A junk life filled with McMoments

STILL guilty of frittering way the old tick tock, of a life still stuffed with McMoments, time wasted on “urgent,” meaningless gunk.  Not that I intended to still be here – sort of slid the mire of checking texts & phone calls, often feeling more controlled by a tiny “beep” than any wise inner voice.

McMoments – a concept learned from Susan Bosak, who speaks eloquently about developing their antithesis – – 7-generation living.  Today, most people don’t seem to look beyond the close of their own generation, let alone seven (7).  We – yes, am very much including myself – need to step away from those junk McMoments & tap in the wonderer that Susan says we are at our core.

It is HARD.

Seems to me that once I realize the truth of something, it should be easy to match my behavior to my new awareness.  Feels like the opposite happens!

From my own experience, can tell you that those alluring McMoments – checking out & posting to Facebook, half listening for the “ping” of a new e-mail, doing a “quick” run through my must-read media sites – are proving as addictive as junk food; like junk food, they give a short jolt of enjoyment, take up limited space & deliver basically NOTHING in the way of actual satisfaction.

The IAGG World Congress ended a month ago tomorrow.  Over the weeks since, I’ve connected with Philadelphia’s Positive Aging Lunch Series, am launching Cyber Access for the Technically Timid next Tuesday, giving a Kiwanis speech next month & one to Rotary in October.  But so much more could have been accomplished – I could be feeling so much more satisfied – without those time & energy devouring McMoments that still distract disrupt derail.

Trading in those McMoments for a more challenging but WAAAY more satisfying use of the old tick tock!

Lockhart Lumber – what if?

My brother, Mike, who worked with our father at Lockhart Lumber (the smallest lumber & millwork company in the Middle Atlantic  Lumberman’s Association), seemed dumbfounded that Dad was not psyched about planning for retirement.  On the cusp of 30, Mike did NOT see himself as the kid that Dad did, but as someone to take seriously & groom to start taking over the business within several years.

Dad saw it differently.  He considered Mike  (who worked at “the shop” between long stints of travel) a fledgling, just getting to know the ins & outs of the business.  But above all, Dad loved his work, was proud of the company he built & hadn’t the slightest inclination to start planning a transition, certainly not retirement.

Sigh...  It is rare that a business successfully spans generations.  And back when our own family business drama played out, there wasn’t much – if any – support in nurturing multi-generation companies.

Today, a professional facilitator would have gotten the two men talking  with each other & in tandem with their wives.  Didn’t happen.  Mike & Kerry sailed to Australia, put down roots & raised a family – –  and Mike ultimately owned his own successful high-end hardware store in the heart of Sydney.

Mom & Dad were heartbroken when Mike & Kerry relocated, but not surprised.  Kerry had been outspoken about starting a family AFTER returning to her native Australia.  As much as they wanted them to stay, they supported the move as what was best for the two young people & their future family.

No one could have guessed that Dad would be gone – at 62 – within two years, working almost to the end.

Over the 40+ years since Dad died & Lockhart Lumber ceased to be, I’ve had a lot of “What if….?”  thoughts.  Knowing what I’ve discovered about aging upward, knowing Mike was in his late 50s when he started HardwareONE, kicking off new expansive aging activities at 65 & 71 (John), my #1What if…?” is – – what would Dad have accomplished ten, twenty years down the road from 62?  What would he have done with “the shop,” which was just hitting stride when he died, 10+ years after opening its doors, as he grew savvier in how to market to his niche base, how to make the most of his special design skills, how to build his reputation for service & attention to detail beyond Huntingdon Valley & Bryn Athyn to the Greater Philadelphia area & beyond.

How amazed Mike would have been to discover that, far from winding down, Dad was just revving up!  Dad would have found someone who was as good at millwork as he was & someone else who was a gifted designer, would have brought them into the business as employees, then partners.  Dad would have, as he entered his mid-late 70s, eased out of the day-to-day operations, but always have kept an active hand in the business.  Full retirement was not for him!

I like to think of what might have happened if Mike & Dad had the sort of professional family business cou nseling available today, been able to see the situation from each other’s point of view & found common ground.   Mike might have stayed, learning & gradually taking responsibility for the operations of the business, something he, together with Kerry, would have probably done better than Dad.  Relieved of that stress & with his son & daughter-in-law coming up with creative business & marketing ideas, Dad could have kicked back more, enjoyed the fruits of his labors, spent more time doing things with his Own True Love.  OR the counseling might have supported Mike & Kerry’s decision to head Down Under, but what a different parting it would have been.

What might have happened if the two men, the two couples had gotten the counseling available today?  What might have happened if Mike had stayed?  How would Lockhart Lumber have grown & flourished with Dad in his richly layered 60s & beyond?  Would the men have had a different relationship – distant only in miles, not emotions – if there had been counseling before the young people returned to Kerry’s homeland?

It’s not always true that “the saddest word of song or pen are those few words, ‘It might have been.'”  Looking backward, reframing things into what might have happened,  “if only” CAN empower.  Mike & Dad didn’t have the benefit of professional counseling – what if they had.  They only talked to each other as boss & employee, father & son, never person to person – what if they had.   It doesn’t change a thing, but puts a reframed possibility out into the universe & asks not what might have been, but what if.

A happier, more satisfying ending exists, if only in my mind & heart.


Petals Fall – a guest post from Lori Odhner

Heartfelt thanks to LORI SONESON ODHNER, whose Marriage Moats regularly inspire uplift delight her devoted family friends fans, for permission to share the following, written about her mother.  It captures the countless dark times where, faced with seemingly impossible situations, we’re asked to chose between doing what is convenient, even sensible, and what is right

Having my mother move in with us for her final five years was not my first choice. My preference would have been for her to live down the street for the rich period of her fifties and sixties when she could still walk across the room without needing to catch her breath. Stop in for tea when the kids were little and play the finger songs she had sung with me. Pick up a few groceries while she was at the store anyway and leave them on my counter. Clap wildly at recitals and be there to see them blow out candles.

But that was not how it played out. She lived three thousand miles away for the decades in which I was raising children, and they mostly knew her from photographs and a quick blast through visit in the summer. One time we climbed into her car from the airport and she and I began non stop talking when the toddler beside me asked who she was.

But as a consolation prize we built her an apartment off our back door when we bought this house, the one John never saw until closing day. The one we grabbed not because the roof was old and the basement leaked but because it was on Alden Road in my hometown. It was a cute apartment, with roses on the wallpaper and an efficiency kitchen. Two recliners so she and I could chat with a baby in each lap, though no one knew I was pregnant when the first hammers started pounding. Probably God knew.

It was inevitable that her mania would creep in. There was no expectation that it wouldn’t. But that did little to soften the blow. After an especially tumultuous episode my siblings plunged into a plan B. Move her out and into residential care. Surely I could not deal with her on top of my own children.

Coincidentally John was composing a song to surprise me for Christmas. It was barebershopesque, reminiscent of the quartet my father belonged to. He practiced downstairs after I went to sleep with a twin in each crook, accompanied by the resident night owl. Benjamin.

After the dancing when everyone’s gone,
After they turn out the light,
After the bright stars have faded with dawn,
I will remember this night.
After the petals all fall from this rose,
After the green grass is dry,
After the warm summer rains turn to snows,
My love for you will not die. 
All through the winter’s cold winds and squalls,
I will still love you, after it all.

After I’ve said something thoughtless or cruel,
When things that I do make you cry, 
I’ll ask forgiveness for being a fool
And beg you for just one more try. 
After our grandchildren’s children are old
And mountains have washed to the sea,
After the sun and the stars have grown cold,
Wherever you are I’ll be.
From the dawn of our love to the last shadow’s fall,
I will still love you, after it all.

When he sang it for me, having recorded all four parts by himself, I cried. Of course. And in the following days I heard another voice layered beneath his.

My father. He was acknowledging that the petals were indeed falling from this woman, my mother, his Rose. She was as noisy as a squall. But he was asking. Begging me to give her just one more try.

She stayed. For which I am deeply grateful.

My mother and Benjamin had a sweet connection. Two misfits, who could not figure out how to keep from exploding. Making a scene. Hurting people they loved. There are, I confess, days I want to give up on him. Be done with the chaos. But then I hear her singing. Begging me to give him one more try.




Hit on the Wallet, Boost for Our Hearts

It was a strategic decision to limit our client load – the freed time let me attend the IAGG World Congress,  develop  Cyber Access for the Technically Timid  & start writing That Your Days May Be Long.  One impact of that belt-tightening decision is that John & I put any potential purchases under a microscope before moving ahead.

That said, we blew the wad last night.

Background:  On Tuesday, we had our weekly visit with an older friend, taking her out on a ramble (beloved pooch on her lap) followed by lunch at York Diner  (good food, great access for wheel chairs), capped with watching SUMMER STOCK  back in her senior residence room.   Alas, just about ten minutes before the end, the electricity went dark in her room!  We rolled her down to the dining/social room, where there was still lights & air conditioning.  Heading out, we promised to return to watch the ending.

And back we went!   Due to a full morning & early afternoon, we got there at 3:00 p.m., late for us.  What a grand time watching the end of SUMMER STOCK, then popping in ANCHORS AWEIGH – we assumed there was plenty of time to watch before dinner was served.

Live & learn.

The person who cares for the pooch from late afternoon to early morning stopped by at 5:00 p.m. to pick up her canine charge.  Which was when John & I learned that, every day, our dear older friend has the 1-2 punch of seeing her beloved dog taken away just when she needs him most (at night) AND, on the way out, the doggie’s caretaker rolls her down to dinner.  At 5:00 p.m.

Our horror isn’t just that our friend likes to eat at 7:00 or later – it’s that once dinner is over, she has nothing to do but watch television.  Even if she steeps herself in TCM’s classic movies, it’s by herself, no dog on her lap or curled up next to her.

John & I could not bear it.  Instead of rolling down the hall to a way-too-early dinner, the three of us enjoyed the end of ANCHORS AWEIGH, then we happily headed down & OUT for a beautiful early evening drive, ending up at – you guessed it – York Diner.

It’s hard to explain what it means to someone who has three or four choices to have for her senior residence’s dinner to open up a big, many-paged diner menu.  Having options, the ability to make your own choices of what to eat & how it’s prepared, goes to the heart of freedom, even if it’s just winnowing your final choice to between ordering a Monte Cristo sandwich or a cheeseburger (medium rare) with french fries.

An aside – whenever we take our friend out to a meal, she demolishes it.  We’re talking famously large diner servings.  Gives us pause, knowing the small portions she’s served at her senior residence.  

It turned out the evening didn’t end with a lovely late sundown drive back to her residence.  I wheeled her up to her room, while John waited downstairs.  Waited & waited & waited.  He was about to come up to find out if all was well, when he spotted me walking out to him – smiling.

Much to my delight, our friend asked if I could help her get ready for bed. I know how much having a caring pair of hands to help her prep for bedtime meant to my Mom.  Even John became expert at it!  Last night, I helped a dear older friend undress, got her fresh unders, helped her get on her nightgown & take a last visit to the bathroom, then helped her transfer from the wheelchair to bed – all of which she normally handles on her own, but which went so much more smoothly with extra hands & heart.

It’s true that we put our purchases under a microscope.  It’s true we did not include “dinner for three” on our weekly budget.  But the biggest truth is that the hit to our wallet was a mega boost to our hearts!

CARE – a fire bell in the night

Wow – – every week since returning from the IAGG WORLD CONGRESS  seems to deliver another rich offering deepening the discussion around the current calamity called aging upward in America.

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer serves up a terrific review of CARE, an eye-opening, downright terrifying film about the nation’s – and especially our region’s -, burdgeoning home-health care worker crisis.

The Philly-produced film should awaken policy makers & fill them with enough terror to get creative & find innovative ways to head off a catastrophe on path to hit every level of our nation’s well-being.

Should, alas, does not necessarily translate to WILL.  Either to see or do.

Need, availability, cost, poverty wages, crippling government bells & whistles – put them together & we can expect our economy, social structure & health to crater over the next ten years.

May this film broaden a discussion happening among too few people & reach upward through all levels of our hide-bound & headed-for-a-cataclysmic reckoning hierarchies (too many types & levels to list).

The fire bells are ringing – 24/7/365.  Am praying  people who can make things right DO, starting with realizing that countless potential solutions are already available but are kept inaccessible because they’re not sufficiently institutionalized, bureaucratized, commoditized.

We’ve got to cut through all the jibber jabber outrageously suppressing  community- & individual-based solutions.  Or else we’re toast.

Learning to not loathe Jerry Lewis

I was NOT a Jerry Lewis fan. John introduced me – kicking & screaming – to The Nutty Professor, which I expected to be the epitome of everything I loathed about the too too physical comedian.  What a shocker to LOVE it.

There are still a lot of Jerry Lewis movies I consider TOO over the top, but ones like Cinderfella found their way onto my “recommend” list.



Jerry Lewis – King of Clowns – died today.  He died living a legacy that goes way beyond being the quintessential goof ball.

Last year, at 90, he was still doing his comedy bits once a month for wowed audiences.  Over the past years, he’s turned in some unexpected performances, including last year’s Max Rose and a riveting 2011 role as Richard Belzer’s uncle in Law & Order – Special Victims Unit.

A tip of my hat & heartfelt thanks for modeling full-throttle living at any age.


Flits & Feathers – Mindwalker1910 posting

It didn’t dawn on me as I listened to Mom talking about something she’d seen earlier, some special moment she wanted to share with us around the dinner table, that her ability to appreciate even the smallest moment, to SEE the thing that was in front of her, would stand her in such good stead as she aged upward, into her nineties.

Her big chair with the broad wooden arms  – the one Brenda always described as “in the Stickley style” – with its full view out the living room bay window gave Mom a perfect perch for watching the world go by, whether it was a group of giggling girls with towels & flip flops off to a friend’s pool or a butterfly swooping by for a visit.

This 08/17/00 e-mail from Mom to her devoted dist list was reposted on The Velveteen Grammie 14 years after she wrote it – it feels as fresh as it did all those years ago!


As I sat in the big chair in the living room, looking out the picture window, I saw a big beautiful butterfly flitting about the bushes!  It was the first big one I have seen this summer.   It was yellow, with black edgings.  I have seen the small yellow ones flying around.  They are pretty, too.  

I had another unusual experience today.  Two birds, one after another, hurled themselves at the window.  They saw themselves reflected in the window and thought it was an enemy –  poor birds.   I was feeling sorry for them and hoped they were okay. 

Then I saw a big, handsome red cardinal taking his ease on the rhododendrons.  I felt Pete near and felt comforted.

That big, beautiful butterfly reminded me of a summer over 50 years ago.  We were at Lake Wallenpaupack when I saw the Great Luna Moth.  There it hung, on the door of Odhner’s Cabin, its exquisite wings slowly weaving back and forth.  It was a pale cream color.  It was so lovely, it seemed to belong to the other world.

Before I say good night and head up the wooden hill to bed, I want to welcome a new member of our merry little band – Rebecca Cooper.  When I think of Becky, it is with awe for all that she has accomplished, in addition to being a wife and mom.  I am no longer an active participant on a discussion group she belongs to. To compensate, I took the liberty of adding her to the Mindwalker crew.

Nite nite – am off to the land of Winkin, Blinkin and Nod!  Grammie Kay