Body Cameras Anyone?

This new and expanded use of technology got me thinking about what would have been different about my own life if everyone, or nearly everyone had been wearing a camera during the major parts of their work and relaxation time.

It would have made “data collection” – part of any consulting, training or coaching intervention – much easier. Before working on problems confronting clients we did and still do ask for their interpretation of events. We might also interview others who would have insights into situations. And of course there are online tools that can easily gather input from a variety of people about a situation or a person. All of course rely on the judgment and memory as well as perception of the person speaking or writing.


But what if there were actual digital material showing managers and leaders and board members demonstrating what was REALLY said and done in a variety of situations? “Oh I thought you said you listen empathetically to each of your staff. Well I just reviewed the actual digital record of your meetings with your staff and it seems to tell a different story. Hmm, so you don’t think you need communication skills training and one to one coaching for your temper?” That sounds powerful but also more than a little tough to handle.

When we socialized we met places or picked a potential mate from someplace like New York Magazine — LONG before online dating there was of course ads in magazines and newspapers. But let’s assume that in order to place one’s ad, the person looking for a mate would have to include actual digital material showing actual dates (with some edits allowed of course – let’s not go too crazy) and audio of the actual conversations and interactions before and after a movie or dinner? Well, I could have dropped Alan or John several years if not months earlier – now that might have made a REAL difference in my life.


It sounds wonderful doesn’t it — no more “buying” a “pig in a poke”. The truth would be known – and transparency would rule – if you can’t digitally prove it, why should I believe someone is the lovely person they insist they are? Actually this isn’t science fiction or the future – there are apps now which rate people socially. When we were young there was not only no such thing, but it was virtually impossible to know anything about anybody outside of your immediate circle. Which is to say no one could find anything out about you either.  That’s looking more and more like a good thing.

Wait a minute. This is beginning to sound really weird – not least because of the time involved in looking at a device of some kind to review all the digital records. No more wasting time with drinks or coffee at a lovely place with a great view – that time would now be spent reviewing someone’s past. No more time spent wandering the campus of an organization since all/most observations could be picked up by camera and reviewed without hearing and seeing and needing to sift through contradictory data.


Being fabulous means of course many things — but in this discussion, certainly honesty and transparency would appeal to any fabulous woman. After all we grew up with truths like this one: “the truth will set you free”.

I would like to think that if I had a camera on me the whole time I was working in corporations or talking/meeting on the phone or in person with dozens of people there is nothing I would have done differently than I actually did. Same thing personally. I thought I made a few faux pas socially – but other than 10 or so I can recall at this minute my guess is I would have been pretty much the same. Really? I haven’t felt this happy about being over 60 for a LONG time!

– Patty Gill Webber

Things That Should Have Killed Us in the 1950’s

Those of us in our 60’s like to brag that we lived through a lot of things that parents today worry about incessantly. But some of us – including me – think our parents should have worried a little more!

We all know that cars didn’t have seat belts in the 50’s and we shake our heads remembering how dangerous that must have been – especially since today’s news stories constantly remind us that car seats have to be chosen with extreme care.

Car seats? The only car seats available in the 50’s were designed to “bolster” children so that that they could look out the window and not move around so much. A few early protective car seats began to be used in the 60’s, but it wasn’t until the 70’s that they really got on a roll.

I remember dad driving home from many family parties in the 50’s after partaking of a couple, if not several, Manhattans. We three kids, all 10 and under, would be in the back seat dozing or fighting – probably more of the latter – while mom (who didn’t drive) would hold on tight, work her feet on imaginary pedals and say, as sweetly as possible – “Joe, don’t you think you should drive a little slower, dear?”


I also remember leaving the house early in the morning on lazy Cincinnati summer days and staying out until lunch – or sometimes even until dinner. I would be at a friend’s house on my street, riding my bike up and down neighboring streets, or going to the drugstore a few blocks away to get a Cherry Coke. There were no cell phones and no electronic trackers… in other words, no way for Mom to know where I was. I don’t remember her being all that concerned about it, either.

I asked my husband, Ray, what he remembered about the 1950’s and the dangers lurking for kids in his small town of Gaffney, SC. Riding bicycles with his friends behind the DDT spraying trucks came immediately to mind. Apparently, at that time, in areas where mosquito populations were high, the government decided that spraying a few times a week would help cut down on malaria. Parents, his included, encouraged the fun. DDT was finally banned in 1972.

Here’s a photo if you don’t believe me:


DDT spraying truck

Another story Ray told was about accompanying his mom to Gaffney’s downtown shoe store and getting his feet x-rayed in something called a fluoroscope. The machine, operated by the shoe store salesman, had a little box on the bottom where he would put his feet through in a new pair of shoes. The x-ray would be turned on and Ray’s mom and the salesman could look through the viewing windows to see if the shoes fit well – that is, if there seemed to be enough room for all of the bones in his feet. According to articles I found on the internet, the only safety shield on the fluoroscope was a tiny layer of aluminum and the manufacturers’ brochures recommended that the stores place the fluoroscope in the middle of the store for easy access.

Sometimes, Ray and his friends would stick their hands in the hole and look at each others’ bones. The kids loved it! What fun!


Fluoroscopes were almost universally banned by the 1970’s

These stories, of course, highlight only a few of the hazards we faced in the 1950’s. Toy arrows with rubber tips that could be taken off easily, a radioactive science kit called the Atomic Energy Lab, baby oil that we slathered on our skins for a great sunburn, mercury that we played with when thermostats broke, skating and biking without helmets or knee pads, drinking out of garden hoses … I could go on and on.

So, what were our parents thinking? Well, to be fair to them, they were probably not very clear about the best way to raise kids, especially when they were bombarded with ads like these …




Now that I think about it, we are pretty lucky that we made it into the 1960’s, much less into our 60’s!!

Cathy Green

Easter or Passover – Say Hallelujah!

It’s Easter time and I have been feeling wistful these last weeks for the Easter season of my youth. March 29th was Palm Sunday this year – the Sunday prior to Easter. The celebration of Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday is the holiest week of the year for Christians. The real preparation for Easter begins even earlier with Lent, the season kicked off (in a secular way) by Mardi Gras.

During Lent we gave up things like chocolate or picked new things to focus on – like “not being disobedient to our parents”. What we ever did that was disobedient still eludes me. I think most Catholics made up sins for confession when we were under 10. We varied our limited schedules to include more visits to Church for silent reflection or to attend extra services. During holy week there were major services including Holy Thursday which commemorates the Last Supper, Good Friday with its focus on the crucifixion and the saying/going through the Stations of the Cross, which aided in thinking about what Christ went through.

Being a 1950s/60s Catholic, these traditions were not generally considered optional. And it seemed everyone went to Church, participated in these services – while my and my parents’ Jewish friends went to Temple and/or the Synagogue for Passover which we knew less about – except of course that Jesus was Jewish. Everyone seemed to be doing something important and religious. And doing it in the exact same way every year.

patty cathy old easter

Easter finery: Patty (left) and sister Wendy circa 1954. Cathy, far right, circa 1959


There was the ritual of coloring Easter eggs and eating chocolate rabbits once it was officially Easter. My sister Wendy and I also liked helping my mother make “Easter bread” – a delicious type of egg-infused loaf we only consumed during a few weeks prior to and after Easter Sunday. We enjoyed preparing once a year treats of “Italian cheesecake” – think ricotta cheese versus cream cheese; and pizza rustica – a sort of torta of cold cuts and cheeses in a tasty crust. Stir in new bonnets and dresses for Church and “going as a family to Church” and you have the experience.


Easter Sunday was like Church every week — except more crowded since back then 100% of Catholics went to Church on Christmas and Easter while only what seemed like 95% went every week – with loud and strong singing and frequent ‘Hallelujahs’ and lilies with purple foil bases everywhere you looked.

It’s 2015. I realize that my wonderful memories have been utterly replaced with what? Now, Easter means only the need to attend Church if I want to (which I do), hearing from a select few friends who are deeply religious (which is a very short list) or some family members who are touched to be remembered (like my 100 year old uncle or my 95 year old aunt). Nothing else is expected – or required.

Upon reflection, I got what I wanted — the choice of what faith and what role that faith plays in my life. Easter is a day I choose to celebrate privately. I lost all the fattening parts of the holiday which tempted me: cheesecake, torta, and the chocolate bunnies as well as the endless list of should-do’s around the holiday. It is definitely harder to form and keep my own faith including holy days for myself. But that is the freedom I believe is important and what I thought (and still think) is what we as a generation stood for: personal responsibility and wonderful creative license to believe and worship as we please – what is truly fabulous.

Oh and Blessed Passover, and Happy Easter to those of you who choose to celebrate – Sing Hallelujah!

Patty Gill Webber

Can You Hear Me Now? Apparently Not!

The verdict is in and my husband is vindicated. The doctor said that he is legally deaf in his left ear. (I, of course, gave my husband this information quite some time ago, but I guess he didn’t hear me.)

Because he is so thoughtful, my husband wanted me to have this news right away so that I would fully understand and respect his many requests to turn up the volume on the television. And, of course, to make sure I knew why he sometimes doesn’t answer when I talk to him.

That same doctor told me during my own annual visit that I have almost perfect hearing.

Last week, you told my husband that he’s deaf, remember?” A light bulb seemed to appear over the doctor’s head. “Oh, yeah… I guess that could be a little bit of a problem for the two of you, huh?”

He smiled.

I didn’t.


My semi-deaf husband told me that the doctor said he could qualify for a hearing aid through our insurance, especially since the loss is at least partially due to a military service injury. “Hell, no!” he told the doctor. “I’m not going to get one of those things! I can live with it just the way it is!”


So, a wife with almost perfect hearing living with a husband who is at least 50% deaf … in our 60’s … spending more time together, overall healthy and looking at the possibility of another 20+ years of marital bliss.


According to the National Institute of Health’s website:

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults… There is a strong relationship between age and hearing loss… 30 percent of adults 65-74 years old and 47 percent of adults 75 years old, or older, have a hearing impairment.

Men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women.


There is actually some good news about our TV volume dilemma. For some reason, several years ago my husband abdicated responsibility for the remote control to me. A few of my women friends, who report being driven to the brink of insanity, have husbands who won’t let go of the remote for any reason.


But here’s our scenario. Husband and I agree on a program or movie to watch (that’s an entirely different dilemma). Then, I turn up the volume to a comfortable level for me… and immediately notch it up a few more numbers. If the volume is OK, I get a nod. If not, he says “turn it up a little more” and raises an index finger. That finger keeps stabbing the air until the level is where he wants it to be.


Occasionally, I try to sneak the volume a little lower, especially during one of his favorite types of movies – obnoxiously loud shoot ‘em ups with guns, explosions and never-ending car chases. Very seldom do I get away with it. Instead, that finger starts stabbing the air again, and I raise the volume and cringe.

Because I love him, though, and because I would probably have a hard time finding another guy in his 60’s without some kind of hearing loss, I resist the urge to stab one of my fingers into the air.

Cathy Green

Before Feminism Was Mainstream: Sex Toys and Other Gutsy Stuff

When I think of handcuffs (which is very rare) my memory turns to westerns of my childhood rather than 50 Shades of Grey. Didn’t read it and skipped the poorly reviewed movie too. Although using sex toys have never been a focus of my relatively (it’s all relative right?) traditional sex history, can’t say I never held a vibrator.

BillytheKid_Wanted 3

As you may know, I love reading obituaries.

Dell Williams, 92, founder of Eve’s Garden passed away March 11th. I admit it, I did not know of her work and/or cause till I read the obit.

Dell Williams

Dell Williams

After having a humiliating experience buying a vibrator at Macy’s, Ms. Williams left the store thinking “someone ought to open a store where a woman can buy one of these things without some kid asking her what she’s going to do with it”. Check out Eves Garden to see more about Ms. Williams and her boutique (not AT ALL sleazy by the way) she opened in 1974. Or don’t because this whole topic offends you. That is up to you, as it should be – no shame, just choice.

Choice, freedom and economic parity are at the core of the women’s movement. And feminism is going strong. Take a look at what some young bold feminists have done and are doing on Feministing. We see more and more young women jumping on board and reinventing feminism rather than dismissing it as something no longer needed or outdated. Loved this list of inventions by women I saw yesterday which made me wonder again how many other earlier successful women were undervalued.


Via Buzzfeed: “Saving untold marriages over the last century and a half, the dishwasher was invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1887. She marketed her invention to hotel owners, scandalously going to meetings without a husband, brother, or father to escort her, and eventually opened her own factory.”

The World Economic Forum predicts women will reach leadership parity in 2095. But is thinking more like 25 years. Both are daunting goals but more and more possible as more women (and men) focus on the cause.

I remember my college roommate Carolyn being mocked for being a feminist on our conservative catholic college campus in 1968. People wondered (yes, this is true) “who would marry her”? That you may recall was a fate worse than death. And yes, it makes me cringe to even think about that ridiculous “worry”.

We need to remind ourselves to thank all those women – from Dell Williams to my roommate Carolyn who were fabulous and gutsy way before feminism became mainstream and nearly universally acclaimed in cultures like ours. We wouldn’t be sending a hastag for equality (#25not95) any more than we would be talking openly (or not) about enjoying sex toys.

Progress for women hasn’t been smooth and often appears to be a losing battle given some still existing regressive views. But regardless of whether you like sex toys or not, let’s take a moment to thank Dell Williams, my college roommate, and thousands of unnamed super women of an earlier time who brought us closer to gender equality than we thought we’d see in our lifetimes.

Patty Gill Webber

Yikety Yak – Yikes – It’s The Yik Yak App!

More on the controversial smartphone app Yik Yak in a moment, but reading about it made me wonder if we shouldn’t bring back parents and grandparents who are not judgmental party poopers – but who are adults with knowledge and competence. Adults know some things that children do not because they are not mature enough, or able to understand and store it in their still developing brains.


These adults can and SHOULD make some judgments and then insist on not “blind obedience” (sadly we had to deal with lots of that) but rather “compliance” – a word I like MUCH better and is both softer and more appropriate in the 21st century. These judgments need to be shared, not to be arbitrary, cruel or bossy two-shoes, but to protect young children and teens from their under-developed minds. That and the resulting stupid, inappropriate and cruel things they are capable of doing just because they are young.


Enter Yik Yak.

From the NY Times: “Like Facebook or Twitter, Yik Yak is a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location, or, in many cases by university … Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board … Much of the chatter is harmless. Some of it is not.”

“Yik Yak is the wild west of anonymous social apps, said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace”.


Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, recent graduates of Furman University in South Carolina are the developers of the app which they intended to be democratic – giving everyone a chance to share even if they did not have many “friends” or “followers”. Sounds good — no fabulous women over 60 are down on democracy, but the iPhone and Android app, which is one of the most frequently downloaded in the Apple Store, seems to have created some very difficult and ugly situations for students, teachers, deans, and others on college campuses. Sadly, it is gaining ground in middle and high schools too.

** Google’s Android has recently dropped the app from its app store charts. It hasn’t been banned, it is just harder to find.

Despite all the push back and anger of those injured by its ability to anonymously publish anything about anyone that is not a direct threat (that would be a no no – police recently tracked down a freshman who made a direct threat to someone – he was arrested) there isn’t much anyone can do about it. Free speech of course trumps most efforts at curtailing it. But shouldn’t all adults who know about this application ask our own children and grandchildren to explain why and how they are using it? In other words, we fabulous women need to take some responsibility!

The developers feel that better uses will happen – via NY Times: “It’s definitely still a learning process for us. And we’re definitely still learning how to make the community more constructive.”

I agree the developers are still learning. However, it seems to me some of that learning needed to go on prior to the launch of the application. The experience of millions has informed most of us that giving young people a free pass to say anything they want without any consequences and to be able to do it anonymously doesn’t sound like a good idea. It puzzles me who thought it would lead to good?

Shouldn’t we as adults be on top of this stuff? Or maybe we are too busy on our own social media accounts to pay much attention. I remember my parents saying dozens of times “you will understand when you grow up”. Most of the time I did – maybe we need to give our children and grandchildren a chance to say the same at least a few times. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Patty Gill Webber


Fabulous Women Never Age?

I admit it, I ordered it – Goddesses Never Age the newly released book by Dr. Christiane Northrup.

Dr. Northrup (65 by the way), a leading authority on women’s health and wellness has shared her knowledge through multiple best sellers (Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom; The Wisdom of Menopause) as well as PBS specials. She is a solid professional (MD, OB-GYN, taught and practiced medicine) – looking great and certainly qualified as fabulous.


But, I have to share that the title of this book disturbed me.

“True health is only possible when we understand the unity of our minds, emotions, spirits, and physical bodies and stop striving for perfection” – Christiane Northrup, MD

I couldn’t agree more – and likely the book, the video series and all else related to her latest venture is worth a look and likely a try. I would guess that there are lots of great ideas for “thinking young”, taking care of ourselves, and being our best self — great stuff. Why shouldn’t we try to lead our best and healthiest life? Of course we should.

But then I read on the doctor’s website that she has “recently founded A-ma-ta, a company which manufactures and distributes a product line featuring the Pueraria mirifica plant, a traditional medicine used by Thai women for 700 years”. Mmmm — are any of them still living? Would by any chance the secret to being ageless include taking these or other supplements?

Not to be a cynic – anyone who knows me knows that I tend to be more a sap than a cynic — but while helping us age with grace (this idea is not welcomed in the ageless world) is something I wholeheartedly agree with, the whole idea of “ageless” makes me uncomfortable. It goes against everything I see, experience and know.

Visited your aunt or spouse at the assisted living complex recently? Seen old friends at a reunion? Gone through an operation, or still having to work long hours to keep a roof over your head? Looked at old photos of yourself 10 and 20 years ago? While clearly most people are not aware of the great advice on being ageless, my gut tells me that this approach, while tempting, denies reality and doesn’t ultimately keep us fabulous. Sure, do your best – but hey, news flash: we are all going to die and likely before we are 105 and still pole dancing.

If you haven’t already read Dr. Oliver Sacks’s OP-ED in the New York Times, then do so. Here is a terrific, brilliant person – now 81, suddenly faced with dying. It somewhat came “out of the blue” and just is what it is. Yes, he has lived and is now continuing to live gracefully.

Have you kept up with the super articles about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (81)?

Have you seen Barbara Walters (85) lately?

Have you compared an old Oprah (61) episode to her look and demeanor today?

So do we want to aim for ageless (and for sure miss)? Or, do we aim for aging gracefully?



Aging gracefully is the winner — besides, I have a feeling being ageless is way too much work and way too expensive — supplements anyone?

Patty Gill Webber

Saying Goodbye To My Gynecologist

Reader alert: If you are a woman under 60, you might not want to read this blog post. It contains information that will probably depress you. If you are a man, you will definitely want to avoid this blog. It contains, as they say, TMI (too much information).

Yesterday, I had what will probably turn out to be my last visit to a gynecologist. Showing up for my annual check-up with my Tampa doctor – a referral from my previous GYN who retired two years ago – I planned to tell her that I was spending more time in North Carolina than in Florida and would be finding another doctor there in the near future.


After my examination, I met Dr. McCarthy in her office to ask a couple of questions. At the last minute, I added one that I hadn’t planned to ask. “In your opinion, do I NEED a gynecologist in North Carolina since I have a primary care doctor?” I expected her to say yes and give me reasons why it was a good idea. Instead, she smiled and said … “No, I don’t think so. You’re turning 65 this year, so you’re good to go!”

Good to go where? To the great beyond?

I have had a gynecologist for 50 years. First, an intimidating male doctor during my teenaged-years, then my first female doctor (thank god!) in Pittsburgh during my 20’s and early 30’s, followed by a female doctor in Tampa who took care of me for 25 years and managed me through the horrors of menopause and surgery. Lastly, here was Dr. McCarthy, a young, efficient woman of about 45 with a nice smile and, obviously, a no-bull**** approach with her patients.

So why, I asked, was I good to go? Well, she explained, you don’t have much left inside to become cancerous. Oh, yeah … I guess that makes sense. But, she added, even women with their “stuff” still in place are generally advised that they don’t need pap smears or exams after age 65. “The conventional wisdom in the medical community” she continued “is that cervical cancers take about 20 years to mature. So, well, a woman would be 85… and you know….”. Her sentence tapered off. Big smile.

But, I countered, many women live well beyond that! “Yeah” she laughed “that’s what a lot of my older patients say!”

Is there anything I’ll still need to do? I asked. Just get your yearly mammogram and a breast exam from your primary doctor, she said.

So, after 50 years of having a doctor specifically dealing with my women’s “stuff” … having an exam and cancer test each year, talking about sex, hormones, bladders and more … I no longer need one. Just like that I’m good to go.

The good news, I was thinking as I shook her hand to leave, is that I’m healthy and happy. I should enjoy the freedom, right? No more yearly office visits. No more intrusive exams. No more awkward discussions. No more co-pays.

But I have to admit that I felt a lot older when I walked out of her office than when I walked in. As I passed through the waiting room, a young teenage girl with bright blue streaks in her hair, arm tattoos and a nose ring waited with her mother for her appointment. She’s just starting out on her 50 year journey, I thought.

She doesn’t know it now, but this young woman will become a spouse and possibly a mother, and then a middle age woman with hot flashes, and then an AARP member and will eventually pass another teenager in an office as she leaves her gynecologist for the last time …

Good to go!

imagesCathy Green

P.S. I don’t advocate not getting cancer tests … I don’t care how old you are! If you have a family history, still have all of your female “stuff” inside and plan to live into your 90’s or 100’s, go get tested no matter what the doctors say. It’s your life!! 

Putting on my face…

As I was applying makeup last evening to go out to dinner, I thought of the old expression “putting on my face“.

I remember as a little girl watching my mom putting on her face on the rare occasions when she was going to a party. It was magical! A little mascara, some red lipstick, face powder … and voila! She was transformed into an exciting, elegant woman instead of just mom!


So, I have now been putting on my face – in many different ways and with many different products … for over 50 years. But I realized as I was getting ready to go out last night that I have developed “degrees” of make-up application. Let me explain.

On a scale of 1 (I’m in hospice and don’t need makeup) to 10 (I’m getting ready to meet Pierce Brosnan for cocktails), I decided I was on my way to about a “7” last night. We were meeting good friends at a local restaurant – nothing too fancy. If they were new friends, if one of them was a younger female, and if we were going to a new hot spot in town, I might have tried a little harder and shot for an “8”.

In my 20’s and 30’s, I wouldn’t have settled for anything less than a “9” at ANY restaurant with ANY friends. In my 40’s and early 50’s, that might have slipped to an 8.5.

But once I hit my late 50’s and now into my 60’s, I’ll work like hell to achieve a “9” for a black tie holiday or New Year’s Eve party. Other than that, I’ll live with a “7” for a nice evening out. The women at the local CVS are likely to see me as a “3” and Ray, poor guy, get’s a “1” in the morning at breakfast and about a “5” when we go out to lunch.

Putting on a face to any degree over a “3”, of course, takes time and involves a wide array of makeup products and application instruments.


Here’s what I used last night just to accomplish my “7”:

  • Cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Eye lid foundation
  • 2 shades of eye shadow
  • Brow shaping pencil (and powder)
  • Eye liner
  • Mascara
  • Eyelash curler
  • Facial primer
  • Facial foundation
  • Bronzing powder
  • Blush
  • Lipstick
  • Lip Gloss

Exhausting! And, this doesn’t even take into account all of the products and instruments used to style my hair around my face – hairdryers, hair gel, styling spray, curling irons and more!

And men wonder what we could possibly be doing for so long in the bathroom!

Speaking of men, if I would ask my husband to rate his “above the neck” effort before leaving the house on a 1-10 point scale, he’d look at me like I was crazy. It isn’t a concept he “gets”. He only needs a few items to get ready to go ANYWHERE, and many of these are optional …

  • Soap (optional)
  • Shaving cream
  • Razor
  • After shave (optional)
  • Hairdryer (optional)
  • Hair Brush (sometimes optional)


What is even more irritating is that I’m sure that he looks in the mirror after five minutes of preparation and says to himself… “Lookin’ good! I think I’ll have a drink while I wait for Cathy!”

Note: I made the mistake of showing Ray this blog before posting it. Now, he has decided to ask me whenever we’re going out to let him know what number I’m shooting for. He thinks it’s funny. Me? Not so much.

Cathy Green

Obituaries As History Lessons

I am likely not the only fabulousover60 woman who faithfully reads (online or off) obituaries in their local or favorite national newspaper.

No, I did not do this under 50 – maybe not even under 55 or 60 – but at this point, at 65, I do read them. While what could be argued to be somewhat obvious — the older one is the more ‘death is a reality’ rather than something old people do. For me it isn’t so much morbid curiosity (so how did this person die?) as much as considering others’ lives as a whole and considering what (if anything) would be said about me if I died.

Many of us super competitive boomers are, if nothing else, curious how others “did” versus ourselves in the overall game or journey of life. Did I contribute as much to my field? Was I as philanthropic? What about my famous recipe that hundreds adored every holiday? Will I be missed by a large number of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren? Or anyone in particular?

EinsteinobitNYT.inline vertical

When reading the New York Times, whose obituaries are often terrific history lessons, I gravitate to people in my own professional field such as the two from 2014 noted below.

Warren G. Bennis, an eminent scholar and author who advised presidents and business executives on his academic specialty, the essence of successful leadership — a commodity he found in short supply in recent decades — died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 89.”

I read his books, heard him speak, and used his expertise to help my own. Warren was an un-introduced to mentor of mine.

Lillian B. Rubin, a sociologist and psychotherapist who wrote a series of popular books about the crippling effects of gender and class norms on human potential, died June 17 at her home in San Francisco. She was 90.”

Dying in California clearly ups your chances of making the NY Times. That or it shows that smart people retire to great weather and blue states as they age.

Dr. Rubin used qualitative research — interviewing people – hundreds of them in some cases — to write her many books on aspects of adult development. In her later years she wrote often for the online journal Salon on issues of culture, politics and sometimes, but rarely, about the realities of aging. “Sixty is not the new forty” she wrote. Fabulous absolutely agrees with that point and has said so repeatedly.

*Speaking of death and dying, Cathy called to my attention obituaries’ (local ones) use of odd euphemisms to mean death. Here are some favorites: “ended her battle with cancer”, “entered heaven’s gates”, “peacefully passed”, “went to be the Lord”, “went to her rest” and Cathy’s favorite – “earned her wings”. That line was of course borrowed from It’s A Wonderful Life, the 1946 movie that encouraged people to think of being a good person before one’s death so you could “earn one’s wings” rather than just pass away (that is, die) when the time came.

Its a wonderful life

Mostly though, obituaries remind me of the very limited ways we are truly remembered. Even when famous it is nearly impossible to get more than a column or two. We have to make sure if there is only one thing to say about us, we plan our lives to make that one thing clear. Or maybe not. Actually, I really like something else about Lillian Rubin. She wrote at age 88 that she had mixed feelings about living at that age, and dying too. “Ambivalence reigns”, she wrote, “in death as in life.” Yes, Dr. it does.

%d bloggers like this: