I’m old. I want to be older, but only if I can age like some of my new role models.
Who are they? Two women, now in their early 90s, who have been friends for more than 65 years; a couple, ages 77 and 82, former international teachers who are now both playwrights; the former director of Pima Council on Aging,who didn’t retire till she was 82 (that’s not for me); and a physician who’s dedicated more than 40 years of his life to cancer research and prevention.
I have a dear friend who came from Germany to the United States, post World War II, when she was around 5. Maybe I remember the day she arrived in first grade or maybe I only think I do. It doesn’t matter. We’ve known each other for nearly 65 years.
She attended our 50th high school reunion in Connecticut yesterday.
“What a hoot!” she emailed, along with photos of hardly anyone I recognized.
They looked so old, even the one woman whom I envied back in high school. She was beautiful. She became an attorney. I have no idea what her life is like now. I’m happy with mine.
Women friends are part of my extended family. My old friend and I will get together in New York come Thanksgiving, as we try to every year. We always laugh, tell stories, and regale each other with different memories of our shared childhood.
The two Tucson pals I recently interviewed remind me of my friend and me, although we live thousands of miles apart. The Tucsonans (one a native who attends all the University of Arizona football games with her friend’s son-in-law) both still drive. They go out to dinner and see movies. They laugh — a lot. How sweet, smart, supportive and funny they were together. The hour I spent with them was a joyful experience.
I met the teacher couple at our local Starbucks. They walk three miles daily, ending their outing by sipping espressos. They’re the best of friends — both love movies, attending and writing plays, acting, directing, art, life and each other. And they’re so cheerful, positive and open. I love hanging out with them.
Genevieve, my 92-year-old elegant Maine friend who died a few years ago, once said: “Sheila, you’re a bit of a shaman. You make things happen.”
As I grow older, I hope she’s right.