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.

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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

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!

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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.

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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)

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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?

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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.

The Limburger Cheese Conspiracy

I originally wrote this story when I turned 60 in 2010. Maybe turning that big number made me nostalgic. Maybe remembering that my dad was 62 when he died was the motivation. I found the story the other day when going through some files, so I thought I’d share it with other Fabulous Over 60 women. If you have a story about your dad, please share it with us!

Hey, kid… want some Limburger cheese?

Of course, I wanted Limburger cheese! He was my dad and this was our special thing together. Limburger cheese – ripe, smelly, soggy cheese – placed between two small squares of rye bread with a thick slick of onion and brown mustard. What could be better?

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Other kids in Cincinnati might like to go to Frisch’s Big Boy or Graeter’s Ice Cream with their dads, but not me. I was the Limburger kid. I liked to think that there was only one daughter-dad duo in the whole world that liked to break out one of the smelliest cheese ever made* as a snack before dinner.

One of the main reasons I loved it so much was that my mom and siblings would run from the room yelling and screaming as he pulled it out of the refrigerator.

Not again, my brother would groan. Oh no, my sister would giggle. Please Joseph, you’ll ruin all of our dinners, my mom would say with absolutely no hope of changing his mind.

He would grin at me and wink. I would smile back. I was his co-conspirator.

First, of course, he had to mix up his Manhattan and get me my Coca-Cola. I didn’t know exactly what a Manhattan was at that young age, but I knew there was an art to mixing just the right alcohols together and that he seemed to really enjoy doing it. It was hands-down the most perfect drink to have with Limburger cheese, he would tell me. (I learned later that the true German drink – the one his ancestors would have approved – was beer.)

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My job was to get out the rye bread and mustard. He would slice the onion. The slices had to be “just so” – thick enough to crunch and yet small enough to fit on the tiny brown bread squares.

And then, it was time for the unveiling. Limburger cheese was always wrapped tightly in multiple layers of paper. Dad bought it at the butcher shop where he worked part time in the evenings, so he knew exactly what to buy and how to make sure it didn’t stink up mom’s refrigerator before we were ready to eat it. He also bought just enough for the two of us, because there was no way that mom would let him re-wrap it.

As he carefully began to peel back the paper, the smell would spread through the kitchen and waft its way into every other room in the house. Soon, 3237 Vittmer Avenue smelled like rotten cheese.

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Yuck, my sister would groan. Oh, please, my brother would whine. Eat it fast, mom would plead.

And we would. We would sit at the kitchen table, make several sandwiches each and begin our feast. We both knew that the aftermath would not be pretty. We knew that we would burp up that smell many times over the course of the next few hours. We knew that no one would want to get close to us for at least a day. We knew that dinner – no matter what it was – would not taste very good. But, so what?

For me, the times that I ate slimy, smelly Limburger cheese and onion sandwiches with my dad were some of the most special times of my life.   And, as I remember the twinkle in his eye and the grin on his face, I know he felt the same way.

Cathy Green

* Limburger has been described as a semi-soft cheese with a powerful aroma reminiscent of dirty socks!! Here it is at #7 on the list of the world’s 10 stinkiest cheeses…

More Great Things About Being 65

Last week Cathy started talking about what is great about being 65 — think she was trying to make me feel better turning the big 65. But the more I was thinking about what I liked about 65, the happier I got.

1.) Many of the “big calls” (go/stay/choose/reject) have been made and when new choices come up as they inevitably do, I feel I can handle them with serenity and acceptance. Most importantly, I now know what is best for me. Making major life choices as a young woman was daunting. I knew that choices of faith, values, lifestyle, education, mates, commitments, career, and health would have a great impact on my life — essentially define it. But my trust in myself was weak. Often I second-guessed myself and RE second-guessed myself, unsure if I was worth trusting. It took a long time, much introspection, and ultimately recovery from insecurities to feel confident that my choices were and are the right ones for me. tumblr_m41r62T4ZM1rvcjd7o1_500 2.)  I am no longer horrified, shocked and incredulous about bad things happening. There are some surprises, but they are happy, mysterious or silly. It seems like anything “bad”, terrifying, or threatening that could have happened has and we know about it. I am not happy but resigned to evil in the world and won’t let any evil person or event prevent me, and those I love, from moving forward and inward toward peace. viet.911 3.)  Our daughter survived 9/11. My wonderful brother in law died in 2003. I have been assaulted, fired, dumped, lost family and friends, been in accidents, had some health scares, gotten lost, trusted bad people, worked for some bad bosses, chosen poor investments and some questionable friends/partners. I have been alone for long periods of time, hung in for ages to accomplish things I have really wanted and seen people I love terribly hurt (which to me has been the worst). Believing “This too shall pass” is the best advice ever.

4.)  There is a constant wonderful stream of scientific and technical discoveries, ideas, and insights into life, eternity and all its mystery that is endlessly fascinating. AND, I get to choose whether or not to “get on board” or work to adjust. In earlier decades, external changes had to be seriously considered and dealt with – new technology? Had to learn it. Changes in business approaches or new family members? Had to get on board. A wonderful new restaurant or style? Well it seemed important to at least try it. Now, what interests me I get engaged with, otherwise I can happily sit on the sidelines because with very few exceptions my engagement is unimportant if not irrelevant. shutterstock_research-e1381241294977 5.)  My friends and family — especially those my age or older have more time for me – and I, for them. I can talk to a friend midday, shop leisurely for my grandnieces or daughters, write a longer note or letter, or just think about people and life at a deeper level. Work is not the central driver of my life nor in many people’s lives I know. Everyone in my life still works at things (a criteria for being in my life – you have to DO something – even if that is being Zen). Some for needed or ‘luxury” money, some not. But the old hardcore drive and focus on work, career, making this or that financial goal is nearly gone — and with it an openness and relaxed pace more often than not makes life much more peaceful and calm.love-suite 6.)  I am not delighted about thoughts of inevitably dying mainly because I want to have drinks with my granddaughters when they are 40 something and that isn’t likely meant to be. The other biggies – perhaps having to live without Bill, or getting really old and frail and/or losing my mind have stopped being fears. Maybe meditation, prayer or reading 1,000,000 books and thinking about it has just calmed me down. While I am not ready or willing to share all my plans, let me just say I am at reasonable levels of peace and plan to continue to work on this part of my life — mainly, by living in the present moment. That just keeps coming up doesn’t it? If you have no idea what I am talking about google “being present”.

7.)  While millenials are a bigger cohort that is reshaping the world in their own image – as we did – I enjoy sharing aging with boomer stars, celebrities, my friends and other boomers I don’t know but who write, blog, or otherwise contribute — a motley and pretty funny cohort. I can see other boomers, even the stars we thought never would, are aging, or struggling with one or another similar issue, or reinventing themselves again in some way professionally or personally. There are lots of models – good and bad. We never have to feel alone on any issue — some boomer out there is already dealing with it and ready to share. Or some boomer is doing it so badly we can easily see what bad or stupid choices to avoid.

Clockwise: Debbie Allen, Richard Branson, Cybil Shepard, Ed Harris, Stevie Wonder, Dr. Phil

Clockwise: Debbie Allen, Richard Branson, Cybil Shepard, Ed Harris, Stevie Wonder, Dr. Phil

I like myself. No, more than that, I love myself. That just wasn’t the experience of most of my earlier life — I drove myself to impossible standards and I frequently suffered from feelings of inadequacy and doubt. While I look worse than ever, make less money by far and am certainly less hot and sexy, and to top it off – often “out of it” in one or another ways, I am OK with it all. Because somehow, with the help of the universal good, critical thinking, smart people and my fabulous women and men friends, I am finally convinced, I am more than enough just the way I am — yes, at 65. Patty

Turning 65: It’s Not All Bad!

This year my friend Patty and I both turn 65. To celebrate, we are meeting in Napa Valley in May to reminisce, drink wine and have a decadent and incredibly expensive dinner at The French Laundry – one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country.

The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Reaching this milestone in our life’s journey, of course, might be considered by some to be less than desirable. And, of course we know that this isn’t the age we would necessarily choose to be celebrating (35 sounds a lot better), but it is what it is.

And, to be honest, there are actually some very positive things that come with being “in our mid-60s”. Here are 10 that come to mind:

1.) We can sleep in late and have a leisurely breakfast while reading our newspapers – such a quaint, satisfying tradition.

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2.) We can go to a movie – or shopping, or golfing, or anything – in the middle of a weekday.

3.) Our husbands/partners are less likely to stray. It’s just too much trouble.

4.) We can run errands without full makeup or good clothes since we’re pretty much invisible anyway.

5.) We can read a good book any day – and any time of the day.

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6.) We can decide not to spend time with someone we don’t like without considering the consequences to our careers or families.

7.) Our kids, in their 40’s, are where they are going to be in life no matter what we do. Doting on grandkids is about all that’s required.

8.) We don’t have as many responsibilities to others. Co-workers aren’t waiting for our input or approvals, for example, and responsibilities we continue to have are, for the most part, by choice.

9.) We don’t have to spend any more time worrying about what we are going to do with our lives. We’ve done it. Planning today is about small trips and outings with friends.

10.) We can allow ourselves the great gift of forgiveness – for all the stupid things we’ve done and for the real or perceived slights of others. It’s just not that important anymore.

So, Patty, I think you’ll agree that turning 65 does have its upsides. Let’s focus on keeping our health and our humor and enjoying the year to come!

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See you in Napa, girlfriend!

Cathy Green

Nurse Patty 1969 and 2015

When we fabulousover60 women graduated high school and college (mid-sixties to mid-seventies) the major careers for women beyond homemaker were three: secretary, nurse and teacher. It struck me as I have attempted to “nurse” my husband post his knee surgery on January 7th that so much has changed and will continue to change since I made a decision to definitively NOT be a nurse.

Wearing my white stockings, shoes and shift dress of cheap polyester with a “Peace Now” button I entered the hospital as a would-be nurse’s aide with some trepidation back in 1969. My peace button was quickly removed by my supervisor in the first hour of my shift, and my “career view” of nursing was formed in just a little more time. “The drill” was taking orders from male doctors who you stood up for when they came to the nursing station, and doing tasks of compassion that made you feel central to the patients care, but also isolated from doing much about the overall medical outcomes or the obvious inefficiencies of some hospital routines. This was when nursing joined being a homemaker and/or a grade school teacher as definitely OUT as career choices. Business looked all shiny and new then didn’t it?real1604[1]

What this recent blip in the road of our lives (Bill’s surgery and recovery) has reminded me, is that the most mundane things I undervalued as a nurse’s aide are what is most helping Bill’s comfort and recovery. True, the surgery performed required skills beyond mine, but caretaking and support for the day to day activities of life matter more than I imaged. Making a cup of tea, straightening the sheets, helping him to the bathroom, listening to his complaints about the pain, and drying unreachable places post a shower are very good uses of my time and energy. While certainly not often stimulating, these “chores” are giving me informative reinforcement for my earlier life decisions and helping me make better decisions going forward.

My decision not to do anything for a living that was connected to serving others who were young (school teaching), dirty (everyone – cleaning is not my thing and yet I love cleanliness), ill or disabled (nursing), hungry (cooking) or disorganized (secretarial/clerical work) was absolutely the right one. I live most happily in my mind — and I love to listen to and analyze the quandaries of people’s lives and/or work—and then support efforts to improve the situation. Another good result of not choosing nursing or other direct care/support work was that now, at 65 (January 20, 2015), I am not worn out from years working in these support fields and can experience these roles freshly — rather than as an extension of an earlier career.

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Clearly, whether we did or did not choose nursing, teaching, administrative work professionally — we are going through more of just those things as we age. Our lives, and the people in them dictate that. From spouses, friends and partners needing care, younger family members needing help with young children or teens, or our inevitable downsizing/re-invention efforts requiring more organizational skills and planning we need to be close to the ground executing what we may have thought of as “mundane” or “beneath us” activities rather than working in the relatively detached vacuum of executive and professional work.

This means as fabulous women we need to think a great deal more deeply and realistically about our own abilities and our limits for caring for others, being in an educational role for younger generations or organizing and supporting downsizing strategies (rather than just deciding on them) for our lives. Few of our moms worked outside the home and for many of this “greatest generation” care-giving was natural—or at least extremely familiar. As for being an organizer and downsizing wizard, many of our parents didn’t quite handle these tasks well — some of course did, but not a few of us cleaned out our parents home after one or another crisis, and in some cases made decisions for them on next steps since they obviously, in denial, did not plan to age and/or die doing anything other than what they were doing 20 years before the crisis.

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We know we want to do better dealing with aging – but I wonder if being fabulous is going to help us actually do that or just push us into a different form of denial and inevitably messy if not dangerous situations of being ill-prepared to care for and plan with those we love; and/or become too cheap or poor to pay others to do it well. We all know boomers who are convinced becoming a 24/7 exercise fanatic will eliminate aging for them — or are still holding on to a lifestyle that was getting outdated in 1990 — along with their furniture.

I do not envy those of you who chose careers of care and are now faced with caring for those in your own life. Can’t decide if you are more at peace with knowing that your life’s work inevitably becomes everyone’s job at some point or if now in hindsight wish you too had let others do it professionally. As our mothers often said “time will tell”. But along with other decisions, we have to hurry up and make some decisions on new roles and efforts. It is easy to criticize our parents’ lack of “appropriate” planning, but I wonder if fabulous or not we are sliding into similar tracks of denial and side stepping the realities of being older and having to play nurse.

Patty

A Lesson from Aunt Polly

Aunt Polly would have been 100 in February. She almost made it! Instead, according to the preacher at her funeral a couple of weeks ago, she will be celebrating her birthday with her daughter, sisters and husbands (two of them) in heaven. I hope that’s true, because she would definitely enjoy that party like she enjoyed parties throughout her life.

Happy Birthday cake

I met Aunt Polly – my husband’s aunt on his mom’s side and the mother of his three female cousins Martha, Mary Ella and Gigi – when I was introduced into the family in the early 90’s. I was embraced by all of the Parkers at that time, but none more so than Aunt Polly. With a big smile and hug, she let me know that I was welcome to join in the fun of being part of the Parker clan and that she expected visits to her home whenever we were in town. It didn’t hurt that Ray – Raymond to her – seemed to be a favorite. Her face would light up when she saw him and since I was there, I got to experience her warm embrace, her smile and those mischievous twinkling eyes.

Over the years, we visited Aunt Polly from time to time when we were in Gaffney. She always seemed thrilled that we were there and asked us repeatedly as we left to tell her when we were coming back. In recent years, with more reasons to be in South Carolina and after moving to Asheville – only 90 minutes away – we were able to see her more often. We would take her candy – which she loved – and would “sneak” a bottle of wine to her, too. Her girls weren’t thrilled with her having a drink, she told us. She was beginning to get frail as she got into her 90’s and they were afraid she might fall. But that big smile would get even bigger when we opened up a bottle, told her we wouldn’t “tell” on her, and shared a glass during our visit. She loved believing she was getting away with something!

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The stories about Aunt Polly that circulate in the family are legendary – and very funny. She loved to laugh – and was always willing to laugh at herself, too. One of my own stories about her happened several years ago when she had fallen and broken a wrist. We were at a family event and I knew from her daughters that their mom’s arm was in a sling, at the insistence of her doctor. When she walked into the party, I noticed that there was no sling and asked her about it. Looking a little sheepish, she whispered to me that it didn’t match her outfit so she decided to take it off!

I should have expected that response, since Aunt Polly was always a sharp dresser. She cared about her clothes, her hair and her shoes – even wearing high heels as long as she could get away with it!

A little over a year ago, at a Parker cousin’s reunion at our house in Asheville, Aunt Polly played boogie-woogie piano to the delight of everyone. She said that she played piano every day to keep her mind sharp. We all knew that she was in her 90’s, but had no idea exactly how old she really was.  She had decided much earlier in life to keep her age a secret and swore her daughters to secrecy, too. According to them, she even tried to keep the secret from her doctors. Only after her funeral did we actually get the full scoop on her age – even the memorial card at the church listed her birth date, but not the year! She would have been so happy!

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Cathy, Aunt Polly and Ray in 2012

But my fondest memory of Aunt Polly occurred when Ray and I were visiting her at her home and Ray was busy with something – probably opening the wine. I took the opportunity to ask her a question.

Aunt Polly, why are you always so happy?

She smiled that impish smile of hers, put her hand on my arm and gave me an answer that I’ll never forget:

Honey, she said, I’m happy because I choose to be happy!

Thanks, Aunt Polly, for a great life lesson. I’ll miss you!

Cathy Green

14 Reflections on 2014

1.) 2014 went faster than 2013 and it is clear this is an accelerating trend. Skip telling anyone under 60 this “fact” since they will not believe you and just think you are out of it and extremely annoying.

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2.) We recognized every person in the People magazine issue on deaths of famous people during 2014 and extremely few of those in the ‘most famous’ or ‘best looking’ editions. Ouch.

3.) We always heard and believed that it was much safer to fly than to drive — we flew for business and fun all the time before and after 9/11. This year’s loss of three planes – one due to a terrorist act, one extremely mysterious and one due to weather makes us wonder if we haven’t been overly confident and should be considering another means of transportation soon.

4.) The mid term elections gave new meaning to the terms ridiculous, insulting, boring, meaningless and just plain silly. Don’t know if the Republicans should be thrilled or depressed — same for the Democrats — in any case millenials do not seem impressed by any party or candidate. We may be the last generation of voters who even care a little bit about left, right and center.

5.) A lot of FabulousOver60 women are excited about Hillary running — but whether we’re excited or not, none of us understand how she cares that much or has the energy and determination to spend it running the country.

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6.) 60 is feeling younger every day as we near 65.

7.)We actually have had quite a few days in 2014 when we accomplished nothing particular. We hope to increase the number of those days without becoming certified underachievers, slackers and the curse worse than death: BORING.

8.) It is incredibly sad that we are still dealing with so much racial tension in our country. 2014 brought back the kind of strong feelings – on all sides of the issues – that we had in the 60’s. It was shocking to us. Did we think having a black president signaled an end to those problems? Not so.

9.) There were some real people whose names may not be ones everyone knows who made an incredible difference in people’s lives in 2014. Many were FabulousOver60 women: Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve, 68; Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, 67; Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Mondelez Int’l, 61; Helen Clark, Administrator for the United Nations Development Programme, 64; and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 60. For the total list see Forbes List of the 100 most powerful women.

10.) If it were possible to love people more deeply, cherish friendships more completely, forgive and forget more quickly, work with focus and let irritations go more easily — we did all of that in 2014 — and we hope to keep doing more and more of each of these in the future because nothing is more important to us.

11.) People we loved died, people we loved had people they loved die, some were shocking and “out of the blue” while others were “expected” — we wish for everyone more acceptance and peace about aging and dying. There are no other viable options but we continue to look for them.

12.) We have not lost our interest at all in looking good and dressing well, being fit, being strong and most of all mentally healthy and vibrant. Hence we are taking a long holiday vacation and won’t be up and running full strength for at least another week or two.

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13.) Yes, we are forgetting things even though we still do Lumosity or Fit Brains and are keeping current with the world — but the truth is more things we used to think were really important enough to remember simply aren’t.

14.) We are so happy that things are better for women and for people with various “differences”. We have increased our charitable giving and involvement in 2014. We are looking forward to a rainbow world of people filled with peace and joy — and a great plastic surgeon or at least a terrific makeup artist with reasonable rates for the years ahead — not in that order.

Happy New Year! Happy 2015! Continue to be fabulous — we plan to be!

Patty and Cathy

One Last Magical Night with Santa

Growing up in the 50’s, I loved everything about Christmas: the chilly Cincinnati weather; the fragrant freshly-cut tree in our living room decorated with soft glowing multi-colored lights, glass ornaments, tinsel and icicles; the possibility of snow on Christmas Eve; the anticipation of school vacation; Christmas carols on the kitchen radio; sugar cookies shaped like snowmen; the Andy Williams Christmas Show and Santa. Especially Santa.

Such a wonderful, magical man who could fly through the sky with his reindeer, sneak into our homes when we weren’t looking and bring beautifully wrapped presents to us because we had been good — dolls and toys and bicycles and jewelry boxes and musical instruments and more. It was so exciting!

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As the 50’s were coming to an end and my 10th birthday was getting closer, I began to hear rumors that Santa wasn’t real. Some of my grade school friends bragged about knowing for sure that the North Pole, the elves, the sleigh, the reindeer and Santa himself were made-up stories. I didn’t say anything. My 11 year old sister believed. My 6 year old brother believed. I believed, too. Mostly.

But I started paying closer attention.

Christmas Eve, as long as I could remember, started with three hyper-excited kids getting dressed in our Christmas outfits, coats, gloves and boots to walk next door to the neighbor’s house. Hazel, Lillian and Florence lived there – two sisters and a friend. People called them “old maids” at the time… and they were definitely old. At least 45! Hazel was the cook and back-scratcher, Lillian was the drill sergeant with the hearty laugh and Florence was the quiet knitter who made us pink, blue and yellow “booties” each year for Christmas. Because they were alone with no kids and few relatives, Mom and Dad always accepted their invitation to Christmas Eve dinner.

Although we kids were much too excited to eat, we were keen to get to their house because that was when Santa would know that he could sneak into the house and leave our presents. Every year, after dinner, carols and the exchange of presents with the ladies, we would throw on our coats, jump into our boots and run back over to our house. Every single time, Santa had snuck in during that couple of hours and eaten our cookies, finished his milk and left lots and lots of shiny packages under the tree.

Cathy in the early 50’s at Lillian’s house with a new doll and a horn.

Cathy in the early 50’s at Lillian’s house with a new doll and a horn.

That year, 1959, I was watching closely. Just as we were about to leave to go to Lillian’s house, Dad said he’d forgotten to check the furnace and that he would be there soon. It occurred to me that dad was always the last to leave the house. Every year there seemed to be something he had forgotten to do or a call he had to make. Before, it hadn’t been a big deal. This year, I was very, very suspicious. Checking the furnace on Christmas Eve?

I spent a lot of time with Hazel as she cooked dinner that year so that I could keep a lookout through their kitchen window. It was directly across from my living room window and I knew that Santa would have to walk by to place the presents under our tree.

Dad finally arrived and it was time to take the turkey out of the oven and sit down to eat. I decided to sneak one more peek and… there he was! A big man dressed in red in my house, bending over to place our presents under the tree. I shrieked! It’s him! There’s Santa!

My brother and sister and mom and dad came running to the window. Brother Tom saw him. Sister Chris wasn’t sure. Mom said she couldn’t see anything. But, my dad saw Santa. Yep, that’s him, he said.

I was delirious with joy. Santa was real. He was in my house. I ran outside to see if I could spot the sleigh and reindeer …I must have missed them, but it didn’t matter. I had seen Santa!

When we finally opened the door to our house that night, the presents were piled everywhere. The cookies were gone. The milk glass was empty. It was an evening full of smiles, exciting new toys and presents for everyone!

By the following Christmas, mom and dad had told me that Santa wasn’t real. They said that I should keep the secret so that baby brother Tom could still believe.

But I saw him! And so did Tom. And so did you, Dad! I protested.

Dad explained that he and mom had figured it out later that night. Apparently, Hazel – a heavyset woman who wore a bright red dress that year – had been bending over the oven to remove the turkey just as I looked out the window. The right timing, the right lighting and my 10 year-old desire to believe produced the reflection that became my miracle.

Now, so many Christmases later, I remember how clearly I saw Santa that night and how magical it was. Who knows, maybe dad and mom were wrong. Santa still seems to know where I live because gifts keep showing up under my tree every year!

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Cathy Green

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