Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Beginning to worry about finances ...

maybe giving up my condo and moving into senior housing? That would feel strange to me, but maybe there is good reason to consider such an option. What I most dread is separating myself from other ages -- losing the sound of kids at play (the pool is near our apartment), and interacting with young families. Something important would be lost to me, I believe, were I to spend my life among seniors, only. An age "ghetto" suffers the same kind of isolation as any other in my mind, and that may be a notion I'm going to have to rid myself of. Probably need to begin to look at that more closely ... .

It surely has little to do with wanting to deny my age. According to the great blues singer, Bobby "Blue" Bland, "Age Ain't Nuthin' But a Numbah." Having never looked my age, anyway, I've spent most of my life seeing the mounting years as an asset. Having the examples of my great grandmother who raised 13 or her own children alone after being widowed, plus 6 or 7 of her grandkids, then living to be 102 despite all, effects me. Then there was my mother who died at 101, and Great Aunt Camille who reached 107, if we got the count right. (I believe she admitted to being only 105.) Aging has never been a problem. The women in our family are a formidable bunch!

Now that I'm beginning to look at the grim fact of diminishing financial assets, the alternatives are to either sell my condo and move (with Dorian) into a nearby affordable senior complex -- or, to remain where I am and gradually reduce my relatively small estate to nil as I become less productive. I will thereby leave nothing for my kids to build on. The fact that I've been able to delay this decision for so long is probably what I need to think about. I've been one of the lucky ones. Many people in my age group have long since retired and are spending these years RV-ing around the country clipping coupons. I'm still sitting in city council meetings, mentoring candidates, joining with decision-makers, etc., and all in the company of the next generation of world changers. Accepting the inevitable won't be easy. I seem to thrive on the dynamics of change.

Jennifer and I are still working hard to bring in the convention center management contract, but the city is in such disarray that getting any forward movement may come too late to keep us solvent. She is much younger, the age of my eldest son, so can afford the wait for stability to return to Richmond. Not so for me. I may have a year or two left in which to continue to be productive and during which to clone myself through mentoring my successors. And, I may be stretching even that too far for comfort.

As an aside:

About a year ago I suffered food poisoning at one of those many banquets I attended in relation to my work. The next day I found myself crawling along the floor reaching for the phone to call 911. I was in a semi-conscious state after suffering gastro-intestinal misery for hours. Finally, was picked up and carted off in an ambulance where (because of my age) an MRI was ordered to be sure that I hadn't suffered a stroke. Spent the greater part of the day on a gurney, felt just fine after a short time, but waited for the test results for hours. When the doctor finally arrived his comment was, '...lady, your chronological age may be in the lower eighties, but your brain is not a day over 35!" We all laughed, but that felt about right. For unexplained reasons, my body and mind have been spared the effects of aging pretty well. Except for those years of smoking (quit over 20 years ago), it's my guess that even these wrinkles would be less visible as well. I've learned that the "feathering" around one's lips is thought to be caused by tobacco use. I know that mother's skin did not ever become wrinkled, and she never smoked. She didn't have hormone replacement therapy, either. Except for a few years in the mid-seventies, nor have I. She was still making her every-Saturday-afternoon shopping trips downtown in 3 inch heels at 95, and on the city bus at that. I'm still battling the social and economic demons and still being fairly effective at it. And I'm still enjoying excellent health in every way.

"Age Ain't Nuthin' but a Numbah" may be more than a song title. Maybe. But I suspect that I'm about to enter a period where the disadvantages will begin to be more and more apparent with each day. Hope accepting these changes will come easily and that I can accept slowing down with more grace than seems available to me at the moment. Goin' down kickin' and screamin' comes to mind!

Meanwhile, I've found a club where I can get those tango lessons in San Francisco -- and will be enrolled as of next week. A friend of Jennifer's, Jose from Argentina, will arrange it.