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Can baby boomers literally outgrow jeans?

One size does not fit all, so, why isn’t there a size that does fit me?

As if I weren’t feeling insecure enough already after a recent closet purge to get rid of things that didn’t “fit and flatter”, I foolishly went shopping for new jeans this week. The jeans and general closet purge preceded my recent big bra purge (by that I mean quantity not bra size, obviously). Embarrassed and frustrated with a closet full of jeans that no longer fit, tops that made me look pregnant and sweaters that only flattered my lumps and bumps, I trucked bags of cast-offs to charity bins and the consignment shop. That left me with only two pairs of jeans that were marginally comfortable and not too embarrassing to wear out in public. A trip to the mall was needed to remedy the situation. (Doesn’t that solve pretty much any existential crisis?)

Buying new jeans can be every bit as painful as trying on bathing suits, which I gave up on a long time ago. The process can involve visiting different stores and, lo, even different malls in different area codes in search of the perfect fit for the less-than-perfect body. I’ve always had the best luck with NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans) as I’m only 5’3″ and their petite and ankle-length sizes usually fit me perfectly. Not this time. I was looking for a mid-blue colour (not too pale and not too dark as the only two remaining pair I have are light blue and dark wash), no holes in the knees or thighs (boomers understand why), a nice ankle-grazing length for summer and also with summer in mind, softly distressed and not too heavy. I also prefer the high waisted style that does a better job of corraling muffin-top than those ridiculous designs with a 5-inch rise. NYDJ didn’t have just what I was looking for so I had to cast further afield which is a terrifying prospect. Who else makes jeans for boomers who aren’t 6 ft. tall and weigh 94 lbs? Was I asking for the impossible?

I started in Hudson’s Bay Company at Sherway Gardens in Toronto. I didn’t want to invest in expensive designer jeans because I was casually considering a frayed hem which will probably be out of style next season or more likely, within the next ten minutes. The Bay has a wide range of brands and sizes, many of which are conveniently on sale at this time of year to clear out current inventory in preparation for next week’s fickle trend. No luck. I’m always on the cusp of being current, but not quite there. I also learned that Top Shop is unaware that there’s a large portion of the population that is not size 00. No one I know has a 25″ waist and 32″ inseam and I know a lot of people.

Help! What do full-bodied real women do?

So I went to my favourite store, Nordstrom which tends to carry more high-end merchandise. Jeans shopping calls for desperate measures. The only ones that came close were Frame but at more than $300.00 the fit was only so-so. If they don’t feel marvelous when I try them on, they’re doomed to languish in my closet unworn. If I’ve learned nothing else about clothes’ shopping over the last sixty years, it’s that if I don’t absolutely love an item immediately, don’t buy it. I have a mantra I repeat when I’m in the fitting room: “If in doubt—DON’T!”. That’s saved my bacon many times, preventing me from committing serious fashion “don’ts”. Meanwhile, I’m trying not to recall those cute little 27-inch-waist jeans with the snappy red zippers at the ankles, that I once purchased for my once lean young body at Bayview Village—many years ago.

Leaving Nordstrom, I hit every store in Sherway Gardens that carries jeans. That included The Gap, the Levi’s store, ZARA, Mendocino, Andrews, Dynamite, Eileen Fisher, Eagle Outfitters . . . and on and on and on. My feet felt like clubs and my self-esteem was totally crushed. Most of the children working in those stores had no understanding or sympathy for my plight—like it’s my fault I’m old, fat and frumpy. Their day will come. Just wait ’til menopause hits them and I hope they remember how cavalier they once were about me being unable to zip up their stupid, skinny jeans. I ventured into stores I didn’t even know existed until I went hunting for a new pair of inexpensive, fashionable jeans. I’m now very familiar with the millennial world of disposable clothing. Not that their clothing lines were able to offer anything remotely appropriate.

Even the Levi’s store which has wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with jeans of every style, colour, cut and uncut, still couldn’t find a pair that fit my boomer body. What they did have, however, was a seamstress sitting at the centre of the store in front of a very scary looking commercial sewing machine that could embellish my jeans or jean jacket with any type of logo, sparkle, fringe or embroidery I could dream of. The girl operating the machine wore black lipstick with a lip ring piercing her lower lip, purple, pink and black spiked hair and a tight tee shirt that made it easy to calculate her bra size if she had been wearing one. Her false eyelashes were thick and heavy enough to scrape the mud off your golf shoes. And, the store’s piped-in music was selected specifically to scare off weird interlopers like me, which it was successful in doing.

My excursions to find the perfect replacement jeans also made me an expert on retail dressing rooms. They are all consistently poorly-lit, and frequently lacking in hooks for my purse and the clothes I’m wearing. Rails are great for what I bring into the change room already on hangers, but unless there are hooks, I’m forced to drop my clothes on the floor. And, the floor of every dressing room is crawling with dust bunnies and questionable fungi, particularly close to the baseboards, which are, well, close because most dressing rooms are . . . close. And, not many change rooms have a chair or stool to perch on when we’re trying to put our shoes back on—which would be a much-appreciated amenity for boomer bottoms. And if you’re shy about all that cellulite and overflow being visible to passers-by when you’re stripped down to your frillies, then take the jeans home to try them on because those ring-topped curtains never quite completely close to give you privacy during your darkest hours.

After three separate excursions to the mall and trawling dozens of stores, I finally circled back to Hudson’s Bay because that’s where my car was parked. I made a last-minute detour into the lingerie department in a vain search once again for suitable nightgowns. No luck there either, although I purchased another sports bra, the only kind that seems to offer any degree of comfort. As I was approaching the elevator, I thought I’d pick up that white linen Ralph Lauren blouse I saw on sale earlier in the day (as if I need another white blouse!!). To get to the change room, I had to pass through the BCBG Maxazaria section that was all but abandoned (they’ve closed a lot of their stand-alone retail locations). Everything except the striped blazer I liked was on sale, including their jeans. I’d never considered that brand as a suitable candidate for this body as most of their fashions are for wisp-thin gals with a social life far beyond my level of experience.

The nice lady with the Polish accent who was working the change room check-in desk complimented me on my choice. Lifting up her blouse to show me how well BCBG’s jeans fit her trim, young body, I should have felt reassured but of course, felt even fatter. She ushered me into an adequately-sized change room with a hanging rail, stool, and hooks (!!!), where I tried on a pair of soft jeans in what is usually my size. Too big! Thank you vanity sizing.

High waist fit helps with muffin top.

By then, nice Polish lady had disappeared (as we all know, Hudson’s Bay Company only employs one sales person per store in the suburbs) so I had to grab my purse and waddle back out into the store in my ill-fitting jeans to find another size. After two more tries and managing to lock myself out of my own change room, I finally found a pair that were soft, sufficiently contained all my floppy bits without pinching and actually were almost perfect. All I have to do is cut six inches off the hem.

Even though they were on sale, they still cost more than I would have liked to pay, but it seems body dysmorphics like me have to settle for and be happy with whatever is close. I’ll be damned if I’m going to buy jeans with pregnancy panels. I’m not that big, yet! What on earth do truly full-bodied women do?

So, just when I was beginning to despair of ever finding a simple pair of everyday jeans that fit me, in my native province, Lynda now has a new pair of jeans. After I chop half a foot off the bottoms, I’m going to try a do-it-yourself version of a frayed hem. I never like the way altered hems on jeans look (regardless of what the alterationist says is a fool-proof European stitch-job). I’ve marked the line; I’m going to stay-stitch the new line on my 52-year-old cast iron Singer sewing machine, just the way the real raw-hem jeans are done, chop off the excess fabric, carefully hand pick and fray away the bottom hem to create that perfect look so that I can wear them proudly before they go out of fashion on Tuesday.

Remember the olden days when shopping used to be fun?

When you see me struttin’ out in my new jeans, be sure to compliment me. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted from the experience and could use some reassurance that my efforts weren’t in vain. All those young millennials cruising the streets and malls in their perfectly fitted, just-so-perfectly distressed jeans on their perfectly firm little bottoms have my future to look forward to. Rest up all you young Ava’s, Sophia’s, Harper’s or whatever trendy new name you have these days. Someday, you too will lose your waistline, be unable to walk in stilettos and suffer hot flashes for twenty years longer than you expected. I should probably feel ashamed about taking pleasure in the sadistic knowledge that they too will someday mourn the loss of what they so take for granted today.

There was a time when I also thought I’d be able to wear mini-skirts and high platform heels until death do us part, but alas, time catches up with us all. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling me I should no longer be wearing jeans. Naw! Boomers practically invented jeans and made them part of everyday fashion lexicon for eternity. I refuse to be beaten by a generation of consumers who is completely unaware that we boomers are the generation to thank for their wardrobe staple. We’ve grown from being offered only one choice of stiff, dark blue denim Levi’s in the sixties that we had to wear sitting in the bathtub full of hot water and salt to start to break them in and bend to our individual body shapes, to zillions of different styles, washes, manufacturers and colours, none of which fit us or are appropriate.  We must rise up and demand our due, preferably with a high rise. I love jeans. I deserve to wear jeans. I will not be wedged out by built-in obsolescence and a nuclear wedgie. Welcome to the Age of Nefarious mes chères.

Nope!
Nada!
Never!
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I Marie-Kondo’d my bra drawer and feel so uplifted

We all know that feeling!

Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Wash Your Face was right: Bras are the devil’s work. Over my lifetime, I’ve probably invested the equivalent cost of a luxury German imported car in a futile search for a comfortable bra. I’m convinced they don’t exist. Yesterday as I was getting dressed to go out, I tried on no less than three before I found one comfortable enough to wear to the mall. And when I got there I bee-lined it for the Jockey For Her section in the lingerie department in search of something wearable. I opted for one of those sports-like all-over stretch jobs with no clasps, trim or skinny bits to dig in. Much as I hate wearing a bra, a certain amount of decorum is required when going out in public so we’re forced to buckle up.

When I got home the first thing I did, as usual, was rip my bra off. Then, I pulled everything out of my bra drawer, gave each one a quick test drive to determine whether it would live or die, then tossed the rejects into a big pile on my bed. I was merciless. The losers were too tight around the ribcage, didn’t have enough banding around the ribcage, rolled at the ribcage, slipped off my shoulders or simply didn’t properly accommodate the girls without spilling over or accentuating back fat. Am I too demanding? I don’t think so.

In theory this system should work but in the real world it varies widely according to manufacturer.

There was a time many generations ago when I was so proud to wear a bra. When my mother took me to buy my first 28AA I felt so grown up. There was also a time when we were young that I loved buying all the lacey little contraptions that passed for a bra. But when we reached a certain age, comfort and performance became priorities, while still achieving a level of sexiness and femininity. I’ve been measured many times at different stores and every one comes up with a different size combo. I accept that our size is not static and changes as we age and gain or lose weight, but maybe we need a computer-generated modelling system to get it right once and for all. If they can do it for jeans, why not bras? Could someone please task their grandchild to create an app for calculating the correct bra size by manufacturer and style? The old ribcage measurement combined with breast size just doesn’t compute in the real world.

Hence, the huge pile of discarded bras on my bed. Only six (6) survived the purge, including the new Jockey-For-Her number I picked up yesterday. That should be enough by anyone’s standards but I have a feeling I’ll soon be on the prowl again. Fourteen (14) regular bras and eighteen (18) sports bras are destined for the dumpster (Yes! That’s a shameful total of 32), except textiles should not be thrown in the trash, so what do we do with them? That’s a lotta landfill. I’ll parcel them up for for charity, if they’ll take them, as most have hardly been worn. Hopefully they’ll be useful to someone else. The Canadian Diabetes Association recycles clothing and I understand H&M stores have drop boxes for recycling clothing. 

Then, I attacked another drawer full of camisoles and tank tops worn over bras under certain blouses and sweaters. The work never ends. It’s a shocking and embarrassing thing to admit but how could any one person possibly need or wear 33 camis? We all have too much of everything and the recent culling of my bras and camisoles is a prime example of our excesses—well, mine for sure. Now I actually have a couple of empty drawers in my bedroom and I won’t have to forage through dozens of rejects to find something to wear.

No longer burdened by a surplus of ill-fitting, uncomfortable bras, I feel strangely uplifted. Kondo was right, sort of. It wasn’t about keeping only those that sparked joy (I can’t imagine any bra actually sparking joy) but more accurately getting rid of things sparked the real joy. I recently took a pile of clothing to the consignment shop and a couple of bags of discards to the charity box. Imagine how I would feel if I dared go down to the basement and tackled that quagmire. Naaah! I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy the fruits of my lingerie liquidation before I get into something under foot that might be over my head. I’m feelin’ fine. Let’s just keep it that way. Have you had a good purge lately?

Yep! A total of 32 bras of different types are heading for recycling.
As well as 33 camisoles and tank tops.
I really think sports bras are the best solution and I have no objection to a uni-boob.
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I Marie-Kondo’d my bra drawer and feel so uplifted
We all know that feeling!

Do you “get” fashion magazines like Vogue or InStyle?

Exactly who are they serving? I have no idea.

I’ve added a new section to Boomerbroadcast called My Favourite Things to the menus at the top of the page. One of the subsections is Fashion Favourites which I intend to expand as I discover fashion items friendly to boomers. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I’ve also included Links I Like for blogs and Facebook sites for baby boomer women’s fashion advice I enjoy following. There’s such a dearth of inspiration out there for baby boomer women in the world of fashion, that we have to share whatever we find. The magazine industry has forsaken us. It’s not as if I look to Vogue for the latest in how to camouflage boomer waistlines (or lack thereof) or the best high fashion shoes with industrial strength arch supports, but I do look to magazines for basic inspiration and find them sorely lacking.

I clearly remember my very first magazine subscription. It was Chatelaine, the ubiquitous Canadian magazine for the so-called modern woman. The wonderful feminist and women’s advocate Doris Anderson was the editor. The year was 1968 and I was living in my very first apartment by myself, on Vaughan Road in Toronto after spending the previous three years living with a series of agreeable and not-so-agreeable roommates. I was so proud of that place because it was all mine. It was a bachelor apartment in a prewar three-storey walk-up with no elevator, no communal laundry room and no counter in the tiny kitchen. It did have two old white enamel sinks on the kitchen wall and a genuine old clawfoot bathtub (no shower, naturally) in the tiny bathroom. It also had an unlimited supply of mice which I gave up trapping after I’d disposed of nineteen of the cute little creatures. Subscribing to a ladies magazine was an affirmation that I was an independent grownup, a career gal who could be trusted to be at the address I gave them and pay the annual subscription fee.

Over the years, my love of magazines developed into a bit of a problem. I became a magazine junkie. At its peak, not that long ago, I subscribed to eighteen magazines a month. I’d be truly annoyed if a day went by and there wasn’t a new magazine in my mailbox. I loved magazines—their editorial content, their glossy pictures, the quality of the paper, the fold-over perfume samples, even the advertisements. I couldn’t wait to make a pot of tea, sit down with my marker pen whenever a new one arrived and go through it slowly, page by page. It was even my dream to be a magazine editor in my next life.

Things have changed. Just like my favourite women’s shows on Sirius XM radio, the good ones started disappearing. MORE magazine, one of my favourites was cancelled about three years ago. Easy Living from the UK was cancelled but I managed to replace it with RED, which is similar and I get it online cheaper and faster than waiting for it to arrive at Chapters/Indigo. Then, some of the decorating magazines that I got from the U.S. like Veranda and House Beautiful just became too weird or too arty so I let them go. But, out of patriotic loyalty, I kept up my subscriptions to Canadian decorating mags like Canadian House and Home and Style at Home. But their too-frequent features on mid-century modern and reviving 70’s avocado green and macramé are starting to concern me.

My love affair with fashion magazines however is in serious jeopardy. I much prefer ELLE Canada over the American edition but their targeting of the 18-35 demographic continues to annoy and frustrate me. LouLou is gone. Maclean’s has cut back from once a week to once a month and after more than fifty years of subscribing to Canada’s stalwart Chatelaine I’m actually considering not renewing my subscription. They’ve cut back to bi-monthly and it’s a pretty lean publication geared more to young mothers who probably don’t have the time or inclination to even read Chatelaine. What’s a boomer gal to do?

In what universe is there even one thing in these images that we can relate to or draw inspiration from?

Vogue is the source of most of my delicious criticism, however. I love to poke fun at Vogue and I’ve concluded that the only reason I still subscribe is because Vogue has become my most prized source of derision. And, the September issue alone costs as much on the newsstand as my entire year’s subscription. What would I have to bitch about if I didn’t get my monthly Vogue? Its level of irrelevancy is astounding. Where fashion magazines should be inspirational and somewhat aspirational, Vogue is an exercise in complete idiocy. I still like the folded perfume samples but only the old classic French scents. As an old classic myself, most of the new fragrances all have a common chemical kind of smell that makes it impossible to distinguish one from another. Maybe my nose has lost its sensitivity but I don’t think I’m that old.

How do the fashion mags retain their credibility and more importantly their readers with the ridiculous nonsense they put out each month? It’s no surprise magazine publishing is in peril. Boomer gals love fashion—after all, we’re the ones who launched mini skirts, platform shoes and pant suits in the workplace in the sixties. But once we pass the age of 35 we’re suddenly invisible. I still have to wonder how the under-35 demographic can relate to $5,000.00 handbags and scraps of rags photographed on anorexic teenage models leaping over garbage cans. I also subscribe to InStyle but I find their emphasis on skinny, young celebrities in evening gowns off-putting. Hard to relate. Rod Stewart sang our tune perfectly so long ago when his Dad said, “We looked ridiculous”. That’s what most fashion mags are offering up today.

Back in the sixties and seventies when we were all whipping up our little A-line dresses and flared pants on our handy-dandy Singer sewing machines, we considered Vogue patterns the epitome of style and taste. Butterick, Simplicity and McCalls patterns were good for everyday fashions but for a special event a Vogue pattern tipped the balance for chic. We got our fashion inspiration from Vogue magazine and our lifestyle guidance from Cosmo’s Helen Gurley Brown. Easy peasy.

In the sixties, those of us with sewing machines could replicate Vogue high fashion on our own.

Where does a boomer gal go for fashion inspiration today? We used to rely on quality magazines like Vogue to provide us with reliable fashion direction. Most of my own fashion inspiration these days comes from like-minded bloggers and observing street fashion when I’m out and about. I frequently approach women on the street or in the food court and ask where they got a particular item they’re wearing, or who cut their hair. Fashion magazines offer nothing relevant to baby boomer women. We’re forced to find our own inspiration outside the publishing industry. I’ll never understand why the Anna Wintours and Grace Coddingtons of the fashion world are so revered. Perhaps there was a time when their declarations held water but exactly who are they serving today? Certainly not real women. Definitely not me and my boomer gal pals. I’m tempted to dust off my old Singer and see if I can’t create something on my own that is wearable, flattering and inspired.

There are a few retailers now who are addressing our demographic. Chico’s recently came to Canada but I’m still waiting for others who are sensitive to our taste in fashion. Chico’s has an affiliate lingerie business SOMA that has wonderful, appropriate lounge wear, lingerie and bathing suits for women our age, but so far they’re only in the U.S. J. Jill is another one which hasn’t arrived here yet but has great fashions at affordable prices. They both have wonderful on-line stores but the cost of importing and shipping combined with dollar exchange is often prohibitive. I’ve also had great luck buying Eileen Fisher pieces on sale at various on-line sites but it requires patience and an American delivery address. I’ve scored some EF pieces at up to 70% off which puts her fashion items more within reach of our budgets.

Since fashion mags don’t address what we’re looking for in fashion (and we do have money to spend), I’m sharing some sites that I’ve found to be targeted to our specific tastes, requirements and lifestyle. Check out Links I Like at the top of the page and under My Favourite Things, open the Fashion Favourites section for some brands I like. I’ll keep adding to these menu items as I discover new sources. If you have any suggestions to share, I’d love to hear them. You’re beautiful mes très chères.

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Do you “get” fashion magazines like Vogue or InStyle?
Exactly who are they serving? I have no idea.

Today’s lesson for Boomers. . . 1 + 1 = 1

Math has never been my strong suit. I’m a consistent 20% tipper in restaurants because it’s easier to calculate 20% than 15% in my head (and because I was a waitress a long time ago, so I appreciate the value of tips to servers). But, as baby boomers age, we realize that it’s easier to get through life with two people than it is with one. I was single for ten years before I married for the first time and spent seventeen years between husband number one and number two, so I’ve had a total of twenty-seven years of experience being single and on my own. And I’ve come to the conclusion that as we round out our third quarter, as The Beatles so eloquently put it, “we get by with a little help from our friends”. And that includes husbands, partners, neighbours, family members and even pets. They all help us get through the day. They filled the void during all those times I was on my own and continue to do so. The much maligned phrase uttered by Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire, “You complete me,” is suddenly not so corny.

I’ve written before (click here to read I’m not OK. Are you OK?) about the downside of certain aspects of aging. Being forgetful or absent-minded is natural—rather like defragging our hard-drive. Our brain has to dump old data to make room for new input. Regrettable but understandable. But my honey and I have recently experienced too many memory faults and error messages to write them off as simple updating of our ROM. Just last night we were sitting at dinner and couldn’t figure out what year we moved into our house. Was it two years ago or three? The mental exertion soon proved to onerous so we moved on to dessert.

Never again.

One day when I was checking out of a big box store I got caught with 12 items in my cart and only 11 items on my bill. I’d picked up two bags of pecans and accidentally only rang up one. I naively thought I was intelligent enough to handle the self checkout but obviously I over-estimated my abilities. To make it worse, just as I was standing there sorting out the issue with the checker at the door, while the lineup of impatient shoppers grew even longer behind me, I hear “Hi Lynda”. My friend Jeannette happened to be passing by just in time to witness my embarrassing shakedown by store security. Two lessons emerged from this experience:

  1. I am incapable of managing self-checkout without supervision
  2. Henceforth, I will always check out with a cashier because, a) they not only do a better job, but, b) I’m saving a job. Self-checkouts and other self-serve functions deprive someone of a real job and that’s not good for anyone.

Last week I mentioned to my husband that the windshield washer tank in my car was empty. When I kept pushing the lever, nothing happened. He was inappropriately smug and a tad too condescending when he informed me later that I’d been pushing the wrong lever.

And the list goes on. I gathered some girlfriends recently to watch a Christmas movie and swill wine but my television froze. Nothing worked. A couple of days later when the cable guy came out, it was a loose connection on the back of the receiver—which I had already checked, several times. He was very understanding, under the circumstances (dealing with an old lady).

But the pièce de résistance came earlier this week when my laptop computer died. It’s only 18 months old and when I bought it I also purchased every warranty and service package available to humankind for just such occasions. I checked the power outlet to make sure it was working, even moving it to an outlet in the kitchen to double-check. I changed the battery in the mouse and double-checked that the mouse was ‘On’. I couldn’t even reboot, which usually solves most problems, because it wouldn’t turn on or off. I pushed the laptop’s On/Off button multiple times with varying degrees of pressure and lengths of time in futile attempts to achieve ignition. No luck. Like Monty Python’s parrot; it was dead—not resting, not asleep—definitely dead!

So, I called Microsoft and the nice man informed me I might have a faulty display driver and suggested I take it to the Microsoft store where they would address my problems and perhaps replace my laptop. I was thankful for my brilliant foresight in purchasing those expensive warranty and service contracts. The next morning I made a 45-minute drive to the store. When I explained my situation to the little boy working there, he laid a nice protective pad on the counter, placed my dead parrot on the pad . . . and . . . TURNED IT ON. It worked!!! Heaven only knows why I couldn’t do the same thing pushing that little button; maybe my laptop just wanted to go for a nice long car ride and be fingered by someone with a gentler touch. Even my technically challenged husband now takes great delight in offering to turn my computer on.

I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

As I said earlier, I’m not a math whiz; in fact I’m a complete ditz but when it comes to numbers. Fortunately my husband is amazing so he helps me. But he’s not good with the English language, written or spoken so I’m always available to bail him out with spelling and pronunciation issues. It’s the perfect yin and yang. We support each other’s shortcomings. Watching my parents as they grew older, I began to appreciate the value in having someone alongside to help shoulder the load. Now we’re in the same boat. What one can’t do, the other usually can. We muddle through. My friend Terry showed me how to use the timer on my oven; Gail’s our social convener; her husband Mike’s our go-to I.T. guy. I’m the source of new Britcoms on television. When we’re feeling discouraged or in need of a little moral support, who do we call? Our friends.

The challenges of aging aren’t what John Lennon and Paul McCartney had in mind when they penned “I’ll get by with a little help from my friends” but even then they understood the depth of meaning in the words to When I’m Sixty-Four. So far, he still needs me, still feeds me (twice a week when it’s his turn to cook), and still sends me Valentines. Mine for ever more. The reciprocal shortcomings of two people added together equals a whole in any equation. That’s not just science; it’s life. Maybe Jerry McGuire wasn’t so stupid after all.

To order a copy of my latest book BOOMER BEAT from Amazon, click here.

When I’m Sixty-Four

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave
Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
When I’m Sixty-Four lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
With a Little Help From My Friends
A little help from my friends
What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key
I get by with a little help from my friends
I get high with a little help from my friends
Going to try with a little help from my friends
What do I do when my love is away
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you’re on your own)
No I get by with a little help from my friends
Do you need anybody
I need somebody to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love
Would you believe in a love at first sight
Yes I’m certain that it happens all the time
What do you see when you turn out the light
I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Do you need anybody
I just need somebody to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love
I get by with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
With a Little Help From My Friends lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
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Mirror mirror on the wall . . . what the hell happened to us all?

My friend Margaret had already purchased the 10X magnifying mirror—before I could warn her about the consequences. As we progress along the aging continuum (how’s that for euphemizing ‘getting old’?) we often need help chasing down those errant eyebrow or chin hairs. Over time, we move from 5X to 7X and we’re now at the 10X stage which can be truly traumatizing when we go exploring.

If you want to restart your sluggish heart or enact your own version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, then checking out your face in a magnifying mirror is guaranteed to get all your bells ringing. The reason our eyesight gets weak as we age is an earned kindness. We were never intended to see the resulting wrinkles, pitting and pigmentation we’ve acquired over the years. When we look in the (regular) mirror we hazily see pretty much the same face that stared back at us in our twenties, and that one was rather pretty. Why spoil the illusion by getting a magnifying mirror? In fact, they’re so distorting it’s impossible to cram your whole face into one full-size shot to apply makeup and we are forced to view our imperfections pixel by pixel. Downright horrifying.

Those pores and fine lines I keep working so assiduously on trying to wrangle with expensive lotions and creams appear like moon craters. Stray chin hairs look like birch trees in a field of dried grass. Tiny wrinkles become trenches. And, I’ve discovered, it’s not just men who get unsightly nose hairs. It’s best not to be confronted with the harshness of all that reality. I was much happier and prettier before burdening myself with a magnifying mirror. Facing the truth in the mirror can be very demoralizing.

Makeup mirrors should come with a warning label. At the very least, they should have a decal affixed, like on the side mirrors of cars: “Image may appear scarier than it really is.” It’s too late for me and my friend Margaret but I’m warning you. If you’re contemplating buying a 10X magnifying mirror—DON’T. Just slap on the spackle, paint those eyebrows somewhere in the middle of your forehead, add a slash of blusher and put on a great, big smile. It’ll remove years. Face it; you’re the best you’ll ever be; you’re still able to admire yourself so be thankful and celebrate it.

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Are our senior citizens really OK?

The other day I posted a book review that included a condemnation of our tendency to judge people without knowing their background story. In fact, my entire blog is a form of judgement. I did it again this week, at the grocery store. I’ll give you the details and let you be the judge.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for fresh local produce. Does everyone have access?

It’s harvest season in Ontario, the season for juicy, fresh beefsteak tomatoes, peaches and no end of wonderful local produce. Shoppers are checking out with bushels of Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and fruit for preserving. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year for fresh food.

As I was standing in the produce section husking corn into a giant bin in the middle of the floor, a small, very elderly, very frail gentleman approached. He was probably in his nineties and his face was sweet and kind looking. His grocery tote was a hand truck he’d brought with him with a single reuseable vinyl grocery bag propped open on the base. He was wearing worn, comfortable shoes and socks, a short-sleeved plaid shirt and beige shorts. His shorts were held up with striped suspenders and where one of the suspender’s clips was broken, he’d used a bit of twine to tie the suspenders to the belt loop of his shorts. This simple piece of twine touched my heart as it reminded me of how resourceful and practical his generation is—those who grew up in the Depression—so different from the obscene consumerism of subsequent generations.

For a few minutes I was transfixed as I watched this stooped gentleman pick three ears of corn and place them in his vinyl shopping bag. An Asian woman standing nearby helped him dig through the bin to find some nice ones. All of a sudden I found myself contemplating his entire back story in my imagination. Where did he live? Did he live alone? Did he drive himself here? Did he walk, pushing his hand truck? How does he manage in winter? Particularly in a large city it’s so easy for these vulnerable people to be forgotten.

Because he was buying groceries, he obviously does not live in an assisted living facility. Perhaps he lives in a nearby apartment or maybe he’s still living in the same little bungalow he bought in the 1950s and is unwilling to leave. Does he have children? Do they visit him and help him out? Is his wife still alive or did she pass a few years ago? Is he lonely? Does he need help? So many questions swirled around in my head for the few minutes I observed him.

I found myself thinking of my own father who is 92 and lives in the most wonderful assisted living residence I could imagine. He’s happy, healthy, well taken care of, still drives and is mentally as sharp as ever. His residence overlooks the Trent Canal in front and Ranney Falls on the Trent River behind the building. It’s an idyllic environment and he’s surrounded by kind, caring people and fellow residents he’s known for decades.

I worry about whether our vulnerable seniors are being cared for.

My dilemma concerns my judgement of the elderly man in the grocery store. My initial reaction to seeing this man was sadness. I found myself wishing he could be living carefree in a residence like my father’s. Then, he wouldn’t have to worry about grocery shopping, cooking meals, cleaning or even getting his clothes mended. But perhaps I’m wrong to cast judgement. Maybe he’s living the life he chooses, independent and busy with the simple rituals and routines of daily life. Perhaps my concern is misplaced and he’s happily living his best life. I wonder if and how my husband I will be coping when we’re in our nineties—which isn’t that far off anymore, and if we make it that far. Once again I found myself casting judgement on someone I knew nothing about, however, sympathetic my intentions. I’m still thinking about him, days later. I can’t get him out of my mind, wondering how he’s doing. Is he OK? Are they all OK?

 

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