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Reflections on celebrating the living of 70 years

NIAGARA, Wis. — Well, I have hit a definite milestone. I turned 70 on June 1. I am not quite sure I know how to handle it. I know that there is absolutely nothing at all that I can do about the passing of time and the accumulation of years. But this is the first birthday that made me feel like I wanted to turn back the clock. It just feels different. I can remember what was going on in each decade of my life. But I have never approached the beginning of any decade with quite as much trepidation as this one.

In my 20s, my life changed completely. I got married, finished college, left home, had two children, worked a string of “survival jobs,” and moved six times in seven years before we came north and put down roots in Niagara. In the book “Passages,” the author coined the phrase “The Tumultuous Twenties” to describe this decade of a person’s life. That description certainly fit my situation back then.

My 30s were filled with children and their activities. I’d found my first “career-type” job, but after working it for a few years, I realized it wasn’t going to be what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I can remember confiding in a friend at the time that I was stuck at point A in my life. I knew what point B needed to be, but I had no clue how to get from what my life currently was to what I wanted my life to become.

My 40s were much more fulfilling. I had begun working at the place where I would spend the rest of my career. I remember feeling a little leery of the arrival of the empty nest, but that proved to be a much easier adjustment than I had imagined. Our boys had grown into young men and were well on their way to building their futures. We were now helping them move — first into college dorm rooms, then into first apartments and eventually into first homes.

I can distinctly remember turning 50 and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I completely enjoyed my career having finally attained a position which demanded all of the skills I possessed. We completed the renovation of our house in this decade. Grandchildren had made their arrival. My husband and I still enjoyed each other’s company after so many years together and made the most of every weekend by taking “jaunts” across the U.P.

When I arrived on the threshold of my 60s, I was beginning to “feel my age,” as they say. I was tired, and work had become a lot more stressful. I knew retirement was approaching, and I felt very uncertain about how that change was going to affect me and when it would occur. I have been retired now for five years. Once I managed my way through the transition, I was fine. I had adjusted … and then I lost three family members, and my husband lost one. Suddenly, I realized I was now the oldest living generation of my family. COVID-19 hit also, and life changed for all of us and demanded new coping skills.

My husband arrived at this same milestone on Oct. 5 of last year. True to form, he took it in stride in his usual laid-back manner. Nothing really ruffles his feathers much. About the only thing he has admitted to about aging is that there are simply things he will no longer attempt — like getting up onto the garage roof or climbing our big maple tree to trim branches. He can still accomplish just as much in any given day and does not feel any limitations. I wish I could be more like him and take life in stride. But we are “wired” very differently.

I recently picked up a humorous book titled, “I’m Too Young to Be 70.” Written by Judith Viorst, it is full of little poems about this stage of life. One that really spoke to me was titled, “At Seventy.” She says, “Instead of ‘old,’ let us consider ‘older,’ or ‘oldish,’ or something, anything, that isn’t always dressed in sensible shoes and fading underwear. Besides which, seventy isn’t old. Ninety is old. And though eighty is probably old, we needn’t decide that until we get there. In the meantime, let us consider drinking wine, making love, laughing hard, caring hard, and learning a new trick or two as part of our job description at seventy.”

Viorst wrote another poem that I especially liked titled “As Time Goes By.” She writes: “I wake up on Monday, eat lunch on Wednesday, go to sleep on Friday, and next thing I know it’s the middle of next week and I am shaking mothballs out of the winter clothes I stored for the summer five minutes ago … Because snowstorms follow the Fourth of July faster than e-mail, faster, maybe, than the speed of light.” She continues: “You want to slow down time? Try root canal. Try an MRI. Try waiting for the report on the biopsy. Or try being a child on a rainy morning with nothing to do, wishing away the hours, the days, the years, as if there will always, always, always be more.”

I was that child once. I always got bored with summer vacations and anticipated the start of school every year. After my freshman year of college, I could not wait for sophomore year to begin. I can still hear my mother saying, “Stop wishing your life away.”

My mother had a very matter-of-fact approach to her own aging. She accepted every achy joint and when she lost her train of thought, she just shrugged and said, “Well, it must not have been very important.” As each birthday approached, she would say, “Well, it beats the alternative.” She took life as it came, and she kept her sense of humor until the day she died.

In preparation for sharing these thoughts with you this week, I picked up one of her books I had found in her room at Maryhill Manor after she had passed away. The title made me laugh the minute I saw it because it was so like my mother to be reading it. It was titled, “Age Doesn’t Matter Unless You’re a Cheese” and it had the subtitle, “Wisdom from Our Elders.” Written by Kathryn and Ross Petras, it is chock-full of all kinds of advice and viewpoints regarding aging. I noticed a bookmark in it and turned to the page where my mother had either left off or had wanted to be able to return and read again. Tagged “Seizing the Moment,” it read, “Every day in my old age is more important than I can say. It will never return. When one takes one’s leave of life, one notices how much one has left undone.”

It was as if my mother was speaking to me from the page of her book, giving me advice like she always did as I was growing up. She was telling me to stop using the time I had left worrying about the time I had left! Don’t waste one more minute by mulling over what might happen in the next 10 years. Take life one day at a time and savor each hour of that day. No one knows how much time they have left so make the most of the day you are given. Don’t waste a single hour fretting over what you cannot control or what tomorrow will bring. Live in the moment … notice the little things, and tell those you love how much you appreciate them.

There is nothing we can do about the past; it is over. There is nothing we can do about the future; it is not for us to control. All each of us has is the present, so let’s make the most of its gifts each day … no matter our age.

——

NURSING HOMES/SENIOR LIVING FACILITIES

Freeman Nursing and Rehabilitation Community

906-774-1530

Freeman’s has resumed small group activities. Visitation is currently being allowed twice weekly with screening and COVID-19 testing required before entering the building. All precautions are still being taken to protect residents. Everyone has adjusted to this new normal; however, they are all looking forward to a great get-together when it is safe to do so.

Iron County Medical Care Facility

906-874-1501

Sunday: Room visits, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Yahtzee, 10 a.m.; storytelling, 2 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; bingo, 9 and 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; crafts, 1 p.m.; car parade, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Room visits; trivia, 9 a.m.; travel club, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; Jan and Geno (pavilion), 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; garden club, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; getting pretty, 1:15 p.m.; men’s club, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Room visits, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; bowling, 9:30 a.m.; Christ United, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.

Friday: Room visits, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m..; exercise, 11 a.m.; cooking, 1:30 p.m.

Saturday: “Price Is Right,”/Pictionary, 10 a.m.; geri gym, 11 a.m.; “Name That Tune,” 2 p.m.

Manor Care

906-774-4805

Limited visitation has resumed for family and friends. Appointments must be made in advance by calling the center.

Maryhill Manor

715-251-3172

Scheduled visits are being allowed in the facility’s living room. Call ahead to reserve. The weekly Happy Hour and bingo have resumed for residents only.

Sunday: Room visits; snack cart, 2 p.m.

Monday: Room visits; snack cart, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Room visits; snack cart, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Protestant service, 9 a.m.; kick ball, 10:15 a.m.; gardening club, 2 p.m.

Thursday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; short stories, 10:15 a.m.; courtyard social and iced tea, 2 p.m.

Friday: Bowling, 10:15 a.m.; happy hour and entertainment, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Spelling bee, 10:15 a.m.; Netflix movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Golden Living Center

Florence, Wis.

715-528-4833

Visitation is allowed in designated areas only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Each visit is limited to 30 minutes and must be scheduled in advance. All visitors will be subject to health screening before entering the facility. Residents have resumed some small group activities.

Victorian Pines

906-774-5158

Limited visitation has resumed in resident apartments only.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility

Powers

906-497-5244

No information at this time.

SENIOR CENTERS

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

Carry-out only. Call ahead for Tuesdays through Thursdays. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Ham, baked potato, broccoli and corn relish.

Wednesday: Sausage, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, corn and tomatoes.

Thursday: Poor man’s lobster, oven brown potatoes, peas and coleslaw.

Note: All meals include milk, bread and butter, fruit and dessert.

Breen Center

906-774-5110

Carry-out only — call ahead. Meals are once again available on Fridays. Menu for the week —

Monday: Beef roast, mashed potatoes, gravy and California blend vegetables.

Tuesday: Scalloped potatoes, ham and mixed vegetables.

Wednesday: Hot turkey sandwich, stuffing and corn.

Thursday: Smothered pork chop, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Friday: Fish sticks, macaroni and cheese and mixed vegetables.

Note: All meals served with a choice of skim milk or juice and fruit.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen

906-875-6709

Crystal Lake Center

Iron Mountain

906-239-0278

Home-delivered meals only — call to make arrangements. Menu for the week —

Monday: Mushroom and Swiss burger, potato wedges and baked beans.

Tuesday: Au gratin potatoes and ham, broccoli and dinner roll.

Wednesday: Turkey pot pie soup, cranberries and cottage cheese.

Thursday: Stuffed green peppers, California blend vegetables, and buttered noodles.

Friday: Egg salad sandwich, coleslaw, cookies and yogurt.

Note: All meals include a choice of skim milk, juice, or no beverage.

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Carry-out only — call ahead. Menu for the week —

Monday: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn.

Tuesday: Cheeseburger, potato chips, salad and baked beans.

Wednesday: Italian pork casserole, carrots and salad.

Note: All meals served with skim milk or juice.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.

715-528-4890

Director: Tiffany White

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Chicken patty on a bun, lettuce and tomato, baked beans, oven fries and fruit.

Tuesday: Baked fish, sweet potato puffs, carrot salad and fruit.

Wednesday: Waikiki meatballs, rice, Oriental vegetables and fruit.

Thursday: Father’s Day Meal — Baked turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, bean medley, cranberry sauce, rolls, apple pie and ice cream.

Friday: Beef noodle casserole, vegetable medley, dark green salad and fruit.

Note: All meals served with whole grain bread and butter and milk.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980

For meal reservations, call 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-528-4261

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Tipler Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-674-2320

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

For meal reservations, call 715-589-4491

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Carry-out only — call ahead. Menu for the week —

Monday: Enchilada casserole, rice, mexicorn and fruit.

Tuesday: Seafood salad, tomato slice, hard-boiled egg and fruit.

Wednesday: Philly steak sandwich, spaghetti salad and fruit.

Thursday: Stuffed shells, broccoli, garlic bread and dessert.

All meals include 8-ounces skim milk or juice.

Norway Center

Director: Michelle DeSimone

906-563-8716

The center will remain closed; however, takeout meals will be prepared for pick up — must call ahead and wear a mask when picking up. Menu for the week —

Monday: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans.

Tuesday: Bourbon steak over noodles and Italian blend vegetables.

Wednesday: Biscuit and gravy, baked potato and peas.

Thursday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy and Brussel sprouts.

All meals include milk, juice, fruit, bread and dessert.

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Carry-out only – call ahead. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Shepherd’s pie, broccoli and mixed fruit.

Wednesday: Roast beef, egg noodles, peas and peaches.

Thursday: Pasta bake with meat sauce, garlic bread, mixed vegetables and pears.

All meals served with fruit and choice of skim milk or juice.

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