest things (to me) associated with this cancer is that if not for chemo side effects, I would not know I have a deadly disease.

Do away with chemo brain, loss of appetite and general fatigue that plague me for three, sometimes four days following the chemo infusion every two weeks and I would feel like I did before I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – healthy.

Which is how I feel for 10 or 11 days at a time after those side effects subside, until the next infusion starts the process again.

It's as though I live a double life now - about 25 percent of my time as a sick person; the rest of it as a healthy person.

The intensity of the fatigue (the worst of my side effects) is hard to predict – sometimes I am tired but mostly functional, other times barely capable of crawling out of bed.

The contrast between healthy days and not healthy days has given me a new perspective on how I (and, I suspect, many other people) differentiate between those of us who are healthy and those who are not.

Until I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2017, I had lived 76 years in good health, nothing much more serious than a bad flu now and then. I smoked cigarettes for many years but beyond that I paid a reasonable amount of attention to healthy behavior – eating well, exercising regularly.

I hardly ever thought about my overall health and always assumed most people were as healthy as I had been. Now that I have reached old age – a period of time when, as we here all know, a large number of health issues, minor and deadly serious, can upend our lives – I have gained a new perspective.

These days, I look at healthy people of all ages with wonder. They wear their health so easily, as if it will always be there, and until recently I was a member of their tribe, unaware that my health status would ever change.

Now, on the days when I feel as normal as before the cancer and I can almost pretend that I can ignore the cancer, there's an itch in the back of my (saner) mind repeating something like, “Don't get too cocky, honey. You know how quickly this can change.”

And, eventually, will change.

I don't have any conclusion to this rumination. I'm just surprised how, for so many years, I took my good health for granted.




A TGB READER STORY: Unusual Learning Experience

By Jo Ann of Along The Way

Along the way I’ve been enjoying sharing with interested others some of what I’ve learned. More importantly, or at least equally importantly, I’ve benefited from acquiring new information generously shared in many ways by others.

An actual experience, or a real-life event, is a basic concrete way I initially began to learn, as I recall one story my mother told me that occurred when I was only a toddler.

Sitting on a blanket under a peach tree’s shade where she had placed me while she went back inside the house for a moment, she heard me begin to loudly cry. Rushing to the kitchen door, she observed I was grasping in my little hands a fallen ripened peach.

Soon she noticed what was attracting me were cute little flying insects crawling around on the fruit’s juice-dripping bruised flesh. She saw that I was picking off between my thumb and forefinger what were bees that were angrily stinging me. That was one of my early concrete experiences from which I have learned to never pick up live bees.

My education became more advanced through different learning means as I became older. Observing others, listening to advice, reading are some of the ways in which I’ve accumulated information to help me adapt and survive in this topsy-turvy world in which we live.

That’s not to say I was always wise enough to learn from first-time experiences or followed advice, but I generally eventually learned, sooner or later. Those examples would be stories of a more complex nature, but following is one of those advanced variety, combining observation, and information from another, my mother.

This experience occurred during my highly anticipated first train ride. I was elementary school-age when my mother and I departed on a long overnight train trip through several states. We were traveling to a city to stay overnight with relatives we’d never met in the hope that my older brother would be granted a pass off his nearby U.S. Navy base to see us that Christmas holiday.

My brother was awaiting deployment to an undisclosed military location overseas during WWII – the unspoken concern we had was whether we would ever see him again. We learned of his Pacific Theater submarine service assignment in Australia when he returned home following discharge at the war’s conclusion.

Traveling at night, Mother had expected I would soon tire, then fall asleep in our coach seats – lulled by the repetitive numbing drum of train rail sounds, vibrations and the car’s rocking motion. The train stopped periodically to take on new passengers and allow others to exit.

One segment of the trip was somewhat eventful when a rather colorful woman boarded, whose behavior intrigued me more than sleeping did. She was lurching about from seat to seat, laughing, conversing and extending friendship somewhat loudly to numerous, primarily male passengers, before finally leaving the train at another stop.

The conductor, after toning her down a bit several times, eventually felt the need to reassure my mother that the woman made this trip regularly most weekends, so he knew of her and we shouldn’t feel alarmed.

The explanation for the woman’s erratic behavior my mother ultimately gave me was essentially words to the effect that this somewhat respectable-looking woman was a “lady of the night” seeking a companion. I don’t recall if anyone left the train with the woman.

Years later, especially after becoming a parent myself, recalling those years in the 1940’s when so many subjects were taboo for speaking about aloud, I chuckle to myself about the likelihood this was not a real-life teaching event opportunity every parent would aspire to explaining to their child. This was definitely a memorable entertaining learning experience for this little red-haired girl.

New experiences have presented me with prime learning events throughout my life. Everything was new to me when I was first born, but gradually became more familiar when encountered again. Anything new or different, contrasting with what I’ve subsequently come to know, has become more pronounced, attracting my attention.

* * *

EDITORIAL NOTE: You are a prolific bunch of writers and there is now a backlog of reader stories to carry us almost to summer. So for awhile, I am not accepting new stories until we work through some of the ones already on the list.




A Book, a Podcast and Goodbye to the Donations Drive

AT LAST: FINAL DAY OF DONATIONS
This is it – the last day of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

Different

Two years ago
I was “the one”
who ran to hold the bus
for a slow-walking older friend...

and now I don't.

Two years ago I could spend all Saturday
on a flea market, department store shop,
no need for a break or a sit down
because I was tired...

and now I can't.

Two years ago
I didn't have periods of fatigue, didn't
need moments to pause in the day,
didn't contemplate the idea of a nap...

But now I do.

That poem comes to us from Jane Seskin, working psychotherapist and writer and having now read her latest collection, I feel like I've found a soulmate in regard to elder issues.

SeskinBooknoborder Seskin is saying many of the same things about growing old that I've written about here for 15 years – she just does it more eloquently than I do. Here's another from her book, Older Wiser Shorter:

Talk To Me

Hey, is there someone who's
supposed to warn you of the
health stuff as you age?
Doctor? Friends? The internet?

No one sounded the bell for me on
belching, dehydration, constipation
or flatulence. No talk of elongated
earlobes, receding gums, facial hair

or that I would get winded and need
to pause in the middle of the sidewalk
to catch my breath. Were body
malfunctions too private to share?

Did I not make the time to ask the
questions? Did you not want to
tell me about my physical future?
I want to know what's normal and

what's not. Maybe...maybe we
could just be a little more honest
and vulnerable with each other.
Perhaps we could connect on a

deeper level through sharing our
stories, even the scary ones, of
our health fantasies and fears and
what makes each of us feel better.

There aren't very many people – actually, there is hardly anyone at all – talking about these real, day-to-day surprises that afflict our old age. Which is what makes me excited to have found a soulmate on “what it's really like to get old.”

In fact, I'm pretty sure the medical community knows more about cancer and diabetes than about Jane's list of belching, flatulence, facial hair and rest. And no one ever talked about this stuff when we were younger, so surprises – mostly unpleasant ones – become key elements of growing old.

Not that everything is a complaint. Here are a couple more poems from Jane's book that resonated oh so strongly with me:

Arrangement

Most of the time
I'm in love
with my single life
which is not to say
I don't have room
to be in love
with a good man,
but this time around
I think I'd just like
custody,
say Wednesday
evenings
and every other
weekend.

Ha! I cannot count how often I've had exactly that thought. Here's another, more whimsical than some others:

Movement

I look behind, in front,
around. No one
on the street.

And then I do
what I've been
yearning to do

since last week
when I saw and
remembered

and then grinned
while I watched
the two little girls.

I skip!

Jane Seskin's book of poetry, Older Wiser Shorter: An Emotional Road Trip to Membership in the Senior Class, is available at Amazon. I highly recommend it.

PODCAST
Back in January, Jodie Jackson of Primaris, a healthcare consulting company, interviewed me about my blog, about ageing and about my cancer diagnosis for the company's blog.

I particularly like the title on the podcast page: The Space Between Life and Death which nicely captures this indeterminate period I'm in now.

We had a fine ol' time talking this over and in addition to publishing the podcast, Jackson excerpted parts that you can read at the website. What struck me is how closely what Jackson and I spoke about meshes with Jane Seskin's poetry. One example:

”What the aging 'experts' didn’t explain or even talk about were daily details about aging,” writes Jackson. For instance, 'I had dropped a knife that came perilously close to my toes.' She wrote about dropping things and the response was resonating.

“'It turns out that old people do drop more things' because their fingers lose sensitivity to touch. 'Yes, me too, me too, me too,” was the cacophony of responses. 'There are all kinds of things like that. Your doctor won’t tell you…the little things you’re going to have to accommodate as you get older.'”

You can read Jodie Jackson's article and/or listen to the podcast at the Primaris website.




ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 2

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
Almost done. This is the next to last day of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

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Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

If this were a radio program, I’d play the first track and ask who you think composed it. As you’re all smart cookies, I imagine you’d say something along the lines of, “Well, it’s rather like Mozart, but not quite. Sort of Haydn, but again just misses. Maybe it’s one of their contemporaries – one of Bach’s sons or similar”. That’s certainly what went through my mind when the radio did just that.

We’re all wrong, of course, or they wouldn’t have asked. It was written by NIGEL WESTLAKE.

Nigel Westlake

“Who?” I hear you ask. Nigel is a young Australian composer (well younger than us – he tuned 60 recently) and this work is nothing like all the others of his I’ve heard.

It sounds like a piano concerto and he calls it Diving with George. George was his uncle and a respected surgeon in Melbourne who liked diving (with scuba gear, not jumping off a board into a pool).

♫ Westlake - Diving with George


GIOVANNI VIOTTI was an Italian composer and violinist whose fame for playing the violin spread far and wide.

Viotti

Gio was violin teacher to Marie Antoinette, but when the French revolution came he decided it was safer in London. He had some trouble there too, but that was resolved eventually and became a British citizen.

He’s best known for his compositions for violin, but he wrote works for other instruments as well. Going with his strength, here is the third movement of his Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major, G. 44.

♫ Viotti - Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major G. 44 (3)


JOHN FIELD was an Irish composer and pianist.

John Field

His father and grandfather were both musicians (violin and organ respectively) so he had a head start. The family moved to London when John was about 10 where he had lessons from Muzio Clementi. Later John and Muzio toured Europe playing piano to great acclaim.

John is regarded as the person who invented the nocturne. Chopin took notice of this and made it his own. Here’s one of John’s inventions, the Nocturne No. 1 in E flat major, H24.

♫ Field - Nocturne No.1 in E Flat Major H.24


I imagine if you’re going to be an opera singer, it might help to have a name that’s one of the most famous in the field; in this case the singer is AIDA GARIFULLINA. Look out for her folks, she’s wonderful.

Aida Garifullina

We won’t have something from her namesake opera, instead it’s by NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV.

Rimsky-Korsakov

Nik wrote the opera “The Golden Cockerel”, but he knew it had no chance of being staged as it was an implied criticism of monarchy, and the Czar would have none of that.

It finally got staged a few years later, and even then he had to change it a bit to satisfy the censors. From that, Aida sings Hymn to the Sun.

♫ Rimsky-Korsakov - The Golden Cockerel ~ Hymn to the Sun


These days, after J.S. Bach, ANTONIO VIVALDI is probably the best known baroque composer.

Vivaldi

Tony had a considerable influence on J.S. who grabbed some of his compositions and created variations on them. I don’t know if this is one of those – probably not because he wrote a hell of a lot of music. Here is the second movement of Sonata for Oboe and Continuo RV 53 in C minor.

♫ Vivaldi - Sonata for oboe and continuo RV 53 in C minor (2)


There is a story that Henry VIII wrote the tune Greensleeves. It’s possible, but the odds are stacked against that being true. The tune was certainly around during his time as you’ll hear.

DIEGO ORTIZ was a Spanish composer and writer on various musical subjects who lived in the sixteenth century.

Ortiz

His life coincided with Henry’s and one of his compositions is called Recercada No 7 sobre la Romanesca. To my ears this sounds like a first draft of Greensleeves. See what you think.

♫ Ortiz - Romanesca Recercada 7


JOHANN HUMMEL was born in Pressburg, nowadays called Bratislava in Slovakia. Back then it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Hummel

Early on Jo caught the ear of Mozart who decided to take him on as a pupil, and also invited him to live with the Mozart family for a while (that turned into two years).

He was later a good friend of both Beethoven and Schubert and he taught Mendelssohn. The piano was his main instrument and today we have the third movement of his Piano Trio No. 1 in E-Flat Major, Op. 12.

♫ Hummel - Piano Trio No. 1 in E-Flat Major Op. 12 (3)


ISABELLA LEONARDA was born in 1620 in Novara, Italy.

Isabella Leonarda

She was put into a convent when she was 16, and held many posts within that due to the influence of her prominent family. This allowed her to compose music, and she became the most productive woman composer of her era.

Not surprisingly, most of her music was for the church, including her Motet Op. 6 No 5, Ave suavis dilecto. This is sung by LOREDANA BACCHETTA.

Loredana Bacchetta

♫ Leonarda - Motet Op. 6 No 5. Ave suavis dilecto


JOSEPH-FRANÇOIS GARNIER was a French Composer and oboe player.

Garnier_JF

He was born into a family of modest circumstances – his father was a cobbler – but his uncle was in the music trade. Unc took young J.F. to Paris and got him a job playing the oboe in the Royal Academy of Music which became the Paris Opera after the revolution.

He was a whiz on his instrument and stayed there a long time. He became their main oboe player (and he occasionally played flute), later premiering some of his own compositions. One of those is his Symphonie Concertante No. 2 for 2 Oboes & Orchestra. This is the first movement.

♫ Garnier - Symphonie Concertante No. 2 (1)




INTERESTING STUFF – 16 February 2019

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day four (of six) of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

ONE TOWN UNDER ONE ROOF

All 200-plus people in remote Whittier, Alaska, live in one, 14-story building. Take a look:

More information and more video at curiosity.com.

HOW NOT TO WAKE A LADY LION

This is probably not what he was expecting.

NEW MEDICARE CARD

If you recall, last year new Medicare cards were sent out with new random ID numbers rather than our Social Security numbers. Last week, medicare.gov announced that card mailing is complete and you should have received yours by now.

”Haven’t gotten your new Medicare card yet? Sign in to your secure MyMedicare.gov account to see your Medicare Number and print your official card. If you don’t have a MyMedicare account yet, sign up for free at MyMedicare.gov today!

“Alternately, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE and our call center representatives can help you get your new card.”

DENALI – A TRIBUTE TO MAN'S BEST FRIEND

My friend John Gear emailed this video of a lovely tribute to man's best friend.

WHAT WILL CLIMATE IN YOUR CITY FEEL LIKE IN 60 YEARS?

Unless you are among the deniers, you know Earth climate is change. The University of Maryland has put together a map show how the climates of several hundred U.S. cities are expected to change in the next 60 years.

ClimateMap

Go here to use the interactive map. There is more information about the project here.

SNOW DAYS AT THE OREGON ZOO

A whole lot of animals playing in Portland, Oregon's recent snowstorm.

GHOST APPLES

I never heard of this before and it's amazing. Beautiful – a winter special effect.

RESCUE OF A OLD DOG WITH A BROKEN HEART

A homeless dog on Romania finds a forever home in the United States.

More information and more photos at Laughing Squid.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.




Crabby Old Lady – Not Me, A Poem

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day three (of six) of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

Last week, a reader named Joseph Burns left this comment on a post from the first year of this blog's existence, September 2004:

”I read this out to my year 10 form, you could hear a pin drop, almost in tears towards the end, but think each child got something from the poem.

“And to me it’s not just a poem it’s a reminder of life, so so true. Whoever wrote this has captured it so true. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏"

I think after 15 years this is definitely worth a repeat. I've included my original introduction from 2004.

* * *

This poem is floating around the Web here and there. According to some, it was found among the "meager possessions" of an old woman who died in the geriatric ward of a Dundee, Scotland hospital, and was later published in the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental Health.

That all may be apocryphal. I can't find any reference, except in relation to the poem, of the publication or its organization. Those who retrieved the poem did not record the woman's name nor is there a year attached, but that is not important. This is a cry from the heart, whoever wrote it, to not be made invisible in old age.

It would do us all well to remember this poem when we are frustrated by someone old moving too slowly in front of us and when we find ourselves with an older relative or friend whose mind is perhaps not as quick as it once was.

Herewith, then, the poem titled Crabby Old Lady.

What do you see, nurses, what do you see,
what are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
when you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
and forever is losing a stocking or shoe.

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will
with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
as I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother,
brothers and sisters, who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty - my heart gives a leap,
remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own
who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty my young sons have grown and are gone,
but my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more babies play round my knee,
again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
and I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman and nature is cruel;
'tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
there is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
and now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
and I'm loving and living life over again.

I think of the years - all too few, gone too fast
and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
not a crabby old woman; look closer - see ME!




Happy Valentine's Day

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day two of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

Perhaps you have noticed that this is Valentine's Day – a perfect time for me to again thank you all for your continuing support of this blog and especially your many good thoughts, prayers and well wishes throughout the ups and downs of this cancer predicament in which I find myself.

Valentines-day-lettering

Sending all good Valentine's Day greetings to each and every one of you.




Annual TimeGoesBy Donation Week 2019...

Plus The Alex and Ronni Show. But first:

Here we are again for the fourth year in a row with the TGB Donation Drive. I began this annual fundraiser to help pay for the services I use to keep this blog advertising free.

In particular, I think email subscribers over this past year probably appreciate not having their mailings splattered with ugly ads since I added that service thanks to your donations.

Donations also pay for email and domain name registrations along with the #$%^&* increase twice each year in the price of internet access.

They also allow me to subscribe to the most important news and information publications as even more of them this year have placed their sites behind paid firewalls. This and more help keep the TGB website an ad-free zone on the internet.

You would be right to wonder, given the news of my incurable cancer, if donation week is still necessary – and indeed it will undoubtedly be the last one. Let me explain starting with this quotation from “John” in the comments from last Wednesday's post:

”What's the plan for this blog? Out in time, the farther the better, but when 'the battle ends' will we be able to re-read 'Time Goes By' for some span of time?

“Perhaps there is a designated successor already in the wings for seamless handoff. Or, it is (irreplaceable) Ronni or nothing and TGB will simply just be gone.”

Good questions, John, that I have been sporadically working on for several months. Dozens of readers, like John, have written to ask what happens to TGB when I die and I have decided to pay ahead for each of those services listed above for the five years following my death. When that happens, ownership of the blog, domain ownerships, etc. will pass to my friend, healthcare proxy and heir.

It's not set in stone to happen but I am also looking for a blogging successor. It's tricky. The person needs to be old enough to have some personal experience with ageing – above 60 I would say at the young end up to any age but with a better life expectancy than my current one.

The person should closely share my political and societal opinions on elders and ageing, be a reasonably good writer with a willingness to keep up with news and politics related to ageing in all its aspects, have a passion for ageing issues along with a decent sense of humor about it all.

With the news of my latest CT scan reported here Monday, I'm guessing I might have more time than I thought to find this special person.

I love doing this blog, and I am grateful to all of you, dear readers, for your fine contributions in the comments. It's your smart, thoughtful, and funny conversation that makes TGB special and I want to find a replacement who can continue making this blog one of the best collaborations online between producer and readers.

Which brings us to this week's fourth annual donations drive. As in the previous years, I will make this as unobtrusive as possible – at least a bit less annoying than NPR donation drives, so let's get started.

HOW TO DONATE
The campaign consists of this introductory blog post (including the latest Alex and Ronni Show episode at the end) with a link to the Paypal donation page and a MUCH shorter version of this invitation to contribute at the top of each post through next Monday. The “rules” are these:

  • No one is required to donate. Nothing about TGB will change if you do not. This is entirely voluntary.

  • If you do choose to donate, no amount is too small. Whatever is comfortable for you is all that matters.

  • You do not need a Paypal account to donate. When you click on the link below, the Paypal donation page will open (it's a little slow sometimes) where you can donate via credit card, debit card or, if you have a Paypal account, by a money transfer - each in any amount you want.

  • The Paypal site works in the United States and internationally.

To repeat: Donations are voluntary. Nothing changes if you do not donate. Here is the Paypal link which you will also find near the top of the right sidebar.

As I said, donation is voluntary. I don't want anyone to feel coerced. For those of you who have set up a recurring donation, you might want to cancel that and if you are still inclined to donate, do it as a one-time. It will save you some scrambling perhaps, when I have shuffled off this mortal coil, setting your account straight.

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As I noted on last year's donation drive kick-off post:

Having cancer certainly does rearrange one's priorities and I have thought hard about this extra time on Earth I have been granted. I've never been interested in a bucket list and unless you count my longing to live again in New York City, nothing I yearn for.

What I like these days is my comfortable apartment while making the main part of my daily life the production of TimeGoesBy. It has become much more to me than a blog; it is a gathering place for like-minded elders to talk about what it's like growing old, and I learn so much from you.

And now, here is this week's Alex and Ronni Show.




A TGB READER STORY: My Auntie Mame and Uncle Elvis

By Lyn Burnstine

I grew up with a plethora of uncles. On my mother's side, I had four half-uncles, two of whom I never knew since they lived far away on the west coast, and two half-uncles-in-law (my half-aunts' husbands). Have I lost you yet?

I was very close to the Illinois uncle who lived the nearest: in fact, he lived with us once for a few weeks and we eagerly awaited the Kansas uncle's visits, also.

My grandmother, their step-mother, had finished raising those two youngest ones and they loved her dearly. On my father's side there was one uncle-in-law and five uncles, who all looked just like my father. One had died as a young man, but the others I knew because they lived nearby.

Most of the socializing we did was with relatives: dinners back and forth from one home to another and reunions every summer at a park or churchyard.

But there was one whom I adored, unrelated but connected by something as strong as blood-ties.

My mother had grown up with few neighbors in her little rural community. She was so much younger than her step-brothers who left home while she was still a youngster. Fortunately just up the road a piece - as my grandmother would have said - was a handsome, charming couple with three little girls.

The youngest was named for my mother, so I assume she was born after the two families became close friends. The four girls were inseparable. Time went by, people grew up and scattered but Aunt Mame and Uncle Elvis moved into town, and so did my parents, my sister and I.

We must have gone to see them frequently, because often in my dreams I find myself walking on their street sure that I'll recognize their house when I see it, and knowing that it would be a safe haven from something that was threatening me in the dream.

But my most vivid memory comes from a time, a few years later, when I was envying my sister her flute and ability to play in the band. Our dinky school had no band activities for elementary-level students so I would not be eligible until I got to high school (I snuck in a few toots on my sister's flute when she wasn't around, though).

One day when we were visiting back in Flora from where we'd moved to follow my father's renewed teaching career, Uncle Elvis offered me a wooden piccolo and training in how to play it. It was the first time I had realized that this tall, kindly man, whom I picture always in a fedora and long overcoat towering over us all, was anything but my beloved Uncle Elvis: he was also the local band teacher!

I was thrilled and learned quickly; I already was a good pianist and a crackerjack sight reader. (I always said I could play something the first time as well as I'd ever play it again.)

I practiced for hours every day till my pinkies got used to the curled position and stopped cramping painfully. And that little wooden piccolo had the sweetest tone of any I ever played, bar none. Joy of joy, that very fall the high school band teacher instituted a training band in the seventh and eighth grades, and I got to play the piccolo as well as a wooden flute loaned to me.

Uncle Elvis became a hero in my eyes; sweet, little dumpling-faced Aunt Mame remained a shadowy figure in my memories. The connections lasted through my early-married years when their oldest daughter was living in the same town in Mississippi as my husband and I, and she and her unconventional husband became our friends and first babysitters.

Vesta, whom I always thought of as the vestal virgin since she was single till 49 had married Harry, a former rodeo clown and outrageous adventurer. What a strange mating that was.

In much more recent years, I was looking through old pictures and found one of Uncle Elvis and Aunt Mame as young newlyweds and was amazed at how gorgeous they were - her cute and tiny, him tall, dark-haired and full-lipped like the other Elvis.

There must have been lots of little girls who had crushes on that young Elvis, their band teacher but he was my Uncle Elvis.

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EDITORIAL NOTE: You are a prolific bunch of writers and there is now a backlog of reader stories to carry us almost to summer. So for awhile, I am not accepting new stories until we work through some of the ones already on the list.