We are always on the alert in order to be prepared for the changes that we expect and more importantly for the changes we cannot anticipate. We keep our smartphones tuned to tell us what our friends-and enemies are doing that we want to know and to avoid.
In my age cohort, people are concerned about their continuing good health or lack of it; we are curious as to how our agemates are experiencing their older years and how we can anticipate and plan for ourselves. This kind of change is happening to us and to our loved ones now, not in some distant future promised to us by the scientists and the pharmaceutical companies.
I have been collecting "data" from lunch meetings with my friends who are mostly all now retired from the professional lives they led or who have reduced their work hours. One woman stated at the outset of our lunch that she was not interested in "organ recitals" by which she meant a listing of operations and illnesses that she has endured and from which her recovery has been remarkable and her stamina amazing.
Another, however, has not been able to meet with me as she is still traveling to physical therapy several times each week as her new knees gain flexibility. Several friends have had mechanical surgeries, knees or hips replaced and some have had cancerous tumors removed.
Several of my friends have experienced losses of loved ones or are still caring for spouses who are ill with Parkinson's disease. Two of my friends have been diagnosed with Parkinson's themselves, two more have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
All are engaged with the world, interested in social concerns at home, in Israel. My friends attend concerts and museum exhibits, see the important films immediately even as the price of admission for seniors climbed to $9.50. Some go birding in Central Park at 9 on weekend mornings, attend lectures on art and architecture as well as politics, take continuing education classes and many have begun artistic exploration of their own, either by taking piano lessons and giving recitals, painting, memoir or short story writing, beading or creating needlework projects.
I rejoice in the level of activity and engagement of my friends as I anticipate and plan for change in my own life. This weekend I will speak at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism about my not-yet-ready-for-prime-time new book. The lecture is titled "From Galicia to Google and Back" and will concentrate on the trip I took to Eastern Europe this past spring tracing the deportation from Germany to Poland of my grandparents in October 1938. It is especially poignant as this week is the 75th anniversary of the deportation and of Kristallnacht to which it is connected.