THE OTHER DAY I had a longish phone conversation catching up with an old friend—in fact, my oldest friend. Our mothers were pals long before we were born and so Carol, a few years older than I, was around from the get-go. Until I was nine, our families lived with just one house between us, still it felt like they were right next door. After that we all upgraded, and our new house was one street over from theirs in a nicer town. The two families felt like one, despite ours being Jewish and theirs Italian Catholic; Carol’s younger brother Kenny and I certainly fought like siblings. Still, all was simpatico.
Carol was the perfect, fairy tale “big sister” I wished I had. She was beautiful and fun, with a winning personality and an endearing magnetism about her. She grew up to be a professional dancer, eventually becoming one of the famous June Taylor Dancers of long ago that I watched on TV’s Jackie Gleason Show each week. We have kept in touch, and a few times we have visited despite living far apart all of our adult lives.
About that phone conversation. We squandered it talking about our various ailments, bouncing back and forth between her skin cancer and my skin cancer, her torn rotator cuff and physical therapy and my arthritis and possible hip replacement. Then we moved on to the relative merits of taking turmeric in powder form versus capsules, and whether or not alternative medicine was better than more traditional treatments. Finally after about 30 minutes of this, I noted that we had spent the whole time talking about how sick we are, and what fun is that? She laughed, I laughed, and we changed the subject—we started talking about her 92-year-old mother’s back pain and her almost-as-old aunt’s upcoming heart-valve surgery. (We had to talk about Carol’s family, because most of mine is dead already.)
Despite the focus on our obvious decline—these are after all our declining years—we hung up laughing, and our conversation was a tonic like few others available; certainly none that come in a bottle. Carol will turn 70 in a few days and I can assure you she is definitely the best-looking, funniest and most youthful 70-year-old woman you will ever meet. The bottom line: As long as you’re on this side of the grass, you’ve still got a shot at happiness.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid. This post is an oldie-but-goodie from her archive.