Of Coffee, Ice Cream and Soccer Shoes

6-8Soccer

My friend Liz and I are in that sweet spot between Menopause (been there, done that) and Medicare (not there, not needing that).

She called me the other day and said, “I have two things to ask you.”

“O.K., what’s up?”

Did I want to see a new movie she thought we would both like?  That led to a discussion about possible restaurants to go to after the movie (if we could stay awake that long.) Which led us to talking about why she eats so much healthier than I do.  (I like kale, I do, but really, 3x a week?). After several more stray conversational tangents, I asked her,

“What was the second thing you wanted to ask me?”

She replied, “I forgot.”

“Fine, no problem. Call me back if you remember.” I said.

Maybe she will remember, maybe she won’t.  This happens to me often too. I like to think that we have all the time in the world to try to recall what that second question was, to get together with friends, to make plans. But will we have the time?

Getting older worries me. Specifically, it is the “aging” part of getting older that worries me. My Dad is 91 and Liz’s mom is 90. They are elderly. We see what aging looks like for them. It has its good moments and some not so good. My Dad, who goes into his office every day, is still quite sharp, especially when he remembers to wear his hearing aids. Liz’s Mom’s vision is failing but she enjoys getting a regular manicure. They both appreciate every birthday that they have.

What will aging look like by the time we get there? I’m not ready to be considered “old”, I told Liz recently, although more often I feel that younger people see us that way.

A few Saturday mornings ago my husband and I went to a small coffee shop known for its fabulous brew.  It was packed with 20 and 30 somethings, as it is in a trendy neighborhood near new condos, pilates studios, wine bars and hot restaurants. We stood in line, I ordered my skim latte, my husband his espresso, one scone to share and then with the newspapers (the actual print kind) under our arms, we hunted for a place to sit.

Was it my imagination or did all of the millennials hunch even more closely over their laptops as we walked by silently telling us – hey look, Mr. and Ms. Oldster, every seat in here is taken, shouldn’t you be having a nice bland cup of coffee at the nearest generic place? When no seats opened up at the cool coffee shop, we had to leave, with our coffee in to-go cups, my husband grumbling that espresso is not to be served in to-go cups.

The next Saturday morning we reluctantly did go to the nearest generic Starbucks. At around 11 a.m., it was filling up with young families, the kids in their soccer uniforms, moms texting, dads checking email, chatting about their next activity on a busily over-scheduled Saturday. Looking at them, it seemed like it was only a few years ago that my husband and I were the ones digging through the front hall closet to find shin guards, soccer shoes that still fit and preparing the orange quarters for halftime snacks.

I thought – very briefly – about going up to one of the young soccer families in the Starbucks, and saying, hey, enjoy it while you can, it seems like this stage of life, this being parents of young kids, that it will last forever. You think that the new soccer seasons will keep coming around each fall, but they won’t. In a snap of an eye your kids will be teens, then gone, then grown. Oh sure, the parents would say to me, you are such an oldster. Go back to your coffees, you have all day to hang out, we are a very busy young family, this is a Saturday;  you’ve had your prime time, leave us to our fun.

Has our time for fun passed?

I hope not. I heard an interview with Dr. Atul Gawande (surgeon, public health researcher, author of a new book called “Being Mortal”) on the radio the other day about how we should change the way we approach aging. We have “medicalized” aging, he says, putting far too much emphasis on keeping elderly people safe, rather than happy, by minimizing their risks in restrictive nursing homes to the extent that they have nothing to live for in lives with few pleasures. He suggested instead that we create places where the elderly can live with their own pets, their own kitchens, their own art, being able to eat and sleep when they want. Hey, I wanted to tell him through the radio waves, I am all for that. (and yes, I will send in my pledge donation to my nearest NPR station very soon.)

Last Friday night my husband and I went out to dinner to a neighborhood restaurant that serves “contemporary American food”, you know the kind with menu choices designed to please the old and the young.  The dining room was filled with people of all ages, including young soccer families, maybe not the exact ones we had seen in Starbucks but close enough to be their cousins. Mom and Dad in their 30’s or 40’s, looking harried and hassled, squabbling with each other after a long work week, two or three bored looking kids in elementary and middle school, staring at their individual tablet screens, pushing their siblings just for something to do, everyone ready for dinner out to be over.

Then I saw (and I swear I am not making this up, this was not a hopeful mirage) in the middle of the restaurant a table of maybe five or six women. Just women, all old enough to classify as elderly, in full throttle aging mode, out for Friday night dinner together. Unlike the young soccer family, they were laughing, talking to each other with smiles on their faces, really enjoying being out and – dare I say it?  – having fun.

Dessert arrived at the all-women, all-elderly table and I was close enough to see what they ordered. A giant white bowl with multiple colorful scoops of different flavors of ice cream. Each woman had her own spoon and they all reached in to the center of the table and eagerly dug in. More laughter, more talking.

I called Liz from the car as my husband and I were driving home.

“Hey, Liz, I’ve seen the future of aging. And it looks pretty good. We are all going to be sitting around a table together and eating ice cream.”

She, of course, had no idea what I was talking about it. She also has yet to remember that second thing that she was going to ask me. The future, assuming we get there, will have its fun times, I’m now sure. And I always thought soccer was pretty boring to watch anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

51 Comments

Filed under Aging, Baby Boomers, Female Friends, Moms, Women

51 responses to “Of Coffee, Ice Cream and Soccer Shoes

  1. Enjoyed reading this; I don’t like soccer, but I do like ice cream!

    חג שמח!

    Mindy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pam

    SI loved your recent post about aging especially the opening statement! I just started reading your blog recently and I can so relate to most of them! I look forward to seeing the new posts pop up in my email.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patience White

    Loved your discourse on having fun in your older years. Thanks for sending it to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda Silver Bufano

    You are spot on, believe me, softball almost as boring as soccer, but the time does pass very quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here’s to those ladies and their laughter. And your dad marching off to his office every day. Just the antidote to Zeke Emanuel’s recent story in the Atlantic, Why I Hope to Die at 75. It’s his argument that society and families—including ours—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This post (and a few others I have read) is why I follow you! I’m just under 50 and one of my girls (1/3) is grown…then I have a 15 & 12. My mom died when I was 19 so I don’t have a real sense of what this season looked like for her…so I’m blazing my own trail! And I agree with Atul…aging/dying/death IS medicalized which is not unlike the other end of life in which I am most familiar fertility/pregnancy/birth. I am a nurse with over 16 years experience in maternal/child and perinatal nursing.

    I am looking for other women who are a little further in the journey in hopes of seeing a different story…one that doesn’t treat aging as a disease to be managed, that doesn’t accept chronic diseases as inevitable and one that is writing a story I want to live, too.

    I’ve seen those millenials, too. It’s fun to engage them in conversations they assume someone like me (of a certain age) would know very little about, especially technology. It seems there’s this assumption those of us (of a certain age) would have difficulty grasping concepts like “the cloud,” analytics and SSID. As if. Whatevs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Can I be honest here? You said my post on aging gracefully was a prompt to write this. Thank you, by the way! But this post made me a little sad. Because aging should be a time to explore, create, live your passions for whatever they are. Yes, time has passed. Yes, our children are older and it seems we have more behind us than in front. But look at your dad! Don’t dwell on all of that – at least that’s how I am thinking.

    My dad is 86 and is living about the worst quality of life ever, and so my mom’s isn’t too good either as his caregiver.. It makes me extremely sad, and catapults me into wanting to do ever more now when I can! This is OUR time! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cathy – I appreciate your honesty. Interesting that you should find my post a bit sad. My 30 yo daughter says the same thing, except she calls them “poignant” but I think she shares your view. I am still finding my voice in blog-land and it is true that I seem to be looking back as much as I am looking forward. I really appreciate your perspective, got me thinking! nlw

      Like

  8. Beautiful voice. The fun has just begun!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. oh i’m all for sitting around with girlfriends, eating ice cream and laughing. i love that picture. and i have to agree with poignant and reflective. still, that’s life, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Nancy! Great post. I so agree that we should “plan” to age so much differently and happier than so many elders. But sort of as the saying goes, a life without a plan is like a ship without a rudder. If we don’t purposely create a life different than what so many others have created, we will probably just end up with what we end up with. I’m fortunate to live in a BIG retirement area and witness large numbers of people who are living very happy and fulfilling lives in their senior years. That is incredible inspiration for what can be an amazing time of our lives. And I agree with Cathy C above, we can also contribute an amazing amount if we are willing. Did you read the “Life Reimagined” book that’s around? It offers a really nice perspective in saying it isn’t about aging well, it’s about LIVING well. Fortunately my blog keeps me focused on where and how I want my life to unfold. ~Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

  11. pia

    Great post : )

    My friends and I always envisioned living in a big house together.

    I moved to an area that has both many retirees and many families–it’s at the beach and my house fills up in the summer. I like that. My best friend bought a small bungalow in Atlanta (we’re from Manhattan) and so we have the best of both worlds.

    Hopefully more of our friends will join us.

    My parents were incredible models. My father worked until he had a massive stroke at 77–but they traveled the world 3 times a year–it was more doable in the 1980’s. My mother became blind but picked her own apartment at 79 and bought it. She knew she couldn’t pass a coop board so she picked a sponsor apartment.

    Her two life long best friends lived in the complex and because my mother was the queen of self-control they and others all left their ice cream in her freezer. So they had their independent lives and their ice cream too!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful post and such a great reminder for all of us struggling to remember to enjoy each moment. When I first saw the photo, I thought you were like me, a VERY middle aged mom of young children. I’m glad I read the whole post and can see why you are being featured. You don’t write like a lawyer 🙂 And now.. I’m off to an Oncology appointment followwed by baseball and football practice and hoping to fit in some Botox in between! (From a Law School Dropout, Emory, 2nd Year 1988)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved this post. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Cute! At least if you are eating ice cream, choose a good brand and enjoy! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Anything involving ice cream- I am in.
    Great blog
    Jill

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Johanna B

    Love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I guess a lot of times, it does depend on how healthy and happy your parents are. It helps in more than one way – psychologically and genetically.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. We all have our fears about aging, but most of us are afraid to openly talk about it. I am afraid I won’t get there. I love coffee ice cream though.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Nice post, Nancy!

    Reaching age of 90s (or even 80s) is kinda miraculous for me. And being happy with others in whatever your age is is priceless. The more we age, the more precious will we feel! You’re lucky to see those women, very inspiring…!

    I hope the present and the future you as well Liz and others do and will do that ice cream thing haha. Have a good day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I read your post and couldn’t stop thinking of my grandma. She and her friends are exactly like the women eating ice cream. They are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s and work out, take language classes, meet for breakfast, and travel together. My friends and I are turing 30 and many are so bothered by it, but seeing my grandma enjoy her life makes me realize turning 30, 40, 50, 60, 70… isn’t bad at all! Every age has its magic 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Whenever I am out and about there’s always groups of elderly out having fun. Two of my neighbours are always having ‘a good time’ if I see them in a morning when I’m on my way to uni they ask me to pick a number. Yesterday was 97. And they then go get that number bus and have a day out where ever that may be with their free bus passes.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Great write! I’m 37 and was told I’m old. I wouldn’t want to get younger for anything in the world. I love being 37 even if I am old! I think elderly people need to be able to stay in their homes. I would never put my mom in a home.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This really got me thinking. I’m only nineteen, but it’s quite scary how times flies. How we don’t think about what we’re doing, only to realise how much we missed because our minds were on other things. This post has helped me understand my mother and grandmother a lot better. Thank you for posting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. This is so good! I love your writing and can really hear you speaking in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Lovely, thank you! I’m a new mom and people actually do come up to us with our (frankly adorable) baby and tell us to savour every moment because it will be gone so quickly. I always appreciate these comments and really take them to heart. So feel free to go ahead and tell those moms and dads next time! Also, as a former barrista at one of those cool non-generic coffee shops, I can assure you that you probably were just imagining the 20-somethings not wanting you there: coffee snobs usually appreciate other coffee snobs, regardless of age, and if your husband was grumbling about espresso not belonging in paper cups, he’s sounds like he’s earned his coffee snob status! And one small hint: if you want to be a true coffee snob, throw caution to the wind and have a full fat latte — no skim!! — it carries the flavour of the espresso much better!

    (I actually just wrote about the exclusiveness/inclusiveness of coffee shops here: http://claireandme.wordpress.com/ !)

    Liked by 1 person

  26. monecat

    Reblogged this on slowdown and commented:
    I’m 72 & noticing the younger crowd more perhaps because I’m not as strong & feel more vulnerable. Think I’ll stop doing that as it creates a separation.
    Recently started classes again on Finding Your Creative
    Space, the students are often young so its a bit intimidating but quite interesting & energizing. Hope to continue. I’m a retired RN & visual artist but I can still talk & listen & laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. you ‘re absolutely spot on! I’m beiginning to realsise that theres a life past the hussle bustle times of bringing up a family….and stress to push on to realise those dreams of what I believed life should be! …It really needs ALL to be fun….because if we wait for this or that…or equate life with older memories or assumptions about stages in life….we might miss the point!!…there is only now…so how we doing now!….when i manage to master that one in my day my worries fade 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Yea! I’m the harried 40-something mom of a teenage boy peering toward the next phase. And I think it looks a bit of alright, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I’m 19 years old and most of the time I walk into those hipster coffee shops, and never fit in anyway! I do love your outlook on aging though. My best friend and I often talk about how we’re “scared of getting old”. Now that I think about it, getting older has a lot of plus sides to it! You did a great job of pointing that out.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. LOL! I often tell my best friend that I want us to have side by side condos at the beach when our kids are grown and move out, so we can have our fun and our privacy too. I will miss my kiddos, but I am hoping they will still think Mom is nice to have around when they no longer ‘need’ me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I have always seen happy old couples in the neighbourhood. I asked one woman how she does it and she told me; ‘happiness ad before fun has no age, young or old, we deserve to have fun and be happy. We should enjoy every stage of life. Life is a gift’ and indeed, they looked happy together at the beach. Yes in their late 70s at the beach. Where I come from in Uganda, at that age, everyone wants u indoor and safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Anything involving ice cream- i am in
    Great job

    Liked by 1 person

  33. great post. Nice writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Love how you wrote this! Keep up the good work!
    http://obsessedorhotmess.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

  35. jessajudy

    I am one of those busy soccer ladies and I’m looking forward to those moments in the future with my husband. We rarely get them, which I know is my own doing. This summer we were in St.Pete and on our morning walk(just the two of us) we found an a Italian coffee shop and bakery. We’ve considered going back for that shop. Good post. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Thanks. I really enjoyed the easy charm and wry tone here. Looking forward to more reading! Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (plugged in now).

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Getting old sucks. There’s no two ways about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. With girlfriends around to share ice cream or heartache, any stage of life is better! The great ladies in my life are what inspired me to start blogging and celebrate my good fortune in knowing them.

    Liked by 1 person

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