Could You Fall For A Man 25 Years Younger?

If you’ve been following international news, you undoubtedly know that the president-elect of France is 39 and his wife is 64.

Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron met when he was 15, and she was his literature and drama teacher at a private school. Emmanuel’s parents, a physician and a professor of neurology, were not happy as their son’s relationship intensified, and so they sent him to another school for his senior year, hoping the ‘friendship’ would dissipate. It obviously did not. Brigitte and Emmanuel married in 2007.

“He often refers to his wife as his intellectual soul mate and confidante,” related an article in The Telegraph, a UK newspaper. “Mr. Macron says he will govern more effectively if he is happy — and that means having Brigitte at his side.” Apparently, Brigitte “mentored, coached and advised him during the campaign,” the article explained.

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Recovering And Rediscovering After Loss

When Janis Clark Johnston was 52, her husband “dropped dead of a sudden heart attack” while he was mowing their front yard. He was 54. Their son had recently graduated college and their daughter had left for her freshman year of college.

“It was shattering,” remembers Janis, now 70, who earned a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Boston University, and has spent her entire career as a therapist for children, adolescents, and adults, in schools, mental health centers, businesses, and in her own practice. Her first book, It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development, was published in 2013.

Janis’s new book, Midlife Maze, A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery After Loss, explores the “geography of loss in midlife, the way it can affect us, and what we can do to get back on track or redirect ourselves.” (more…)

Men Don’t Make Merry Widowers

If my mom had predeceased my dad, one of my sisters or I would have asked him to move in with us. He wouldn’t have coped well with being alone.  Emotionally or physically. I never even saw him boil water to make instant coffee, no less hold a broom or turn on the washing machine. He did use an electric knife in the 1970s, to slice roast beef, but the cord repeatedly fell out of the thing so it took longer to carve the beef than if he had used a regular knife. But that’s another story!

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Well, Are You IN Or Are You OUT?

I know a married couple  (she’s 68 and he’s 70) who go out practically every evening of the week. Non-stop dinners with friends and family; parties; events of all kinds, from art openings to Broadway opening nights. They’ve been going out at a frenetic pace for decades, with no signs of letting up.  I’m not talking about going on “date nights” once or even a few times a week, where just the two of them enjoy romantic dinners or take in a movie. This couple surrounds themselves with groups of people almost everywhere they go, mostly all the time.

I don’t see this couple any more, but if I were to ask them why they go out so much, they’d most likely tell me they love doing it. I don’t doubt that they enjoy the company, but why is it constant? Don’t they like being in the company of each other, with no one else around? Do they need others to make them feel “alive?”    

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The Essence Of Motherhood In 9 Words

“You’re only as happy as your least happy child!”

I’ve heard countless mothers quote this statement over the years, and although it’s nearly impossible to determine who came up with it, I think it’s one of the most insightful statements about motherhood ever uttered.

Madeline (not her real name), for example, was recently filling me in on her grown daughter and son.

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Kids Do Say The Darndest Things

A man named Art Linkletter hosted a popular afternoon TV show from 1945 to 1969, House Party, and on it was a segment called Kids Say The Darndest Things. A few kids sitting at attention on the stage (as kids in the 5Os were trained to do) would field Art’s questions about everything from their parents to politics, and they’d invariably make funny, clever and insightful comments. Kids have unnerving observational skills, and, without filters, they don’t hesitate to speak their minds and unleash their creativity. (more…)

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

If you live in an apartment building in Manhattan, you may barely know the person who lives in the unit 10 feet from yours. Technically, he’s your “neighbor,” but the two of you hardly are what you’d call “neighborly.” That’s just the way it is there, maybe not always, but often.

If you live in a rowhouse in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant section (Bed Stuy, to those in the know), being “neighborly” is the rule, not the exception. This probably is nothing new to those of you who have lived in houses most of your lives (except if you live on a fancy estate and your nearest neighbor is acres away). I, on the other hand, haven’t lived in a house since I left my parent’s home when I was 21, and became a married woman, so this is a brand new experience for me.

I now live on Lexington Avenue, between Bedford and Nostrand Avenues (coincidentally, I also lived off Lexington Avenue in Manhattan). My house sits on a ridiculously long block that’s about ⅕ of a mile, and has about 60 houses, but it feels more intimate than the upper east side co-op building where I lived, which had only 22 apartments, three on a floor!  I meet neighbors when I walk Rigby morning and evening, when I take out the trash (I’ve become a religious recycler here, where everyone follows the rules to a T), and when I move my car from one side of the street to another to abide by alternate-side-of-the-street parking regulations. (more…)

Meet The New Man In My Life

Do you publicly moan and groan, at least once in awhile, when things aren’t going as smoothly as you’d like?

You might have a bad cold or developed a big, bad cavity. Maybe the thermostat isn’t working on a bitter winter day.  Or UPS can’t locate the rug you ordered for the living room. When things like this happen, and you’re feeling under the weather or hate the weather, think about Santos.

doorI met 40-something Santos a few months ago, when he came to my new (old) house to draw up plans to build a kitchen, from scratch. Santos definitely has a way with wood. He created the striking kitchen on the parlor floor, two beautiful closets on the second, as well as new doors for every room (each in a different design). What’s more, he’s self taught, and one of the hardest working men I’ve ever met. He’s dedicated to his two sons and crazy about his six-month-old grandson. You should know, his life has not been easy, not easy at all.

Most recently, Santos was working on bringing back an ancient (1899) entry door in my house from the dead. Then he took ill and almost died himself.

Ignoring the pain he was feeling in his stomach, for a few weeks, Santos continued to work in his shop. He finally went to the doctor when he developed severe diarrhea and couldn’t keep food down. The doctor told him he had a stomach virus and prescribed antibiotics. A week later, Santos wasn’t feeling any better and the pain became so bad, he asked his son to take him to the hospital.

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Geri’s Moving Story: The House Is Taking Shape!

Even when Douglas and I moved into our first apartment in 1968–a studio in an ancient tenement building on the upper East Side of Manhattan with lots of roaches that apparently hid when we looked at the place–I wanted to make my home beautiful.

We bought a long, lovely birchwood dresser with eight drawers, since the apartment was sorely missing storage space; a small cherrywood table that opened up to become a much bigger table, because I loved to have dinner parties, and two pretty white ginger jar lamps that sat on the dresser. I always adored buying bedding, towels, kitchen equipment, and tabletop products, too!

Many apartments later, I have officially moved into my first full-fledged home–at 69, no less!

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He Knows How To Deal With Pests (And Women)

Keith Goodman jokingly calls his 90-year-old mom, “Angie The Terrible” because she “takes over” every chance she gets. When he set her up in the 1,000-square-foot finished basement in his house, after Angela had surgery, she was upstairs constantly. She stayed for four months, and then Keith bought her a condominium nearby. Even though Angela has a companion who comes to help her out eight hours a day, “she’s up making herself breakfast before the woman arrives,” Keith told me. “She only watches Channel 11. Thinks it’s just for her. Loves the Maury (Povich) Show.” Gotta love Angela.

Gotta love Keith, too.

He’s a dream 51-year-old son for any mom on the face of the earth. Visits Angela every single day, often more than once. Lays out her meds. Brings her favorite cake. Makes sure her companion is cooking her fave dinner. Mashed potatoes and fish are a dinner of choice. When Keith recently disagreed with something Angela wanted, she admonished him, firmly saying, “I’m the mother!”

Keith was referred to me by my Brooklyn-wise pal, Nadine, who sold me my new (old) house, and owns a couple of houses nearby. “He’s a great exterminator, and very reasonable,” she said. The plumber working on the renovations in my home discovered an unsavory creature in the cellar, and I needed (was desperate!) to get ahold of Keith pronto. He called me back minutes after I left a message on his cell and made an appointment to check out the house. (more…)