Wednesday, December 19, 2018


And speaking of Christmas: It's just not my favorite time of year. I like the part where we can see friends and perhaps talk on the phone or Face Time with those who are far away - - - and therein lies the rub.

We are so scattered. To attempt long distance traveling during the Christmas season - well, it's just stupid. At best it's ill advised. Already the weather gods are posting dire predictions. I hope they are wrong.

Home for Christmas! It's almost as American as gerrymandering. I can remember when I was in school loading the kids on a mattress in the back of that old Ford and driving twelve hours to grandma's house. There is little to equal the restorative powers of a mother's embrace. When the distances reached 2000 plus miles the complications multiplied.

I don't think this is my private problem. I think it comes with age in an age where long distances separate the young, who are off where jobs are or spouses or dreams, from the old who tend no to be as mobil. When I was a kid the thirty odd miles to grandma's house was easy for twenty to thirty children, grandchildren and great grandchildren - all of whom lived that near - to gather up and open gifts, eat in shifts and enjoy the embraces and faces of the closest of kin. There were twelve living children in my father's immediate family during those years. The numbers don't lie.

These days it's all just history. One day they are there - the next they are gone. I think of them all throughout the year but during these days those thoughts come in tsunami like waves. I hold my breath until they pass and then go on.

Thing is, I wouldn't trade those memories for anything. Those days were among the richest of my long life. We all have those memories and many of you can still reach out and actually draw them to you in a loving embrace. Do that now. These days don't last.

Be well, dear friends, and stay tuned. MERRY CHRISTMAS

Sunday, December 16, 2018


First of all my disability is not visible.  If I were to walk into a room full of people it would be assumed that no special consideration should be given to me - and there is the problem.  Were I to be in a wheel chair, or on crutches, or tapping the floor with a white cane automatic responses would kick into play at once to accommodate my obvious disability.  

Second, though I know I am disabled I do not usually think like a disabled person.  This problem comes from both directions.  A blind person doesn't take a step without considering his or her disability.   I walk into a situation thinking I'll be able to function like a normal person - and now and then that's exactly what happens, but that's rare.  I believe most people with a hearing disability go through their days hoping for the best, taking their chances and swallowing the truth that they are not getting 100% of what is being said.   

Some time ago at a gathering of good friends I became aware that all I was understanding were the thoughts inside my head.  I saw a friend sitting over on the side of the room and I wandered over and sat down beside him and leaned over and said to him, "I'm not understanding a damned thing".  He said, "Neither am I".

I often think about this when I am in noisy situations.  Who else is here that feels somewhat left out of the current of current events?  Who else is here who needs to have a hearing check-up?  Then I go into my merry go round of thought that ends up with the question, "Why isn't hearing loss considered a medical problem and treated as a part of any medical examination instead of a second tier lifestyle issue which is where uber expensive hearing aids enter the picture - which is why many people do not bother with seeking help?".  Fortunately over the counter hearing instruments are now coming on the market that make help more accessible for mild to moderate hearing loss.

I was seeing audiologists for years and their solution for any issues I was having was a new set of very expensive hearing aids.  I became desperate and asked my primary physician to refer me to an otolaryngologist - an ear nose and throat specialist.  I had never had my hearing evaluated by a medical doctor.  It was determined that my left ear was far beyond qualifying for a cochlear implant (CI).  He told me that such a procedure would vastly improve my hearing and understanding.  He referred me to Tufts Medical Center in Boston and the rest is history.

Not everyone who is hearing disabled needs a CI.  The thing is, if hearing loss is treated earlier enough its progress can be monitored while quality of life is maintained.  A hearing aid may be all that one may need.  Get your hearing tested just as you would have your blood sugar tested, or your prostate specific antigens or your cholesterol.  Make it part of your medical profile.  The sooner the better.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


"What we learn from history is that we don't learn from history."  Then there is this:

Some time ago, several couples, all ofd friends, sat around a table laden with good food and drink when the realization settled in on everyone that we were all enjoying our second and even third primary relationship.

Smiles greeted everyone - knowing smiles that represented lifetimes filled with persistence, not giving up, optimistically carrying on.  The conversation didn't linger on the number of divorces that were represented around the table but rather on how many times we tried.  These were not "twenty somethngs" still trying to figure out how to say "hello".  These were veterans.  Decorated heroes who have made peace with imperfection, who have looked into the mirror and not turned away  -  knowing that there is only one truly perfect thing in life - a well made martini, stirred not shaken - by the way.

People are not perfect therefore relationships are not perfect.  Hopefully, we who keep voting for relationship will learn from our histories.  It's a convenient hope that such is the case.  With age comes the problems of aging but also that particularly liberating truth that companionship had been devastatingly underestimated in our early lives.

Appearance, that most fragile of human qualities, doesn't hang around long enough to be the glue that holds us together.  Billions are spent in the effort to make it last.  Sex, that hormone driven behavior, which in humans is not bounded by estrus or limited much by morality, must come face to face with the irrepressible forces of aging.   I have known old men who claimed to be as randy as ever and ready for a hot sheet session at the drop of their drawers.  Oddly, they always seemed to be alone - at the moment.  Probably means nothing.  What I'm saying is that no one gets to that proverbial "ripe" old age without becoming - well, a bit ripe.  But isn't that the exact moment when the fruit is most delicious - when love is most profound - when being with someone gives exquisite meaning to your life?

I'm an old man in love with an old woman.  I don't think it gets any better.

Saturday, July 21, 2018


There is no accounting for the power
of freshly minted love - it's forever

We wrote our names on a laughing rock
chosen from that rocky beach that
applauded with each receding wave

We looked at each other and in that look
knew that the Universe did that just for us

That little beach with its raucous applause
was just for us and no other - our love so pure
With indelible ink we wrote our love on
a chosen rock to remind us - to remind us

We believed what we wanted to believe
You can't blame us for that

Monday, June 4, 2018



I turned the volume down
to take the edge off the noise
The world is becoming louder
What is that you say
Lately I wait to install my hearing aids
cherishing the silence of morning
A high keening tinnitus is all I can hear
as though a mourner is miles away in pain
I adore the sound of wind the
happy chorus of spring peepers
and late summer cricket song
But not the emptiness of constant talk
And not noise for the sake of noise
And those places that thrive on cacophony
as though some good would come of it
as though loud was the new American dream

Monday, March 19, 2018


There are so many jokes in the standard repertoire about aging that it would be impossible to gather them all.  I'm so old I have stopped buying green bananas.  Anon.  I'm so old my insurance company sends me half a calendar. R Dangerfield.   I'm so old that the sight of flowers frighten me. G Burns.  I'm so old that when I order a 3 minute egg they want the money up front.  G Burns.  I'm so old the candles cost more than the cake.  B Hope.  This one by Steven Wright stops me cold: How young can you die of old age?

Of course, none of the above is original with me.  Not even growing old.  It just feels unique.  It's one of those things, that if you do it (grow old, I'm talking) you feel alone.  I don't care if the room is full of cheering friends, which, of course, is nice, but even such an outpouring cannot remove the footprint of time planted squarely in the middle of your back.

These things don't occupy your mind  too much until you pass 50, or for sure  60 for most of you.  I say all this from a lofty perch in the midst of my 80s.  That's when it gets serious.  Friends and family begin dying off much too quickly for comfort.  Children you once knew or haven't seen in a while are now voting adults if not parents as well.  Then one day you realize you are *thinking* about it all the time - well, a lot of the time.

A while ago I was commiserating with CA about the recent demise of my main computing machine.  It was only 4 years old.  What to do - what to do.

Now, here is how an Octogenarian processes such a situation.  OK.  Should I go ahead and replace the laptop with the present version or wait for the inevitable upgrade at some unknown time in the future?  I'd like the new model, but will it arrive in time?  That wasn't a joke.  I'm dead serious.  Whoops!

There comes a time in life when the idea of delayed gratification is  a kind of dark joke.

How about this from the Song of Solomon:  "Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither".  I kind of like that.  The Rosebud Theory of big ticket purchases in old age.  It has a certain charm, don't you think?

I've always liked the way Robert Herrick brought it together:

     Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
     Old time is still a-flying;
     And this same flower that smiles today
     Tomorrow will be dying.

A version of this was posted in January 2015.  It just felt right today.