Paris on My Own: Filling My Heart but Missing My Hubby

Ranelagh Gardens, Paris

Ranelagh Gardens, Paris

Forty-eight hours ago, I arrived in Paris after a typically pleasant Eurostar journey, except for one thing. The seat next to me – which we’d booked and paid for several weeks ago — was empty.

Clive’s still in England, handling a number of matters related to the care of his 94 year-old father. We hope these will be settled within a few days (notwithstanding the ‘not much happens over the long Easter weekend’ situation), so Clive can join me in Paris sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, I’m experiencing a range of emotions. On one hand: joy that I’m in Paris, nesting in my second home and soaking up the City of Light. On the other hand: a mix of frustration, sadness, and a dollop of guilt thrown in for good measure, that Clive’s not here, too.

Luxembourg Garden & Palace, Paris

Luxembourg Garden & Palace, Paris

The past two days have been the first ones Clive and I spent apart since our marriage in November 2010.

Earlier this week, when it appeared his father’s issues would require hands-on involvement, Clive generously suggested I go to Paris ahead of him. We had only 24 hours to decide. I was torn, knowing I’d feel regret either way (why can’t we have more black and white choices?). Either I’d go to Paris and miss Clive there, or I’d stay in England and miss everything we’d planned for Paris.

After talking over the likely progression of activities regarding his father, going back and forth in my own mind a million times, and concluding my physical presence was not crucial to Clive’s ability to do what needed to be done each day, I decided to go on ahead.

Paris café

Our local Paris café

Thanks to frequent Skype contact, we’re keeping up to date with events on both sides of the Channel.

Clive is dealing with a sequence of issues related to his father’s care, a gracious act in my opinion, as they’ve had what Clive calls a ‘fractured’ family history and ‘never had a father-son relationship.’ Clive’s the primary contact now, and I can relate very much as I’m in a similar situation with my mother (and currently dealing with some issues with her care and the unfathomable U.S. medical bureaucracy, as it happens, but that’s another story).

As for me, when I arrived Wednesday evening and rode the metro from Gare du Nord, I wanted to jump out at every station just to soak up PARIS.

Springtime at the Eiffel Tower, Paris

Springtime at the Eiffel Tower, Paris

I miss my hubby’s presence – and also his IT expertise (new laptop, wireless printer, can’t get them to communicate so I can print, sign, and scan back one of those endless U.S. health care forms …). I’ve only had to ask Clive a couple questions about how to get the rest of the apartment technology working, and only one about the bathroom water supply.

I know Clive’s doing a great job handling daily activities in the UK. Our priceless friends have also been kind to him with lunch and dinner invitations. And I’m grateful to be in Paris.

Our chocolate Easter bunnies have greeted each other on Skype and will be eaten in view of each other on Sunday.

Paris bunny

Paris bunny

With any luck, we’ll be together in Paris next week.

‘We Should’ — Shingle Street, Ancient Saints, & Riverside Cakes

Shingle Street, Suffolk

Shingle Street, Suffolk

Our ‘We Should’ list for local travel keeps growing. So, after several days of working on indoor projects, Clive and I took a break for a walk and exploration of a Suffolk area we hadn’t visited before.

Shingle Street

This alluring coastal hamlet lies a few miles north of Felixstowe on the Suffolk Coast. We were struck immediately by its peacefulness and vistas of sea, sky, and the amazingly-wide swathe of shingle beach, which gives the village its name.

Shingle Street’s single row of cottages once housed fishermen and river pilots, and later the Coast Guard. Today several are holiday homes.

Shingle Street also has a Martello Tower, one of 29 built on the east coast of England for protection during the Napoleonic wars. In more recent times, Shingle Street has been described as a coast full of secrets regarding its military history, including various conspiracy theories around WW II German landings. Shingle Street is located between Orford Ness and Bawdsey, both of which have their own radar and military research history.

For us, the great attraction of Shingle Street is its natural beauty, its tranquility, and the walking one can do there. Just footsteps from the sea, the Suffolk Coast & Heaths footpath winds up and down the county. We took a short walk and agreed ‘we should’ (as usual, adding to the list) return another day when we have more time for what looks like a great 11km circular walk.

Ancient Saints

All Saints church, Hollesley, Suffolk

All Saints church, Hollesley, Suffolk

I am repeatedly moved, sometimes to tears, by the historic churches we come across when walking or exploring in England.

Yesterday’s treasure was All Saints Church, near Shingle Street in the village of Hollesley. The church dates from pre-1087, a date my raised-in-America self still finds incredible. The list of rectors inside the church lists names from 1303. In this year of remembrance 100 years after the start of World War I, we learned from a memorial plaque that five families in this village lost more than one son in that war.

The sweet churchyard contains a bench looking over the gravestones and across the heaths and marshes out to sea. Alas, as much as we enjoy pausing for lunch in such a location, we hadn’t packed a picnic for the day.

Riverside Cakes

River Deben, Bawdsey Quay to Felixstowe Ferry, Suffolk

River Deben, Bawdsey Quay to Felixstowe Ferry, Suffolk

We headed to Bawdsey Quay, which looks across the River Deben back to Felixtowe Ferry.

Here we treated ourselves to afternoon tea at the Boathouse Café — rhubarb and ginger crumble cake (with ice cream, of course) for Clive, and for me, the best (gluten-free!) lemon polenta cake I’ve ever eaten.

The power of place has been a strong force in my life, as evidenced by the title of this blog. I love many of the world’s great cities, but from the first time I visited Suffolk with Clive, was also drawn to the special magic of this corner of the world.

The Suffolk ‘We Should’ continues to grow.

Nine Big Reasons to Love Paris in Winter

Uncrowded and reflective: Paris in winter

Uncrowded and reflective: Paris in winter

With our global family and so many destinations on our ‘we should go there’ travel list, I’m often wishing we could physically be in more than one place at one time. I miss family members, I miss my share of special events, and I miss Paris.

Paris is a favourite destination any time of year. Here are nine big reasons I’m missing Paris in winter:

1. Cheap(er) transportation costs

The Eurostar at Gare du Nord, Paris

The Eurostar at Gare du Nord, Paris

Fares are generally lower in the off-season; for example, London-Paris on the wonderful Eurostar for £69 ($US 115) return (round-trip).

2. The air & the light

Clive in his fuzzy hat last winter

Clive in his fuzzy hat last winter

We would rather walk in cold than in hot weather; even when Paris gets very cold, as it did last year, it’s easy to buy a fuzzy hat to keep your ears warm.

3. Lack of tourist hordes

Bookshop at Petit Palais, Paris

Bookshop at Petit Palais, Paris

Paris understandably draws enormous numbers of tourists, but in winter we’ve noted far fewer hordes (and the buses that carry them).

Whether walking or sightseeing, everything seems so much easier when the numbers are smaller, the lines shorter, and the general atmosphere less frenetic and more peaceful.

Reduced tourist numbers mean bookings are easier as well; we were able to get several last-minute dinner reservations, and attended a free concert at the Petit Palais, which was blissfully not quite full.

4. Being Outside

Luxembourg Garden, Paris

Luxembourg Garden, Paris

The sun shines in Paris in the winter — not every day, but even when it’s cloudy, walking is much easier in the less-crowded streets.

Whether sunny or grey (or snowy, as it was in January and March last year), we still love walking through Paris’s parks in their quieter winter atmosphere.

And when it rains, you can savour …  

5. Anything inside

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Winter offers endless scope for museum-going, church or cathedral-viewing, shop-browsing, and any other indoor sightseeing, usually with short or non-existent lines.  At Sainte Chapelle, the language whispered around us was mostly French. We’re not ‘SOLDES’ (winter sales)-goers, but I love browsing my favourite bookshops in winter. Last month, the BHV basement with its massive array of DIY and hardware goods was the least crowded we’ve ever seen it.

6. A sense of intimacy

Balzac's study, Passy quartier, Paris

Balzac’s study, Passy quartier, Paris

Paris is always romantic. In winter, cafes and brasseries are warm and cozy and can increase the feeling of intimacy — lingering over a hot chocolate or winter stew with dusk falling early outside. Visiting Paris’s small museums can add an additional sense of intimacy (the large museums are also wonderful this time of year).

7. The City of Light lights up earlier

Ben Franklin, early evening at Trocadéro, Paris

Ben Franklin, early evening at Trocadéro, Paris

The shorter days of winter mean the lovely lighting of Paris’s large and small monuments occurs hours earlier than during the summer months. Instead of waiting until 11pm for complete darkness, you can watch the Eiffel Tower shimmering and sparkling at 6pm (and every hour thereafter), or glimpse it through leafless tree branches.

8. Real life

Walking by the Seine

Walking by the Seine

Paris in winter is full of Parisians going about their daily lives. (Many leave for vacation in the summer, especially in August.) With more locals and fewer tourists, it’s easier to feel daily life going on all over the city — residents simply doing errands, going out with their families, and living their lives. Witnessing and participating in a small way in the city’s daily life is a constant thrill to me.

9.  Winter character and moods

Moody winter evening in Paris

Moody winter evening in Paris

Winter offers a side of Paris not always seen, a different aspect to the city’s personality, beauty, and character. It’s buzzing and invigorating in the run-up to Christmas, somewhat reserved and more inwardly-focused in the early months of the new year. I find the winter atmosphere intriguing and inspiring, and it makes me want to spend even more time in Paris. Simultaneously, the days become noticeably longer, with the promise of spring — another intoxicating season in which to explore and appreciate Paris.

No matter what time of year, there are always an infinite number of reasons to love Paris.

Love Paris in winter

Love Paris in winter

Cheers, until next time.

January 2014: Reflections on Family, Pace, and Balance

Paris in winter

Paris in winter

I write this post on a Tuesday, so it feels appropriate to reflect on the first month of the new year — or more accurately, on the past six weeks — beginning with a Tuesday in December.

These recent weeks included 3 countries, 2 bathroom DIY projects (in 2 countries), and an emotional mix of life, death, and family visits.

Following are a few reflections, looking back and looking ahead, as we prepare to leave our home away from home in Paris and return to our home in the UK.

Week 1: Tuesday 17 December (2013)- Felixstowe, UK

Bathroom-in-progress Dec. 2013

Bathroom-in-progress Dec. 2013

We felt stressed and frantic during the run-up to Christmas.

Due to the renovation of our main bathroom and related materials spread throughout the apartment, we were way past our preferred date to put up our Christmas tree.

We juggled the usual before-Christmas craziness and additional projects we wanted to complete, in anticipation of Clive’s daughter arriving on 7 January for a long-planned visit. The Christmas tree and ornament boxes sat amidst renovation clutter in our dining area, untouched.

Then we remembered: hey, we get to decide whether or not to put up the tree! No-one (other than ourselves) is forcing us to do it. We agreed we would *not* put up a tree. This was hugely liberating.

Two days later, after the plasterer completed his work in the bathroom, we checked into a local hotel because our shower was dismantled. The next morning, we were awakened by an early call from Clive’s sister in Australia, telling him their mother was approaching the end of her life.

We hustled home, found last-minute flights, and booked a hotel in Australia, as mentioned in my previous post. Adding to the mix, Clive’s father was hospitalised in England (Clive’s parents divorced when he was young), so we went back and forth to the hospital until the day we left.

On Monday 23 December, we departed London Heathrow (thanking friends who kindly dropped us at the door of Terminal 5) headed for Sydney.

Week 2: Tuesday 24 December – somewhere over Asia, in flight

Clive with his mother, 2012

Clive with his mother, 2012

We ‘missed’ Christmas Eve — or so it seems, when you leave the northern hemisphere one day and arrive in Australia ‘two days later’, according to the calendar.

The BA pilot from London to Singapore announced that Santa’s reindeer health checks were all successful and Santa’s flight plan was underway. The crew from Singapore to Sydney announced that Santa had the same flight plan as we did, so passengers might spot him out the window.

We arrived in Sydney Christmas morning and had no time to deal with jet lag, as we immediately drove to the New South Wales Central Coast. Christmas lunch was at the only place open for business: McDonald’s. That evening, a visit from Clive’s son and family lifted our spirits immensely.

Most importantly, we arrived Down Under in time for Clive to spend hours and days at his mother’s bedside. She was largely unresponsive, but the first time she heard his voice she opened her eyes and looked right at him.

During these days, when not with Clive’s mother, we spent much-appreciated time with Clive’s son and family — who had numerous pre-planned commitments during this period — and also with his sister and her husband, children, and grandchildren — who were doing an amazing job juggling visits to their dying mother with pre-wedding events for their son’s marriage on 4 January. I also met one of Clive’s half-sisters for the first time.

Clive’s mother died in the early hours of Monday, 30 December. In the middle of the night, and thanks to his son’s kind driving offer, Clive kissed his mum good-bye for the last time.

Daylight ushered in a series of family meetings, funeral preparations, a review with the funeral director, and Clive’s agreement to write and deliver the eulogy for his mother. He also took on the project of preparing a ‘Life in Pictures’ presentation for her memorial service, scheduled for 2 January.

Week 3: Tuesday 31 December – New South Wales, Australia

Clive with his son & amily in the pool, January 2014

Clive with his son & family in the pool, January 2014

New Year’s Eve: a day of shopping for funeral clothes (sad), but also a day of sharing Clive’s grandson’s 7th birthday (happy). We joined the family at a local play area and then for the extended gathering at their home. Later that night, Clive juggled e-mails and photo exchanges with his sisters while I watched Sydney fireworks on TV.

New Year’s Day: Clive spent the first day of 2014 virtually entirely at his laptop in our rather dreary hotel room, preparing his mother’s eulogy and the ‘Life in Pictures’ presentation.

The funeral, on Thursday 2 January, was an intimate, dignified service in a small chapel filled with family and friends. My dear hubby did a fantastic job with both the eulogy and the photos, and many members of the extended family told me they thought both were brilliant. I was also touched by the grandchildren’s recollections given during the service. Only two were unable to attend: Clive’s daughter who was already in the UK, and another granddaughter currently living in Germany.

With summer vacation in full swing Down Under, we couldn’t get return air tickets until the following Monday. This turned out to be a real blessing, as we were able to spend the final weekend with Clive’s son and family. Clive enjoyed kicking the football, playing Frisbee, and swimming in the hotel pool, and our dinners out with his three active grandchildren.

On Monday, 6 January, we drove from the NSW Central Coast back down to Sydney. I worried that Clive hadn’t had a spare moment to process all the family events, though I know this takes months and years to do. I was happy for Clive, knowing that he was pleased to have accomplished our purpose for travelling to Australia, that he had arrived in time to be with his mother during the final days of her life and was able to stay on for the funeral.

As for me, my emotions swelled to overflowing as we drove through Sydney on our way to the airport, passing through the suburbs where I once lived with my late husband Gary and then with Clive. I wished I’d made time, as I usually do, to visit the site where my son and I scattered Gary’s ashes in 2003. It felt sad, and wrong, to have been in Australia and not gone to Manly or Shelly Beach. But then I thought, my highest priority — really, my only priority — for this particular trip was to be at Clive’s side for the support he needed. I carry Gary in my heart, no matter where I am. My heart is happy the trip went well for Clive, and my heart knows it will return in person to Shelly Beach next time.

We said farewell to Sydney and boarded our flight to the UK on Monday evening.

Week 4: Tuesday 7 January 2014 – London & Felixstowe, UK

Clive and his daughter Kylie at Felixstowe Ferry

Clive and his daughter Kylie at Felixstowe Ferry

Our ‘lost’ Christmas Eve day was ‘returned’ as we spent 20+ hours on long-haul flights but arrived in London only the morning after we left Australia.

Our saintly friend met us at 5am and delivered us back to our apartment, where his wife had stocked the fridge and his daughter had made a slow-cooking beef stew which awaited us on the counter.

Again there was no time for jet lag. We had exactly three hours until Clive’s daughter would arrive — picked up at the train station by the same saintly friends — and in those few hours, Clive put a coat of sealer on the bathroom walls, which were at that stage bare plaster and would have suffered once we started showering.

Kylie had offered to spend a few extra days in London if we needed the time, but we’ve learned that once the ‘children’ are grown, we want to maximise every opportunity to spend time with them. Kylie arrived on the date originally planned, and thus began a full week of walking, sightseeing, and just being together in Suffolk.

Week 5: Tuesday 14 January – Paris

Clive & Kylie in the Tuileries, en route to Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Clive & Kylie in the Tuileries, en route to Musée d’Orsay, Paris

What better way to follow a Suffolk countryside sojourn than with a city birthday trip to Paris? On Tuesday 14 January, we three travelled on the Eurostar to the City of Light, another long-planned trip.

I’m always filled with joy to be in Paris and Kylie’s an experienced global traveller who’s been here multiple times before. For this trip, we wanted to show her some of our favourite places in the city. We had another non-stop week, kind weather with mild days, and celebrated Kylie’s birthday with a Seine river lunch cruise, a visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie, hot chocolate at Angelina’s (one of her regular stops), and a raspberry tarte at home to finish the day.

Kylie returned to London, en route back to Australia, on Monday 20 January. Clive and I saw her off at Gare du Nord and returned to the apartment.

Then, we crashed.

Week 5: Tuesday 21 January – Paris

The Seine and tip of Ile St-Louis, Paris

The Seine and tip of Ile St-Louis, Paris

Last Tuesday was the first day in more than five weeks that Clive and I had with just the two of us — not going anywhere, not coming back from anywhere, not doing much of anything at all. Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway: bliss. Slow pace, quiet days, Paris — except, of course, the 100 year-old bathroom window in urgent need of repair and repainting, which Clive has now magnificently completed.

I adore Paris in winter, when it’s relatively uncrowded; when everything’s open and the lines are short or non-existent; when there’s time for reflection as you walk along the streets and see the city in all its glory visible through leafless tree branches or with lights twinkling in the early evening dusk. Whatever the reason, I’ve loved this past week in Paris as much as I love any time in Paris.

Week 6: Tuesday 28 January – Paris

Twinkling through the trees on a winter evening, Paris

Twinkling through the trees on a winter evening, Paris

Preparing to leave Paris always saddens me, but I also love our home by the sea in Felixstowe, and as with my special places in Sydney, I remind myself to say, ‘Until we meet again’.

Until then, life goes on as it always does, and as the wonderful comedienne Gilda Radner once said, ‘It’s always something.’ We’re not the only couple or family who’s had a crazy start to the new year.

I look back on recent events and reflect on three aspects of our choices, the decisions we made, and how we spent our time:

1.  Family — continues to be a priority for me and Clive. I’ve written much on this blog about family globalisation. Being scattered around the globe, far away from loved ones, and unable physically to be in more than one place at one time is challenging but not insurmountable. Family will remain a priority; we return to England, where Clive’s father has again been in hospital, and soon we’ll travel to the US to see my family there.

2.  Pace — we realise more and more that we both need time and space to regroup and recharge, that we just cannot keep up the pace we’ve recently been on, no matter how much we wish we could.  

3.  Balance — perhaps this is my ‘word for 2014’ or at least my focus going forward this year. (I didn’t have a word for 2013; in 2012 it was ‘choices’ and in 2011, ‘settle’).

The areas I want to focus on, and balance, are ‘C&C time’ — time for me and Clive together; time with our US and Australia families; time for individual projects and passions (my Paris-based writing project, Clive’s DIY projects), and time to appreciate our daily life with friends and activities in Felixstowe. I know we’ll never have a perfect, zen-like state of balance, but we can be conscious about slowing down when we can, appreciating each moment, and making time to just be.

For now I’ll give thanks for everything that went well in recent weeks, for our priceless family and friends who helped make it so, and for this precious time in Paris.

Me and reflections at Trocadéro this evening

Me and reflections at Trocadéro this evening

Cheers for now, until next time.

A Change of Plans — Christmas Upside-Down

AA ship 1 1 13 Nov 2013

WInter sunset, Felixstowe

Clive’s mobile phone rang in the early-morning darkness, with the news from one of his sisters in Australia that their mother is approaching the end of her life.

Conversations now include those phrases and euphemisms such as ‘palliative care’, ‘pain management’, and ‘keeping her comfortable’.

Clive spent the morning thinking about possible options and discussing them with me. With my full support, he decided he wanted to see his mother one more time alive, rather than at her funeral.

By way of background, his mother has been rapidly declining in recent years and for some time has not appeared to recognise Clive when we visit. However, we have felt, as many others do in similar situations, that something inside her did reflect a slight spark or awareness that it was her only son who sat beside her.

Previously, Clive had thought (and told his sister) that, when the time came, he would return to Australia for his mother’s funeral. Within a short time after receiving the morning phone call, he realised he would rather see his mother while she is still alive. As it happens, I did something similar with my father almost exactly three years ago, visiting him in the U.S. when he was dying but still able to recognise me. We said our goodbyes and, for a number of reasons, I did not return for his funeral and felt at peace with that decision.

Adding to the complexity of our current situation in the UK, only yesterday Clive’s father was discharged from hospital and is dealing with many difficult issues of his own. Clive’s parents divorced when he was very young, and although we are closer geographically to his father, his priority lies with his mother, who raised him.

So, once decided, we began the urgent processes of finding flights, communicating with Clive’s children in Australia, and letting family and friends here in the UK know of our change of plans.

We can’t help but feel the irony: in our annual Christmas letter, we talked about feeling the effects of long-haul travel, jet lag, and general travel fatigue as we circle the world seeing loved ones, and admitting we’re not quite as young as we used to be. We shared that we planned to do somewhat less travel in 2014, bringing our children to us for one visit. Now, before some friends have finished reading our letter, here we are, travelling again.

Life is nothing if not unpredictable, today’s families are dispersed geographically, and there is no timetable for illness and approaching the end of life.

As for me, on one hand, I relate deeply and totally to what Clive is feeling, as I felt exactly the same with my father’s situation. On the other hand, if I’m completely honest with myself, my first reaction after we received the early-morning call and Clive expressed his understandable desire to get to Australia ASAP to see his mother, was simply wanting to weep. We returned from Thanksgiving in the US with a huge sigh of relief, both of us weary from a year of rewarding but tiring family visits and thrilled to keep our feet on the ground for a month or two.

We’d made plans for a relatively quiet Christmas in England — a number of warmly-anticipated get-togethers with friends, our first New Year’s Eve fancy dress party with a pantomime theme (Clive was going as Jack with me as the Beanstalk), dinners for two, and cozy winter weeks by the sea in Felixstowe.

I was also going to review my photos from our 2013 travels, write a blog post or two about our times in Australia with Clive’s children and grandchildren and the visits to my mother and son in the US — all of which have been superseded by current events.

It feels churlish to say I wish we’d had more than three weeks at home before hauling ourselves to an airport again and turning all our Christmas plans upside-down. Then I remember: if it were my mother, I’d do exactly the same thing, and would be grateful for Clive’s support in this most painful of life tasks.

So we telephone and e-mail and pack and get our affairs in order and pray that we will arrive in time to say goodbye.

In Remembrance Ten Years: My Late Husband, Gary

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Dunwich Heath and Minsmere Reserve, Suffolk, UK

Ten years ago, on Saturday night, 2 August 2003, my first husband Gary took his final breath of this life.

Gary was born in Michigan, where he grew up outside Detroit with his loving parents and older and younger brothers. He died in the city we had fallen in love with and where we’d made our home since 1995:  Sydney, Australia. I was with him when he died, along with our son and my stepson, Gary’s son from his first marriage.

Gary was so many things to so many people: Son, brother, friend. Uncle, cousin, nephew, employee, employer. He was a gifted gardener and a gifted photographer, a man who loved nature, animals, and all living creatures. He was a scuba diver, a real estate agent, a baseball coach and umpire, a great hand at the Aussie barbecue, and a DIY expert.

Above everything else, Gary was a loving family man, a husband and father who gave his immediate family the daily gift of his love, care, and devotion. I know I cannot fathom the ongoing grief and loss my son and stepson experience at his absence in their lives. I can only attest to my own, and to my gratitude that Gary was my first husband and the father of my son. I’m beyond grateful that my son travelled to the UK to be with me this week, especially for this day.

As always, I can’t write about Gary without acknowledging my gratitude for having met Clive, my loving second husband, who today accompanied us to a beautiful, wild headland in Suffolk, UK, one of my favourite places and one I believe Gary also would have loved. My son and I scattered red rose petals amongst the wild ferns, beneath the big Suffolk sky, at the edge of the eternal, moving sea.

In remembrance, Gary. We love you and we miss you.

Gary for 2 Aug 2013 post

Gary, 1945 – 2003

  Related posts:
    August 2, Seven Years
    Two Families, Two Deaths, Two Women

Time Passages: Up and Down the Generations

with my two guys, Washington, D.C.

with my two guys, Washington, D.C.

Our current visit to the US has presented me with a clear view of time passing and my place in the middle generation.

In Washington, D.C., we spent wonderful days with my 20-something son and his girlfriend — both hard-working, successful young adults, their lives full of aspirations, hope, and promise.

Lunch with the 20-somethings, Washington, D.C.

Lunch with the 20-somethings, Washington, D.C.

We also spent a memorable evening with two of my closest college friends. Forty years ago, we met as teenagers in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When we get together now, our chatter is a non-stop mix of memories blended with current life and future plans.

40 years later, still having fun

40 years later, still having fun

Now Clive and I are in New Jersey, to visit my mom and help celebrate her 89th birthday later this week.  She and her 92 year-old ‘special friend’ have both led long lives filled with joy and sorrow. They have abundant memories to share, perhaps a subject for another post. They still find happiness in daily life and in having special events to look forward to.

My mother often mentions a mathematical perspective someone once told her about why time seems to pass faster each year:  When you’re 5 years old, a year is 1/5th of your life. When you’re 80, a year is only 1/80th of your life.

As a math major, I like this explanation. Whatever the reason time seems to pass faster every year, I’m grateful for my memories and my hopes for the future, as I look up and down the generations.

with my mother and son, New Jersey 2012

with my mother and son, New Jersey 2012

Cheers for now and more soon.

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