You Will Not Forget ‘Day of Days’

When my maternal grandfather was 84, he and my grandmother were taking a weekend trip to a hotel in upstate New York. Before he left, he casually told us, out of the blue, that he wanted to leave his car to me and his watch to his son, my uncle Norman. He died the next evening, in his sleep.

I was convinced Grandpa Sam unequivocally knew he was going to die that weekend.

When you first meet 91-year-old Walter Leland at the beginning of the new film, Day of Days, you suspect he’s up to something.  

Walter awakens, bathes, shaves and picks out a suit, shirt, tie and shoes as if he’s getting ready to go to his job. But the mood is somber in his dreary, spare apartment, Venetian blinds drawn, and it’s obvious that Walter, stooped over and wan looking, hasn’t worked in years.  It’s also plain that he lives alone. He laboriously scribbles in a notebook. He removes what looks like a war medal from a box he apparently hasn’t opened in decades.

Enter Marisol, who is replacing Walter’s regular home care aide for the day. Although petite and dark-haired Marisol assiduously tries to communicate with Walter, and replicate his usual companion’s comforting and familiar routine, he becomes increasingly agitated, eventually tossing over his lunch tray onto the living room floor.

Walter apologizes to Marisol when he awakens from his nap, and here’s where the story starts to unwind. We learn that Walter, a World War II veteran, has lived in near isolation since he retired 20 years before as a city bus driver.  Divorced long-ago, Walter allowed his wife’s new husband to adopt his only son, Bobby, while he endlessly fantasized he’d become a big-time baseball player. Now, Walter has dreamed that God has called him home, that he will die this day of days, and he tells Marisol the regrets of his life as he attempts to make peace with it all. “I was a drunk and a dreamer, and a damn bad husband and father,” he tells Marisol.  “All I had left was a bad case of feeling sorry for myself.” (more…)

Marie Celebrates Her Centennial

I met Marie Foa when I was around 25, and she was 55. My husband and I were friends with her son and daughter-in-law, Conrad and Linda, and we were invited to their annual July 4th gala barbecue in Englewood, New Jersey. The sprawling house and property, not to mention Marie herself, intimidated me because I wasn’t raised in such a luxurious environment, with a real pool outside and a real maid inside. Marie seemed like a queen in her palace. We were instructed to use the bathroom in the “pool house.” The main residence was off limits to the hordes of 20-something guests.

Marie Foa turned 100 last Saturday, and I was invited to help celebrate this significant occasion, along with about 150 other friends, relatives, and friends of her family.

Top: Marie arriving at her party and with her three great grandchildren
Bottom: Marie’s daughter Cheryl and the delicious birthday cake with three candles representing 100!


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What Would You Do In This FOF’s Shoes?

The situation and people I describe here are based on real people and real-life events. Try to put yourself in this women’s shoes, and let me know what you’d do if you were faced with the same circumstances.

Let’s say you’ve rarely seen your grandson, who is now 7.

He lives in another state, shuttling between his father, your son, and his mother, who are separated. Unfortunately, your daughter in law is not a productive member of society. She’s an alcoholic and on welfare. You detest her for how she’s ruined her life, and how she’s ruining her little boy’s life.

Your son, who had problems of his own for years, is now back on track; he has a good job and returned to college. But, he cannot yet give your grandson the attention he needs, and deserves, what with the demands of his work and studying.

Your grandson is a mess. He only eats fast foods, refusing to even taste fruits or vegetables. His table manners are non existent. His personal hygiene isn’t so hot. He hasn’t learned how to socialize well with other children his age. And, he’s angry. At 7! For good reason.

Your other son, who lives near you and is single and successful, invited your grandson (his nephew) to come and stay with him for six weeks this summer. He wanted to take the child “under his wings” and give him some stability. He took him to his first movie, put him in day camp, bought him new clothes, taught him how to try new (and healthy foods) and gave him lots and lots of love and understanding.

Now, this son would like your grandson to remain with him throughout the upcoming school year, rather than return to his fractured family life back home. The boy loves being with his uncle, and experiencing wonderful new situations, and people. He’s gets happier and happier every day.

You believe this son is making a big, big mistake. He’s worked long and hard to become independent and successful, and you think he should enjoy the lifestyle he’s created, rather than become a substitute father for your 7-year-old grandson. Your other son and his wife made their bed, and now they should lay in it. (Pardon the hackneyed adage.)  

You know you probably should support your son for wanting to do such a noble thing for your grandson, but you simply can’t. What’s more, you can’t promise him that you’ll consistently help out by babysitting and taking your grandson for the weekends, because the kid is such a handful. Controlling him takes more energy than you have at this stage in your life.

You told your son precisely how you feel, which seemed to trouble him. He’s said he still plans to go ahead and talk to his brother about having his nephew move in with him.

Please tell me below what you’d do if you were in a situation similar to this woman’s.

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.


Did You Ever See Your Parents As People?

The last time I saw my maternal grandmother alive, she told me that she regretted putting my mother, May, on a pedestal her whole life. I don’t know what prompted Grandma Rosie to make such an insightful statement at 94, but I vividly remember it almost 25 years later.

My mother did have “princess” tendencies. Although an extraordinary talented fine artist (she went to Pratt Institute for two years but quit when she married), and an avid reader, she spent most of her life devoted to my father. I was the first born, and, as far as I’m concerned, she probably would have been better off if she had fewer children, perhaps no children at all. (more…)

“I’ll Have What She’s Having!”

When Evelyn Taylor stooped down to pick up the newspaper in front of her Manhattan apartment one morning last year, she suddenly fell to the ground and couldn’t get up. Luckily, a friend who was visiting called for an ambulance.  The next day, Evelyn had extensive surgery on a broken bone near her femur, followed by an arduous stint at a rehabilitation facility.  

This normally wouldn’t be an especially intriguing lead for a story, but when you consider that Evelyn celebrated her 95th birthday this past weekend, her fall and surgery–at 94–take on new meaning.

“Most people your age wouldn’t survive a situation like this, let alone walk again,” Evelyn remembers her doctor saying. Evelyn didn’t only survive; she fully returned to her engaged life, looking as beautiful as ever, and acting every bit as charming.

I was thrilled to be invited to Evelyn’s 95th birthday party because Douglas, my good friend (and ex husband), leads weekly current event discussion sessions that Evelyn rarely fails to attend. (more…)

The Exciting Supplement That’s Improving My Bone Density

This is a “sponsored post.” AlgaeCal compensated FOF with an advertising sponsorship to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we believe will be helpful for our readers. All insights and expressed opinions are our own. —Geri Brin

My new house has “good bones,” but I’m afraid I can’t say the same for the bones in my body.lead

Like my mother, I have osteoporosis. Thankfully, I’ve never broken a bone, but I surely wasn’t going to take any chances, so I saw an endocrinologist, who prescribed a drug to increase my bone density, as well as an over-the-counter calcium supplement. Turns out that’s not such a great solution! (more…)

Here Come The Sun (Protectors)!

Disclosure: I’m proud to be working with CVS Pharmacy to help spread the word about #BetterHealthMadeEasy and how to #FindYourHealthy. All opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at or with the appropriate manufacturers.

‘Tis the season to be be jolly under the sun, as long as we dutifully protect our precious skin from those harmful UV rays, which doctors believe are the leading cause of melanoma, not to mention early signs of aging.

Many of us naively slathered a concoction of iodine and baby oil all over our young bodies back in the day. Now, a big girl makes sure to pack her beach bag with soothing lip balm, moisturizer with sunscreen, and even a product to prevent her hair from frying!  

Melanoma may be the least common form of skin cancer, accounting for only about 1% of all cases, but it’s responsible for the the vast majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the AIM At Melanoma Foundation. It’s estimated that there will be 87,110 new cases of melanoma in the United States this year, and 9,730 deaths from the disease. Your male partner is almost twice as susceptible to melanoma as you are, so make sure he’s also protected. What’s more, it’s the third most common cancer among women 20 to 39 years old, and the second most common in men 20 to 39, so it doesn’t hurt to give your adult kids a goody bag of products, too! (more…)

The Untimely Death Of The Debate

I became intensely nervous when I had to debate classmates in high school, on a subject chosen by the teacher.

I knew I needed to find out as much as I could on the topic so I’d be well prepared. And remember, that was BG (before Google), so researching took loads of time. What’s more, we were told which side of the debate we were covering, so even if you didn’t agree with the position assigned to you, it was important to make a convincing argument.

I’m not sure debating is part of the high school curriculum in 2017, but if it’s not, it darn well should be. Civil and analytical discussions about serious subjects have become as extinct as the brontosaurus. They’ve been replaced by yelling. Cursing. Haranguing. Lecturing. Criticizing. Condemning. And bullying! Worse, many of us don’t have the foggiest idea what we’re  screeching about in the first place. We just figure that if we yell loudest, or get in the last comment on a string of Facebook comments, we’ve won.

Guess what. No one wins.

If you’re not willing to present informed opinions on meaningful subjects, as well as (patiently) listen to others’ (informed) viewpoints, you might as well talk to the wall. By the way, that’s what most of us are doing, anyway; talking to the Facebook wall. Both sides actually can ‘win’ in a good debate, because even the side who made the less persuasive argument can teach something to the side with the most powerful position. And vice versa.

Problem is, you can’t teach anyone about something if you don’t know about it yourself, and it seems as if we simply don’t want to spend the time learning about critical issues, whether they involve something happening thousands of miles away, or right next door. We’ve become too self-involved, and unless we’re personally affected, who cares, many of us believe.

As July 4th approaches, I think about one of my favorite Broadway musicals, 1776, which dramatizes John Adam’s tireless efforts to persuade his colleagues in the Continental Congress to vote for separation from England, and sign the Declaration of Independence. Without the rigorous debate among the representatives of the 13 colonies, I wonder if we’d be celebrating July 4th 241 years later.  

But continued freedom demands continued responsibility. That’s why I believe it’s the responsibility of each and every one of us to develop convictions based on reason and facts, not on pure emotion and a need to be right.  Then, if we debate our convictions with all our might, we’ll all be better off.