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.”
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.
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.
Some of the Mayan artifacts Philip and I found in the Yucatan. Can you tell which ones are real and which ones I bought?
I have a friend who changed jobs, moved to a new city on the other side of the country and put almost everything she owns in storage. I understand she doesn’t know whether her new job will work out, but I couldn’t leave my things behind. Almost, without exception, everything in my home is linked to family, friends and events in my life. Some remind me of tragedies while others represent happy times and great blessings.
They’re as much a part of who I am as my smile and my blue eyes.
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?
When I was a kid we seldom went to church unless my grandmother came to visit. I never went to vacation bible school, or understood the difference between the Old and the New Testament, or why I should have a relationship with God, and for much of my young life I thought it was significant that God spelled backwards was dog. Of course it didn’t occur to me that God spelled backwards in other languages like French or Spanish meant nothing.
But as I got older the concept of believing in God frightened me.
Francois-Xavier’s and Claude Lalanne’s Sheep Chairs
Last week’s blog about the “invisible man” sitting in the Spanish chair in my living room got me thinking about “my thing” for chairs. Whether they’re French, Spanish, Bauhaus or the chairs Mary Steenburgen hung on the wall in the 1979 film, Goin’ South with Jack Nicholson, I love chairs. Every few years I fall in love with a different style, but the chairs I really want don’t look anything like chairs.
They look like sheep.
KEITH'S WALL. I USUALLY SIT BY THE LAMP AND ANNIE IS NEXT TO ME.
I feel like you know me well enough that I can tell you this. Last night I told the “invisible man” in my house to take a hike and never come back. It sounds bizarre, I know, but when Annie and I are sitting on the sofa in the living room, she often stares intently at something on Keith’s wall. She’s not looking at Keith but at the old Spanish chair to the left of him. It’s like someone’s sitting there. Then “it/they” get up and move around the end table and stand behind me. Most of the time I blow it off, but sometimes I find myself looking where Annie’s eyes are moving, hoping to see a flying bug, but I never see anything. Last night it creeped me out.
If I’m going crazy, at least Annie’s coming with me.
One of my favorite women is someone I’ve never met in-person. Until we spoke on the phone, I’ve known Sandra Sallin only from the comments we leave on one another’s blogs and Instagram accounts. Even so, her joie de vivre and determination to live life to the fullest, regardless of what’s placed in her path, comes shining through.
“I feel the urge to do whatever adventure comes my way, now, while I can.”