Date archives "February 2013"

Lessons from Ziploc

When it comes to resealable plastic bags, I have always been Ziploc challenged. To be more exact, I am incapable of getting the little ridge into the little groove and having it stay closed. So when bags that actually zippered closed came out, I was thrilled. Finally, a bag for me! Then I realized they were more expensive than regular bags, so for years I didn’t allow myself to buy them. Finally, I gave in. I gave myself permission to spend a little more and I’ve been happily using zipper storage bags ever since.


 I’m an avid gardner, and every spring, armed with pitchfork and wheelbarrow, I apply mulch, usually 5 cubic yards. It’s a big job, and I seem to need more and more ibuprofen — before, during and after. But last year, I did something I had never done before. I PAID someone to do it for me. I didn’t just take care of my garden; I took care of myself. My garden and I both flourished.

It’s not that I am pampering myself more, it’s that I’ve changed what I am willing to spend money on. Years ago, I had a fancy job and bought myself fancy jewelry. It gave me pleasure, but things change. Today I pamper myself by doing Pilates. I probably spend the same each year on Pilates as I would have on nice jewelry. Pilates helps me not have lower back pain. These days, not being in pain is more important than having jewelry.

Which brings me, of course, to Senior Move Management. Some people don’t give themselves permission to use a Senior Move Manager because it seems extravagant, because they moved without help last time, because they never used this type of service before.

I never did Pilates before, but feeling good is important. I’m important, so I’m giving myself permission to use real zipper bags, have my mulch applied by someone else, and take exercise classes regularly. These are gifts to myself, and I’m worth it. So are you.

If You Can Stand The Worst They Do, Why Break Up?

When someone asks my husband how long he’s been married, he says, “Thirty years…26 of the happiest years of my life.” He’s right, of course. Some years were better than others.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I’ve been thinking about relationships. I saw a post on facebook that made me ponder. It asked, “What Valentine’s message would you give to your younger self?”

I’d send the image below, so as I struggled through my twenties trying to find my way in life and relationships, I would know that one day, I would find someone wonderful who loved me more than I could imagine.

one day









Then I saw another post. This one was more somber.  It reminded me of my husband’s quip, above, and that commitment is not always easy. But just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

one of the hardest things








Then I read an interview by Carl Reiner in the Huff Post 50. When asked what kept his marriage of 65 years to Estelle Reiner alive, he answered,

When asked this question, my wife used to say,  “Marry someone who can stand you.” And that’s absolutely true! There are many, many reasons to break up but if you can stand the worst of what they do, why break up? You’re only going to get someone who will annoy you in another way, so whatever little annoyances there are, you can stand that. We were able to stand each other very, very well”.

So perhaps that is my conclusion about relationships on this Valentine’s Day.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone terrific, someone who brings out the best in who you are. I know I did. It won’t always be easy. But lots of things that are  hard are worth doing.  And with longevity comes perspective.  You will always find ways to annoy one another, but  in the big scheme of things, they are not important.  So my husband and me? Like the Reiners, we stand each other very, very well.

Bubbie’s Secret Mission

I didn’t know when or how my mother-in-law, Bubbie, was going to die, but I knew one thing for sure: she wanted to be buried in a pink sweatsuit and slip-on sneakers. “Sneakers?” I asked. “Absolutely,” she said. “I’m not wearing pantyhose for eternity.”


The Conversation Project was started to encourage people to have honest discussions with loved ones about how they want to spend their last days and, by extension, what they want for their funeral. According to Ellen Goodman, one of the founders of the Conversation Project, the difference between a good death and a difficult death is whether the dying person has shared his or her wishes. By all measures, Bubbie had a good death. She had an advance directive that outlined her wishes regarding medical care, she had described what she wanted for her funeral, and she died in her sleep, at 94, with an unfinished crossword puzzle on her lap.

Articles about having “the conversation” all stress how difficult it is to initiate discussion on this topic. What they fail to touch on is how satisfying it can be for the older adult. According to author David Solie, the secret mission of aging adults is legacy and control, and so it was with Bubbie. Bubbie lived in an assisted living residence. She depended on others to clean her room, prepare her food, take her on errands. She used a walker and oxygen. Like many older adults for whom losses accumulate, independence and control were among her highest priorities.  And that is why Bubbie loved the idea of defining her end of life wishes.

She had little to say about her advance directive;  it was prepared quickly and without fanfare or drama. But she had a lot to say about her funeral.

As I had coffee with Bubbie one day, I described how I had been at a meeting where a funeral director talked about how personalized funerals have become…how people can define exactly what they want their funeral to be like.  “Would you like to do that?” I asked.  “Absolutely,” said Bubbie, “It’s my funeral; I want to be in control.”

And so we began. I learned that Bubbie did not want hymns; she wanted Stardust Memories, which had been her and husband Herm’s favorite song. She did not want to be buried with any jewelry except her wedding ring. “Dead is dead; let someone else use it.”

I asked if she wanted to be buried with any books —Bubbie loved to read. She thought about this for a few minutes and decided against it. “Perhaps a crossword puzzle and a pen,” she said. “I don’t plan to erase.” Clearly, she was having fun.

For the funeral meal, she wanted nothing low-salt. “I’ve had to watch salt for the past 30 years. No Alpine Lace at my funeral.”  She declined fancy dresses; she would be buried in her pink sweatsuit and sneakers…which led to her iconic pantyhose statement.

Then we got to the subject of caskets. Bubbie wanted the least expensive that could be found. “In fact,” she said, “I am pretty short. Do you think I could fit in one of your wardrobe cartons? I would be dust-to-dust pretty fast in cardboard; it would be very green.”

During this entire conversation and afterward, Bubbie was, if not glad to have had “the conversation,” at least satisfied that it had occurred, content that she had been consulted and that her opinion mattered. And so it was, when Bubbie died several years later, that there were no questions about what she wanted. It was her funeral; she had it her way.

For resources on initiating end of life discussions with loved ones, go to

For information on how to plan and personalize your own funeral, visit

To learn more about the Secret Mission of Aging Parents Series, go to David Solie’s Second Half of Life blog