Mary Beth Writes


Do you know “Women’s Older Wisdom”? You must request to join this Facebook group and I recommend you do so. WOW is hosted by Pat Taub and her page is often poignant, funny, artistic, or thought-provoking. Sometimes I post my things there to get a wider audience than I have here.

Lately Taub is asking her readers, “What have you found to be both the best and the worst aspects of aging?”

I thought about this yesterday as I drove to visit friends. If I was better at finding Bluetooth WHILE I drove, I’d listen to more podcasts and think less for myself so there’s that. Also, on my way home I got sleepy so I sang Christmas carols. Do you sing when you are alone in a car?

Anyways, I’ve been “old” for quite some time and I still can’t believe it - but I groan when I get off the sofa after binging Masterpiece Theater. I never drink coffee after 2PM. I just came through months of dealing with a garfed-up digestive system that has become remarkably “older person” sensitive. Yet in my soul and heart, I don’t feel a day over 54.

Aging, as many of us who are getting towards the bottom of our toboggan runs are noticing, is not an orderly decline done in lockstep. Aging is more like waking up to a town we recognize but don’t know. We try to negotiate this new place but soon realize we are constantly recalibrating old habits and goals in order to get around this new place.

For instance, I have become inconveniently timid in a car as either the driver or passenger. Basically, I don’t trust other people to stay in their lanes - and I’m occasionally right about this, right? My heart also beats fast at unprotected left turns on busy streets. The reality is that I’m a good driver; I’ve driven 50 years without even getting a ticket. Well, once a cop pulled me over for driving out of a library parking lot at dusk without my headlights on, but that was just lame. I’ve been in two car accidents, both fairly serious but neither was my fault. Maybe this is why I don’t trust other drivers?

Expressway driving anxiety is an aspect of aging I don’t admire or enjoy, but it’s here. How about you?

I love that here where there is less time, there is more time. We sleep later, get up later. There’s time to make better breakfasts. Today I had oatmeal with fresh cranberries, raisins, and cinnamon, and a prettily sectioned orange on the side. Then after I ate I spent 40 minutes cleaning the kitchen including inside the fridge where the cranberries had tipped over. I listened to jazz and thought about writing this while I worked. Enough time to do small things well? What a luxury.

I did not think I was a person who needed to have grandkids, but now that I have four of them, plus my two local young friends– I absolutely love having kids in my life again. There’s a reason to look at kid books in a bookstore. I’m allowed to buy cool pads of paper and markers as much as I want. Being a sidebar to the imagination and happiness of kids sparks small adventures and messy creativity for me, too. I like this.

I like that celebrating holidays is no longer my job and responsibility. I mean, prepping things so little kids learn the wonder and meanings of special days, that was cool. But I’m just as glad to no longer make the show happen. We’ve had a six-foot-tall faux tree for twenty years. This year I bought a much smaller tree and the cats love sleeping under it just as much as under a tall tree. Meantime, Len gave the tall tree away via Freecycle to a family with an iffy van and several kids and that’s cool, too.  

I’m less crotchety than I was when I was young and too often stressed. I don’t expect all the people I love and like to do things that way I choose to do them. I’m more angry at the diddly nearsighted prejudices of people who don’t like other people. I hated mustard when I was young, but I am beginning to respect the tang it can bring to the party.

It’s too easy to think we know enough now. It’s too easy to become patronizing. But this is a new town and we don’t.

“What have you found to be both the best and worst aspects of aging?”





All my life, I've loved wandering more than trying to get somewhere in particular. Walking, driving and especially reading and learning things. This has been a problem at school, at jobs, and on vacation. I am famous for 'Dad's Shortcuts.' I would rather wander the library than finish reading a textbook, or a task at work. Now that I am retired I have more time to try out things that I'll never do again, like fix an outboard, learn a computer thing or just putter. Which kind of makes you wonder what we were meant to be in the first place.

The best part of aging is learning about boundaries and exercising Paul's mantra, "If it doesn't make you happy, don't do it!" The worst part of aging is that the list of names of those that have left us continues to grow longer.
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks for reminding me of Paul and his often-humorous "I don't have to do that" attitude, I think once he survived my dad and Vietnam, the rest was coasting.

As we grow older, most of us have learned a thing or two... That's a good thing. On the minus side, our bodies don't always agree with everything we want to do! But retirement is a plus, if you can do it earlier, even better!! Sleeping in is beneficial! I second the suggestion on Pat Taub and her WOW site and fb group. Great conversations there!
Mary Beth's picture


Loved this article as an Older woman!!!

I identified all to much! Good read!

Because of aging (and widowhood) I have discovered that the rebel I used to be, is alive and well and living inside my aging body. It is more of a realist than It was at 22, realism that comes from a lived life. I am comfortable with myself, something I definitely was not at 22 (despite a tighter body). I don't love that I am uncomfortable driving at night, avoid highways, and am I luddite in a world that is so technology driven. I am unconstrained about other people opinion of me. Frankly, my dear I don't give a damn. I love being a grandmother. LOVE it. I embrace aging (not always well,) in honor of all those that did not get the opportunity. Be well, my friend. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

"in honor of all those that did not get the opportunity" This thought, too. I often think of my dad and sister and brother and feel so sad they did not get to live into these years.

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Cats Again (Lost In Racine)


Because I now have my Substack site where I can publish my stories, its more exciting to write fiction. I’m working on a story now.

Meanwhile, here’s a newspaper column of yore. If you like cats, you will probably like it. If you don’t like cats, well, you are missing a lot of grace, humor, and vacuuming opportunities.

We don’t currently want to adopt new cats, but since we’ve now lived with twelve of the world’s finest, we are rich in memories that make us laugh.

Len’s Birthday


Last week I mentioned that Monday of this week would be Len’s birthday. A friend remarked to me ever so kindly later that day, “I thought his birthday was the 30th?”

It is. Len’s birthday is the 30th. This same friend has commented to me, over the years, about how much I remember.

Covid Diary #1350 Thanksgiving


Today is 1350 days since the that March Friday in 2020 when we all went into quarantine.

Today is 60 years since JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963. I remember that day, so does Len, so do many of you. Here’s a scary truth. We are as far today from that day – as that day was from the Wright brother’s first flight at Kitty Hawk on Dec 17, 1903.

Quarantine Diary #1349 Sci-Fi & Prophecy


We both took Covid tests this morning and both of us still have pink lines. I asked the internet what this means and it says I might be pregnant.

I have a call into my doctor’s office to discuss. I feel so much better that if I didn’t know I have Covid, I wouldn’t know it. I’ve been sicker than this after too much pie.

Covid Diary #1347


A few of you might realize yesterday we were 1345 days since March 13, 2020, and today we’re at 1347. Yup, I used a different calculator. Just a fun reminder that precision depends as much on asking the right question as doing perfect math.

I’m in day #4 of having Covid. No more chills. I have a fever of 100.4 which is more impressive than the 100.2 that Len achieved on his Day #4.  I’m taking various OTC meds and I keep track of them in my phone’s notes because, wow, it’s so easy to have no memory of the last time one took something. I’m good. Enough.

Covid Diary #1345


I thought I was done with the Covid Diary but guess what? Len and I caught Covid this week! Actually, Covid caught us. We have continued to wear masks in stores, library, meetings, and our church so we will never know for sure where Len encountered Covid. And since I got it four days later, I guess we know where I got it…

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