I picked up Nora Ephron’s book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.” Her humorous essays elaborate on her strong feelings about aging, body maintenance, menopause, empty nests and life. We can all relate. This juicy quote says it all:

“No one really wants to read anything that says aging sucks. We are a generation that has learned to believe we can do something about almost everything. We are active…hell, we are proactive. We are positive thinkers. We have the power. We will take any suggestion seriously. If a pill helps, we will take it. If being in the Zone will help, we will enter the Zone. When we hear about the latest ludicrously expensive face cream that is alleged to turn back the clock, we will go out and buy it even though we know that the last five face creams we fell for were completely ineffectual. We will do crossword puzzles to ward off Alzheimer’s and eat six almonds a day to ward off cancer; we will scan ourselves to find whatever can be nipped in the bud. We are in control. Behind the wheel. On the cutting edge. We make lists. We seek out the options. We surf the net.”

As I face the mirror every morning and note the passage of time, I often see my mother, Bert Strausz, staring back at me. The mirror allows me to think of her with kindness. She lived only 76 years when her life was cut short due to a fall in 1996. Her skin was still smooth, her eyes were bright. She rode her exercise bike daily and read constantly in between cooking for my father, her volunteer work, shopping, completing crossword puzzles while waiting for the clothes in the drier to complete their cycle.  She was one of the great multi taskers. Lists were made and items were checked or crossed off. And one of the best things about her was her tough and strong spirit.

Mom would have enjoyed living in our JSL community. Because community is something she would have thrived in.  She would have enjoyed cooking and sharing her heart-healthy desserts with her neighbors. She enjoyed hosting family and made the most delicious healthy meals, including brown rice and fish, salads and fruit pies. I remember eating like this in the 1960s.

Bert socialized whenever she could, either on the phone with her friends and family or when she and my dad invited couples over for bridge or cocktail parties. They traveled regularly around the country to visit family and friends and flew around the world, always taking copious notes in her diaries about the places they visited (and the foods they ate). I still have these mementos in her distinctive handwriting. They bring me pleasure when I read them.

Mother began her day early with transcendental meditation and her yoga practice found on Channel 56 public television. Then into the kitchen she moved to enjoy a breakfast of hot oatmeal with stewed fruit.  She was dressed and ready for whatever her day would bring. She was on a bowling team. She volunteered at the West Bloomfield Library and in the schools. She stayed active, was organized and kept busy. She knitted and sewed and danced and exercised.

At JSL, Mom would have walked outside with new friends and joined classes put on by teachers, philosophers, spiritualists and would even have participated in the art classes offered. She would have touched up her hair and lipstick before dinner each night and would most definitely have clipped newspaper columns to share at the table, while avidly discussing the pros and cons of politics or her favorite sports teams (she was a Boston Red Sox baseball fan), or she might have held court about which Netflix series she would have been watching.

So many residents at JSL live long and active lives. JSL is like a Blue Zone community. Blue Zone communities are geographic areas where people are said to live longer lives due to their lifestyle and environment. These communities are centered around habits that promote longevity with physical activities, heart-healthy meals, social interaction, low stress, low disease incidence and whole-food diets. Sometimes I think how great it would have been to visit her while she was congregating with her friends, or alone in her tidy apartment surrounded by framed photos of my father, my children and grandchildren, her volunteer braille book making, piles of read and unread library books, and treasured cookbooks.

To think I would have had the opportunity to visit her during the day while I work would have been such a treat for both of us. Memories of my mother, Bert will never be forgotten.

Shabbat Shalom.

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