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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Adapting to Change October 22, 2013

The one thing we can all count on in life is change; we know that nothing stays the same. We also know that technology changes have been occurring much more frequently than ever before in history, making us more aware of our surroundings and of what's happenening in our small worlds and in the larger world right now.
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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Honey or Vinegar--Which works better? October 15, 2013

What happens when things don't go my way? When my expectations are shattered? When my time is compromised? When something, anything breaks, slows down, interrupts what I am doing or planning to do?
How do you react? It happens to all of us at one point or another, sometimes it seems as if EVERYTHING is not "going my way."
I see how others react and I see that my reactions have changed as I have aged. I also see that others have certain expectations of how I "should" react or how they KNOW I Would react and they base their responses on my imagined ones. Really, those who have known me for a long time, feel they can anticipate my reactions and they are so very surprised when they don't get the reaction they expected to my disappointment.
When I am disappointed in a performance for which I have purchased a ticket, I can now walk out and use my time differently. I no longer have to remain in my seat. When my refrigerator first malfunctioned I simply called for a repair and waited patiently for my scheduled appointment.
When a phone call doesn't materialize or a text is sent instead of a call, I understand that technology has speeded ahead of me and that the rules of social behavior have changed.
When I see injustice toward the folks I love, I seethe and suggest many remedies but somehow when injustice is levelled at me I seem to respond in a more passive, accepting way that surprises my friends.
When my husband's physical care was less than perfect a few months ago, I spoke, wrote letters, challenged the status quo until the situation was remedied to my satisfaction--to my son's chagrin, I was a bit more vinegary than sweet.
But now that after six visits for each of which I had to wait five or six hours, my refrigerator was pronounced "Unrepairable" I was so sweet on the telephone with customer services my friend was appalled and took the phone and the responsibility for fighting for my just due from me! 
I fight for others better than I fight for myself. When do we accept what happens to us calmly and when is it not only permissable but necessary to fight for recompense for the negative surprises in life?
Refrigerators used to last fifteen to twenty years or even longer. Now they are prorated to last ten years! They have motherboards in their computers, sensors, water filters and immediate ice makers, but they don't maintain adequate cooling or freezing temperatures. Technology again going way past me and not to my liking. I sound like an old codger

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gratitude October 6, 2013

What if we all decided to be grateful for everything today? 
That was the title of a blog posting on the Alzheimer Reading Room this morning to which I am responding and one I hope you will answer for yourselves.
I am grateful for a string of sunny completely pleasant early Fall days in New York this past week to which  I scarcely pay attention when I am in Arizona, for the many fascinating streets with street fairs and arts festivals that I encounter when I step out of the building on weekend mornings, for the live plays and HD Met opera which play to full houses amid an excitement and enthusuasm that is uplifting and intoxicating.
I am grateful for the many friends and acquaintances who invite me into their lives and remain connected  whenever I travel-thrugh reading this blog, by emai, phone calls and text messages. 
I am so grateful for my husband of twenty-three years tomorrow who taught me much about opera appreciation and shared with me for so many years our love for this city and its many cultural and outdoor opportunities from the boardwalk in Coney Island to the Riverside Park in Manhattan.
I am grateful for the availability of single-portions of delicious ethnic-flavored cooked food that are available for purchase while I still wait for my GE Monogram refrigerator to be repaired.
I am grateful for the fresh flowers that grace my home, gifts from visitors who know how much I appreciate them and I am grateful for the peace and quiet of a Sunday morning spent listening to jazz music on the radio and reading the Sunday papers.
Most of all I am grateful to the loving caregivers at Arbor Rose Senior Care who are tending to my husband's needs giving me the peace of mind to be away from Arizona and especially to my son Steve for his continuing presence in my life and in my husband's life as he visits gently, speaks with the staff kindly and  attends the support group, keeping me informed of my connections with friends and family. I could not imagine this respite without his assuming these responsibilities in my stead.