The moment Marge walked into the birthday celebration for my former husband, Douglas, she got my attention.
Petite and slender, she wore red slacks that perfectly matched her bright lipstick, which looked smart with her lacy-sleeved white shirt, triple-strand pearl choker, pearl earrings, and nicely coiffed short, silvery gray hair. It’s easy to tell that Marge is meticulous about the way she looks.
Marge sat across from me, and, in my typical style as a journalist, I started peppering her with questions, which she happily answered. A New York resident for about 12 years, Marge moved with her husband from Ohio, where one of her two sons taught drama at Oberlin College (he attended the renowned Yale Drama School with Meryl Streep.) Recently retired from teaching, he’s thinking of moving down south with his wife so they can be closer to their daughter (an only child) and two-year-old grandchild.
When Marge and her husband came to New York to be near their daughter (“We moved around to pester each of our children,” she joshed), he was sick, and required constant care until he died about seven years ago. “People would often tell me that they felt sorry for me, having to take care of him for so many years, but he always was a very pleasant person to be around,” Marge told me, without a note of self-pity in her voice. Since her husband’s death, Marge has remained active and engaged with lots of friends. She also takes classes at the renowned 92nd Street Y, including one that Douglas gives. Two grandsons recently came to visit, and she kept up with their demanding itinerary.
‘How old are you?’ I asked Marge.
“92,” she answered.
‘Would you mind telling me how you felt when you reached 90, versus how you felt when you turned 60, 70 and 80?’
“I didn’t start feeling older, or thinking about it, until my late 80s. Now, I have macular degeneration and glaucoma. Getting old is hurting me.” Marge’s mind is sharp as a tack!
A capped front tooth recently fell out when Marge bit down on it during a meal, but she’s not interested in getting an implant. “It takes too long,” she said.
“Sometimes I don’t care about living. I occasionally ask myself, ‘how is it that I’m still alive? What am I doing here?’” Marge added, matter-of-factly.
“She’s a role model,” said Fran, who was sitting next to me. Yep, she sure is!