The foreign dignitaries following JFK’s funeral cortege.

I wish there was a dream guidebook that magically explained the underpinnings for virtually every mysterious reel that I often remember the minute I open my eyes in the morning. In last night’s memorable episode, I was thinking of how many foreign heads of state I could identify back in November, 1963, when so many showed up for John Kennedy s funeral. At the time I was twelve. When I woke, I was immediately beset by this awful feeling that currently, I know hardly any prime ministers or presidents of countries around the world, while I can still name quite a few from six decades ago. Now just what does that mean? Why am I giving a minute’s thought to such random bits of knowledge? I can’t help but think that there are a zillion people who not only can’t name a single one, but could care less about such an irrelevant subject. I’m not sure why I do, at least enough to challenge myself to make a couple of world leader lists for a brief moment this morning. Maybe because I’m thinking about how fast time seems to be moving? That it’s harder to keep track of all the moving parts in the great big world? That my brain has less room for all the random facts I used to feed it? That I’m beginning to lose my memory? Who knows? Maybe a little of everything.

Changes by David Bowie

As I mulled over this unexpected train of thought, I found myself humming David Bowie’s lyrics from his song “Changes,” originally released as a single in 1972 from his album, Hunky Dory.

Strange fascinations fascinate me
Ah, changes are taking
The pace I’m goin’ through

Turn and face the strange
Ooh, look out, you rock ‘n’ rollers
Turn and face the strange
Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older.

Me holding my brand-new niece in Frankfurt, Germany, 1972 and the two of us last weekend, 51 years later.

Of course I am losing a bit of everything. Everyone who lives long enough will experience the chipping away of ourselves. I can’t remember the last time I was impatiently waiting for time to move faster, when it seemed like everything I wanted to do, was never going to finally, finally be here. Not any more. Instead I’m now usually amazed at how an event that’s out ahead of me, is in my rear view mirror faster than I can say Jack Robinson. Will anyone reading this have any idea when that expression was commonly used to describe something speedy? I’m surprised it popped up in my head, although I remember my parents using it frequently when I was growing up. Ah, even old adages fall away. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.” Don’t I know it. Suddenly, there are more gray hairs, wrinkles, wisdom spots, as my dermatologist calls them and different aches and pains. I feel like I’m constantly replenishing my pill box organizer when not long ago, I was surprised I took any pills on a regular basis. What a blur.

Changes are always happening whether we’re conscious of them or not. I try to practice staying in the moment, especially when I appreciate what’s happening in that instant. The other day I ate my first peach of the summer. They’re only available for a limited time, so I always want to make sure I really notice how they look, feel and taste when they’re available. But I must say I didn’t notice when my toes began to shift, when arthritis twisted them to the point that certain shoes which once felt comfortable, now do not. I know there was a process happening back there somewhere, but I guess it was either too subtle or I was too busy to notice. I often think about the countless cellular changes that are quietly happening in my body, somewhere below the surface. After all, I’ve been using it for decades now. It’s been humming along through all kinds of stresses, physical, emotional and environmental, while it works to keep up with what I’ve done with it and to it. The years will exact their price which will suddenly make their presence known – the need to sit down periodically, instead of working for five hours straight in the garden, the urge to take a nap, the lure of a comfortable chair instead of the night out on the town.

To date, I think my ability to adapt is one of my strongest assets. But it’s hard to anticipate what challenges the changes coming toward me will require. When will I be unable meet certain demands? So far I’ve been doing fine living by myself. Sometimes the physical labor of managing a big house and yard is daunting. In a world where I didn’t live right across the street from my daughter and her family, I might’ve already moved on from my home of almost 45 years. Maybe not. I do love it. My contingency plan is to move downstairs to the first floor if climbing steps becomes an issue. I suppose I could get surprised by a more sudden bodily decline. We’ll see.


I think about how people are forced to adapt to impossible situations in an instant. Natural disasters occur every day, upending lives. And then there is the devastation caused by war. For those who survive these cataclysmic events, I’m certain there is plenty of mental degradation carried forward for a lifetime. And yet, we all know that throughout history, trauma hasn’t always wholly destroyed its victims. Recently, I’ve thought many times about the four children who were found alive in the Amazon forest, after surviving a plane crash and witnessing the death of their mother and two other adults. Yet they managed to stay alive for 40 days. They have a formidable recovery ahead of them in every way. Still I find stories like these hopeful, despite the challenges ahead. After all, perspective is everything. What are my minuscule adjustments to change, relative to those of people with psychological and physical mountains like theirs to climb?

My seven month old granddaughter, sprawled across my lap, napping.

I’ve always said that if time travel was possible, I’d never go forward to see what’s ahead of me in this world. I know about the inevitability of change. I have no illusions that it’s avoidable, nor do I want it to be, as some changes are necessary and desirable. But I’ve experienced my share of anticipating some changes that have been harsh as well as unstoppable. Now, when I know one of those less welcome events is on the horizon, I practice enjoying the good times that I still have, right up to the time they’ll end. I’m in one of those periods right now. I’ve had the great pleasure of helping care for my newest grandchild, a little girl, since her birth just over seven months ago. Ever since Michael died, gone over six years now, I’ve felt that I would be unlikely to experience any type of new love, except perhaps if my son, my youngest child, was to have a baby. I’d spent so much of my emotional capital during the five years of Michael’s cancer experience that I couldn’t imagine I had much left for starting over with anyone. Except for perhaps a baby, an innocent, with no baggage and no agenda. I was lucky that this little girl, who could be the world’s easiest infant, indeed peeled open a whole fresh corner of feeling that I’d hoped was still available in me. Being with her has been an utter pleasure, one of life’s special treats. Lucky me.

My granddaughter yanking my hair.

However, this unlimited time with her is coming to an end. My son has accepted a job in Colorado starting at the end of September. He and his family will be pulling up stakes to start this new chapter in their lives. Of course I’ll be able to visit them and they will come home as well. Nothing, however, will ever replace this very special time, though, and in truth, this little girl will have no memory of all the time we’ve spent together. Those memories will exist in my mind and in the numerous photos and videos that will be part of her future. Creating lasting memories, the best part of technology, in my humble opinion.

My daughter asked me the other day if I was going to be okay after this move takes place. I laughingly reminded her that I’d only known the baby for under a year, and that if I’m okay living without Michael after our 45 years together, I’d adapt to this little girl’s absence. Of course I’m going to miss them all, my son, daughter-in-law and my precious little one. For me, this will be another exercise in adjusting to the ch-ch-ch-changes of life. I’m going to enjoy these last couple of months, cry when they’re over, and find my way to moving forward. Because that’s what I do.

3 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-changes”

  1. I’m so sad for you that they’re leaving. We’d really like to come down in July. I was texting with Henry yesterday from CT — he helped me identify a bird! — and I’m going to throw out some dates and see if people are available…. Love you so much!

      1. Thanks! We are here till Tuesday! I’m loving the marsh in the backyard! So fun to see the tidal changes. When I get back, I’ll contact you all and see if there are any free dates in July!❤️❤️

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