A person walking on the side of a path in the fog.

The Road Ends

I wonder if anyone really truly believes this.   So easy to buy into the lie that life is like a racetrack, a seemingly endless series of lapsA person sitting on the ground in front of water., a delusion
fueled by a culture that worships youth and marginalizes its elders.A person sitting on the ground in front of water.


I remember rolling my eyes when my mother and her friends launched into a  litany of aches, pains and  funeral reviews. I vowed I would never allow my world to shrink so small, become so focused on myself.  I would be involved with life – would have far more important things to think about.

But to my chagrin, I find myself actively participating in these conversations with my friends nowadays. It is, after all, what is happening to us.  One more thing to add to my list of things I vowed I would never do.

What I hadn’t counted on about growing old is that nothing  stays the A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
same for very long.  Some days are full of hope and good fortune.  I am brimming over with gratitude for my friends, my family, my reasonablyA person sitting on the ground in front of water. good health.  Other days it takes all the strength I can summon to put one foot in front of the other, to stay the course.

If we haven’t learned life lessons along the way, if we don’t have friends A person sitting on the ground in front of water.and loved ones around us, if we don’t have creative outlets that give us joy, God help us.  Because the older we get, the larger the challenges, the bigger the losses, the less we control.
A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

Living a successful old age is hard work, in my opinion.  I need all the resources I can muster.   But no matter what my situation,  I am in charge of the path I take.  I always have choices.

And in the final analysis, it’s  not that the road ends, it’s where it ends that matters.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.






Our communities erupt in anger and fear 

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.


                     BUT WE RISE UP
A person sitting on the ground in front of water.


We lose our homes

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.


                 AND WE RISE UP

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.


Our children are terrorized at school.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

               AND STILL WE RISE

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.


We are lost in addiction

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

                                 BUT WE RISE UP                                                                                                                 A person sitting on the ground in front of water.


We find strength in  faith, in hope, in each other,  in the beauty of nature, in the goodness of life.  We rise  because there is a God that loves us in spite of our foolish missteps and selfishness.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.A person sitting on the ground in front of water.




A person sitting on the ground in front of water.




A person sitting on the ground in front of water.


Easter is  for me the physical manifestation of hope.  It is when the scarcity and withering of winter is transformed into the abundance and new life of spring.  It is the symbol of the faith that sustains me when life pushes in and tempts me to lose heart, to wonder if  it’s all just a cruel cosmic joke.  It is the reminder that I am not alone and that together, no matter what,  we always rise.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

A group of people that are standing up

The price of longevity

…is getting old.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
A Fountain of Youth, 1917 – Cuno Amiet

We Americans are youth worshippers.  We are repulsed by old age and all of its trappings.

Recently, I realized with a start, that, incredulous as it seems,  I am approaching my 80th birthday!   I had expected to grow old  A person sitting on the ground in front of water.mindfully, gracefully,  not to be “struck old.”   In her nineties, my  mother used to say she  “felt 18 inside.”  It seemed ridiculous, evenA person sitting on the ground in front of water.
embarrassing then,  but  to my chagrin, now it’s my turn to feel   younger than my years.    Friends say I have “aged well” (putting me in mind of a Camembert round) but the benchmarks are there.  People  rush ahead to open doors for me,  offer to walk me across the street, pick up things I drop and,  (worst of all)  call me “cute.”  There’s no escaping  it.   I look…. I am….well..old.

Which is not all bad.   I am grateful to my ancestors for the sturdy genes that allowed me to reach  this stage in life, still  healthy and somewhat sound of mind.   I am blessed in so many ways.  I have wonderful friends and neighbors. My husband and I enjoy a very  comfortable life in a  beautiful community.  My family  actually likes me.

But getting old is not  easy.   Aging is a  process of letting go, of loss.  We outlive friends and family, we lose mobility, it takes concentration to perform tasks that were automatic a few short years ago.   Our A person sitting on the ground in front of water.health, once taken for granted,  becomes unpredictable.   We spend more time in clinics and more money on medications.   We have less energy;  we need more rest.  It takes regular exercise just  to maintain the status quo.  We avoid ladders and stairs,  give up night driving.  We struggle to maintain our independence.

But even with all its obstacles, aging has really never been easier.  Our livestyles would have been  inconceivable to our grandparents, even our parents. There is a rapidly growing industry devoted to  social activities and services  for seniors.  There are  cruises, exercise programs, trips to exotic locations,  clubs, sports, educational courses and programs, retirement communities. A person sitting on the ground in front of water.Treatment for conditions that incapacitated our grandparents are now  almost routine; cataracts, joint replacements, heart surgery.    Cancer is no longer a death sentence.   There is a steady stream of new information on aging in  books, and TV.

We should take full advantage of all of these resources.  We  need to keep active, to take care of our mental and physical health, engage with our communities.  But we must also feed our souls.   We need to be mindful of who we are  and the person we are  becoming.

I think the Irish poet  Dylan Thomas says it best:

Do not go gentle into that good night

Old age should burn and rave at close of day

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Although at  first glance this may sound like a call to arms for  a frenzied assault on mortality,  I think that is an oversimplification.  I believe the poet was challenging us to face our mortality and to live out our best lives courageously and with grace. The journey to  the end of life doesn’t have to be; shouldn’t be,  a  morbid and dreary slog of  loneliness loss and pain.

But it’s not easy.  The people I know who have aged well have confronted their  mortality head on and early on.  They planned for it just as one plans for any stage of life, education, career, marriage and children.  They expected  medical expenses to increase at a time they would be living on fixed incomes. *  They were not surprised when  sudden life-changing events required  a transition to new, more restricted lifestyles.    They were aware of the  need strong inner resources and for  each other. They  learned  the art of interdependence.  Preparing for old age is hard work.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.Fortunately there are  models for aging well.   One in particular stands out for me.   She seems to  navigate this challenging passage effortlessly.    In her 90s, she is alone, but not lonely,  busy but not burdened,  engaged but not entangled.  She takes her appearance as seriously as she did in her 40s. OK, she’s a little vain, but she is still beautiful.  You are unlikely to find her on the sofa watching TV; more likely she will be  entertaining  her great grandchildren, gardening,  or volunteering in the local sewing guild.  A person sitting on the ground in front of water.She drives herself to church, does her own shopping and is not much interested in discussing her ailments.    Unfailingly cheerful and slow to criticize, she is the first to reach out,  expecting, and more often  than not, receiving,  nothing in return.   Although she has outlived two husbands and most of her friends, she is surrounded by people who love her.   Her faith is strong and  she doesn’t believe in entitlements.

It’s a high bar, but I’m going to give it a shot.  After all, old age  is simply a season of life for those  who live long enough. I am fortunate to be among them.

*According to  a 2016 GOBanking Rates survey, 35 percent of all adults in the U.S. had only a few  hundred dollars in their savings accounts and 34 percent had zero savings.








Two people walking down a path with horses in the background.

Old Love

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.Valentines Day.

Decadent  chocolates, diamond bracelets, elaborate valentines cards.    Young  lovers gazing  into each other’s eyes, dreaming of the perfect  love.

A beautiful reminder that in a troubled world, that somehow, somewhere, there is always  love.

But these images offer only  a shallow glimpse of  love. Oddly,  we  equate love with young love, with “being in love,”  while overlooking A person sitting on the ground in front of water.the most beautiful love of all, that of old love.  This  is not  the exhilarating  flush of new love.  It is  the  flame that flickers in the furious storm, yet  leaps to warm the trembling heart.

Old love has seen  glory and brokenness,  trust and  betrayal.  It has known exhilaration and endured  tedium. It has yielded to  the warm A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
embrace and recoiled at the jagged  word.  Through it all, it was always  love that  soothed  the chafing of the marital yoke.

The beauty of old love is not that of  the unfurling rosebud.A person sitting on the ground in front of water. Like the facets of a diamond, this love  is  patiently sculpted and A person sitting on the ground in front of water.refined over years.  It is  nurtured by the  light of understanding but  withers in the darkness of anger.  It  flourishes  on the rock of trust and crumbles on the shaky sands of deceit.

And old love is not  merely  finishing the race side by side.  Such is A person sitting on the ground in front of water.only a sad counterfeit born of pride, cowardice or simple inertia.  It is  a lifetime of  shared experiences, comfortable perhaps, but bereft of  joy.  The  heart well knows the difference.

Old love is longing for the other and yet  straining against the marital tether.  It is knowing everything yet A person sitting on the ground in front of water.nothing about the other.  It is  melding into the other yet retaining oneself.  It is  freely sharing,  families, children, sickness, possessions; all of  it, all of life.   It is unrelenting challenge; it is warm fulfillment.   It is at  once exhilarating and terrifying,

So to all  young lovers this Valentine’s Day:  Join  us if you will.  But know this:   Old love must be earned.  It will test your  strength and challenge your resolve. It will require your best and forgive your worst.   It will plumb your depths and expand your soul.  And  the rewards are beyond imagination for those who  stay the course.  A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

This blog is dedicated to my “old love” of 40 years.  Happy Valentines Day, Sweetheart. 


Two women are hugging each other in a field.

#MeToo, Y’all


Although she may not have recognized it, I don’t know a single woman that has not experienced sexual harassment at some time in her life,

Growing up, I had no idea what sexual harassment was.  It seems impossible now, but in high school, Wolf Whistles and  boys “looking you up and down”  were  a kind of  sexual validation.  Sexual ideation A person sitting on the ground in front of water.was the norm. Beauty contests were hotly competed, Marilyn Monroe was idolized;  young girls aspired to be Playboy Bunnies.  Social acceptance required  sexual A person sitting on the ground in front of water.validation, and thus  male approval.  Spinsterhood was a specter to frightening to consider.  Popular magazines gave tips for girls to attract boys and young women  to get husbands.

Merriam Webster defines sexual harassment as “uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate…”   obviously descriptive of   behaviors taken for granted in the 1950s.    So why were we not outraged?

In order to understand why otherwise intelligent women would allow, if not invite, this kind of behavior, it has to be viewed through the lens of the time.    The ability to “get and keep a man satisfied” A person sitting on the ground in front of water.was a life skill.  Home Economics, a required course for girls taught the fine arts of cooking, sewing, cleaning and ironing.  (Yes, ironing.)
Charm Schools and Finishing schools A person sitting on the ground in front of water.completed the work with instruction on  how to walk, sit, and converse with boys.

If it all sounds like a manipulative trap, it was.  For both partners. “Head and Master” law in Louisiana until 1979  gave a husband authority over all household decisions and jointly owned property without his wife’s knowledge or consent.  In practical terms, this meant that any purchase, even  groceries, could be subject to approval by one’s husband.  And  jointly owned property could be disposed of without the wife’s knowledge or consent!

This archaic system was undergirded by a fiercely fundamentalist covenant in the marriage vows that  husbands would love, honor and protect their beloved, sainted wives; and  wives  love, honor and obey their benevolent, upstanding  husbands.     Women, poorly A person sitting on the ground in front of water.educated for the most part, exhausted and housebound because of birthing and raising children,  needed  respect and protection, and obeying someone who adores you and has your best interests at heart doesn’t sound so bad. Such a system might  have worked  for Sleeping Beauty and her prince. But most mere mortals didn’t handle it well.    Men took advantage, women retaliated.

So, over time,  in self-defense, women and especially southern women,  refined their “feminine wiles”  into a  high art form in an attempt to gain control over their lives.   We’re talking about sex. (Except that no one talked about sex.)

Navigation of these treacherous waters required superior skill, handed down from mother to daughter in hushed whispers.    The tension between withholding sex at the risk of   “losing” the man had to be carefully balanced against the risk of pregnancy upon  awarding the sex prize.   Birth control methods ranged from the risky to the laughable.  And  if a woman became pregnant, it was  her responsibility, not that of her partner.  In the best case scenario in which she and her man were planning to marry anyway,  they simply moved up the date and produced  a “premature baby,”

Her other choices, however,  were dismal.  She could disappear discretely to a “Home for Unwed Mothers” and emerge alone months later having adopted the child,  she could choose to raise the child on her own, (social suicide for both) she could risk an illegal abortion in a  dingy back street clinic (God Forbid) or, often with parental input, convince the young man to “do the right thing”, a sure sentence for a lifetime of misery.

Marriage only led to a different kind of  dependence on men.  Husbands needed  to be “managed,”  My grandmother was fond of saying ” I have no respect for any woman that can’t handle one little ole man.”  It was a badge of honor with her. Implicit, but never spoken, was the understanding that one rationed favors, especially sexual favors.  And it worked enough of the time to keep her demons at bay.  Still, crude, sexist  and offensive behaviors from her husband and sons were simply dismissed as “how men are.”  Not worth making a fuss.

She was a master at it.  However, even she was no match for my grandfather in the end.  Despite her bargaining and pleading, he A person sitting on the ground in front of water.moved her in middle age from their comfortable home in town to a remote farm  with no electricity or running water.  She had no recourse but to go.  Her soft hands became worn with the harsh farm work, her smooth face lined, her  lace collars  replaced with farm aprons.  She died early, I suspect, from the harsh conditions and the pain of isolation.

Happily, we have moved a long way forward since those days. Birth control afforded  women unprecedented freedom.  Now able to plan the size of their families, women entered the workforce and began to enter previously all male professions.  But there was a long road ahead.  Men  still controlled the workplace and therefore its rules.  Too many of us tolerated sexual harassment and abuse and sadly some even participated, believing our physical attributes  more valuable than our intellect.

This tawdry history, in my opinion, helps to explain why it took us so long to realize that in the 21st century,  we were still hearing the furtive whispers of our mothers, anxiously passing on their knowledge in an effort  to protect us.    We didn’t notice that when we were called a “hottie, ” or were the subject of a wolf call, we were  A person sitting on the ground in front of water.being objectified.   (The underlying assumption being that we welcomed this kind of attention, or at least didn’t mind.) That it was OK to separate our personhood from our bodies.   It was just “what men did.”   Nothing we couldn’t handle.  We didn’t see that ignoring  the “hottie” comment was for some men,  an invitation to drape an arm over our shoulders. “He didn’t mean anything by it.”    And overlooking the arm on the shoulder could, to  such a man, lead to a hand on the skirt.  And so on.  You get the drift.

At long last and at great cost, women are being defended against sexual harassment. Many have shared horrific stories at great cost to them and their families.    New offenders come to light almost daily.   And inevitably, some of us have become hyper vigilant,   picking apart every comment for a trace of  harassment, leaving honorable  men who have never offended  confused and unsure of their footing.     It’s going to take time to find the balance.

But it’s not complicated, really.  As is the case for most of our problems – if not all of them  – it comes down to simple respect for one another.  We call that the Golden Rule.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.