50 Is Fabulous Too

As many of you know Cathy and I just got back from celebrating our 65th birthdays in the Napa Valley.

Home for less than a week Bill and I went out by ourselves to dinner at Hamilton’s Grill Room, one of our local favorites.

Hamilton’s Grill Room – on the PA/NJ border in Lambertville, NJ

Hamilton’s Grill Room – on the PA/NJ border in Lambertville, NJ

Walking in I noticed the front table by the window was filled with 6 great looking young (a relative term as you know) women and one chair completely filled with presents and balloons labeled 50! Naturally (to Bill’s discomfort) I had to stop and tell the “birthday girl” how great it is to be 50!!

On cue, they asked my age and appropriately gasped in surprise when I said 65.

It was sweet and just good manners for them to say how good I looked. But in reality, my bet is these kind, sophisticated women were thinking about themselves in the sense of wondering how great (or not) they looked, felt and were doing for 50. At milestone times all sensible and sensitive people long to have some confirmation that they are “doing OK” or “more than OK” and “going in the right direction.” Since I asked their permission to write about them in a blog, let me tell you what I hope I communicated to these women from Hamilton’s. Am sending it to them as well – so here’s to each and all of them.

1.) Yes, they each looked great. BUT NO, you did not look 40. You do not and will not look and/or feel as young and healthy at 50 as you did at 40. We age – slowly if we are smart, blessed with health and discipline to keep exercising and eating right, and paying for all those lotions and procedures/surgery our budgets will allow. Trust that you will look as good at 60/70 or 80 as you can – but only if you work on it in your 50s. The work in your 50s is the foundation for your looks and health for the remainder of your life.

Harpers Bazaar - 3 of the Fabulous At Every Age finalists

Harpers Bazaar – 3 of the Fabulous At Every Age finalists

2.) While 50 is not the new 40, it is closer to 40 than to being 60 in terms of work-life. At 50 one is still essentially in the game – still the protagonist of the story (a shocker for many of us at 60 is that we are, with some exceptions, no longer the protagonist of the story at 60 and beyond) – this is true at home, at an office, in a school, or a hospital. One’s 50s are about work, achievement and helping raise a family or live comfortably alone or with others. It is not generally a good time to stop contributing and become a taker or semi retired. 50 year old women have it all: experience, savvy, and if still healthy, some genuine stamina. It is the time to figure out your strengths and play to them professionally and personally. Dreams can no longer wait: write the book, launch the business, run for office, go for the promotion, or get back to work, and use the entire decade to focus tightly on what you really want to achieve financially and professionally. Some women keep going into their 80s – but not all – or even most. Surely one’s 50s is too young not to be focused on accomplishment.

3.) Set personal and professional goals for yourself – new ones every year or every 5 – but have goals. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t achieve them all – the goal police will not arrest you (the women said they absolutely LOVED this line – so enjoy it too). But without goals, focus, and some strategy to get somewhere your life can too easily become mediocre, boring, safe but stale. Take some smart risks both personally and professionally. It is your time – you know what you want or MUST find out, so execute and make it happen. Though it can be said “it is never too late” my experience says at some point it really is too late to achieve what you want to achieve – don’t let yourself off the hook now.

Goal-quotes-life-quotes-Dont-let-life-change-your-goals-because-achieving-your-goals-can-change-your-life.

4.) Rather than resent the losses and inevitable changes of life, encourage and accept changes/losses – with grace, charm (underrated now but a great skill) and strength of character. Yes, Jason is off to school, or Ali is in love with someone you don’t like, or your husband is losing his job, or you have to move out from your current situation or your father is dying – WHATEVER. Things are going to happen – remember this – you are not a victim because all your dreams did not come true — use the changes around you to keep reinventing yourself into a better person. And please, act in ways that model adulthood – that is, self-awareness, self-responsibility and self-control. Trying to fight against, stop or control everything in your life is simply impossible and will age and exhaust you faster than some appropriate acceptance. Accept change as part of life – as part of your particular journey. Not easy but essential for mental and physical health.

5.) Choose a great life coach. Only kidding (for those of you who know that I am one). Of course a life coach can be a great help if you are the type of person who likes that kind of support – but my final message is not to sell you something, but to remind you to trust yourself. At 50, you know you. You love you. You know what you want and need — or are going to do what it takes to find out. Now go make it happen. Your girlfriends are right there beside you! And if you have no friends at 50 probably a life coach isn’t going to be able to help you figure out what you should know by 50 – love and good healthy relationships shape the quality of your life at every stage and age of your life.

Happy Birthday to all 50 and 50-something women out there – fifty can be fabulous too. Cathy and I certainly were – but way too busy to write a blog about it.

a1d94da5411be9201dd06c7fcf7961cb

Patty







Our Napa Celebration

Think Cathy and I were getting a tiny bit tired of the “Happy 65” toasts we had on our Napa Valley/California celebration in early May. But it was a good time filled with delicious wine – we visited Honig and Far Niente wineries in addition to ordering wine with our dinners. We ate amazing luscious California food. Bouchon, El Dorado Kitchen, Mustards and Bottega were among the spots we included in our time together.

It was all great. And when we parted it felt as it always does: bitter sweet. We love spending time together and there is never quite enough despite talking for give or take 48 plus hours straight. Bill and Ray get it – sort of. They know we love the talking/sharing but like most men the sheer volume of it is a bit bewildering. We literally WANT each other’s advice – and of course, each other’s support. Because of that we can just go on asking, listening, posing questions and then of course coming to some agreement – which we do on most topics other than politics.

napa

Here’s a few things that were different at this year’s 65th celebration than previous birthday experiences.

1.) We didn’t have the extra glass of champagne to start or finish the evening with. Yes, we had some wine, but we simply drink less – on purpose. Feeling really good everyday is an absolute priority. Drinking too much is simply OUT.

2.) We exchanged gifts. But rather than the biggest and best – which we admit we have often done in the past (great jackets, bags, blouses, jewelry etc.) – the gifts were about memories, or capturing a new memory. Cathy ordered a bottle of my favorite wine a month or so ago, emptied it (meaning she and Ray drank it), and had a bracelet made with the cork as a permanent memory of the trip and my favorite wine. I gave her, my most musical of friends, a bracelet made from piano wires and a list of 6 things I love most about her and 5 things I wish for her in the years ahead. Less money than usual – a lot more personal thought.

3.) We shopped – but quickly and in a targeted way – got something we “needed” and were in and out in 40 minutes. We exercised by walking and talking together instead of heading for the gym. And we explored places like wineries and the country side rather than having a massage or a manicure. We wanted to savor the time together rather than be pampered separately.

Cathy's gift

Cathy’s gift bracelet

Not rushing to be 70 – but Cathy and I will likely do a big celebration for that makes it a tiny bit better. Wait… another toast to 65!!!

Patty

Note: For more information about having a bracelet made with your favorite wine cork: Ashville Recorked (Artisan quality cork jewelry design) Rachel Newman, Designer – rnewman87@gmail.com

FullSizeRender



A Mother’s Day Story About My Sister Christine

About eight years ago, I wrote a short essay about becoming a mother to my mentally disabled sister Christine when our own mother died. Later, It was published in the St. Petersburg Times in November of 2009 with the editor’s title: A New Parent; An Unlikely Child.

Since Mother’s Day is approaching, I re-read the story today.

Much has changed, including Christine’s engagement with people (very low), her mobility (not great), her financial situation (much better since I  found a Medicaid program that covers her assisted-living housing and care), her love of bingo (not so much these days) and her “mom” in the story (now deceased).

She still has the caregiver I found for her years ago (her current local “mom”), but the nurses give her insulin and take care of her pills.

She still likes candy, watches TV most of the day and doesn’t like to shower.

Since Christine and I are sisters in our 60’s, I thought I’d share our story on this site.  I hope you like it.

Here it is:

At 56 I became a first-time parent. Christine is about 10 years old, generally. She gives herself insulin injections, for example, but would have a hard time filling a syringe. She can bathe herself, but she doesn’t do well with time so she always thinks she took a shower yesterday. She can write a short note on a birthday card, but can’t remember how to address the envelope. She knows she has diabetes, but she doesn’t understand why she can’t have cookies and candy like everyone else.

I always knew that someday Christine, just a year older than me, would be more than my sister. Our father died more than 20 years ago, and my mother did the best she could as her own health deteriorated. Although it was more and more difficult for her to take care of my sister, she resolutely stayed in her own home until the last week of her life. I now realize how much of a gift that was to me and my brother. Instead of expensive care in a nursing facility, she held on to her money market account and her home for Christine.

I didn’t have kids of my own, but I knew that I would inherit a child someday and would need money to care for her. Now, more than two years later, Mom’s savings are gone.

Me and Christine at her apartment, 2010

Me and Christine at her apartment, 2010

Most of the time, that seems like the easy part. I’m also Christine’s health care advocate, her caregivers’ manager, her phone friend, her motivator and her disciplinarian. Yesterday, I made a deal with her about how many times a week she’ll wash her hair. Last week, I talked to her eye doctor about the pros and cons of a lab test. Two weeks ago, I worked with her caregiver to manage the amount of allowance money she spends on stuffed animals.

I sometimes feel angry about having to take on this responsibility. I remember my father telling me not to worry because he had taken care of Christine’s future. I’m sure he thought that her Social Security check, the money he left to my mother and the proceeds from the house would be enough. How could he have anticipated the cost of care 20 years later? Christine lives in an independent care facility in our hometown of Cincinnati and has a private caregiver 12 hours a week. The cost is high — more than $40,000 a year — and growing.

I’m glad that I’m in a position to help her live well. She loves the other residents, except the one who eats too loudly in the dining room and the one who smokes too much in the garden. Since she is by far the youngest, she is watched over by both residents and staff members. Every day, twice a day, she walks through the same hallways into the same dining room and is greeted warmly by her many friends. “Hello, Christine” and “How are you today, Christine?” She knows all of their names. She can tell you who lives in “independent” and who lives in “assisted.” She happily repeats all of the staff gossip. She loves bingo. She gets a big kick out of visits from Elvis. And, in her room, she watches Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, black and white movies and Dancing With the Stars.

I’ll have many more decisions to make about her care and her health in the coming years. Will I move her closer to me when I retire? How will I continue to support her financially? What will happen as her health worsens? I don’t dwell on these things too much, though. They are just there, as they’ve always been.

For now, I talk to Christine every day. I ask her if she has taken her pills. I visit her as often as I can. I talk to her caregiver weekly. I send her cards and gifts every holiday. I mark her doctors’ appointments on my calendar. I tell her I love her.

The last time I was in Cincinnati, she introduced me to her table-mate Audrey. “I call her mom,” she told me later. “I’m going to get her a Mother’s Day card. I think she would really like it. Do you think that’s okay, Cathy?”

“Yes,” I told my sister, “I think that’s perfectly okay.”

 

It’s OK Not To Look Our Best!

Remember our mothers telling us this one?

1921

Fabulousover60s have spent inordinate amounts of time trying to live up to a standard of “looking our best”. When we were growing up and going anywhere significant (which included nearly everywhere – the diner, school, church, doctor, synagogue, the store or Aunt Mary’s house) we needed to look our best – always combed hair and neat, clean clothes. Attending a party or family function of any type called for even more careful thought and execution. If pictures were going to be involved (not always a given, and when they were, often poorly executed) we tried even harder to have it “all together” with our hair in “place” and “done”, and clothes “appropriate”, cleaned, or washed and ironed.

These “long gone taboos and must-dos” related to personal grooming and looking our best are behind us. Likely we too have succumbed to a much lower standard – for anyplace but perhaps the Vatican or the White House or our own surprise parties which thankfully rarely are. 2015 grooming rule: wear anything not in the laundry basket – unless everything is in there. Then, pick the least dirty or torn – that second rule would be for us – under 60s often just wear “whatever”. But still, some of us, including me, still worry – do we look our best especially when traveling, dining out, or attending a family or close friends’ event?

On April 7th I developed a stye in my left eye. Feeling healthy and youthful as I still do, I figured it would go away in a few days.  Hmm… another lesson on being fabulous over 60: you can’t assume that anything wrong with you – headache, sore arm, stye, bruise, “minor” surgery will heal/go away in “a few days”.  Assume it will take twice as long as it used to for the same item 20 years ago.

On April 11th I left with Bill and friends Debra and Howard for a few day joint vacation. The stye was worse than ever and in the days together going out to dinner, hiking, and celebrating in some style, I looked rather odd with a drooping red eye, no eye makeup and studious glasses that I almost never wear. Needless to say I avoided cameras all together. And kept hoping at some point I could look my best. It didn’t happen – I hugged Debra and Howard goodbye looking less than ideal.

Shortly after, my sister Wendy and I spent the weekend in Chicago — a long-planned family trip with she, her daughter and husband and two granddaughters – one having a 5th birthday and the other a first communion. During the entire weekend my stye-caused red eye looked as bad as ever. Added to this less than glamorous look there was Wendy (66) only wearing one shoe because she needed to have surgery on her foot weeks ago and believed (as I had with my stye) that her foot would heal prior to the trip and the awkward “boot” would be gone. She limped slightly and wore pants but the boot didn’t flatter her look.

I hated not looking my best – especially with photos and big parties – but Wendy seemed barely worried that photos would show her shoeless in Chicago. Or, to put it another way, Wendy was acting a good deal more well-adjusted about not looking her best than I was.

I left Chicago with my glasses on but realized everyone had a ball and no one had even noticed my glasses and lack of eye makeup. While I had a dress and heels on for the communion/birthday event and party, most of the other guests wore things as varied as jeans – and though 30 years my junior, no perceptible eye makeup.

Maybe everyone is on to something. Being your best, participating fully, and having fun are all more important than looking “perfectly groomed”. As for photos – who cares? When we were 30 and looking back on our childhood photos there were just a few – a few holiday photos, a few school and vacation photos and no more. Not sure we looked our best – but we looked recognizable and able to provide moments of memories. At the family weekend there were dozens of photos taken. Somehow I think that I will be recognizable – even if not my best.

Hmm… let’s not totally eliminate staged and planned photos where we look our best. It is wonderful to look at our earlier selves looking good, healthy and yes, “put together”. But let’s remember too – as fabulous as we are, we can’t and likely won’t look as great as we wished we did in many future friend and family photos. If it isn’t a stye or bunion surgery there will likely be one or another issue that doesn’t flatter. The good news is that we don’t have to feel we let our moms down – the likelihood of meeting anyone while not dressed our best is consistently decreasing every year.

20121124-170410

Patty Gill Webber

Where Is “Home”? Figuring It Out In Your 60s

Several years ago, when I was in my late 50’s and my husband was in his early 60’s, we stopped working full time in our business. With a management team in place, we were able to spend half of the year in St. Petersburg, Florida (where our company is located) and half in St. George, Maine. But we talked often about our future retirement years. Where would we call home? Did we want to stay in Florida or Maine… or move somewhere else?

Not everyone, of course, has an option. Health issues, financial constraints or family obligations might make this a moot point. But for those of us with some freedom to choose, the decision can be fun … and difficult.

A recent article in USA Today reported that retirement moves, which dropped sharply during the recession, are making a comeback. Florida is gaining 55,000 retirees each year, Arizona has seen an 18% increase and South Carolina 6%. North Carolina is a choice for many “half-backs” who don’t want to stay in Florida, but don’t want to return to the North either.

2567868613_9fef320c24

I’m not sure what percentage of retirees actually make a move to another city, but one survey seems to indicate that if people decide to move, it is usually going to be before age 65.

… 73 percent of people between 18 and 29 would consider a move when it’s time to stop working. That rate drops to 62 percent for people ages 30 to 49, then to 50 percent for ages 50 to 64. Among survey takers age 65 and older, only about 1 in 5 said they would consider moving.

I’ve talked to many people in their 50’s and 60’s, and decisions about moving generally involve sorting through a lot of information… and often dealing with strong emotions.

Ray and I spent a lot of time on our decision journey. We talked to friends. We discussed the pros and cons of staying in Florida or Maine. We explored other cities. We made a decision, reconsidered, and then decided again. Finally, even before retirement, we chose to move to Asheville, North Carolina. Here’s what we considered:

Closeness to immediate family

Given how irritating it is to travel by plane, we wanted to be able to see children and grandchildren (who don’t all live in the same cities) within a 4 to 5 hour drive … a drive that might also be reasonable for them to make to see us. Having brothers, sisters and other assorted relatives within that drivable range was an important consideration, too.

Availability and quality of healthcare

This was a big deal for us, not because we aren’t healthy, but because we hope to stay that way and want to be prepared if (when) we have issues later in life.

Moderate climate

As I write this (April), it’s still snowing in Maine and it is in the mid-80s in Florida. We love both of those states, but it’s 65 in Asheville. A climate that doesn’t get extremely cold or extremely hot was important to us, especially since we both enjoy playing golf.

Availability of things we like to do

We wanted to live in an interesting city with great restaurants and music that also had a wide variety of outdoor activities, including walking trails, concerts and art shows. Did I mention golf?

Probability of friends visiting us

Since we would be moving away from good, long-time friends in both Florida and Maine, we hoped that our new home would be a place they might like to visit.

A special house

We wanted a home that we would love and one that provided a peaceful setting – preferably with mountain views, song birds at our feeder, occasional bears and deer, a place for our labradoodle to run and quiet star-filled evenings.

Probability of establishing new friendships

We wanted to meet people who were interesting – but also, people who were interested in forming new friendships. A city with other “transplants” seemed ideal.

Getting back to our roots

This wasn’t something we consciously put on our list or talked much about when we were considering our move. However, Ray grew up in a nearby South Carolina town and traveled to the mountains of North Carolina as a boy. And I vacationed with my family in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee many times when I was a young girl living in Cincinnati. The mountains felt good to both of us.

Yes-Check-Box-Small1-300x199

Everyone over 60 who considers moving to another city will have different criteria and priorities. However, one thing seems clear to me: If you’re going to do it, you should probably do it while you’re young enough to deal with the actual move, while you have the energy to work on establishing new relationships, while you are healthy enough to take the time you need to find good healthcare providers, and while you are mobile enough to learn your way around the area and enjoy what it has to offer.

For me, it’s been a great move. Cool mountain air, a fabulous new home, a quirky city, wonderful music and restaurants, many interesting new friends, lots of visitors and a comfortable drive to visit kids, grandkids and siblings.

Half-backs? I guess that’s us.

New-Home-Sweet-Home2-300x282

Cathy Green

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.

mobile-phones-022414

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.

cell-phone-lenses-3647

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.

Telephoto-lens-for-camera-phone-photo

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?”

e9e235edaf6109c919ee10c2b19a5486

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:

130902ddtkids

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!

shoe.h1

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 …

7_up-babies

And…

article-2160497-13A311F0000005DC-985_634x797

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.

Pretty-Church

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.

can-you-hear-me-now

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!”

Hmm.

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.

Hmm.

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.

Hmm.

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.

sky-tv-upside-down-remote

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.

point-finger2

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.

dishawasher

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 TakeTheLeadWomen.com 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

%d bloggers like this: