“When people ask me why I seem so happy and find it so easy to laugh, I tell them my INNER CHILD is working overtime. That belief has been with me my entire adult life. Many times throughout the years different friends and relatives have remarked, ‘Lee, you’re the biggest kid I know. Aren’t you ever going to grow up?’”
They’re all dead now.
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixaabay
I’ve always been comfortable being alone. Perhaps that’s because I was an only child and I’m good at entertaining myself, but I know a lot of single women and men over 50 who hate being alone. It reminds me of Susan Sarandon’s comment in the film, Shall We Dance, about why people get married.
“Because we need a witness to our lives.”
Rene Lalique, Firebird Luminaire, @1922
I was never one of those kids who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. Even now I’m not sure how to answer the question, “And what do you do?” If resumes were based on how we spend our time, mine would probably read, “Doggie Doorman.” Part of me wants to add “versatile, resilient and I plan for worst-case” and be done with it. You fill in the blanks. I do know life shouldn’t be about what we do for a living, or the label we give ourselves or the labels we drive and wear or where we went to school.
Life is about how we raise our children and treat one another and how we cope with change, especially when it’s unexpected, and it all starts with how we feel about ourselves.
It’s no secret that I love music. My earliest musical memories are of my father, playing clarinet with a Dixieland Jazz band. When I was old enough he taught me how to set the needle down on a vinyl LP so I could listen to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” on my parents’s record player. Then came six years of piano lessons—with music that didn’t interest me—until rock ’n’ roll and Motown rescued me and liberated my soul. Fast forward to the ’70’s, when my husband and I helped finance a string of rock concerts.
Recently I caught up with Don Perry, Hollywood concert promoter, recording engineer and record producer.
The Cookbooks I Kept When I Moved From the Ranch to Town. All photographs ©Brenda Coffee, 2019.
When I was a little girl my parents had a hard time getting me to eat anything, especially foods that were yellow. Eggs, bananas, squash, cornbread… I turned up my nose at all of them until my father got the idea to use food coloring to dye them blue. While that took care of the yellow foods, he was at a loss about what to do with green foods like beans, spinach and peas. My father would be surprised to learn I grew up to be a gourmet cook, but now I’m the one who’s surprised. More liked shocked…
Am I the only one who’s lost interest in cooking?
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENDA COFFEE, ©2019
Along with watering some of my outdoor plants, twice a day, to keep them from dying in the heat, my summer continues to be filled with music. This week I saw five-time Grammy award-winner Michael McDonald in concert. Other than the Rolling Stones, he’s THE best live music performance I’ve ever attended, and that’s saying a lot. His band is world class plus his backup singers include his wife, singer, Amy Holland. They met when she was 16 and he was 19.
I’ve also been reading some great books this summer, plus I was late to the Big Little Lies party on HBO. Have you seen it yet? Woah…
Gone are the days when it was easy for me to go to sleep. In fact, since my late 30’s, I’ve been taking medication to sleep. My doctor then had been in the military. He said my inability to let go and sleep was classic PTSD. It was a term I hadn’t heard before, but after years spent living on the edge—of everything—followed by the death of my first husband and my kidnapping a year later, it made sense.
When I think about it, difficulty sleeping seems like a fair trade for having made it through all of that.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENDA COFFEE, ©2019
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.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRENDA COFFEE, ©2019
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?
BRENDA COFFEE, Early 20's. Photo by Philip Ray. ©1010ParkPlace
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.”