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PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENDA COFFEE, ©2019
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One morning a friend asked me how long could I survive with the food I had in my kitchen should there be a manmade or a natural disaster? My answer was, “Until One O’clock.” I don’t think that’s the answer he was looking for, but instead, something that showed I had an emergency supply of canned food, bottled water and things like MREs (the Army’s Meals Ready-to-Eat). Have you ever eaten MREs? When I was the first journalist to drive and fire the Army’s M1 tank, I spent three days with soldiers who would do almost anything to trade their canned stew for a John Wayne bar: a hard, dry, chocolate peanut bar that required an Act of Congress in order to swallow it. Tell me that doesn’t speak volumes about the stew.

But now that recurring kidney stones are on my radar, and I can no longer eat chocolate, we can scratch John Wayne bars off my emergency list.

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— Life —

PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRENDA COFFEE, ©2019
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Last Friday I spent my 70th birthday at Diana Ross’s 75th Diamond Jubilee Birthday Celebration at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Oh, my stars. She was fabulous. The first time many of us saw Diana Ross was back in the 60’s, on black and white TV, when she was lead singer of the Supremes. They were powerful and chic, like nothing we’d ever seen, and they became Motown’s most successful artists of that decade. The Supremes are still the best charting girl group in US history and one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time.

Did I tell you Diana Ross called me up to the stage because she liked my dress?

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— Life —

BRENDA COFFEE, Early 20's. Photo by Philip Ray. ©1010ParkPlace
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Today is my birthday. I’m 25,550 days old, although many days I don’t feel a day over 9,125. This week I received a sweet birthday note from Lee Moczygemba. You may remember I interviewed her last year, “Here’s What 94 Looks Like.” Lee is my role model for aging. What an amazing woman! In her note Lee said, “I want to congratulate you for achieving the babyhood of the second part of your wonderful life.

When you speak of this upcoming birthday, and thereafter, always insert the word “JUST” before you say 70.”

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Lots of us have, and regularly use, some version of the Serenity Prayer. This is mine, short and sweet:

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.

It’s an old Polish proverb that reminds me to let go of the things in my life (or that are beginning to spill-over into my life) which are frustrating, beyond my control, and infringements on my inner-peace. 

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I’ve been sitting in the gastrointestinal day surgery waiting room since 6:30 this morning. A male nurse with a carpet of fur peering out from the neck of green surgical scrubs has already taken my friend through a pair of double doors marked ‘Oxygen in Use.’

Even though I brought a book and have my cellphone, it’s difficult to blockout the conversations around me.

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When I was in middle school I wore coke bottle glasses, braces on my teeth and my hair looked like someone had placed a bowl over my head and traced its shape with a pair of scissors. If that wasn’t bad enough my mother insisted I wear matronly dresses that hung midway between my knees and my calves. Halfway through an unairconditioned, Texas school day, those dreaded dresses were wet under the arms and the edges were ringed with a white circle of sweat and deodorant. I looked like I’d been hit with an ugly stick. I never told anyone, but secretly, I wanted to look like Elizabeth Taylor.

Since then a part of me has wanted to be like Elizabeth Taylor: a brave, badass woman.

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Not long ago I suggested to a friend, who is divorced and over 50, that she might try changing the conversation in her head from empty nest to my nest. Like many women who’ve lived a big part of their life for their family, now that she’s single and her children have left home, she’s feeling alone. Well girlfriend… I think you’re well on your way to figuring this alone thing out.

Would you believe my friend went to Morocco for a month by herself?

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