Understanding A Well-functioning 90-year-old’s Appreciation
for Friends and Life
ON WAKING UP ON MY 90th BIRTHDAY I’VE MADE IT!
(written August 2015. Sr, Advisor D died March 2016)
In spite of two cancer attacks, the lung weakness and the backbreaking weight of so many years, I inhabit the living world.
Still in bed, I look out the window on this August morning. From my high apartment perch, I can see trees, backlit by a weak sun. Yes, I tell myself, I’m here. I can breathe and see. My legs move without a protest from the weak knee, my back agrees to let me sit up and I can breathe again. Yes, I can breath, see, move, breathe, think, hear, breathe again. I’m deeply grateful.
Later I will be thankful again for being able to walk (haltingly, carefully), prepare breakfast, eat without difficulty (if I chew carefully), read the paper (with magnifying aid for the obituary columns), talk on the phone, shower, and dress. So many friends are unable to do these remarkable things.
I think of the many people I’ve loved, friends and family, who have gone, almost all of them before my present age. My grandparents, parents, my dearest husband, my younger brother, aunts and uncles, friends and more friends….all this love for me and from me catches me up and helps support me.
In spite of my losses, these last years have been wonderful. Thanks to my beloved son I have been able to live fully, seeing friends and family when I wished, and my doctors when I needed them. He has helped and accompanied me in the seasonal moves to and from Florida. His presence has been a constant support.
I am grateful, too, for beloved nieces and nephews, my loving sister-in-law and faraway cousins.
I am grateful for the fruitful working life I have had and the beloved colleagues who worked with me in founding the Scarsdale Teachers Institute and the Mentor Institute, both enterprises that stretched my vision and abilities. Both enterprises have given me friends who write from other continents. I am grateful for former students who have known me as teacher or principal and remain connected with me by phone or email.
I am grateful for the living friends–a few here in Westchester, most of them scattered over the country and world–younger than I and wonderfully tolerant of my slow gait and lagging energy.
The day ahead of me promises the intense pleasures of a walk in the neighborhood, an hour with a book, birthday phone calls, cards and emails…and finally an evening my son has planned that will begin with drinks at a favorite outdoor restaurant by the Hudson River’s edge.
I feel that I am at my life’s edge, and when I take a tumble, it will be into Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, and there will be nothing more for me, no people to love, no world to try to fathom, no beauty to fill my eyes. I expect nothing after death, but I’m willing to be surprised…