The Big Seven Ohhhh!

In spite of it all, time does indeed march on, and…most of my high school classmates will reach that 70th milestone this year!  My own celebration was just a few months ago with a fabulous birthday bash in one of my favorite places, San Francisco.  I lived there as a child and looked forward to returning again and to see all that had changed while re-visiting familiar places which I fondly remembered in the City by the Bay. 



For some odd reason, turning that corner into the 70’s wasn’t terribly devastating and that is probably because after seeing so many friends at our 50th reunion in 2014, I realized how young we all still are!  Compared to our parents and other family members at this point in life, we are nothing like most memories of what this “age” could, or should, be like.  

 

That…is a very good thing!

 

Goals, dreams…yes, for me at least, there is still so much I’d like to accomplish and I think that probably goes for most of us.  Our world is constantly in motion, mixed with good and, at times, what seems like a daily deluge of bad.    I have so much yet to write, to paint; friends I want to keep in touch with while missing those who are no longer here.   One blessing, something I thought would never happen, was the best reunion of all with my birth son who contacted me last year and that part of me which was missing…has been found.  That wonderful story is shared here on my website and I invite you to read about one of those miracles that sometimes do happen!   My four children and six, absolutely beautiful, genius, grandchildren (yes, I’m proud) are the blessings this life has given to me!

 

So, at the crack of dawn, on a September morning, complete with my over-sized (and very over-stuffed) luggage, tablet and other electronic gadgets, I departed from JFK; meanwhile, our oldest daughter, Jennifer, left Florida around the same time and we eagerly headed towards a West Coast sunrise.  Our flights landed, about an hour apart, and we quickly found each other after strolling through the airport and texting like madwomen.  The birthday whirlwind began with much hugging and laughing during the limousine ride that brought us to our Union Square hotel.  Then…it was party on


By the way, weather in San Francisco was un-seasonably warm, no, make that HOT, for September!  We enjoyed several sultry days in the 90’s and I missed the absence of fog rolling-in at night.  Having packed warmer clothes in anticipation of cooler temperatures, the heat called for some impromptu wardrobe shopping which added to all the fun.

 

First, a nighttime tour of Alcatraz which was incredible.  When I lived in San Francisco as a teen-ager, Alcatraz was an active prison facility, a formidable sight sitting in the bay, a rock where isolation lived and many attempted to escape.  I walked by myself through the prison and on the grounds, at times, feeling shiver-like sensations similar to what I experienced while doing photography in a Gettysburg battlefield years ago.   Unsettled spirits that lingered still in the darkness, searching and wandering.


                                                                          

 

Then, Napa!  Breathtaking views, extraordinary wine tastings and, of course, I made sure to have some favorite selections shipped back to New York.   We visited V. Sattui, Andretti, Franciscan, Robert Mondavi, strolled through the vineyards and loved picking bunches of tiny sweet grapes from their vines.

                                       
                                       
On to my birthday dinner at Alioto’s on Fisherman’s Wharf,  a step back in time even down to sitting in the same spot when I was last there with my parents, 53 years earlier, looking out at the same view of the fishing boats, bobbing at their moorings.  Wonderful food and a perfect evening!
                                 
                                  

It was a spectacular trip, in every way.  From shopping to riding a Cable Car, holding on for dear life all the way through the city and meeting some terrific people along the way, I honestly don’t think my 70th could have been more memorable.

 

                                                                                                                                                                   

Regrets?  Definitely.  There are always a few.  Aside from having to leave San Francisco, I was disappointed in not having time to visit the St. Francis Yacht Club where I had an open invitation to view photographs and a trophy belonging to my paternal grandfather who was once an avid sailboat racer, and…that my workaholic husband John and our other daughter Jill were both unable to make the trip.  

 Maybe next time…and maybe…to the Amalfi Coast for my 75th!

To all my classmates and friends who will be blowing-out candles for their special birthday, stop and celebrate wonderful YOU!  Enjoy all you have become and still hope to be!

 

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. ~Samuel Ullman

 

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Color in the dots….and vote!

 

Election Day is here once again.   Slews of hopeful politicians on various levels across our country vie for a seat in state or local government.

Promises, promises.  And yes, the word change is often bandied about. Everyone wants that.  Let’s face it, that particular word generates what is too often a false sense of security for those who exercise their constitutional right in polling places.  

Voters want more than what they had, they want someone, anyone, to make a damn difference.  Names on road signs decorate the waning beauty of Fall; some represent ideas and hope for many beleaguered communities.  

Others, do not.  

Too many have political competency levels based on vindictiveness and personal vendettas against others.   Council members who voted against an issue, or someone,  become victims of some internal party backlash. All feel they are capable of doing a much better job than their predecessors.  

Same old, same old in the world of politics.  Back-stabbing, feuds and, of course, the constant side-stepping on crucial issues.   Some of the would-be politicos have more skeletons dancing their way out of the shadows than contestants on Dancing with the Stars.  

Ultimately, it’s about control, nothing more.    

State and local debates over development, education, the environment and taxes will remain a constant battlefield of disagreement.   Campaign promises will become more political dust in the wind.  Change, if any, will be nothing more than a name on some town hall door or on some desk.  

Sadly, it all boils down to coloring in dots on a paper ballot; dots which represent nothing more than who will be the lesser of many evils.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bucket list…

The chance to say hello again is a gift, one not to be taken lightly.  

How many of us have had the opportunity to reconnect with family or friends separated by time and circumstances?  I’ve been blessed a great deal this past year which started with my high school reunion and the renewal of many friendships along with several new ones.  Then, something I dreamed would never take place finally did when the son I put up for adoption reached out to find me after forty-seven years, the best gift of all!

There was one more special reunion with someone who had always rested in a soft spot in my mind, a first love that went back to junior high school.  A simple message on Facebook one day opened a door to remembering, laughing and sharing two lives that painfully parted in typical teen-age heartbreak more than fifty years ago.  It was nice to talk once again, as old friends.

We both shared our stories of family drama, things everyone experiences, coping with all that is good, bad or indifferent.   He spoke about not fully understanding how and why things take a negative turn in life, especially his, but he did so with kindness and a certain acceptance that so much of what we deal with is God’s plan.

He had Cancer.  Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to be exact.  He was in somewhat of a remission when we first started talking, his spirits were great and he spoke often about a favorite movie called “The Bucket List”.  He urged me to watch it and I asked if he had a list of his own, which he most certainly did.  The list was made up of just two things, buying himself a new Mercedes and taking a trip with a close friend to Mackinac Island.  It seems that his buddy was fixated on a movie called “Somewhere in Time” and wanted to visit the Michigan hotel where the film was made.  I smiled to myself, visualizing the two of them heading out on this road trip but encouraged him to grab that proverbial bucket and go! 

As too often happens where Cancer is concerned, things started deteriorating.  Our conversations became fewer as he again started Chemotherapy; it weakened him considerably and his positive spirit desperately struggled with the side-effects of the treatments.  A few weeks ago, I texted him to see how he was doing.  He replied “At hospital, talk later”   I never heard from him again, he passed away on September 1st.

Now, I keep thinking about the whole bucket list deal, about how we all need to have wishes and dreams, just as he did.   What’s important is to act on many of these things while we can.  Just do it!  Enjoy whatever life has to offer while there is still time.  Renew friendships, apologize where needed, make peace and move beyond past transgressions, walk in the rain, savor every sunrise, every sunset and catch snowflakes on your tongue.

Live….like you were dying.

 

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