Tag Archives: parenting

Remembering My Mother In Law With a Manicure and Pedicure

6 May

On May 12, I am going to get a manicure and a pedicure. I do this once a month. But on May 12 it will be a special event. My husband’s mother, Lee, would have been 90 years old on this date. She died when she was only 59.

Before I met my mother-in-law, I did not know anyone who went for weekly manicures. But Lee did. Each week she got her hair put in to a French knot and had bright red polish put on her nails. She had beautiful hands and nails.

I was a nail biter. The only time I ever had a manicure was the week before my wedding and on my wedding day, in an effort to stop me from this awful habit. It worked to a degree. And Lee encouraged it. She would occasionally take me for a manicure when we were in town visiting.

When she was in her last months, the lovely woman who had done her hair and nails for so long, would come to the hospital once a week to wash her hair and do her nails. She told me that as long as she could, she would help Lee feel beautiful. She did this for the last three months of Lee’s illness. What an angel!

My mother in law died so young because she was a smoker.  Lung cancer destroyed her and impacted my husband. Last year, when my husband and I were both 59, my husband was in a state of mild anxiety all year. I did not realize how much his age was weighing on him until we both turned 60. “We made it,” he told me. “We made it past 59.”

So on May 12, my mother-in-law’s 90 birthday, I will get a manicure and pedicure. It is not an unusual occurrence. I go every other week to have a manicure and I go monthly for a pedicure. But this time, when I am 60, I feel it is important to celebrate her 90th birthday and Mothers’ Day in a way that will connect me to her.

My daughter used to model bridal gowns. This was one of her favorite mani/pedis.

My daughter used to model bridal gowns. This was one of her favorite mani/pedis.

Having a manicure is a way to remember Lee. I took my daughter for her first manicure when she was seven.  She is named for her grandmother, so I thought she should experience a manicure at a younger age! We put a tiara on her head and made her feel special. She loved to go. When she was a teen, she often wanted purple polish or even different colors on every other nail.

She modeled wedding gowns while in high school, and would get demure polish then. To this day, my daughter still loves to get a manicure, but no bright reds for her now! She is into the more quiet French tips, where clear polish is put on the nail beds and only white or pale pink is put on the tips.

When my mother would come to visit me, I always took her out for a manicure. My mother never took the time for this pampering when she was home. She did all her manicures by herself. She only went to a salon twice a year, when she visited me. She loved going, but felt with her arthritis, it was not worth it. However, whenever she went she felt great! To me it was a gift I could give to my Mom.

But for me, a manicure was a must. I have been going to the same person, Mary,  for over 25 years. I was one of her first clients. And when she moved into her own store, Old Town Hair and Nails, in Lenexa, KS, I followed along. She has polished the nails of my Mom, my daughter and even my sister, who I recently took to the salon.

One of my more colorful mani/pedi.

One of my more colorful mani/pedi.

The pampering of a manicure was something I learned from Lee. Twice a month, I sit with a woman who has basically shared my life with me. We talk, we have silent times, we visit. I do not answer the phone, (unless it is my children). I chose a color to fit my mood. Sometimes I chose a pink or a coral. Other times I am bold with a blue! Other times, I have sparkling tips put over the basic color. And some times, I have one nail on each hand polished slightly differently.

I am not sure if Lee would have liked all these variations. She liked the same color every week — the same bright red.

But it does not matter. This May, a few days after Mothers’ Day, I will be remembering my husband’s mother with a manicure and pedicure. And in my heart wishing her a happy 90th birthday.

A Traditional Jewish Wedding Created A Family’s Magical Wedding Ring

16 Apr

In traditional Jewish weddings, the marriage ring has to be completely round, made of gold with no embellishments. No diamonds or stones; just a plain gold ring.

When my maternal grandparents were married in 1925, they used such a plain white gold ring to ensure a blissful life. Both from Europe, they had no parents to be with them when they married. But they followed the traditions. First they got permission from my great grandfather. Then they married. My grandfather said the traditional words, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel,” when he placed the ring on my grandmother’s forefinger.

The ring adorned my grandmother’s hand for the first 26 years they were married. But in 1951 my mother and father married. My Dad was in the army and was being sent to Korea. My grandparents were not exactly happy about my Mom getting married while Dad was on leave. They were worried. Would he survive? Would everything be okay?

My parents got married while my Dad was on a two-week leave. They did not have time to find and buy a ring. So my grandparents decided that my Mom would get married using their ring. My father paid my grandmother for the ring, as it cannot be borrowed. It must belong to the groom. Thus my parents were married using my grandmother’s wedding band. Once again the traditional marriage words were said, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” My parents were now bound together.

My grandparents were married for over 60 years. My parents were married 59 years before my Mom passed away.

Mom made sure that the tradition continued. She felt that since the ring had been a vital part of two wonderful weddings and marriages, then it would bring mazel to others as well. She decided that her daughters would also have to be married using this ring.

Notice the two gold rings by my engagement ring, several hours after my husband and I were married.

Notice the two gold rings by my engagement ring, several hours after my husband and I were married.

When I married in 1980, I also was married in this special ring. My husband paid my mother one dollar for it. And even though I had another plain gold ring to wear, during the service it was my grandmother’s and mother’s ring that was placed on my right forefinger, and later moved to my ring finger.

My husband recited the same words to me, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” And I, being a more modern bride, wanted to say something as I placed a ring on my husband’s finger. So I said, “My beloved is mine and I am my beloved. Ani le’dodi v’dodi li.” I wore the family ring, along with my gold ring, for several years until my sister was to be married. 

Selling the ring to my brother in law just before he married my sister.


And then, as my mother wished, my sister’s groom purchased the ring for one dollar from my husband and me. Once again the ring was placed on the forefinger of a family bride.

As grandchildren were born into the family, my mother asked that the ring be used for each granddaughter’s wedding. And of course we agreed. My sister and I also feel that the ring should be used for the grandsons’ weddings as well, if they want to use it.

Ring/Dollars

My grandmother’s ring and the dollar bills each groom paid for the ring: my Dad, my husband, my brother-in-law.

The ring is now in my sister’s safety deposit box waiting for the next family wedding. With the ring are the dollar bills that my Dad, my husband and my brother-in-law all used to pay for the ring. Each dollar bill has the name of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding written on it. They are part of the tradition of the ring.

Soon the ring will come out of its resting place. It will be time to adorn the finger of another bride. I am happy that it will be my daughter’s wedding. The oldest grandchild, my daughter and her boyfriend recently announced their engagement. They plan to wed next summer, in 2016.   I hope that her groom will want to buy this ring to use for their marriage ceremony.  So that for the fourth generation, 91 years after my grandparent’s wedding, this magical ring will be used again.

I cannot wait to see my daughter and her groom stand under the huppah together.  I hope that they will use my father’s tallit for this special day. I cannot wait to see my grandmother’s white gold wedding ring slide onto the forefinger of my daughter. I cannot wait to hear the traditional words spoken by the groom. I wonder if my daughter will respond as I did, or in the way more modern brides do repeating the same words that the groom says to his bride.

I only hope that the magic of the ring continues and that my daughter and her groom celebrate throughout their married life with the joy of marriage that went through the lives of all the brides who have worn it.

Frogs Jumping At the Passover Seder

2 Apr

Over the years my desire to have an educational and entertaining Passover seder merged with my love of creating paper creatures using origami.

Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding to make figures. Many have seen the origami crane. But it can also be used to make flowers, boxes, insects, and animals. An unlimited number creatures and objects can be created by the intricate folds used in origami.

I have loved origami for over fifty years. When I was in fourth grade I went to a birthday party for a school friend who was from Japan. As part of the party fun, her mother taught us how to make several origami figures including a crane and a box. I was hooked.   I have been dabbling in origami ever since.

My collection of origami books and special papers grew when I was in graduate school. My roommate, Pekoe, was Japanese. When she found out about my love of origami, she was intrigued that I was capable of making the more advanced figures. Upon her return to Missouri, after winter break, she presented me with the most beautiful handmade origami paper and several figurines. I still have them all.

I used origami when I taught. I used origami when I was a hospital candy striper while in high school. I used origami as a mother. Many times I was able to cheer up rainy days and airplane trips by the aspect of making origami figurines. I always carried the special brightly colored, square paper with me when I traveled. It entertained not only my children, but others as well.

Making origami frogs before the seder.

Making origami frogs before the seder.

At Passover, Pesach, origami frogs became an important part of our holiday tradition. I was always looking for ways to make the seder more enjoyable, especially for the children who were with us. So I started giving my son and daughter enough sheets of paper to make a frog for each person at our Seder.

We always made frogs that could ‘jump.’   Did I tell you that the frog plague was always our favorite? My son loves reptiles, lizards and amphibians. So of course he loved frogs. And green was his favorite color. So we made many frogs of different shades of green. Whenever we made our frogs and hopped them during the seder, we sang the Passover frog song that ends with “Frogs here, frogs there. Frogs were jumping everywhere.” And then our paper frogs would start hopping.

Jumping frogs

Last year at Passover my children went bonkers. They made multiple origami frogs of many colors. They also decided to make paper locust. We used all these origami figurines to decorate our seder table.

When we read about the plagues, everyone tried to hop these frogs. Some jumped directly into the wine, the charosets and the seder plate. Frogs were really jumping everywhere. Everyone had a great time.

The frogs remained on the table throughout the meal. When we sang the end of seder songs, frog jumping took over. The aim was to get the frog onto a tissue box. Several of the young adults at the table were quite good at this. So while we sang songs like ‘Had Gad Ya’, we also had a group still making the frogs jump.

Perhaps it is not taking the plague seriously. But I know that everyone who attends my seder will always remember the plague of frogs. They will always have fond memories of the Passover seder.

 

http://www.origami-instructions.com/easy-origami-jumping-frog.html

 

http://www.nnls-masorti.org.uk/cms/upload/file/Sound%20Files/Pesach%20Seder%20Melodies%20and%20Songs%20-%20Lee%20Wax/The%20Frog%20Song%20lyrics.pdf

Crocheting Toddler Blankets Is Keeping Me Busy

26 Mar

Although I am not a grandmother yet, I recently became a Great Aunt. And I have more ‘grand’ babies on the way. I am excited. I love seeing a new generation and watch my nieces and nephews become parents.

I have, over the years, seen many of my friend’s children and former students become parents. And I have enjoyed buying gifts and holding these new arrivals. But it did not occur to me to start crocheting gifts for these beloved babies.

I think I was so wrapped up in my doily making that I forgot that I could make something bigger. I made lots of baby and toddler blankets and sweaters when my children were little. I stopped when I broke my elbow. I only made small items after the accident. However, I have been healed for years.

My other issue is that I love cotton yarn. I do not like to crochet with polyester and other synthetics. So what to do? Baby blankets are usually soft and cuddly because they are made with manufactured yarns.

Thanks to a post on a Facebook group that I follow, Crochet Addict, I had a answer. Someone asked what else could be made with Sugar’n Cream, 100 percent cotton yarn. This yarn is usually used to make kitchen towels and washcloths. I have made some washcloths for a good friend from this yarn. I love crocheting with Sugar’n Cream yarn, but did not know quite what else to do with it.

On the comment line, someone said they made baby blankets from this yarn. I was hooked. Baby blankets? I could do that. The next day I went to one of my local mega craft stores (Michael’s) and bought some brightly colored Sugar’n Cream yarn. I also bought a pattern book for crocheting “Blankets for Toddlers.”   And I began a new journey. The other thing I like about this yarn is that it washes so well. Since it is made for kitchen work, it is also strong. Perfect for use with little children.

First two blankets with Sugar'n Cream yarn.

First two blankets with Sugar’n Cream yarn.

My first blanket is slightly off kilter. I did not plan well with the weight of the yarn and the pattern. So it is longer and narrower then I wanted it to be. But then I saw that people make blankets this size to use in strollers. So it will be used. I am presenting it to a neighbor who just had a little girl on my husband and my 35th wedding anniversary. She is the first baby born since I started making blankets.

My second blanket has come out much more in the shape I wanted.   I went back to Michael’s when the store was having a yarn sale. There is one problem with this yarn. It is sold, at Michaels, in just 2 ounce and 2 ½ ounce skeins. It is difficult to find enough skeins with the same lot number to make a full blanket! (The lot number means that the skeins were dyed on the same day at the same time. If they were not dyed together, then the colors can be slightly off and fade differently.)

I solved this problem by buying three colors and putting skeins of the same dye lots together, while separating them from other dye lots with the other colors. It forms a striped blanket, using one stitch throughout. I think it looks darn good.

Now I am ready to begin blanket number three. I have to make four in all by September. I was out and about and decided to go to a different mega craft store, Joann’s Fabric. I was in for a surprise. At Joann’s, the Sugar’n Cream yarn comes in bigger skeins! There are both three and four ounce skeins. But more than that, the store sells 14-ounce skeins on the cardboard tubes. I can definitely get the same lot numbers there. I now have enough yarn to make my third blanket. And I have a plan in mind for blanket number four!

My new Clover hooks.

My new Clover hooks.

I am having a great time. Especially since with this blanket, I will be able to use my new crochet hooks. Clover crochet hooks were another great idea from the Crochet Addict group. Someone posted a photo of these wonderful European crochet hooks that have a thicker handle. That is the most difficult part of using this yarn for me, the slipping handle. I am hoping these new hooks work better and cause less stress on my hands.

Once I finish the blankets I have promised myself I would make for grand nieces and nephews, I know I will keep making baby blankets. I posted a photo of the two I finished and now some of my younger generation friends want one for their children. I am happy to oblige!

When I am done with those, I will still make the blankets! A friend I know makes them and donates them to a hospital NICU for new babies who need lots of love. I will crochet lots of love in each blanket I make.

I am so happy that crocheting toddler blankets is keeping me busy. And am happy that all my blankets will be going to loving homes.

 

An Odd Affinity To Jelllyfish Attacks

23 Mar
I think my son especially does not like jellyfish with tentacles.

I think my son especially does not like jellyfish with tentacles.

When the tentacle wrapped around my son’s leg in Long Island Sound (Connecticut side), people started running. I was not sure what was going on at first. My son, then about three years old, was standing in about 6 inches of water. His hand firmly grasped by a 10-year-old with two 8-year-old children next to them. We were all together, and I was watching closely.

But I did not see what was just under the water. My son started screaming. I ran over and grabbed him, as a man came running towards me. It was scary. What did this man want? He was yelling something at me, but it took a minute to understand that a giant, dead jellyfish has drifted over to the beach and one of its tentacles had wrapped around my son’s thigh.

As the man ran over to me, he was yelling, “We need to get your son to first aid NOW!” I looked down, and there just under the edge of my son’s swimsuit was a giant welt that encircled his thigh. Bright red and raised, the welt was growing before my eys.

By this time my son was holding his breathe. I could see his lips turning blue. He was so scared and in pain. I had him enveloped in my arms, as the man rushed me towards the lifeguard station. But we did not move far, the lifeguard was on his way running to me, with a squirt bottle in hand. He had heard all the commotion and knew something had occurred.

He sprayed my son’s leg with vinegar. The smell was sickly sweet. But I could see my son relax a bit, as the cool liquid eased the pain and started working on the jellyfish venom.

Needless to say, it was the end of our relaxing day at the beach. Even 21 years later, I can close my eyes and relive this moment and the entire hour or so that my son sobbed till he fell asleep from exhaustion. And I do not mean whimpers. I mean full-throated screams of agony. My friend, my Mom, the three girls and I all wanted his pain to end.

My favorite jellyfish photo ever.

My favorite jellyfish photo ever.

My son developed a healthy fear of jellyfish. He loved the water and he loved swimming. But no longer ever wanted to go into ocean. When we went to Florida to see his grandparents, we would walk along the beach the night before, checking for jellyfish. When he saw a jellyfish lying on the beach he would run in the other direction or hop over them. Usually the beach would be closed if we saw jellyfish. Which was just fine. Most of the time, he just wanted to swim in the pool. And I agreed. I did not want to go through that fear again.

Our family love to go to aquariums when we travel. He loved going as well, but he would quickly run past the jellyfish tanks. He wanted nothing to do them. He did not even want to see them.

I would like to say that this was his last encounter with a jellyfish.

Move forward 12 years. We are again in Florida visiting grandparents. One evening we had dinner with my nephew, who was studying marine biology. He told us all about the different jellyfish and Portuguese Man o Wars, which were common in Florida. And how jellyfish and Man o Wars were not the same things. A Portuguese Man o War was not a jellyfish! Our nephew made that clear. My son was unhappy with the dinner conversation. I think the conversation was actually a foreshadow of what would come the next day.

We were visiting friends on the coast. My son, my college-aged daughter and her then boyfriend went down t the beach to enjoy the great day. The adults stayed upstairs on the balcony and enjoyed visiting. We were getting cleaned up and ready to leave when the younger adults arrived back upstairs. My daughter announced loudly as they entered the apartment that my son ‘was stung by a jellyfish!” He is in pain.”

“Very funny, “ I responded. Thinking that she was joking because of our dinner conversation last night.

“No,” her boyfriend added. “He really got stung. Just as we were getting out of the water”

I looked at my son. Oh no! They really were not joking. I could see that he was in PAIN.

Mother mode kicked in. He really was stung by a jellyfish AGAIN! Well actually not a jellyfish, it was a Portuguese Man o War, even worse!!!

Someone went on line to see what we should do. Did getting stung a second time add to the impact and chances of a systemic reaction? Should I take him to an emergency room? I called my husband, who had remained home during our trip to see grandparents. Probably did not need to take him to the hospital, but needed to watch him for a bit. (My husband is a pediatric allergist, so it did make sense to call him.)

After the Man o War stung him, we used wine vinegar to ease the pain.

After the Man o War stung him, we used wine vinegar to ease the pain.

Vinegar would help. But the only vinegar my friends had was wine vinegar. We used it. We doused my son’s foot in wine vinegar. And then the jokes began. He did smell like a salad. And their dog did want to lick his leg. We got him calmed down as the pain ebbed. And we overstayed our visit by an hour or so, as we waited to make sure there was no reaction.

All was well. My son recovered.

But his odd affinity to jellyfish attacks have created an environment for jellyfish jokes which have become a permanent part of my son’s family life. I must admit, I am among the worst.   My husband and I travel often. And I still love aquariums. I have been to the aquariums in Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, and more. And each time I go, I take photos of the jellyfish tanks then I email these photos my son.

Sometimes I even buy him jellyfish gifts.

He always smiles and says something like, “Really. This is what you got me.”

But finally I bought him a jellyfish gift that he loves.

His cat’s favorite cat toy had disappeared. He was bemoaning this to me one day, and told him I was going to the pet store to get food for my cat. So I would look for something.

The wonderful jellyfish cat toy I purchased for my son.

The wonderful jellyfish cat toy I purchased for my son.

I found the best toy ever. Developed by National Geographic, part of the price of this perfect toy goes to support animals. It is a jellyfish filled with catnip on a stick. I had to buy it.

When my son came over to pick it up, he laughed. “Really a jellyfish toy?”

“Yes,” I said. You can finally get your revenge. Whenever your cat attacks the jellyfish toy, you can envision those jellyfish that attacked you getting attacked by your cat.”

And he smiled his best smile and agreed it was a wonderful idea.

 

A Piece of Crumb Cake or A Crumb Bun Equals Love

15 Mar

Crumb cake and crumb buns, I can still taste them. Eating a crumb cake in my family is like eating love.   As the powdered sugar drips and the crumbs fall, we see and smell happy memories. I can not tell you how many important family discussions were held while we sat around eating crumb cake, but there were many. Crumb cake kept us together and talking.

My Grandpa Nat was a baker. My grandparents owned a kosher bakery in West New York, New Jersey. And among my favorite foods were the crumb buns. I say among my favorites, because I liked other items as well: chocolate chip cookies, black and white cookies and rye bread. But for my Mom, there was really just one love: the crumb buns were always the number one item for her.

She told me that as a little girl she were go down to the bakery in the morning and check out the tray of crumb buns, looking for the best one: the one with the most crumbs; the one with the biggest crumbs. And then my grandmother would cut that crumb bun out for my Mom to eat.

I would like to say that she outgrew this need. But she never did. Even after my grandparents closed their bakery in the late 1960s, my Mom still needed a crumb bun fix. When she could no longer find them in bakeries, she turned to Entenmann’s crumb cake to get her fix! Yes, my Mom was a crumb bun/cake addict.

She would share anything with her children and grandchildren, but when it came to crumb cake, she still had to choose the best piece with the best crumbs for herself. We sometimes ‘fought’ over the best piece, but in the end Mom would get it.

Mom loved to eat crumb cake on a paper towel or napkin. She would put the cake upside down on the paper, and eat the cake first. Saving the crumbs for last, she would eat the biggest crumbs first and slowly work her way to the smallest crumbs. Near the end she would fold the paper towel so that the crumbs would gather together. Then when she had picked up all the pieces she could, she would lick her finger to pick up the last crumbs. I still eat my crumb cake that way.

Her children and grandchildren learned early on that Grandma would steal their crumbs when they weren’t looking. Yes she would. If she saw a crumb on your piece of cake that was extremely large, she would just reach over and take it. In fact, sometimes we would notice that the cake in the box would be missing a few crumbs. Mom had secretly taken those crumbs when no one was around.

But the ‘stealing’ went two ways. Sometimes, after my Mom chose her perfect piece, she would leave the room for a minute. Then my Dad would pounce, and hide her cake. He would act surprised and say something like, “That was yours? Sorry I already ate it.” But she knew it was close by.   And he would give it back to her like a guilty teenager.

Finding the piece of cake with the best crumb ever was an important goal. My sister and I soon realized it was best to be up early in the morning to look for the best piece of crumb cake. But it did not matter, Mom usually beat us to the best piece.  As my sister remembers, and it is true,  sometimes the crumb cake was missing a piece from the middle!  Mom had been there first, claiming the piece with the best crumbs.

Entenmann's Crumb Cake hidden on top of the refrigerator.

Entenmann’s Crumb Cake hidden on top of the refrigerator.

The tradition took on new meaning when the grandchildren arrived. It was wonderful fun eating crumb cake together. The crumb cake, which was kept high on top of the refrigerator, would be taken down. Everyone would gather around to look at it, trying to figure out which piece they would get. The corners, of course, were the best pieces. Mom always got one of those.

In the summer time, the crumb cake tradition was not only for mornings. In the evenings, as we had our tea, someone would always bring the crumb cake down from the refrigerator. The grandchildren would come running to participate in the feast. Sometimes it was just all the girls eating with Grandma. But other times, the boys would join in as well. In my mind’s eye, I see them all giggling around the table having tea and crumb cake.

When I moved to Kansas, I was so excited to see Entenmann’s crumb cakes at the grocery store. I bought one every time my parents came to visit. But more important, I bought one whenever I felt homesick. Having a piece of crumb cake with my children, always made me feel closer to my Mom.

Even when my Mom was at her sickest, she could usually eat a piece of crumb cake. She would get a look of childlike delight when the cake would be put on the table. She still analyzed every piece, looking for the piece she wanted to eat.

For a month, when my Mom was sick, my daughter lived with my parents. My daughter told how each evening, my Mom would ask for her cake. “Find the most crumbs,” my Mom would say. And my daughter would cut my Mom the best piece of crumb cake and bring it to her. It lightened the day.

When my Mom passed away, eating a piece of Entenmann’s crumb cake became even more important. I felt close to her when I ate the crumbs from the paper towel. Sounds silly, I know. But in those first months it did help. However, about six months after she died, the grocery stores in the Kansas City area, where I live, stopped selling the crumb cake. I felt crushed. I was devastated. I no longer could have my crumb cake fix. I no longer could feel that connection with my Mom.

I can still get crumb cake when I go back east to New Jersey and visit my siblings. My sister almost always buys a crumb cake for us to enjoy during my stay.  It helps. That bond with crumb cake is part of our existence.

IMG_1663

I actually had a lamp made after my mom died that has some of her favorite sayings on it. The Sticks campany, which makes painted furniture, will personalize their items. And so I had something made in memory of Mom. On one side, I had them engrave, “Crumb cake ❤ Love.”

 

 

 

http://www.entenmanns.com/op-prod.cfm/prodId/7203001994#.VQWQLmTF_Ao

 

www.sticks.com

 

Aging, Wisely and Joyfully

21 Feb

I spoke to my daughter a few days before her 29th birthday (yesterday). She lives in Israel and I live in the Kansas, so we spoke through a video chat. (Always makes me think of 2001: A Space Odyssey, when the astronaut calls his family from space.) My daughter was bemoaning her advancing age.

“I am going to be old!” She cried. “I am almost 30!”

“That is not old!” I insisted. “Look at me, I am 60. I am not complaining about being old.”

“Well once you are old, you are old!” She said. “I am not old yet, just getting there.”

We both laughed. But the truth is, I do not feel old. I feel pretty wonderful.

I recently participated in a two-day workshop on “Wise Aging” presented by instructors from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Although it was presented in Kansas City, there were participants from through the Midwest. We all learned how to be facilitators in this new program to help people transition in to the next stage of life.

I was surprised when I was called by our rabbi’s wife and asked to participate on behalf of our congregation. But she told me that she thought of me immediately when she realized she could not attend, as I was aging so wonderfully. That was two weeks before my 60th birthday, and I will admit to a bit of concern. But okay, I would do it.

The two-day workshop was intense and exhausting. Fourteen hours of learning and interacting with the other trainees as we attempted to learn about the Wise Aging program, bring this program to life and learn to teach it to others.

I loved the idea of helping people see themselves as elders as opposed to elderly. As we age, we have so much to give to others. We can mentor and teach from our experiences.

There was one part of the program I found distressing. There was much discussion about teaching people how to let go of bitterness and learn to forgive those in their past who might have hurt them. It seems many people, as they age, hold on to old hurts and real or imagined insults.

I say, “let it go.” As does this program. Let go of these feelings because bitterness only makes you feel worse. I am a firm believer of the rule of Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur to say I am sorry to any one I might have hurt and to forgive anyone who has hurt me. It is so much easier than carrying all that baggage around. And it makes life so much more joyful.

This workshop opened my eyes to how others see themselves as they age.   Whereas my husband and I are really enjoying our lives as empty nesters, others seem to have a difficult time.

So I say. Go to a lecture. We try to go to a program at least once a week.   There are many free lectures and programs available. Go to a concert. Take a weekend trip if you can. Get a kitten. Having a pet does wonders for people as they age. Travel with friends.

Yes the body starts to give out a little. But exercise is wonderful for keeping your body healthy. You do not have to run marathons like my meshugganah husband. But you can walk. I walk two to three miles almost every day.

Soup

Do something different. Yesterday, in honor of my daughter’s birthday, a friend of mine and I went to the new IKEA store in Kansas. I had not been there yet. We walked all around the showroom and the marketplace and the warehouse. I got lots of walking in and bought a few accessories. Then we went out for a bowl of chicken noodle soup and shared a black and white cookie at a deli. Happiness can be a bowl of soup and a cookie!

Find things that make you happy. And be happy. You have so many experiences to share and so much good to do. Volunteer for an organization you love. Meet new people. Keep being curious. My curiosity has led me to investigate further into my family history and I have found cousins I did not know I had. I love a mystery and solving it. Now I am focus on the mysteries of my family.

There is so much to do and so much more time to do it, now that I no longer have children at home.

So I plan to continue to age wisely and joyfully. I hope my example will help my daughter accept her almost 30 years and age joyfully as well.